14 Mar

Steps to a Strategic Masterpiece You Might be Forgetting

By Savannah Hedges, Account Associate

March 2024

During college, I discovered a (rather shocking) passion for painting, which I accredit to Bob Ross. The following years have been full of canvas purchasing, trying various paints, and attempting to make my vision/s come to life on canvas. What does this have to do with marketing? I’m so glad you asked. Behind every successful marketing effort is a data-backed strategy, which I believe can be made much easier to understand when explained with an illustration (wink). Let’s walk through a step-by-step framework on how to create a marketing strategy.

Step 1: Set goals.

This is the part where you determine what you intend for your outcome to be. Is it a painting of a dragon? Is it a higher open rate on your quarterly e-blast? Whatever it is, remember when developing your marketing strategy, to keep your goals “S.M.A.R.T” (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound).

E.g., I want to paint a picture (relevant) of an armadillo (specific) where I incorporate one new brush stroke technique (measurable) by next week (time-bound) – and all of this is realistically achievable.

Don’t decide you’re going to get that e-blast up to 100% opens by tomorrow… that might be specific, measurable, and timebound, but, unless that eblast is only making its way into one inbox and that inbox happens to be your own (in which case it probably isn’t relevant), it isn’t achievable. Instead, let’s say the industry average is 30% and you currently stand at 24%. Try shooting for a realistic goal, like maybe 26% over the next 4 months.

Step 2: Collect the right tools.

Brushes, paints, pallets, water – it’s virtually impossible to reach your desired outcome if you don’t have the right resources. For marketing, they might not be the same tools you’d collect to make a painting, but there are certainly some items you’ll want in your belt before you proceed.

For example, if you are considering how to amp up your social media game, the necessary tools might be comparable accounts to your own, a medium to record data (this could be as simple as a spreadsheet or a notebook), a focused mind, and some dedicated time.

Step 3: Sketch the outline.

I know what my goals are, and I have the right tools. Now what?

While I admittedly prefer to freehand when actually painting, this is arguably the most crucial step in the data-backed strategy process, given that it is, well, collecting data. Now that you have comparable social media accounts, examples of high-performing eblasts, or whatever else your toolkit might include, it’s time to simply look at them.

What images are performing well on social posts? How long is the copy in the eblasts that have great open rates? Whatever the data, jot it all down in one place.

Step 4: Dig deeper.

Once you have the outline of your painting, you might cut in with basic brushstrokes that convey the color and feel you want to achieve, without worrying about the finished product. It’s not going to look perfect right out of the gate – you still have steps like blending and adding more detail that will come later on.

For developing an effective strategy, the same is true: don’t worry about how you’re going to accomplish everything yet. Just look at the data you’ve collected and try to determine the takeaways. What does it mean? For example, maybe you want to step up paid social media ads for a client and you have determined that their audience responds well to Instagram ads, but seemingly ignores Twitter. Great! You now know that it’s not worth focusing time, energy, and finances on Twitter ads – put more into making your campaigns on other platforms more effective.

Step 5: Strategize.

It’s time for the “how”. Your preliminary brush strokes are down. Do you want to blend them? Do you want to add more? Do you want to incorporate different colors now? How do you want to proceed?

The themes you observed and the takeaways you developed can be implemented. Determine how you want to make that happen. Whether it’s changing how often you post, reworking your website layout, updating copy, or something entirely different, this is the part where you decide what the best course of action is and you make it happen.

Step 6: Finishing strokes.

Your masterpiece is nearing completion. Look at what you’ve done and decide if it needs any cleaning up or changing. From here, keep track of if/how it meets your goals. Did your open rates increase?

For most strategies, it won’t be as simple as a painting – it will be an ongoing process, where you’ll continue collecting data and developing new content that fits with your strategy.

Fortunately, now that you have the right tools, data to inform your decisions, analysis to guide the way, and a data-backed strategy, it’s just a matter of keeping an eye on results. And when you see your strategy make a difference? Gosh, what a rush! That, or maybe I’m just a nerd who finds analysis and strategy incredibly rewarding. Either way, hopefully this will benefit you, and if you have any questions along the way, you know where to find us.