The first step for me during any project is to learn, use, and understand what it is that I am promoting. Sometimes the products are tangible and the benefits straightforward, and sometimes the offering is service-based. Knowing the product's value and what makes it different is a great starting point.
Each organization has a different culture and process that also affects any marketing strategy. Often approaching from the company's perspective can tell me so much about the product's value and customer or member's needs.
This next step is probably the most valuable one in the discovery phase - learning the customer or target audience's needs and the problems that we might be able to solve for them. All marketing strategy relies on an incredibly strong understanding of who that promotion is designed to reach.
This is probably the most fun part of strategy planning - finding the problems, either within the organization, with the product or offering, or a problem that the customer needs solved. Understanding objections and concerns before they arise is incredibly important when trying to promote a product or service.
Arguably what all good marketing is about - finding solutions to those problems and creating tasks, projects, and tactics to address them.
While some may think of the promotion step as the hardest part of marketing, I find that with all the steps above completed, it can be the smoothest part. Promotion tactics and advertising techniques are everywhere, but without a great knowledge of the customer, the problems, and a plan for solutions, these things can be overwhelming and seem luck-based.
Marketing strategy should never be about luck. Getting in front of a customer and having the solution to their problem should be a targeted, trackable, precise process. Successful promotion only really comes after all the planning above.
Once the marketing strategy is in place, I start to measure growth, track the success of each tactic or project, and continually seek feedback about the solutions we've created. With the rise of online analytics tools, tracking marketing ventures is much easier than it was even a few years ago. Utilizing that available information helps us to understand what parts of the plan work and what parts need adjustment.
Even the most successful plan and execution requires evaluation and testing to continue growth. Markets and customers change, and re-evaluation and testing are the only real ways to keep up.