Marketing is a complicated beast. Marketers need to juggle so many things: the clarity of your message, its ultimate purpose, the chosen audience or target market, other messages coming out of your organisation, the medium of communication and so much more.

Before getting caught up in the shiny new tools and tactics of the new year, here is what I believe should be considered in the creation of every marketing strategy, regardless of tactics. Get these right and your chances of success are boosted considerably.

Be your own customer

Don’t tell your customer what you think they need to know – find out what they want from you. Put yourself into your customer’s world so you can fully understand how and why they engage with your brand.

It’s a buyer’s market – they have the power to choose who they purchase from, and our research show that two-thirds will switch brands if you don’t treat them like individuals. So unless you understand them and their motivation, you’re likely to be wasting time and money.

Capture data and use it

How do you get to know your customer? One foolproof way is data analysis.

  • How much do they spend with you?

  • How frequently do they spend with you?

  • How old are they?

  • Where do they hang out?

  • How do they interact with your brand – in store, online, via email, in app, social?

  • Did they come to you as a result of a Facebook campaign, a LinkedIn mention or an email?

Data tells greater truth than customers will tell you themselves. Knowing just a few key metrics about your customers helps you to target your marketing far more efficiently.

Test and change your marketing strategy, then test it again

You need a strategy to deliver against a vision. In order to develop that strategy you need to constantly test and refine. So don’t try to hit it out of the park with your first campaign. Instead, break down what you’re trying to do and begin with something simple. Test whether the content resonates, or whether the offer resonates. Conduct A/B testing and continue to test and refine.

Know your performance levers and when to pull them

The leader of a sales team has different ‘levers’ they can pull at any one time to change something rapidly. If the team is struggling with pipeline, I can pull one lever that creates actions that will increase pipeline. Or if close rates or win rates aren't as high as they should be, a different lever will fix that.

I can only pull those levers if I can see what is happening, what will happen if no action is taken and what will happen if I take action. We have set up key metrics in terms of ensuring a constant sales cycle. Marketing should be no different.

Measure success, record everything you do and use that data to figure out your key metrics. After a while, if you need to sell more widgets into a specific market, for example, then you will know exactly which levers to pull to make that happen.

Don’t treat everyone equally

If data tells you that individuals in a specific group of customers purchase three items every time they visit your website, don’t treat them the same as customers who only buy one item every four visits.

Treat your high-value customers as exactly that – high-value. Make special offers, invite them to events or give them deeper information. Let them know they are receiving better treatment thanks to the fact that they are regular purchasers, just as platinum frequent flyers know they’re being treated better than bronze members.

Ensure marketing, sales and service are singing from the same sheet

When the customer’s experience when dealing with sales staff, or when dealing with customer service officers, is different to the experience promised by the marketing campaign, that’s when you’re in trouble. It causes friction for customers and also causes friction within the business.

Marketing must work closely with sales to ensure they’re running with the right message and so that sales can keep the promise made by the campaign. Constantly communicate between departments and keep visibility as high as possible. This is vital.

So there you have it. Implementing one or all of these tips to get your strategy right will ensure that you make the most of your marketing efforts and resources, no matter what tactics you choose, and make 2017 a stellar year for your company.

For more information on what a connected customer looks like and how you can meet their expectations right now, download the State of the Connected Customer report today.