Have you ever started a trip by getting in your car, rushing out of your driveway, and immediately driving to the newest, fastest highway — to only then decide where you want to go?

Sounds crazy, right? Then, why do so many marketers behave that way? Too often, marketers jump from one tactic to the next without having a strategy, or even an objective, in place.

Maybe you’re thinking, “But sometimes you need to move fast to take advantage of an opportunity”. And you’re right! But, having a strategy doesn’t mean you don’t get to try something cool, take advantage of a new tactic, or jump on the latest social media trend. Having a strategy means you’ll do so with purpose. It will help you focus your time and resources and ultimately yield better results.

Here are my must haves for a killer marketing strategy:

1. Customer Personas and Journey Maps

It’s not enough to have a sense of your customer in your mind. This information should be easily shareable so everyone in your company can have a clear understanding of who your customers are, what pain points they go through, and how your product can solve their problems.

Customer Journey Maps should map out holistically how each person goes through their journey to make a decision on how they plan to solve or improve something (that your company can help them with) — from the first moment they encounter the problem, to the moment they identify it or start looking for solutions, and all the way to how they purchase and use your product and service.

2. Clear objectives

You know your customers. You understand the steps in their process to purchase your, or a competitor’s, product. Now what? You need to know how you can help them.

Don’t go straight for the sale. You need add value for them to consider you. So, what value can you add during each stage of the journey? How do you want them to feel? What do you want them to do after you’ve added that value?

There, those should be your objectives!

3. Outline how you will accomplish your objectives

This is the part most marketers love and are familiar with. The one where you get to outline the cool tactics you’ll use to achieve the objectives you just defined.

Now, when a new tactic or tool shows up and you want to use it, you can take a look at your objectives and assess whether it fits with what you are trying to accomplish.

But remember: your strategy should always define your tactics, not the other way around.

4. Decide How to Measure Success

Here’s the part many marketers hate the most — numbers. Hear me out. Numbers are your friends, not something to be scared of. You don’t need a bunch of confusing numbers, you just need to define a handful of them that will measure the success of each tactic.

I wrote a blog post that identifies five easy steps to deciding what to measure. Still not sure what you should measure for your business? That’s OK. Send me a message and I can help you out.

5. Optimization and Testing

Even the best strategy and tactics won’t work exactly like you planned. But if you defined your KPIs properly, it won’t be hard to quickly figure out what is and isn’t performing.

Once you know what isn’t performing, you need to understand why.Sometimes it’s obvious. But sometimes, you’ll have to put your nerd glasses on and dig into the data. Or, simply ask some of your customers. Many of them will gladly tell you what they think!

Now you get to try to fix it. Before you change anything, make sure you know how you will measure it to know if the change has made a difference.

Is there anything else you would add to this list?

Did you like this article? Please (please, please) let me know — or even better, share it with someone who may also like it. I plan on going deeper into each one of these topics, if you want to follow along make sure you add me on LinkedIn!