The Complete Guide to Strategic Marketing and Campaign Planning


marketing clipboard on pink background


95 min read

At the core of every succesful brand is strategic marketing, brought about through extensive campaign planning and research.

It’s for this reason that ‘how to write a marketing plan’ is one of the most common marketing-based questions online.

And in-person, depending on who you’re talking to.

After all, there are infinite possibilities tied to marketing, given the number of demographics there are, and the various marketing approaches savvy marketers can take these days.

This can make formulating an effective roll out somewhat of a minefield if you’ve never planned/executed a marketing campaign before — or simply want to try something different in a bid to gain new interest but lack the wherewithal to keep up with the current climate.

In this guide on strategic marketing and campaign planning we’re going to help you maximise the effectiveness of your reach by looking at how you can create the perfect plan.

We’ll also be covering everything there is to know about marketing generally, to help boost your understanding.

The marketing landscape grows by the day, with hundreds, if not thousands of marketers entering the race for the attention of potential customers. Coming up with the right strategy/plan can cause your business to soar and remain at the top of your field — putting you ahead of your competitors.

Its importance is paramount.

Let’s begin with a definition.

pink post notes on white wall

Strategic Marketing 101: What is Marketing?

Marketing is what you make it.

While true, this is totally a cop-out answer as there is a set way of describing what it is exactly.

Cop-out answers aside, the definition of marketing is as follows (confirmed by Oxford Languages):

“the action or business of promoting and selling products or services, including market research and advertising.”

One way to better understand marketing is by understanding the 4 Ps of marketing, a key part of something known as the ‘marketing mix.’ Marketers would use the 4 Ps when mapping out/defining their strategic marketing options ahead of an official plan.

The 4 Ps of marketing concept was thought of by E. Jerome McCarthy, a marketing academic at Michigan State University. His book “Basic Marketing: A Managerial Approach,” released in 1960 outlines a term that is still referred to today by a variety of marketers.

Businesses will often use the 4 Ps as a marketing framework of sorts. The concept itself is great for narrowing down the what, why, how and when with specific campaigns. Some use it as a way of eliminating certain marketing approaches based on findings.

Here are the 4 Ps for reference:

  • Product: What does the customer want?
  • Place: Where do buyers look for your products/services?
  • Price: How will your price fare compared to what else is out there?
  • Promotion: When is the best time to promote?

The questions assigned to each are only a few examples of the types of questions marketers should be asking.

Defining each of the above Ps will put marketers in an ideal position to move forwards. We should mention that each P must coincide with the other for this method to be accurate, and therefore, successful.

Marketers all have a signature approach to how they market their work to the masses — some aided by the 4 Ps, others, not so much.

Implementing a hybrid approach to strategic marketing is quite popular at the moment and has only widened what is/isn’t possible in a marketing sense. Meaning they don’t limit themselves to one strategy, as there are many routes to take.

Under the marketing umbrella are various subtypes of the practice — each as different as the last in terms of approach. Let’s look at each of these briefly before moving on.

Influencer Marketing

Influencer marketing is a strategy that revolves around a person of interest — referred to, typically, as ‘individuals.’ The goal is to drive as many people to your brand as possible through association.

People automatically assume an influencer is someone with a large following on social media platforms such as Instagram and TikTok, but defining an influencer isn’t so simple. An influencer could be any of the following (we’ve included examples with each to act as reference points):

  • Celebrities: Ryan Gosling, Cara Delivigne, Johnny Depp, and any of the Kardashians, have all been paid to showcase a product or service in the past — all are recognised as celebrities. Brands tend to refer to celebrities as ‘brand ambassadors’ over influencers. Still, they do their part in influencing a wide range of people.
  • Bloggers: Bloggers make a living off of influencer marketing as they understand their worth. These people are great at front-line marketing by turning their personality into a major part of the brand. Finding the right blogger at the right time could generate incredible results.
  • Content Creators: A blogger is technically a content creator, but we thought they were worth an individual shoutout. Content creators can be found on websites such as YouTube and Vimeo, and are often self-taught. This only adds to their relatability and influencing power. Podcasters are another great example.

An individual that aligns themselves with a brand is likely to bring their followers/fans/customers/supporters with them. Meaning brands have the opportunity to generate new interest from a dedicated group.

In short, influencer marketing has a lot of appeal in the modern day, what with the convincing power of social media.

Relationship Marketing

Nurturing relationships is key in creating a level of complete trust.

Why is relationship marketing important? Simple, it allows brands to do just that: establish trust amongst its base. You see, a strategic marketing campaign like this tends to target current customers versus new customers through sales and advertising.

Relationship marketing itself is a branch of Customer Relationship Management (CRM). This strategic marketing approach looks to increase overall satisfaction over long periods of time, unlike other strategies that tend to lose touch once that initial sale goes through.

An example of this would be an event, or exclusive gift card to repeat customers to serve as a thank you of sorts. Doing this encourages customers to stay with that particular brand, and not align themselves with a potential competitor.

To use a real-world example, this would be like Uber Eats giving you an exclusive discount code to use on the app, thus encouraging people not to use other delivery apps like Deliveroo.

Creating lifelong customers is the main goal of relationship marketing. Brands such as Dollar Shave Club, Amazon and Emirates have all utilised relationship marketing in one way or another.

Netflix is another brand dabbling in relationship marketing. In fact, the popular streaming platform has this type of marketing to thank for its continued success. Email marketing alone has helped Netflix keep in touch with its subscribers, keeping them in the loop when a new show drops — or by highlighting shows that users might like based on its algorithms.

All of this goes a long way in keeping subscribers happy and consuming content.

How you keep people around should be considered a major consideration in the campaign planning process.

Viral Marketing

‘Going viral’ is part of a sales technique that looks to build as much buzz as possible, mostly through word-of-mouth, assisted greatly through social media platforms like Twitter and Instagram.

With viral marketing, the goal is to increase the rate that people see and discuss your content, or work, in the case of businesses looking to go viral by spreading its messages quickly with intent. As mentioned, social networking is one of the best ways to do this.

People consume media differently on these platforms, which does make it easier for brands to spread the word quickly. However, brands don’t get to pick and choose when they go viral with their marketing strategies. Unless they run campaigns during certain seasons known for mass spending (yes, we’re talking about Christmas).

It’s audiences that deem what is viral and what isn’t. It all happens organically and is usually shared by the public at large, not just your target demographic.

Some businesses could go viral at complete random, like Roman Originals, when it went viral for a certain dress that some believed was white, other, blue in an event that was appropriately titled ‘#DressGate’ back in 2015.

Here’s a reminder for those that need it:

dress gate viral image

Brands still have the power to steer some viral campaigns. Memes, for example, have been used by the likes of Wendy’s and KFC to capitalise on social trends to get engagements. And yes, you did read that right, your strategic marketing plans could include memes.

Timing is everything to viral marketing too. The right campaign at the right time can generate millions of engagements, causing brand awareness to skyrocket!

Guerrilla Marketing

Guerrilla marketing, in a word, is ‘unconventional.’ You see, this type of marketing strategy doesn’t follow any rules for the most part. However, you’ll still need to abide by the laws imposed by governments and regulatory bodies (you can’t get away with everything).

Marketers use this type of strategic marketing to maximise results while using minimal resources. It’s an off-kilter strategy that some use as an additional add-on if there’s budget left over. Others, actively push for it as a primary strategy.

An organised flash mob could be considered a form of guerrilla marketing. A large group of people singing and dancing is more than enough to catch the attention of those looking on — more so when used as a promotional tool.

One of the best examples we’ve seen is this from Oat-Ly!:

oat-ly graffiti wall

Paying a graffiti artist to do something like this on a small scale is a lot cheaper than, say, paying for a billboard in a populated area. The intent is the same (to generate instant engagement), only the costs are drastically different.

Oat-Ly! breaking the fourth wall in this way only adds to the effectiveness of the ad too. It sticks with you, and is likely to spread quickly through word of mouth, and social media channels like Instagram, ironically. Street art, in general, is a cornerstone of guerrilla marketing.

It doesn’t always have to be executed on such a large scale either. Stickers/stencils, when used in the right way, could market your brand effectively right in front of your target audience (i.e. ads for Durex in male toilets).

An honourable mention also goes out to the Ant-Man marketing campaign back in 2015 — another great example of guerrilla marketing. Miniature figurines were dotted around London, to promote the movie, and get people talking.

And, well, it worked.

Understand that this type of strategic marketing holds no bounds. Brands with the wildest imaginations usually generate the most results.

Green Marketing

Being environmentally friendly and promoting it is the definition of green marketing, more or less. This type of approach will apply to brands that sell eco-friendly products, or those that are implementing practices that are a lot greener compared to what they were doing before.

For example, Honda has invested a lot of money in fuel-efficient vehicles — this includes the development of hydrogen-powered cars. It’s something they promote heavily through PR and general communications.

Speaking of forward-thinking vehicles, the current boom in electric cars is green marketing at its finest. Every major manufacturer is working on a battery-powered ride, working hand-in-hand with other sustainable practices such as the implementation of wind farms and recycled parts.

It would be one thing to do all this and not mention it, but all of these brands actively promote these greener developments to sell models.

Two words: green marketing.

Green marketing is less about flaunting the fact that what you’re doing is better for the environment. It’s more about action, and then promoting that action naturally.

We say that because there is such a thing as ‘greenwashing,’ which describes brands that try to latch onto the sustainability trend by turning things green to seem environmentally-conscious.

Content Marketing

Easily one of the best strategic marketing pathways there is, period.

With content marketing, brands create and distribute valuable information in-line-with the brand itself. The goal is to appeal to your target audience directly through this content — content that is usually in blog form and shared through company websites and relevant social channels.

Content marketing costs 62% less than traditional marketing and generates about 3 times as many leads — DemandMetric

Why is content marketing important?

Many reasons, one being it helps answer some questions your audience may have on things related to your market or brand.

For example, let’s say you run a vegan bakery.

Through content marketing, you could create blogs that describe what sort of ingredients are used in your products and the cruelty-free nature of said ingredients — highlighting any differences in taste and whatnot along the way.

This is different to an FAQ section on the website as the content is a lot more targeted (courtesy of SEO) and is a lot more engaging.

Search engine optimisation (SEO) plays a big part in content marketing, and it’s something you’re going to see mentioned a lot in our strategic marketing/campaign planning post here.

It’s also something we specialise in here at Canny.

We’re a content marketing agency — this should tell you everything right there. In other words, we get you and your brand results through quality content, the kind that will put you at the top of your respective lane.

This is an ideal option for brands that lack the time to create effective content.

Now that you understand the many different types of strategic marketing, it’s time we looked at an all-important question, that being: what is a marketing plan exactly?

Knowing this will help you structure all of the strategic marketing pathways shown above and provide a spotlight on how best to move forwards.

person writing the word plan on white notepad

Campaign Planning 101: What is a Marketing Plan?

Marketing plans are rather self-explanatory in that they are used to map out your brand’s marketing and advertising goals over a set period of time. Without a plan, you stand to lose money and valuable time/resources.

It’s a requirement for successful marketing campaigns, not a suggestion, which you’ll know yourself if you’ve ever written one before. Besides, you’ll need a marketing plan if you’re to measure ROI (return on investment) once your campaign/campaigns have come to an end.

So, what is a marketing plan? A marketing plan is a report that outlines your strategies for the coming month, quarter or year.

As a general overview, most strategic marketing plans include the following:

  1. A general overview of your marketing/advertising goals.
  2. Timelines that outline when tasks within the strategic marketing plan should be completed by.
  3. Your current marketing position as a business (an honest description).
  4. Key performance indicators (KPIs) for tracking purposes.
  5. An overview of your businesses’s target market, complete with customer needs

This is a broad example of what should be ticked off on a marketing plan. There should never be two of the same, meaning every brand should have a different marketing plan that is exclusive to them.

Learning how to write a marketing plan, we find, helps businesses feel more in touch with their work. Marketers need to pay close attention to every aspect of the plan, which only increases focus and understanding for everyone involved.

That’s the gist.

Why do I Need a Marketing Plan?

Think of a marketing plan as the missing link between direction and delivery. You can’t have one without the other if your strategic marketing goals are to be successful.

There are countless reasons as to why you need a marketing plan, and most of them revolve around organisation/transparency inside of the business.

Knowing where you’re going is helpful in that it gives marketers a blueprint to follow, not to mention, set time frames for when things need to be ready by. A marketing plan will also outline key KPIs, as mentioned, this allows you to track important metrics in real-time.

It allows you to see how your marketing efforts are doing based on an initial plan!

Moreover, brands that write marketing plans have the ability to manage resources effectively. This is typically dictated by the marketing budget — something you would outline when coming up with your own strategy.

Marketing plans are just as important as overarching business plans, in our opinion, providing focus where needed, it gives you the chance to manage resources effectively, and gives brands a better understanding of its products/services.

What is an Executive Summary in a Marketing Plan?

You want to sum up your marketing strategy in full with your executive summary. You’re basically telling those reading what you hope to achieve, the audience you’re looking to appeal to, and how you’ll do it.

It’s the first thing your readers will see, making it one of the most important elements of your marketing plan.

An executive summary is an overview that spearheads the rest of your marketing plan, tying everything together over one to two pages. Try not to make it too long as it’s meant to serve as a summary.

Having an executive summary will add a lot to your strategic marketing plan — it ties it all together in a way that is clear and concise for anyone reading. Setting the tone off right ensures that nothing is lost in translation too.

To create the best plan possible, include the following:

  1. Executive Summary: An introduction that explains what people can expect from your plan. Touch on what you hope to get out of your marketing too for maximum effectiveness.
  2. Product/Service info: Describing your product, or service depending on the type of business you are, will help contextualise your plans.
  3. Target Demographic: Define your audience by age, gender and interests. Perhaps mention phrases/terms they might use/understand.
  4. Pricing/Positioning: Talk about where you want to be business-wise and how your pricing will support it business to be and how your pricing will support it (usually requires input from sales).
  5. Financial Info: Budgets, budgets, budgets. Ensure that you mention this, outlining where this money will be spent.
  6. Trends/Market Description: Mention market trends in relation to your particular market. Listing the factors that influence your market could be rather helpful too.
  7. Company/Team Info: Some background info on your company and your team will help establish a baseline for what is/isn’t possible with your plan.
  8. Marketing Apporaches/Strategies: How will you market your business in this campaign? And what marketing channels will you be using?
  9. Marketing Goals: What is it you hope to achieve through your marketing? Ensure that whatever it is it’s quantifiable so that it’s measurable.
  10. Monitor Results: How will you gather your results? What metrics will you use and how will you display this data? All are questions marketers should be asking in their plan.
  11. One Final Summary: Finish strong by reinforcing what it is you hope to achieve from your marketing plan.

Canny’s advice would be to write your executive summary last, once you’ve written everything else and covered all bases. Approaching it last gives you the benefit of hindsight in that you know what you’ve already written.

Remember, the goal of the executive summary is to give readers a complete understanding of the marketing plan in full without reading it all for themselves. Tone-wise, your executive summary should embody the stylings of your own brand.

It doesn’t always have to be so formal. It could be informal, again this depends on the type of company you run and the sorts of campaigns you’d like to run.

Playing Cards on a white notepad

The Differences Between a Strategic Marketing Plan and a Business Plan?

We couldn’t have a post titled ‘the complete guide to strategic marketing and campaign planing’ without mentioning the differences between a business plan and a marketing-orientated one.

After all, some might find it difficult to decipher which is which, or what includes what — especially new marketers looking to hone their campaign planning skills.

There is a significant difference between the two in that a business plan tends to cover the entire business — this includes strategy, target markets, sales, operations, financial targets and so much more.

A marketing plan is simply that: a marketing-set document that covers everything in that bubble (marketing strategy, target audience, messaging, and more). In other words, the information is a lot more streamlined with marketing in mind.

The lines between the two do blur slightly, perhaps due to the fact that most business plans feature detailed strategic marketing sections that break down basic info without going into the finer details.

Marketing plans tend to beat out business plans if we’re talking popularity.

Why is that?

That’s easy: brands tend to focus on marketing over other areas of the business as it’s how you generate new interest in the brand. This is true with most start-ups looking to sell products. These brands understand that getting your name out there is far more important than most business considerations.

In short, a strategic marketing plan is a lot more comprehensive than a business plan. Also, most marketing-based plans are for internal use only, whereas a business plan might be shared with shareholders or other parties involved.

Besides, there isn’t one set marketing plan out there. You can actually branch out into multiple different plans. It all rests on what sort of marketing a business is looking to roll-out.

What are the Different Types of Strategic Marketing Plans?

That’s right, there is more than one type of marketing plan, each structured to various types of marketing/advertising.

We should state that a standard marketing plan is one of the more common types you’ll find amongst marketers, given how broad it can be, covering multiple factors at the same time. The other marketing plans we’re about to cover are a lot more specific in comparison.

They won’t apply for everyone either, but are worth stating if we’re to cover strategic marketing methods in full.

And who knows, you might take one look at a social media marketing plan and think to yourself: “this could work a lot better, I think I’ll draft me one of those, thanks Canny.”

Advertising Plan

You’ll notice that a lot of these plans are as advertised — literally in the case of an advertising plan. A written strategy like this is all about the specifics in how you, a bonafide marketer/advertiser, successfully showcase a product or service to people.

In an advertising plan, you should include what types of advertising you hope to implement, length of campaign, your target audience (obviously), and your budgets.

With advertising, there are many paths one can take. Here’s a quick rundown along with some examples from each subtype, for clarity:

  • Digital Advertising (PPC, Social Media Ads, Google Ads)
  • Traditional Advertising (Billboards, Flyers, Posters)
  • TV Advertising (Live, On-Demand)
  • Radio Advertising (Pretty Self-Explanatory)

We should also mention podcast advertising and cinema advertising in the mix too. Both have proven helpful when marketing products and/or services to listeners/audiences.

Your advertising plan should be concise. In the case of digital advertising, marketers might want to include any relevant keywords that they hope to advertise with, or rank for in the case of SEO and content marketing.

It’s important to work out where you want your ads to go too. For example, a TV ad can either drive people to your physical business, or your website — depending on what you want.

Are you prioritising online traffic, or are you wanting to generate sales?

You’ll need to make this clear in your advertising plan.

person looking at customer worksheet on laptop

Customer Acquisition Plan

Here’s one not a lot of marketers are thinking about. We’re of course talking about customer acquisition, aka the process of attracting new customers to your brand and business.

With customer acquisition, brands are looking to add prospective customers into the sales pipeline. To do this, businesses identify and understand the evolution of the customer experience, while taking into account how much they spend/earn.

From there, brands will develop and execute strategies that maximise the ability to market yourself the right way.

Brands need to do the following when putting-together a customer acquisition plan:

  1. Identify your ideal customers
  2. Understand your metrics
  3. Outline your goals (what are you optimising for?)
  4. Create a journey for each type of lead (an acquisition funnel)
  5. Ensure you track your results along the way

One of the most important parts of the above info is the creation of an acquisition funnel — a way you can follow the journey of the customer to gain a better understanding of how you can market to them better.

Understanding your metrics is also worth highlighting as valuable data like this will steer you in the right direction based on how your audience takes to your actions. Conversion rate, the cost per lead (CPL), lead yield and the lifetime value (LTV) are all worth looking into.

Email Marketing Plan

An email address is a direct line to your customer base, so it stands to reason that you should come up with a strategic marketing plan around that to benefit your click-through rate and more!

Taking advantage of an optimised onboarding sequence could prove helpful here. This involves four unique emails that will turn your subscribers into buyers.

Here’s how it works:

onboarding email marketing process infographic

Another priority that you should take into account when crafting an email marketing plan would be to grow your email list as much as possible — the faster the better too.

Easily one of the most effective ways to do this is to implement a pain-point SEO strategy. This would involve creating blogs that look to answer specific problems. In these posts you’d include a download link to specific resources/e books.

In order for visitors to download these assets, they’d first need to fill in a form, and on this form is a section titled ‘Email.’ If your resource is up to snuff, you could have hundreds if not thousands of new subs.

According to Statistica, there were 306.4 billion emails sent, per day, in 2020, and a large chunk of them are marketing based, guaranteed. So standing out with a killer email marketing plan is almost a necessity at this point.

Retention Marketing Plan

Acquiring new customers is one thing, but keeping those you have is another thing entirely. Introducing retention marketing, a strategy that markets directly to existing customers in a bid to keep them coming to you and not a potential competitor.

Don’t get it twisted either. Marketers rely on the acquisition phase a lot in gathering an initial batch of customers. But it’s how you keep them engaged that matters, more so for brands that rely heavily on creating a core group of loyal consumers.

Local bakeries, for example, make a living off of establishing connections with customers.

Understand that there are multiple considerations to keep in mind if you’ve opted to create a retention marketing plan.

Daily deals, or creating a feeling of exclusivity through brand memberships, are great at keeping your base coming back for more. You’ll find most retention plans include these methods.

Like with other marketing plans, marketers should consider everything from metrics to the length of these retention strategies.

Retention marketing is based on nurturing relationships with your customers. You’ve probably already made the connection, but it’s worth stating regardless: relationship marketing is often married to retention marketing as the two have a lot in common.

A retention marketing plan is one you could formulate at a later date, in line with other marketing plans that look to reel in new interest. Onboarding campaigns, in partnership with a retention marketing strategy, works really well at doing just that.

Again, this is something you should consider when coming up with a retention marketing plan.

someone using LinkedIn on their mobile phone

Social Media Marketing Plan

Social media marketing (SMM) has grown by leaps and bounds since entering our lives. It’s at a point now where there are far too many avenues for marketers to take, almost.

This can make narrowing down the right channel and the right approach somewhat difficult. Businesses that have been around a long time could really struggle here, given how quickly these platforms are evolving.

Your best bet to avoid lagging behind is to formulate a detailed social media marketing plan.

73% of marketers believe social media marketing has been “somewhat effective” or “very effective” for their business (Buffer, 2019) making it a must for any aspiring brand looking to carve out a name for itself.

A social media marketing plan isn’t as easy as choosing the social media channels you wish to post on. You need to sit down and work out how often you’ll post, your tone of voice, your posting strategy, and then be willing to course correct if needed.

Utilising video-based content is known for being one of the best ways of marketing yourself on social media. Content of this kind can be shared across channels too — it’s not restricted by character length either!

Video, in general, has a lot over its static counterpart. It’s one of the easiest ways of conveying fast information and keeping your brand stuck in the head of the viewer.

It’s something we’ve dabbled in a lot at Canny Creative. It’s also something we offer as a service. Explainer videos, product demos, location tours, and drone videos.

You name it, we film it.

Feel free to reach out if this is something you’d be interested in.

Once you’re happy with your strategy, the type of content you’re posting, and have a plan in mind, then it’s time to automate! There are countless platforms out there that allow you to schedule everything in advance so that you never miss a beat.

Like retention marketing plans, social media marketing strategies are often coupled with other plans to maximise every tool at a brand’s disposal. Falcon is a platform that automates all comments from all major social media networks in one place — this includes every time you’ve been mentioned on Twitter.

You can still access these channels natively as standard. Still, if you’re going to post across channels it’s better to have them all in one place. It means you never miss a direct message, too.

Some might say that crafting a social media marketing plan is a lot more important than any other type of plan, seeing as it’s where most customers will find your business for the first time.

Conversion Optimisation Plan

Conversion rate optimisation (CRO) is all about easing your visitors over the line, getting them to engage with the key areas of your website (i.e. to fill in a survey, or hire something from you). It works best when it involves two things:

  1. Looking at key areas of the site that should be optimised
  2. Establish a repeat process to optimise said areas

In other words, you need to plug holes in your site, holes that are costing you conversions, and therefore money, by proxy.

A conversion optimisation plan should be as comprehensive as possible, with plenty of detail in terms of your overall conversion goals and how you hope to track these conversion pathways.

You should also mention the detection of macro and micro conversions. Micro conversions are the smaller steps that lead visitors to macro conversions which represent the main goals of your website. Your goal, however, should be to map out your funnels in great detail, making sure that the path is clear to fully capitalise on those macro conversions.

Every business will have conversion goals that are unique to them. Meaning your conversion optimisation plan should be yours and yours alone. You might have micro conversion problems that others don’t (again, this is something you should include within the plan).

Businesses should also look at tracking all movements too. How else are you to see how your changes are doing (if you’ve changed anything)?

We now have a general idea of what a marketing plan is and the multiple types of plans businesses have at hand. Now it’s time we dive into greater detail, as we look at the different approaches to marketing — methods that will apply to all types of businesses, regardless of industry.

What Are the best Marketing Approaches to Strategic Marketing?

Like advertising, marketing is loaded with the number of approaches a business can take.

Think of it like a choose your own adventure type deal where one wrong move could spell disaster for your business, whereas another could lead you to victory — to the unguarded treasure that all businesses crave!

What that treasure is will differ from business to business. And how they get to said treasure will move around a fair bit too. After all, there are various marketing approaches out there — some better than others.

green crown on a black background

Content Is King, A Strategic Marketing Mantra

Savvy marketers — and children of the internet — will get the reference in the above heading (‘Content Is King’). It’s a reference to an article written by one Bill Gates back in 1996 that predicted the money-making power of online content.

And here we are, so many years later — living in a world that was already spoiled for us by the Microsoft co-founder.

Content and sales go hand-in-hand in the modern day, amplified by social media and delivered to people around the world. Being omnipresent across social networks, and your own website through blogging, has been known to increase sales/engagements tenfold.

Being everywhere makes it difficult for your target audience not to find you! The content you create must apply to your business in tone and topic, of course. Still, this is something you can clearly outline in any relevant marketing plans ahead of time to ensure you’re on the money.

One of the best things about creating online content is that it’s online and therefore shareable. Shareable for you, and others if what you’ve produced is engaging, or informative in some way or other — take most explainer videos posted on YouTube, for example.

Content marketing is one of the most popular methods of marketing. It makes you a hell of a lot more relatable as a result as you are a lot more active, which shows you care.

Trust us, we create content for all kinds of businesses and can tell you first hand that content creation works, and it will change your brand for the better.

Inbound Vs Outbound Marketing

Push and pull marketing, one’s a magnet and one’s a megaphone. In case you haven’t guessed it, we’re talking about inbound and outbound marketing. Something that applies to all types of strategic marketing.

It’s important that you, as marketers/those interested in how to write a marketing plan, understand the difference as you will come across these terms again and again when putting together your own strategies/marketing approaches.

Inbound marketing looks to attract the attention of readers, with the intention of solving the needs of the customer. It’s interactive in nature and designed to help in hope that audiences turn into leads eventually.

Outbound marketing, on the other hand, is a one-way type of communication tool. Businesses speak and your audiences typically listen. It’s a disruptor in the sense that it forces audiences to stop what they’re doing and look. An example of this would be a TV ad or a billboard.

There are limitations to both — negatives that do weigh-down the convincing power of what you’re marketing.

In the case of outbound marketing, pushing your messages out there and hoping it catches the attention of people isn’t nearly as effective as it once was.

This is due to the rise of digital marketing, and the fact that our attention spans are wired differently these days. The window of opportunity has never been smaller. That’s not to say that there aren’t examples of digital-based outbound marketing.

Pop-up ads are great examples, although the estimated loss of revenue due to ad blockers grows by the year, with online customers becoming a lot more aware of messaging that they aren’t interested in.

For reference, last year, around $12.12 billion was lost in the US courtesy of ad blockers.

Inbound marketing doesn’t have a lot of cons, other than it’s somewhat of a waiting game for the most part. Which kinda sucks if you’re someone looking to generate instant results with your marketing.

We’d like to remind everyone that patience is a virtue, and sometimes waiting weeks if not months for results is better than no results at all.

Just look at how beneficial SEO is when tied to content marketing (i.e. blogging). You’ll see what we mean.

Direct vs Indirect Marketing

Direct vs indirect marketing is another area you marketers/those interested in how to write a marketing plan, should really know about, given how it applies to everything you do marketing/campaign planning-wise.

Both are pretty self-explanatory in the most literal sense. Direct marketing is very blunt, in the sense that you are very clear with what you want viewers to do.

Traditional marketing strategies are normally used in direct marketing. Ads you see in magazines, for example, is direct marketing down to a tee. Digital-based direct marketing is also very trackable, such as pay-per-click (PPC) and email marketing.

Indirect marketing is the direct opposite of direct marketing in that you aren’t trying to sell a product or service. Instead, you take advantage of content creation and social media marketing to engage in discussions with your audience.

The idea of indirect marketing is that you are building relationships and brand authority to a point where customers form naturally based on their own conclusions. That being: “this brand knows their stuff and clearly care about my wants/needs, maybe I’ll buy what it is they’re selling.”

Indirect marketing is a lot less restrictive than its direct counterpart. It allows brands to really flesh out who they are and what they hope to achieve too.

That being said, direct marketing is a lot better at marketing in the short-term over the long-term — which is where indirect marketing really shines. Quality blog content that comes with a free resource (lead magnet) is easily one of the best ways of indirectly marketing to people.

It can take months to get customers to convert. This might be too long a wait for businesses running seasonal campaigns.

Formulating an effective marketing plan should allow you to cut straight to the point and work out which is the best way forward. Honestly, many pit indirect and direct marketing against each other, despite the possibility of doing both if you have the time and the resources.

Most don’t, which is why they seek the help of an agency like Canny to handle the content side of things — an indirect marketing method — while they cover the direct marketing (digital/traditional advertising).

If you lack the time to create quality content that gets you results, get in touch.

The below infographic is a beautiful summary of the differences between direct marketing and indirect marketing.

direct marketing vs indirect marketing infographic on blue and back background

Branding as a Strategic Marketing Tool

Make no mistake about it, strong branding is needed if you’re to successfully market yourself to others. Your brand underpins all communications, it’s one of the ways that consumers work out whether or not you are worth engaging with or not.

You can have the best marketing in the world, but if your branding isn’t up to snuff it will all be for naught. It’s as Amazon founder Jeff Bezos says: “Branding is what people say about you when you’re not in the room.”

If that’s true, then bad branding means you aren’t being spoken about at all, which is the complete opposite of what you should want as someone in marketing.

The American electric car-maker Tesla is proof that a business can market itself with little to no advertising — at least in the traditional sense — all through branding.

Don’t believe us?

Okay, ask yourself this: when was the last time you saw a Tesla ad? Or heard of them giving vehicles to influencers in hope of creating some interest?

The simple answer to these questions is this: they don’t need to, as word-of-mouth and the Tesla brand is strong enough to carry the bulk of its marketing on its own.

People refer to most Tesla vehicles as ‘Teslas,’ they won’t refer to vehicles by model. It could be because it’s easier to say, but we like to think it’s because of the inclusive feel that the Tesla brand emanates.

Asking the following questions will determine the strengths — or weaknesses — of your brand:

  • Does my brand represent the market I operate in and is it unique compared to others in the space?
  • Is my brand a strong representation of the values that I want to put in front of my customers?
  • Does my branding target the right audience and will they understand what I’m selling without too much thought?

These are but a handful of branding questions that you should be asking yourself. Just remember that strong marketing is only as good as the brand keeping it upright.

In short, treat branding as a strategic marketing tool and you’ll begin to see results. Use it as a strong foundation, your starting block that you build on top of in every aspect of your marketing.

green love heart and money sign on a black background

Cause Marketing

Cause marketing, otherwise known as cause-related marketing, is but one of the ways you can strengthen the identity of your brand. After all, in the modern day, customers pay close attention to the actions of the business outside of what it is they sell.

Socially-aware businesses tend to generate more interest as it shows they care beyond making sales and growing year-by-year financially.

Businesses that strike a balance between the two tend to blur the lines between marketing and simply ‘doing the right thing.’ Some see brands as voices with a lot of power and influence to spread information and causes that have a social aspect to them.

Almost like they have a responsibility to uphold.

This is where the term ‘cause marketing’ enters the picture, which you can break in two as there are two forms of this type of marketing. One refers to a collaboration between a for-profit and non-profit organisation for mutual benefit.

The other is a lot more general, in that brands champion certain causes, using its convincing power for good and reinforcing its brand purpose.

The causes you attach yourself to will vary from business to business, although there are some causes that apply to all — such as those tied to the environment and making the right changes to go green.

Cause marketing is great at showing you share the ideals of millions of people, although, like green marketing, is a very slippery slope if done in a disingenuous way. It’s why you shouldn’t attach your brand to causes that seem ‘out of the ordinary.’ It might be worth making a note of this in the campaign planning stage.

Brands like IKEA aren’t questioned on the legitimacy of cause-related actions as they’ve made it perfectly clear that this it’s part of their MO: “Our vision is to create a better everyday life for the many people – for customers, but also for our co-workers and the people who work at our suppliers.”

Stealth Marketing

You’ve probably been subject to stealth marketing in the past, only you didn’t know it. This is kind of the point, as the goal is to market products in a way that is under the radar.

Stealth marketing also goes by undercover marketing, and is actually pretty difficult to pull off when you consider how aware consumers are these days. You’d have a better chance convincing them Santa Claus is real than the fake reviews you’ve left on your site are legit.

We’d recommend you avoid writing fake reviews for obvious reasons.

We’d also like to reassure the marketers/those interested in how to write a marketing plan reading this that there are ways to take advantage of stealth marketing without being seedy about it.

Product placement in other mediums is but one example. Movies are rife with product placement and businesses pay a hell of a lot of money to get its products on the big screen.

For small to medium businesses, product placements aren’t an option as they lack the budget for it. However, sending an influencer/celebrity or musician free stuff so that they can be seen using/wearing it is totally within the realm of possibility.

Hypebeast clothing brand Market, formerly known as Chinatown Market, does this all the time. They’ll also share video content of them packaging boxes full of their clothing while narrating who they’re sending it to/what they think they’ll like most.

This sort of defeats the point of stealth marketing, but it works for them and their brand.

market boxing gif

You don’t have to copy Market completely here. We’ve included the video above to showcase one of the creative ways you can successfully stealth market.

Just don’t go sharing videos of you packing it all up .

Diversity Marketing

Studies have shown that diversity marketing is one of the more effective ways of advertising to certain audiences. Marketing to millennials, for example, is made all the more easy with strategies that recognise the differences within the subgroups of a target market.

Of course, every strategic marketing plan will factor in a specific audience. But with diversity marketing, you are hyper-targeting specific groups within your base at large.

Here are a few examples of what you could target with this type of marketing:

  • Gender
  • Age
  • Sexuality
  • Religion
  • Ethnicity

You know, demographics that are a lot easier to target with the right data and the right marketing channel (it isn’t always social media-based). Remember that these are but a few examples. You could dig a lot deeper if you wanted to, structuring your marketing around income and marital status, to give you a few examples.

Diversity marketing works when you have the right data in front of you. Running focus groups is one of the best ways of gathering valuable info to put into practice with your marketing efforts.

It goes without saying, but another thing you need to do is choose your wording very carefully. You could come across as insensitive if you refer to certain groups by the wrong terminology.

Don’t think too much like a business. Oh, and remember to let your customers have a voice. Listen to what they have to say, doing so will help you understand where they’re coming from, and how you can formulate future diversity marketing strategies.

How important is diversity marketing? Well, millennials represent the most diverse generation in history, and one study found that 70% of millennials are more likely to choose one brand over another if that brand demonstrates inclusivity and diversity in its promotions and offers.

Marketers should treat diversity marketing with the same level of care as green marketing and cause marketing. Your marketing must be authentic and culturally aware, otherwise it can come off as cheap and could cause a lot of damage to the image of your brand.

Girl Using Phone and Pointing at Laptop

Word of Mouth Marketing

Word of mouth marketing is all about getting the conversation started, only these conversations are had externally amongst people you’ve influenced. In case that wasn’t clear, with word of mouth marketing you create something worth talking about in hope that people go off and tell others about it.

What you create to get people talking could be everything from a viral marketing video, to something as simple as inverting your logo at one of your stores so that when people take photos of a window opposite the logo is the right way around.

For those that don’t know, we’re referencing what Greggs did back in 2018.

Word of mouth is typically influenced by viral marketing campaigns so your goal should be to create something buzz worthy. A bit like Coca Cola did when it added names to bottles of Coke. This was such a simple thing to do, and it did wonders for its word of mouth marketing.

Did you know that 92% of consumers will believe a recommendation from friends and family compared to that of any advertising/marketing campaign? There aren’t a lot of marketing approaches that can match the convincing power that comes with word of mouth marketing, that’s for sure.

Think of it like a referral of sorts, a stamp of approval that most consumers trust compared to recommendations coming from elsewhere.

Another idea would be to implement some cause marketing to get people talking about what you’re doing. Brands that align with charities tend to increase word of mouth almost instantly. Also, as we’ve mentioned above

Businesses that use a hybrid approach — as in those that employ multiple marketing approaches simultaneously — will often see high return on investment, depending on the strategies they combine, that is.

For example, linking indirect marketing and word of mouth marketing could yield some impressive results. The fact that brands have multiple marketing tools at the ready, means they should be looking at a cross-strategy approach to maximise the convincing-power of each campaign.

There is a lot of potential in an expansive marketing plan with multiple strategies within. Trust us.

Every big name company is doing just that, which could include your competitors. A hybrid marketing strategy could be what puts them above you and your business at the moment.

Now that we’ve covered marketing approaches, it’s time we turned your attention to the various marketing channels you have available in the modern day.

Some you’ll be familiar with, others, not so much.

person using TikTok on iPhone

What are the Best Channels for Strategic Marketing?

Now has never been a better time to be a marketer from a variety point of view. Marketing to your target demographic has never been more accessible thanks to the reliance on digital-based technologies and the countless platforms that exist in cyberspace.

The internet is a big place, used by around 4.66 billion worldwide, making it a literal goldmine in marketing potential.

That’s not to say that traditional marketing has fallen to the side completely either as some companies will rely heavily on flyers and street advertising (i.e. promoters looking to market music events) to gain interest.

There’s also industry events, but more on that later.

The channels you ultimately choose will say a lot about who you are as a brand and the message you hope to convey.

Let’s take a look at some of these channels to ensure that you’re choosing the right path forward when formulating a strategic marketing plan of your own.

Social Media

Every business, big, small, or somewhere in between, should have an account/page on social media.

If you don’t, make one. Preferably as soon as possible as you’re more than likely losing money by not having your business on there, given it’s how the majority of your audience will discover you for the first time.

Here’s a quick rundown of the main social media networks used today:

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Instagram
  • TikTok
  • YouTube
  • LinkedIn
  • Snapchat
  • Pinterest

Facebook, YouTube and Instagram lead the pack as the most popular of all social media platforms, although TikTok is catching up, used by businesses in all kinds of unique ways.

Many brands use the growing app to offer a second screen experience of sorts — showing viewers how something is made stage-by-stage, or something as simple as the day-to-day activities of business life.

We have a TikTok account that does just that. You should totally go follow it right now to see how you can market your business in a completely new light (cheap plug).

Social media is great in that businesses can use it organically to market their brand or the products/services they sell. And then there’s always the option of paid social media marketing through things like native ads and promoted hashtags/banners.

Man Talking to Camera

Video Marketing

Video-based content has taken the marketing world by storm, to the point where it has eclipsed static content in terms of impressions.

Video content is simply a blanket term, as there are multiple types of videos you can produce that engage your audiences in an informative way, an entertaining way, or perhaps, a mixture of both!

You can do a lot with video, and sharing it on your website or social media pages only adds to its visibility and viability. B2B businesses might find that they generate more leads by sharing content of this kind on LinkedIn.

Here’s a stat to back this up, so you know we aren’t just pulling info out of thin air: In 2019, over 87% of video marketers on LinkedIn described the platform as an effective video marketing channel (Wyzowl, 2020).

So if you’ve been put off video, maybe you’re worried about different video costs, it might be better to think of the long term value this tactic will bring your business.

Direct Mailing

Keeping your audience posted — in the most literal sense — by sending them direct mail will make sure you’re staying relevant in the minds and lives of your audience.

‘Mailing’ is unique in that it can apply to physical and digital-led marketing campaigns. With physical mailing (like brochures or flyers) you’ll find that there isn’t as much competition as most have transitioned to digital mailing, through newsletters and exclusive promo codes.

They’re also a lot harder to ignore compared to digital ads, what with them being delivered directly to the homes of potential/established customers and all.

Seriously, direct mail marketing is alive and well, and a way for brands to really flex its creative muscles.

A gym in Brazil did just that when it distributed calendars to customers in the shape of a man and woman. The man and woman got slimmer with each month gone, thus simulating the benefits of working out.

Digital mailing, as explained, is one of the best examples of retention marketing in practice. And very easy to pull off, should you offer the right lead magnet.

digital advert on a billboard

Physical Marketing

The marketing scale certainly weighs in favour of digital marketing at the moment. Physical marketing, on the other hand, is where it all started.

People might act like it’s on its last legs. But still, there are plenty of businesses out there taking advantage of traditional marketing. After all, it has a visual impact that marketing on a screen just lacks.

You’re more than likely going to give a billboard advertisement a lot more time versus the same ad just on a mobile phone screen.

Physical marketing covers all of the following, for those interested:

  • Billboards
  • Print Ads
  • Brochures
  • Vehicle Wraps
  • Banners
  • Flyers

How much you’ll need to budget for these approaches will differ. Some are a lot more expensive than others (with billboards and vehicle wraps being the most expensive). How much you pay will depend on how long you wish to run these campaigns for too.

Digital Marketing

Make no mistake about it, digital marketing ripped the doors clean off in terms of strategic marketing, connecting people to people and brands to people in ways we’ll never comprehend fully.

It’s something that has affected brands of all sizes, regardless of location, or experience really. Practically any business can market themselves in a digital sense, given how affordable some platforms are for running short-term campaigns.

You’ll still need to be pretty strategic when it comes to targeting/understanding metrics, but our point still stands in that anyone can do it really.

Social media marketing — both organic and through ads — are examples of digital marketing. As is SEO, e-commerce and content marketing. SEO and content marketing are perfect options for brands looking to run long-term campaigns.

Digital marketing allows brands to reach markets all over the world, 24/7, complete with the ability to track the data in real-time.

Most don’t stop to think about how far we’ve come thanks to new technologies, but we think it’s important to stop and smell the roses every once in a while, especially when it has something to do with marketing.

Word of Mouth/Referrals

Word of mouth marketing is how businesses can grow at ground level. It’s a lot more trusted by consumers when compared to marketing that comes from a business.

That being said, marketing is often required, acting as a catalyst, that then spurs audiences to talk about what you’re doing or the quality of what you’re selling. It’s why most brands see a wave in real-world impressions following viral marketing campaigns centred on creative videos.

The Cadbury’s ad where a gorilla plays the drums to ‘In The Air Tonight’ by Phil Collins comes to mind:

If you’re a business with an extensive list of happy clients, then you should be using that to your advantage.

Referral marketing isn’t as natural as word of mouth as it requires some intervention from a business (typically through a video, or quotes found on a website). Still, it costs next to nothing to do for the most part, as all you’re doing is asking customers to leave a review.

You then take that review and put it front and centre in hope that potential customers (or businesses if you’re a B2B type) see it and follow suit.

PPC Campaigns

Pay per click (PPC) is a model of internet marketing where brands are charged based on the number of times a link is clicked.

It sounds complicated (and it kinda is when you start looking at how much you pay for each keyword), but once you’ve bid on a handful of keywords, the rest should make sense.

Businesses are spending up to five figures on this type of marketing as they see the potential in it. It’s one of those methods that a lot of brands know of, but lack a deeper understanding to fully benefit from it.

Here’s how PPC works, step by step:

pay per click infographic

There are multiple benefits to running a PPC campaign. For example, say you pay £1.50 per click and make a sale worth £150 off the back of a promoted link at the top of Google. That’s a 100% profit you’ve made, just like that!

It can take a lot of time to research the types of keywords that apply to your business. It can take a lot longer to work out why it isn’t working and why it hasn’t generated the results you were hoping for.

This is where Canny comes in.

By partnering with us, you guarantee a straightforward path to PPC success.

We look at your business, identify the best possible keywords that apply to you based on budget, and take it from there. We’ll also answer any questions you might have on the topic, to ensure that you’re clued up on what’s going on and how you’re doing.

We should state that this isn’t one of those overnight sensations. A strong PPC campaign can take months before it really takes off.

What’s that saying? Rome wasn’t built in a day.

Well, results from an effective PPC campaign weren’t either.

Content Marketing

Want to know how you can establish yourself as a business in-the-know? Content marketing is the answer. This strategy is all about creating and sharing content (be it videos, podcasts, or blogs) that is relevant to you and your sector.

Content that should be engaging, informative, and witty where it needs to be. Of course, this will all depend on the type of business you are and the tone of voice you wish to use.

Which is something you ought to outline when writing your strategic marketing plan. We’ll be covering tone of voice again when we look at how you write a marketing plan, but for now let’s stay on topic.

Offering value where value is needed, that’s what you’ll be doing if you head down the content marketing path. You’re giving a reason for customers or businesses to come back to you and move them along your sales funnel.

Also, content marketing is known to stand the test of time. Meaning it lasts a hell of a lot longer than an ad.

It could also be a lot more relevant if you’re using it to answer specific questions — remember, content marketing is one of the best examples of indirect marketing.

Account-Based Marketing (ABM)

Maximising your ROI is the prime objective of account-based marketing (ABM). It involves marketers working very closely with sales to work out what the best course of action is when marketing to other businesses.

In other words, businesses waste less time chasing unqualified leads, prioritising the cream of the crop, each time!

You see, with this marketing strategy, high-value accounts are favoured most, those that will cause a surge in growth for that particular company and elevate it to new heights.

Furthermore, it’s a great way of creating synergy between two departments within a single organisation. The two should work in-sync, communicating back and forth to ensure that every step is the right one.

Sales/marketing must employ strategies that locate, engage with and close deals with those that offer maximum returns — or retain those of companies the business has already worked with prior, for ABM to be successful.

Inbound marketing techniques, such as SEO, are fine tools in luring high-value targets. Targets will organically find their way to you via specific keywords this way.

Once you have them, businesses must deliver on consistent customer experiences, which shouldn’t prove too difficult as ABM is a long process that could last years.

stack of magazines

Earned Media and PR

The concept of earned media can be a tricky one to understand, but we’ve got your back on this one.

So what is earned media exactly, and what does it have to do with marketing approaches ahead of how to write a marketing plan? Well, it essentially covers any material written about you or your business that you didn’t have a hand in creating or paid for.

It’s all about publicity, the kind you’d get from journalists, PR, social media, online reviews and more. Word of mouth marketing is roped into this too.

Organic traffic to a website is also classed as earned media, which is only amplified when marketers take advantage of content marketing and SEO.

The former is an interesting one, as you could class it as owned media, yet Google’s search engine results page (SERP) is an earned ranking. Meaning it’s an exception to the rule.

Earned media is often tied to paid media, in that it refers to gains in publicity through non-paid promotional tactics only — whereas paid media is all about publicity that you’ve picked up from advertising.

Some call it ‘free media’ so if you see that term being thrown around, you’ll now know what it means. As marketers, you should be looking at all types of unique ways to get your business out there.

Earned media is one of the ways you can do it. Viral marketing is a great way of building your earned media profile as it gets people talking, which increases brand recognition in turn.

Industry Events

Industry events give businesses the opportunity to mingle with potential customers and potential business clients. It’s a chance to market yourself face-to-face and show just how passionate you are about what you do and the importance of your products or services in the grand scheme of things.

What’s more is there are industry events tied to every business market known to man. There should be no excuses as to why you can’t attend these events as a business.

And if there isn’t one, organise your own and invite established customers amongst some new ones. Advertise the event on social media and really take advantage of something that doesn’t happen often.

Data collection is something you can do at industry events, which applies to email marketing and general retention marketing, if you can make sales there and then!

Nothing is lost in translation if you’re marketing yourself in person and understand your brand through and through.

For startups and medium sized businesses looking to grow, attending industry events are a must.

Consider it a true test in strategic marketing.

You can’t rely on digital methods all the time. Sometimes you have to get out there and parrot all the great work you’re doing/why you/your products are worth working with.

POP Marketing

Point of purchase marketing (POP marketing) is how brands market specific products or services for sale in a way that is almost impossible to ignore. It’s a marketing technique that exists online and in person.

Some of the most common examples are those you might see in a store. You know those signs/boards that highlight sales and offers?

Yeah, that’s POP marketing.

The idea is that you showcase specific products or services amongst some of its other offerings. What that could be will vary from business to business.

Restaurants, for example, might want to encourage patrons to try the evening specials. A simple display case on each table with the specials could encourage customers to try it out instead of going for something from the set menu.

With digital, businesses might direct visitors to certain pages/products with the use of pop ups that appear on the landing page.

This works great for seasonal offers or general end of year sales where businesses can sell the last of its inventory.

POP marketing is simple to pull off, as long as you have an idea of what you’d like to attract your audience’s attention to. We’d recommend that you don’t go overboard with your POP marketing campaigns.

Pop up ads do annoy some customers if done repeatedly. Remember, not everyone is going to be interested in the deals you put in front of them.

We don’t want to call it spam, but others might.


Co-branding is all about aligning your brand with another for mutual benefit, usually to sell something that the two have collaborated on. Think of it like a dream matchup, like when Apple aligned with Nike to create the Apple Nike Watch series.

Here are some of our personal favourite co-branding matches from the past few years:

  • BMW x Louis Vuitton
  • GoPro x Red Bull
  • Gorillaz x Levis
  • Uber x Spotify

Fashion brands, especially those occupying the high-end of the spectrum, will often work alongside brands with buzz to create limited collections that marries two styles together.

Businesses are a lot more open-minded these days, they’re more likely to try something unconventional to create some buzz. Which, as you know, is great for word of mouth marketing and inciting viral marketing.

Co-branding is different to co-marketing as it tends to involve brands coming together to work on one thing. Co-marketing is more of a trade-off, where brands take one another’s products or services to promote.

There are differences in affinity marketing and affiliate marketing too, despite the similarities in how it’s spelt. Affinity marketing, otherwise known as partnership marketing, is all about working together on a set strategic marketing plan.

Affinity marketing and co-branding are interchangeable terms for the most part.

Both involve businesses working together to increase brand awareness and grow their customer base by association and by the quality of the products/services offered by the two.

Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing is another example of businesses working with others to grow. In this case, brands promote other brands, earning commission in return. Affiliate marketing is part of a monetisation model that benefits synergy between brands.

Most affiliate programs, like Amazon’s Associate Program, include several brands under the same umbrella. This gives businesses multiple options in terms of who they want promoting their products or services.

How does someone promote your work through affiliate marketing though?

That’s easy. These brands simply plug your product or service through blogs, social media, podcasts, or on its website. Tracking links are used to work out how many times a customer has bought something through an affiliate site.

This is how sites are paid accordingly, via trackable links. How much a company is paid will depend on the deals put in place. Most earn around 5% per sale.

It’s a low risk option for businesses. Moreover, it’s a great option for small to medium sized enterprises (SMEs) to get the rub from much larger businesses.

That being said, brands should always align themselves with brands that coincide with their own. If you sell cooking-related products, then in an ideal world you should be looking at affiliates within that industry (i.e. restaurants and chef bloggers).

woman using rode mic


There’s a podcast for everything these days, which gives marketers the opportunity to market their products/services directly in the ears of target audiences.

Audio advertising is another example of outbound marketing, in that brands can entice new customers courtesy of special discount codes (usually in reference to the show they’re advertising with) and referrals from the hosts themselves, as they often read ad copy out loud.

Copy that you’ve written for them.

Most podcasts you come across will be part of an affiliate program, by the way. It means you can advertise on multiple shows at any given time. Furthermore, it cuts down on the amount of time it takes to reach out to the podcasts you think would benefit your business.

Another option would be creating a podcast of your own to market your products/services indirectly without reaching out to others.

Live that DIY life and create another way for potential customers/leads to find you.

This falls under the content marketing category as niche businesses operating in developing sectors can use podcasts to answer questions and provide accurate info on topics that have previously gone ignored.

Podcasting is a big one if you’re looking at effective marketing approaches in the current media landscape.

It’s true that there’s a podcast for everything, but are they any good? That’s the question.

If they aren’t, that’s your in.

In Short: The Best Marketing Approaches for Strategic Marketing

It’s as we said, there has never been a better time to be a marketer when you consider the many ways you can wrangle your audience.

The crazy thing is, marketers are continuing to find new ways of spreading the word, thanks to new platforms and strategies that form around said channels!

There are so many channels and so many strategies that brands can employ to gather leads or create demand around their business. Many will take advantage of a hybrid approach on purpose, or simply through happenstance.

As mentioned, viral marketing does play off of word of mouth/referrals which is blown up even more with social media marketing (both paid and organic).

Organic content (content marketing) and POP marketing are also very simple to set up as organic means of marketing. The former is the centrepiece of most strategic marketing campaigns for marketers looking at the long-term.

We can tell you it works based on our own experiences. There’s content on our site that we wrote years ago — content that is still bringing in leads to this day!

In the next section, we’ll be getting down to the nitty gritty, as we look at how to write a marketing plan from scratch.

This will be essential reading for brands that have yet to write one of their own. Or for marketers going through a check list of what they should include.

Crumpled Paper Around A3 Pad

Campaign Planning: How to Write a Strategic Marketing Plan in Full

A strategic marketing plan consists of several components, defining everything from your marketing goals to your marketing approaches. There needs to be a lot of emphasis on your target audiences too, as this will act as an anchor for everything you do, more or less.

Why is a marketing plan important again?

It ensures that the steps you’re taking are calculated, and never without a lack of thought. And how you write a marketing plan will determine how easy it is to understand.

If it’s a complicated read — or parts don’t make sense — then odds are, you’ve written it wrong and should go back to the drawing board. In other words, it should be clear to you and everyone reading before you even think about actioning anything.

Try not to worry.

Below you’ll find everything you need to write an effective marketing plan, as advertised.

Let’s go.

Setting a Strategic Marketing Timescale

How long will your strategic marketing plan go on for? This is one of the first questions you should be asking yourself when formulating a marketing plan.

It will keep you in check by providing an overview of when certain tasks need to be completed by — including when certain resources (videos, graphics, and ebooks, for example) need to be made so that brands can schedule content ahead of time, as is the case with social media marketing.

When you run a marketing campaign matters. Seasons change, as do the spending habits of potential clients — this applies to B2B and B2C businesses.

Throwing something together haphazardly is only going to tell your audiences that you lack organisation and focus as the quality, or lack thereof, will show.

We’d recommend creating a digital spreadsheet to help write everything down. Doing this means you can switch certain tasks around if need be. Granting access to other members of the team will allow them to provide some input too, before you finalise your marketing timeline.

We’ve placed organising timescales first as it’s arguably the most important thing to consider in terms of how to write a marketing plan — on par with outlining your target audience, in our opinion.

When in doubt, look at your timeline. Setting your marketing timescale should keep you on the right track, making sure no one lags behind.

Setting Strategic Marketing Goals

Your marketing goals should be quantifiable, let’s say that right off the bat. Businesses should also be realistic with their goals, as it will determine the success or failure of set campaigns.

Some strategic marketing plans are a learning curve, and an education in what not to do, or adjust in future to be successful. Don’t be too ambitious with your marketing goals.

Try to stick to the goals that matter to you at that moment. Overreaching is a lot more common than you think.

Sure, a hybrid approach to marketing can help you do one or multiple things simultaneously. But for first time marketers (those in the SME category) it might be better to start with something simple and work your way up.

Of course, this will depend on your budget and timescales, but you get what we mean.

Marketing goals could look like any of the following:

  • Increase Brand Awareness
  • Generate Quality Leads
  • Establish Thought Leadership
  • Increase Conversion Rates
  • Grow Website Traffic
  • Increase Engagements

Marketing models like DAGMAR (defining advertising goals for measured advertising results) is a great way of outlining your goals if you’re struggling.

This strategy guides the consumer through four phases in awareness, comprehension, conviction and action.

Each defines four steps of a campaign, starting with the generation of awareness of the brand, followed by increasing comprehension of the product (complete with benefits).

After that, you should look to convince consumers that they need the product, before coming to an end once consumers are incentivised to buy what it is you’re selling.

DAGMAR actually contains two main goals, one to develop a communication task that hits those four phases (often abbreviated as ACCA). The other is all about making sure the success of said goals can be measured against a baseline.

The model itself was introduced by Russell Colley back in 1961. He saw effective advertising as the means to communicate rather than sell to hit certain goals.

That being said, how marketers reach their goals depends entirely on the marketing approaches taken by the marketing department.

Which Types of Content Work Most Effectively

As we’ve covered above, there are plenty of strategic marketing lanes brands can take to market themselves to potential customers — be it individuals or other businesses.

Understanding your goals, like those mentioned just now, will help you decide on which types of content will work best for you. Although, some do work better than others.

Rather than repeat ourselves, and talk about the various channels you can implement in your written marketing plan — a key area in the plan itself, mind you — we’ve decided to highlight those that are the most effective.

The current marketing climate is highly saturated, meaning you need to be on your a-game if you want to stand out.

We don’t want to write the same waffle as all those other ‘how to write a marketing plan’ posts you see online.

Canny wants you to capitalise on your potential. Which is why we’re all for helping you out, straight up.

person pointing at a map with a camera in the background

Video Marketing is Universal

Content where nothing is left up to interpretation as the information is right there in front of you.

Video marketing is universal in that businesses of all sizes can create this type of content and have it succeed — if what you’ve created is worth watching, that is.

The quality of the video produced will depend on budgets and timescales. Still, you can produce an informative 30 second ad that will get you noticed by your target audience, as long as the topic of the video is on point and actually helpful.

Video content is also very shareable in that you can distribute it just about everywhere, from the home page on your website, to social media, to blog posts directly!

Content Marketing/SEO is Long-Term Gold

Running a longer campaign has clear-cut advantages in terms of brand awareness and lead generation. Content marketing coupled with SEO are a match made in heaven from a content standpoint.

It’s a slow-burn type of strategy, sure. But it has the power to complete multiple goals at the same time. With quality blog content, for example, you can increase organic search traffic for your website, build brand awareness, and keep your readers engaged.

Content marketing/SEO is long-term gold and a crossroads for multiple strategies. It has so many applications, and when done right, can give your brand its own voice/style in your respective market.

Pay Per Click Nets Immediate Results

PPC has multiple benefits if you’re thinking of including this strategy in your marketing plan. PPC works well with your SEO efforts, and in your abilities to net instant traffic to your site.

It helps SEO as you can use it in correlation with keywords that you already rank for. And while organic search ranking can take months to grow, PPC can net immediate results/traffic to your site!

Remember, PPC is a direct/indirect hybrid that has a lot of sway in terms of the links people interact with on search engines. However, you’ll need to find the right keywords ahead of time.

You should outline all relevant keywords in your written marketing plan. Some cost more than others on a per click basis. Detailed research will be key in finding the right keywords.

Cost-effective keywords might be better if your budget is limited. However, it takes some skill to find them.

It’s a skill we’ve already mastered.

Social Media Marketing Increases Your Chances of Going Viral

Social media marketing has multiple applications, used as a day-to-day tool for sharing content and keeping your followers in the loop.

Creative organic content also has the ability to go viral. We say organic as paid ads are a little different. Paid social works a lot better when it’s highly targeted and knows what it’s doing. Whereas organic content is a lot freer in comparison.

Social media is another indirect content tool (organically speaking), that coincides with what we were just saying about video marketing. You see, videos have a habit of going viral a lot more than static imagery.

Going viral is a powder keg (the good kind) just waiting to happen, given what it can do for brand recognition. Startups have the opportunity to jumpstart their business with viral marketing. All they need is the right strategic marketing plan!

Email Marketing is How You Keep Audiences Coming Back

How to write a marketing plan is pointless if you aren’t thinking about what happens to your customers once they’ve reached the end of your marketing/sales funnel.

Electronic mail is the best retention marketing example we can think of. The same goes for standard mailing, to be fair. Emails, however, are something else.

Keeping established customers, and those yet to make a purchase, in the loop through emails will ensure that you’re never forgotten about for starters. It will show you care too, which blurs the lines of the standard customer/business relationship.

The benefits are huge for something so simple to set up and execute. Furthermore, you can track your email marketing campaigns once they drop! Data like this is hella valuable, not to mention influencing, for when it comes time to plan future retention marketing strategies.

woman looking through file

Managing Your Strategic Marketing Project

To best oversee your marketing plan, you must take on a tonne of responsibility. You are the hammer, and your marketing plan is the nail. Hit it too soft or too hard, and your marketing will suffer from poor handling.

How you manage your marketing project is just as important as how you write a marketing plan, in fact, the two work in parallel. One can’t work effectively alone, it needs the other.

Those at the top should be paying very close attention to every aspect of the marketing plan, as the departments involved in these campaigns will often look to these people for guidance, or simply to answer questions if something isn’t clear enough.

Splitting project management into four unique sections is a great way to approach it:

  • Identify Tasks Leading to Goals
  • Formulate the Plan Itself
  • Execute Your Marketing Plan
  • Go Over Your Results

Let’s look at each to help with your project managing efforts.

Identify Tasks Leading to Marketing Goals

In the first stage, marketers should look to determine key performance indicators (KPIs) to define how successful a campaign is. While in this initial stage, marketers should try to collect as much feedback as possible from stakeholders and the departments involved.

Here you should be working out how much time and resources will go into your marketing campaigns. But most of all, work out what they hope to achieve through this marketing campaign.

Researching is another key component in this stage. Marketers should be studying everything from industry trends to who you hope to target exactly.

Formulate the Strategic Marketing Plan Itself

Formulating the plan itself is a roundabout way of answering how to write a marketing plan, more or less.

It involves taking into account budgets, timescales, resources, strategies, content and tying it all together in one complete plan. Every part of the plan is important, including the executive summary that sits at the very beginning.

Prepping other members of the team/departments is pretty important at this stage too. Holding a kickoff meeting where you openly discuss the plan will ensure that you’re on the right track.

It’s quite the motivational tool for morale, too! It shows you care, and leaves the floor open to any issues that might arise.

Execute Your Strategic Marketing Plan

Cooking an effective marketing plan is one thing, it’s another to serve it.

Marketers should be using this time to monitor progress with data (those KPIs we mentioned), seeing how your marketing efforts are doing in real time. This is possible when you take a digital route, physical marketing is slightly harder to track.

That’s not to say that it’s impossible either. You can track impressions by searching for relevant hashtags across multiple social media networks.

It’s why you see so many physical ads feature QR codes, as brands can use the info to track important data and shorten the marketing funnel as consumers can just jump straight to the relevant pages on a site.

During this time, marketers should, ideally, be checking in with other members of the team to monitor the progress of the campaign. Doing this will identify any challenges that appear.

After all, you can plan for everything but with marketing, nothing is off the table. And that goes for how audiences react to and communicate with your marketing.

If an image on a digital ad is misinterpreted as something offensive, and is highlighted by users, then you might want to pull the ad and alter the artwork.

person using iPhone calculator

Go Over Your Results

Just because your marketing campaign has finished doesn’t mean that the work is done.

This post-show period is where marketers should evaluate the performance of the campaign, cross-referencing the results with those given by your KPIs. The result is you get to measure the success/failure of your marketing plan.

You should collect insights and any relevant feedback from the team at this point, regardless of the outcome (any experience is good experience and all that). Data of this kind will come in handy for your next campaign and reports.

An action plan that details areas of improvement amongst other bits of info will help establish a template that you can apply to future marketing plans!

Marketing projects go off without a hitch A) because the marketing plan is detailed enough, and B) because those managing the project are great at organising every relevant department, and themselves, if need be — before, during and after campaigns.

Defining Deliverables in the Campaign Planning Stage

For the non-project management types out there, the term ‘deliverables’ refers to the quantifiable goods or services that must be provided once a project reaches completion. It’s incredibly important that at the start of any project, marketers define project deliverables, for obvious reasons.

Let’s use an example to illustrate how you can define your deliverables in relation to how to write a marketing plan.

Let’s say you’ve decided to go down the content marketing route. Your deliverables in this case, could look a little something like this:

  • 3x Blog Posts
  • 1x EBook
  • SEO Audit
  • Keyword Research

This is but one example of the types of deliverables that certain agencies, such as ourselves, would need to complete by a specific date as it states in the contract.

Deliverables can be tangible or intangible, and internal or external. Which it is will depend on the project itself. In the case of how to write a marketing plan, looking at the latter is a lot more helpful, at least from a point of understanding.

For marketers, tasks such as competitor analysis, messaging (how you hope to communicate with your audience), and budget planning are all examples of internal deliverables – as in those that aid your goals when writing a marketing plan.

External deliverables cover things like finalised strategic marketing approaches. A social media marketing campaign is an external deliverable, for example.

Honestly, sorting through internal deliverables will more than likely benefit marketers the most. It allows these individuals to plan everything in accordance with project milestones so that they can execute external deliverables.

Project objectives typically set your project deliverables.

When in deliverable doubt, look at what your goals are and then think about how you hope to get there.

Ask yourself, what is this plan looking to achieve? And what does success look like for this particular project? Your deliverables should make themselves known shortly after.

person pointing at bar chart on laptop screen

Measuring and Metrics

Measuring and metrics run side by side, to the point where most marketers confuse one for the other, or vice versa. The waters get even muddier when you add KPIs to the mix.

All are important to the evaluation process, in how you evaluate how your business is doing currently, how your campaigns are behaving, and what takeaways are there once a campaign concludes.

All valuable assets to have if you’re a marketer that understands the need for quantifiable data that you can refer to in future when it’s time to write another strategic marketing plan.

There’s only one way to separate them, and that’s by defining each term once and for all.


From a data point of view, measures are the numbers of values that you can track. This includes sales, leads, durations, etc etc. Measuring and something known as ‘dimensions’ are often linked, which define the categorical sections used to segment, filter or group info together.

Let’s use an example for context: say you sell 30 jumpers and 10 socks via digital advertising. How many units sold is the measure, whereas the dimension is the product type.

The fact that measures are unit-specific separates them from metrics. It shares more in common with KPIs, if anything. Although there are differences in that measures are often faceless numbers/values.

KPIs are more context-driven.


Metrics are something you might have a general understanding of but aren’t sure what it is completely. A ‘metric’ is a quantifiable measure used to track and assess the status of certain processes.

Most metrics you see are gathered and used to build a dashboard of sorts that compiles all information into one place (otherwise known as KPIs).

Multiple departments will deal in metrics to analyse everything from account to general operations. For marketers, metrics are used to pinpoint output targets, project progression, and the overall success of campaigns.

To be specific, metrics can help marketers see areas for improvement. Say a brand has a lot of people subscribed to its mailing list, but very few actually convert. One look at certain metrics will tell businesses that they should change things up a bit.

Varying up the copy to be more sales driven (bottom funnel content) could increase sales. Without metrics, you wouldn’t know there was a problem!

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

We’ve mentioned them a few times already in our how to write a marketing plan post, but have yet to describe key performance indicators (KPIs).

Until now, where it applies to what we’re talking about specifically — that being quantifiable data to help you and your business plan ahead accordingly.

A KPI is a measurable value that actively highlights how effective a company is in achieving its primary objectives. These indicators demonstrate how effective a company is in hitting its objectives.

KPIs evaluate data over set periods, making them pretty handy to have when compared to past performance metrics.

A relevant indicator to track would be organic search, which businesses can compare to past metrics that detail paid reach. From there, businesses could evaluate which works better for them, paid or organic.

We’ll be touching on KPIs once more in our next section on how you can effectively measure your marketing output. Understanding the difference between metrics, measures and KPIs is only half the battle if you don’t know of other ways to determine the results of your campaigns.

tape Measure Across Book Cover

How to Effectively Measure Your Strategic Marketing Output

To ask yourself how to effectively measure your marketing output is to ask yourself how you measure the overall success of your efforts. And there are multiple ways to effectively measure your marketing output.

Of course, the dream of any marketer is to increase revenue while driving down the costs of customer acquisition. But with certain strategic marketing methods, the results do vary. Some might champion engagements over profit and see that as a win on the side of brand awareness.

Here are some of the best metrics that you can use to effectively measure your marketing output:

  • Pipeline Growth: Your sales pipeline is essentially your sales funnel — which usually applies to marketing campaigns that put commerce above all else. Metrics give brands the ability to see which parts of the funnel work better for gathering leads and working them down the funnel.
  • Cost Per Lead (CPL): Gathering leads and getting them to convert is great and all, but if it costs a lot to get them to that stage is it really worth it? To work out your CPL simply take your marketing spend and divide it by the number of new leads. A high CPL isn’t necessarily a bad thing. You might find that spending more nets you higher quality leads!
  • Conversion Rates: This metric is great for tracking website traffic and other info relating to your strategic marketing campaigns. By tracking conversion rates, brands can use percentages to see which channels are better suited for varying types of campaigns.
  • Brand Awareness: Measuring brand awareness isn’t as simple as seeing how many followers you have on social media (although it is handy info to have). Brand awareness surveys, social engagement and impressions are all very valuable. Remember, awareness is an integral part of most marketing funnels.
  • Organic Search: This (organic search) applies to SEO and content marketing mostly. Metrics such as backlinks, keyword rankings, online conversions and organic traffic are all essential in measuring the effectiveness of your content.
  • Click-Through Rate (CTR): For PPC, CTR will be the metric to follow. Click-through rate is vital as it is tied to your quality score and how much you pay every time someone clicks on your ads. You can also use CTR to measure the effectiveness of things such as email marketing campaigns. Here’s the formula for how you can work out your CTR: (Total Clicks on Ad) / (Total Impressions) = Click-Through Rate.

Most marketers will weigh their output with the goals they had at the start. This is where your KPIs come in handy as they gather info during your strategic marketing campaigns.

It’s not like you have to wait until a campaign has finished before seeing your results for the first time. Even with traditional advertising brands have access to social media metrics to compile info on how many times they’ve been mentioned since launching a campaign.

We’ve said it a few times already, but we need to stress this if you’re learning how to write a marketing plan: define how you measure success within your marketing plan before the campaign officially begins.

If your marketing plan is detailed enough and features KPIs/metrics that are helpful, then you should have no trouble at all with effectively measuring your marketing output.

How else are you to learn ahead of future campaigns?

Data enrichment is another option for brands looking to improve the accuracy of their data. This is where brands seek the help of a third party to clean existing data in order to make it a lot more palatable — or, in other words, recognisable.

The data supplied here works hand-in hand with internal information that marketers have gathered through their campaigns and research.

We shouldn’t need to explain the benefits of highly accurate marketing data.

You’re clever marketers, figure it out!

Confused Man Frustrated with Laptop

11 Things You Need To Know Before Engaging a Creative Agency

Seeking the help of a third party is not you admitting defeat. Think of it more as assembling a team to get the best results possible for you and your brand on the marketing front.

What’s the alternative? Create a subpar strategic marketing campaign that burns through your entire marketing budget without warning?

Not every business will have the resources or the time to create campaigns that generate leads and conversions. This is where seeking the help of a creative marketing agency can help.

Choosing a creative agency is a big deal and a big commitment.

You want to know you’ve hired the right team for the job, and that you can trust them to support the needs of your company.

After all, you’re making an investment that could affect your business in a variety of ways — one of them being, longevity.

Regardless of whether you’re part of the Marketing Department at an SME or larger company, a standalone marketer, or a startup founder, choosing the right creative agency is crucial.

Challenges of Choosing a Creative Agency to help with your Strategic Marketing

With that said, how do you decide which creative agency is right for you?

From knowing your marketing and creative budget, to understanding key deadlines, there are lots of things to consider when choosing an agency to aid you in your strategic marketing efforts.

Aside from that, there’s lots of things you need to know about the agencies you’re looking at too, before deciding on the right fit.

You don’t want to commit and then realise they don’t have any time or capacity to meet your expectations.

Are you going to struggle to get their attention when you need them? Have they got other big clients which eat up their time and resources?

It’s important that you feel valued in the ways that matter.

Working with an agency is a highly collaborative process, one that must satisfy your needs and the needs of the agency. The relationship needs to work for both parties to ensure it’s a success, otherwise the project will suffer. it takes two to tango, and two to fulfil your marketing needs!

At Canny, we value each and every one of our clients as we see these connections as partnerships. And we understand the importance of a smooth process, one that supports you through every step.

Furthermore, we want you to be actively involved with what we do for you. We’re but one phone call/Zoom invite away.

Things to Consider When Choosing a Creative Agency

From checking out their current/past clients, to seeing how they respond to people on social, there are a tonne of crumbs for you to follow that help determine the right agency for you.

Be sure to look out for any red flags early, as some agencies make a habit out of keeping things under wraps so that you still work with them. It’s why you should always start by checking out their website.

Checking out what these agencies offer, services-wise, should tell you right then and there if it’s worth reaching out or not.

You can dig a little deeper by seeing what former clients have to say about the agency in question. Take a look at what other clients say about them. Have they had a good experience? Do they recommend their services?

The devil is often in the details if the referrals you see aren’t convincing enough — or, you know, are clearly fabricated.

It’s important you find out what to expect from an agency before committing to the process. It will save you a lot of time, stress, and money in the long run.

So, how do you decide which creative agency to move forward with?

Examples of Work on a Laptop

1. Find Out How Many Other Clients They Have Already

Timing is everything for marketers, so it’s important to ask: are you going to be competing for time with other clients?

If an agency has lots of clients, they might not be able to offer you the same level of dedication. Their team will be working across lots of different projects and will be pulled in different directions.

Of course, agencies are more than equipped to pick up the slack — it’s the nature of the job, after all. Still, there are limits to how many clients a single agency can deal with. A team of 7 dealing with 70 clients should tell you they’ll be pretty busy.

It also depends on the level of support your business needs. If you’re a startup, you might require more marketing assistance than most.

This will require a lot more input from your creative agency as everything needs to be done from scratch. If they are working with lots of other clients, will they have the time and capacity needed to ensure that your marketing gets the attention it needs?

You want total peace of mind. You want to be considered as important as every other brand in its books.

Partnership is key, and you should feel supported and valued throughout the process. How else are you to successfully market your brand and what you sell if you aren’t given this time?

2. Find Out What Other Clients Say About Them

All the best agencies will offer testimonials for you to check out.

At Canny, we put all of our testimonials front and centre on our homepage. We want you to see how skilled/proud we are to have worked with a variety of clients covering a wide range of industries in and out of a marketing realm.

Not to brag or anything, but we also have lots of positive feedback from Google Reviews (there’s a bunch of 5 star ratings in there).

Background research is essential when looking for an agency to help you with your strategic marketing plans, and there’s no better place to look than places like Google Reviews.

Clients are the nucleus of a creative agency. Without them, they’d have nothing to do pretty much. We’re gonna get pretty meta here, but we’re living proof that referrals, when linked to quality content marketing/SEO, works.

You should want to share the experiences of your customers/clients, if possible. In the same way that agencies like Canny should as it’s a big tick in the win column.

Credibility establishes trust, bridging the gap between potential consumer and repeat customer.

Again, taking your time to read through reviews will ensure that everything these creative agencies you’re looking at are what they say they are.

Oh, and keep your eyes open for any referrals from marketers and project managers. These types of quotes carry a lot more weight as they’re, obviously, talking about something you might need help with.

What does this have to do with how to write a marketing plan? Well, if you have a quality partner by your side your confidence will grow to the point where you might try strategies that you might have never tried otherwise!

*Cough*Content marketing*Cough*

3. Look At Their Company Culture

The personality of the agency is an important factor too.

Do you think that the creative agency you’re looking at will be easy to work with for the full length of a marketing campaign, potentially?

Your marketing goals will be your own, and you’ll have different expectations in terms of what success will look like. It’s why you need to ensure you work with an agency that is great at discussing ideas and giving feedback.

Look through their website to get a feel for what type of company it is. Do they seem like the stern “my way or nothing” type? Or, do they look open in the “this is great, but have you thought of this” way?

Scanning the social media channels of these agencies is another way that you can gauge what they’re like.

Pay close attention to the language used too.

Marketing is supposed to be engaging for the most part. And corporate spiel on sites/socials should tell you that it’s a total culture clash. It also tells you that they have a very antiquated way of thinking, which is the exact opposite of what you should want when marketing is involved.

The creative agencies you work with should feel like an extension of your current team, sharing a forward-thinking mindset that prioritises success.

4. Can They Answer Your Strategic Marketing Questions Quickly?

You should work with an agency that treats your marketing as if it’s their own, because it sort of is, in a way.

This goes back to what we’ve just said about finding an agency that feels like an extension of your brand. A dedicated agency should be just as hyped to smash your strategic marketing goals as you are.

You can test how dedicated an agency is by seeing how responsible they are to initial communication.

Ask yourself the following questions once you’ve narrowed down your pool of creative agencies:

  • How do they respond?
  • How long did it take for them to respond to your marketing enquiry?
  • Who actually responds to your message?
  • Are they informal or formal when they talk to you?

These are simple questions/considerations, but they matter. If an agency takes longer than a few days to respond then you might want to consider another agency.

It can seem drastic, but a dedicated agency should stay ahead of the curve when it comes to marketing enquiries. It shows how motivated they are to get started, and will tell you they’re quick to jump if you ever have any questions once you’ve hired them!

man and woman on a Zoom call

5. How Do They Communicate On Strategic Marketing Projects?

It doesn’t matter if your company is based in Timbuktu or Antarctica, communication needs to be solid for marketing-based projects to really hit.

Communication is key to collaborating with a creative agency.

We have the internet to really thank, with things like Zoom, Teams, WhatsApp, Google Suite, Slack and email all just sitting there and ready to be used. All are excellent communication tools that ensure you’re kept in the loop with the agencies you go with.

Canny use all of the above mentioned channels, and find the experience pretty seamless when chatting to clients about their marketing goals and expectations.

Another thing you should be asking is: does the agency I’m talking to have flexible working hours to resolve issues should they appear?

An agency with a bunch of channels tends to mean yes — especially those using platforms like WhatsApp and Slack which you can get on your phone as apps.

6. How Have They Developed With Each Project

A creative agency should be, well, creative — that goes without saying.

But not all of them started that way, some started small and grew into what you see today. And others haven’t changed in 10 years, would you really want to work with an agency that doesn’t embrace the right kind of change?

An agency running off of a website that makes dial-up look like 5G should be considered a no go. The same goes for a so-called ‘creative agency’ that features a dormant blog that has nothing of value to offer.

How are they going to help you with marketing, seriously?

First impressions are everything, which is why we put our best foot forward. We sell content marketing as a service which means our content needs to be of a certain standard to back up every time we’ve mentioned the benefits of this strategic marketing method.

The creative agencies you align yourself with should want to strive to be the best, and should want to develop with every new client.

There’s no room for half-baked content when marketing is concerned, trust us.

7. Who Will Be Your Point of Contact?

When writing your marketing plan, it’s important to include an executive summary, marketing goals, timescales, metrics etc. It’s also very important that when writing down your marketing costs that you outline agency costs.

You might also want to make a note of that when you talk about the marketing approaches that you’ve decided on.

Somewhere in there, you might want to include contact information for the agency you go with — or more specifically, your point of contact if you’ve already reached out.

It depends on the agency, but you could be communicating with multiple members of an agency at any given time.

If your calls are answered by a different person every time you have a strategic marketing question, are they going to understand where you’re coming from? We say that as you might have spoken to other members of the team up until that point.

Ideally, you should want one point of contact, someone who you can rely on and communicate with often.

Your initial meetings with an agency might be with the man/woman in charge, but you’ll more than likely work with another member of the team once it comes time to start the project.

8. Do They Dabble In Content Marketing

We referenced Content is King earlier, and we’re going to do it again to emphasise the importance of original content.

Content is King.

And a creative agency should be posting often to again emphasise the value that it brings from a marketing standpoint.

Content marketing alone, as a strategic process, is a great way to grow organic traffic, traffic that you can convert to leads. It puts businesses in a fantastic position, both in the literal sense (it places you higher on search engines), and in the metaphorical sense (you are placed above your competitors as a leading brand).

With content marketing, you have the power to inform, engage, entertain and educate. It doesn’t matter what sector you operate in either, it applies to all!

You should know this if you read our previous section — the one that was well before how to write a marketing plan. The one about the various marketing approaches you have at your current disposal.

Savvy companies should never trust a creative agency that doesn’t create its own agency, in the same way that you would never trust a bartender that doesn’t drink.

How is an agency going to help you in your marketing efforts if they don’t employ similar strategies themselves?

We’ll answer that for you.

They can’t.

Man Discussing Video with Client

9. How Long Have They Been Helping Brands With Their Strategic Marketing Goals?

Age isn’t just a number, it’s a way to measure the experience level of the agencies you’re looking at.

Is the agency you’re looking at relatively young? Or have they been around the marketing block a few times? There are advantages and disadvantages to both.

Newer creative agencies — as in those that have been around for less than 6 months — might seem like a risk as they lack the experience, but businesses shouldn’t write them off completely. These types of companies tend to see things differently as they aren’t heavily influenced by external factors.

This can lead to new and exciting marketing ideas. Ahead of the curve ideas that could put you ahead of your competitors.

Do you mind being one of their first clients? Knowing that they lack experience?

Established agencies have the benefit of hindsight. They know how to manage clients and juggle multiple different projects akin to a certain cat wearing a red and white hat.

These agencies are seasoned, and understand what it takes to ensure deliverables are handed in on time, and that everything else is accounted for.

That being said, experience doesn’t mean they’re good at what they do. It’s for this reason that you should take the age of an agency with a pinch of salt.

When looking for agency help to achieve your marketing goals, it’s important to weigh age fairly amongst some of the other factors mentioned above and below.

10. Research Their Creative Process

Understanding how the creative process works is essential as it gives you an idea of what to expect from the concept stage to completion.

The process should be easy to understand and should outline the key milestones of the project and how these will be achieved. It should be thorough and provide enough detail for you to understand where your marketing budget is going.

The way they run their creative process also keeps the project on track and accounts for meetings and feedback sessions.

It also keeps you on track in line with your marketing plan.
If a creative agency doesn’t have a process in place, then how do they operate?

How do they manage and fulfil your marketing expectations? Maybe they’re still figuring this out, which could be considered one of those red flags we’ve mentioned.

We work on a case by case basis, so if you do reach out to Canny, we’ll formulate a plan around your strategic marketing goals, budget and timescales. The more you tell us, the better we’ll understand.

And yes, our process works, we more than have the evidence to prove it!

11. Do They Offer Other Services?

For some companies — startups, to be specific — additional support might be needed in other areas of the business that they never really thought about, until they found the website of a worthy agency.

We here at Canny offer a variety of services that go beyond content marketing, SEO and PPC. Canny is skilled in countless areas, such as web and branding. The latter is something a lot of businesses should consider alongside the main premise of this post (that being how to write a strategic marketing plan, in case you didn’t already know having skipped to this section).

Canny Creative can help you with your marketing no problem, but we’ll ask you this?

Is quality marketing an actual reflection of your brand in its current state? Could your website be better? And what about your logo, is it as eye-catching as you want it to be?

Agency help is there if you need it. Businesses should never suffer in silence if they know they have something worth marketing, but lack the time, or experience, to roll it out the right way.

We only ask as these things do play into your marketing from a branding perspective. Again, we work on a case by case basis, so can adjust to fit whatever it is you require. Just remember that we’re highly skilled in more ways than one.

We wouldn’t have the word ‘creative’ in the name if we weren’t.

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Strategic Marketing/Campaign Planning Statistics

We’re coming to the end of our post about how strategic marketing and campaign planning can help businesses thrive.

Hopefully you’ll have picked up a thing or two to the point where you are confident enough to go off on your own and put pen to paper — or fingers to keyboards, whichever works for you.

Before you do that, it might be a good idea to read up on the statistics down below to help you reach your marketing goals.

We’ve decided to highlight a handful of stats over the hundreds you see on those ‘the best marketing stats of 2021’ style posts. A) Because it’s a lot less time-consuming, and B) The stats we’ve selected are actually relevant to all kinds of strategic marketing goals/plans.

That’s not to say that those featured on those chunky posts aren’t. We’re just saying some of the best marketing stats are often lost in the shuffle, that’s all.

1. As of 2020, Google’s search algorithms are trying to transcend text to images, voice/podcasts, and videos – HubSpot

Just when you thought new media couldn’t get any better from a word of mouth marketing standpoint, Google goes and alters its algorithms!

We still see a place for blogs and various forms of content marketing, as do many marketers. So don’t go thinking that these are the only marketing approaches moving forwards.

This statistic is simply here to reinforce the fact that measuring this type of content could be a hell of a lot easier in future.

2. 94% of people watch explainer videos to learn how a product works, with 84% actually making a purchase after – Wyzowl

Video marketing is definitely something marketers that work with products should include in their marketing plans. Especially if what they’re selling is slightly complicated and not that simple to understand.

There’s a reason why explainer videos work so well — they’re simple to set up, tend to be on the shorter side (length-wise), and cut straight to the point without the sales jargon.

Sharing this type of content on social media and YouTube could cause you to go viral — like the Flex Tape guy.

3. 53% of marketers say email has been the most effective channel for early-stage lead generation – Demand Gen Report

Email marketing is one of the best marketing approaches as it has multiple uses/applications. It should come as no surprise to marketers that it’s really good at raising the awareness of a brand, through the types of marketing campaigns you can run via electronic mailing.

In fact, email marketing is effective on multiple levels of the marketing/sales funnel.

It’s such an asset to have if you’re looking to run retention marketing-oriented campaigns, like so handy.

4. 35% of salespeople say seasonality is the key reason why they’re most successful during a certain period of the year, while 26% credit understanding industry trends as a major influence on success – Pipedrive

It pays to stay on top of trends and key metrics. It’s almost like a cheat code for increasing your ROI, especially during seasonal periods. Businesses actually create separate seasonal marketing plans that appear around the start of Q4.

Going viral is the goal of many brands around this time of year, with some of the bigger brands utilising TV advertising to increase brand awareness.

Potential customers or more susceptible to marketing/advertising, in general, during this time as they look for gifts.

5. 31% of B2B professionals say that social selling allowed them to build deeper relationships with their clients – SuperOffice

Platforms such as LinkedIn have worked wonders for B2B businesses when it comes to bringing in leads. Relationship marketing requires constant two-way communication for it to be successful.

Marketing to businesses is quite different from marketing to individuals as they often know their segment a little bit better. They’re also a lot more choosy as they tend to spend a lot more money on what it is you’re offering them exactly.

Still, with the right marketing approaches (just any that encourage social selling really) you can move them down your funnel.

6. 51% of companies say updating old content has proven the most efficient tactic implemented – SEMrush

We had to include at least one content marketing-based statistic, this one highlighting how the content you create isn’t set in stone.

Organic content like this can be edited and repurposed to fit the year, or if you simply want to add new sections to strengthen what’s already there!

It’s not like that content is automatically trashed once it drops off in terms of the keywords you originally ranked for. There is value in these posts. All you need to do is find the time to update them.

We’d recommend you complete content audits often, ensuring that everything is of a certain standard and there are no broken links or out of date info, etc etc.

7. Generation X shops online more than baby boomers and millennials – KPMG

Is Generation X your target demo? If so, you might be surprised to learn just how much they shop online compared to those either side of this age bracket.

Why Gen X beats millennials could be down to the fact that millennials are a lot more savvy when it comes to navigating the internet and the real world from an advertising standpoint. They know when they’re being marketed to.

Inbound or outbound, direct or indirect, they know.

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The Complete Guide to Strategic Marketing and Campaign Planning

The future of marketing is bright, so bright in fact given what marketing could look like in the next few years. If you asked marketers what they thought a TikTok was 5 years ago, they probably would have looked at you funny.

There’s no telling what types of strategic marketing approaches exist in the next 5 years, and the following 5 years after that!

One thing won’t change, however, and that’s the fact that businesses will need marketing plans to map it all out ahead of time. They’ll also need to know how to write a marketing plan that appeals to demographics that might not even exist yet.

But yeah, do you feel like you know how to write a strategic marketing plan now? Including everything you need to mention in said plan?

To recap, we’ve covered what a marketing plan is, the varying types of plans you can create and the best marketing approaches/strategies that you can use to achieve your marketing goals.

We’ve also ticked off what is included in a marketing plan — we made sure to stress the importance of an executive summary, timescales, KPIs, and why you need to set goals. Oh, and we also touched on how you can successfully measure your marketing output to help brands in future campaigns.

Everything marketers need to start planning, basically!

The benefits of seeking an agency to assist you in your strategic marketing goals was a topic of conversation too.

Agencies like Canny who want nothing more than to play their part in helping you smash your marketing campaigns. Partnering with us will take your marketing to the next level, guaranteed.

Don’t believe us?

Ask yourself how you got to this very page.

Yeah, we get marketing.

And can help you just the same. Get in touch.