An essential component of a successful marketing engine is a core marketing strategy. Think of a marketing strategy as a guide or a structure for all the products, services, content, sales, support and messages that will be crafted to deliver on your marketing and business goals.

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In my experience, one of the main reasons cold calling, direct mail, social media, SEO, advertising, email marketing and other tactical activities fail or fall short of meeting business objectives is they aren’t determined by a clear marketing strategy or they veer significantly away from the established marketing strategy. Yes, a marketing strategy is merely a guide and not always set in stone, but it’s like a map where if you stray too far and too often, you will lose time, money and direction altogether.

All that being said, it’s critical to build a marketing engine focused on meeting the objectives of your business. In this article, I’ll explore what you need to do to build a marketing engine that gets results.

#1. Determine your end goals

I believe setting goals is the most important first step. Until you can specifically define the results you want to achieve or the primary reason you’re marketing that supports your overall business goals, your business will fall prey to the “shiny object” syndrome.

When you devote time and energy at the beginning of your marketing engine, with setting your sights and defining the results expected of your marketing, you give yourself a greater opportunity to make frequent deposits at your banking institution.

Before you start choosing markets to target, places to show up, keywords to rank for or topics to produce content about, you must determine the end goal of your marketing engine. It can be as specific as “Realize a 20% increase in organic website traffic in six months” or less specific in the case of “Increase leads by referral, build brand awareness online, and establish thought leadership.”

#2. Do keyword research

There are several types of research you should perform to guarantee your marketing engine gets results. The first is keyword research. Even if improving organic rankings isn’t your end goal, you still want your business – whether in visual, audio, or written form – to show up in search results for prospects. Use tools like Google’s Keyword Planner to find relevant keywords that have strong search volume.

Make a list of twelve to sixteen keywords that you want to focus on with your marketing engine.

#3. Define your ideal customer

A great deal about marketing has changed over the last few years, but mostly what’s changed is the overall way people shop and buy and that’s what you have to understand in order to thrive in the world today.

Building the trust and rapport needed to convert a lead into a client can be a slow and difficult process—especially when you as the owner or your sales team has to adjust to changes in this buying environment. But what if instead of constantly struggling uphill with unqualified leads, every prospect in your pipeline was interested right from the start?

Impossible? Hardly. All you need is a little customer defining.

For marketing, it’s important to continually have the ideal customer at the center of all your activities. Read here how to build your ideal customer profile in 3 easy steps.

#4. Conduct competitive research

Another type of research that helps with building an marketing engine is competitive research. Look at three to five of your closest competitors. Check their website, blog, reviews or any other marketing or educational materials available.

A real secret here is to understand and analyze your competitor’s customer journey. Gain insight by researching every stage of the customer journey they use to interact with and move its prospects to customers.

  • How are our competitors generating awareness among the target market?
  • What does the education about their value proposition look like?
  • What is their offering for prospects to sample their expertise, product or service?
  • What does their new customer gain access to when they say yes: online account log-in, client only events, key personnel, or specific content?
  • How do they encourage or motivate their current customers to refer?

The goal here is not to copy anything that your competition is doing, but to use research as a way to grow, learn, and discover. Ultimately helping you identify opportunities to grow your market share.

#5. Survey existing ideal clients

Hint: If you followed this process so far to build your marketing engine that gets results, you’ve already done this! If not read below.

You know your end goal, identified your target keywords, have a clear picture of your ideal customer and researched what your competition is up to. Now it’s time to ask your existing ideal clients some very important questions. This can be an informal process or a formal email survey. For many small service-based businesses, it simply entails listening closely to clients during all conversations (including emails).

#6. Ask customer-facing employees

The biggest struggle business owners and marketers face when building an marketing engine is getting the real scoop aka the truth. The great news is that you have a wealth of real-life data and insight at your fingertips and all you need to do is turn to your customer-facing employees. I suggest starting with those involved in sales, business development, customer service or service delivery. These folks deal with new clients and long-term clients daily and can typically provide a slew of wonderful insight around messaging, process improvement, marketing channel success, and new offerings.

Often, all you need to ask is “what are some frequent questions you hear?” or “what would help our clients?”

#7. Map it out on a calendar

One of the little secrets of marketing is that it’s a process; it’s NOT an event. It’s a process that has the beginning and the middle, but if you’re going about it right, it does not have an ending. It is a never-ending process.

Every business owner essentially wants to know the one thing they can do to get massive results, the magic pill they can take, the one bit of advice from an expert that will turn the ship around.

Truth is, marketing is mostly a bunch of hard work, done consistently.

Once you build the various elements of your marketing engine you must map it out on a calendar, test, analyze, tweak and improve it continuously.

Go!

At this point, you should have a well-ordered list of keywords to use to get in front of ideal customers, content topics arranged by month to produce content on, a powerful value proposition that will attract customers, insight into improvements that will create happy customers = more referrals, a general idea of what competitors are doing, and direction as to what marketing tactics to spend your resources on.

Congratulations! Now it’s time to get to work. Launch that marketing strategy and keep an eye on the marketing engine throughout the process to ensure you and the marketing stay on track.

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