No matter what stage of growth your business is in, it’s never too late (or too early) to create a marketing strategy.
A finely-tuned marketing plan puts you in control of boosting growth.
A world of email subscribers, influence, authority and revenue awaits you.
I even have a secret weapon that can exponentially grow your email list regardless of the connections you currently have.
Need more customers? Just turn on the tap.
It’s time to growth hack your online business!
EXCLUSIVE FREE BONUS DOWNLOAD
Download my FREE Virtual Summit Mastery Cheat Sheet PDF to learn more about my favorite marketing strategy of all time. It's so powerful that it helped me and my students generate 100,000's of email subscribers and millions of dollars in sales with our virtual summits in just the past year alone.
Note: This in-depth guide to creating your marketing strategy plan is almost 6,000 words long, so you can check the table of contents below to jump to the section you'd like to dive in more to.
Marketing Strategy Definition: What Is Marketing Strategy?
Marketing strategy is a plan that encourages customers to take action.
Most marketers just copy what’s already worked for other businesses, but real growth hacking happens when you start thinking outside of the box.
Building your business means getting creative with marketing, especially when it comes to early traction.
Promote your business through all possible channels (so long as your target demographic resides there, but more on this later…).
Your marketing efforts should keep ad costs low while maximizing your reach.
Find the folks that are most interested in your product or service, warm them up, and get them to take action.
Before you start chasing after customers, get a clear vision of how your marketing ideas mesh with your business goals.
Here’s what I mean...
Setting SMART Marketing Goals
What do you want to accomplish and in what timeframe?
Your marketing goals should be well-defined so that you can track them easily.
Make them achievable yet challenging, and always give yourself a deadline.
How SMART are your marketing goals?
What stage of growth is your business currently in?
Different marketing objectives compliment different phases of growth.
Let’s take a closer look...
Common Marking Goals
Depending on where you’re at, it might be time to focus on blowing up your email list or boosting conversions.
Here’s a list of common marketing goals:
If you’re starting from scratch with little brand awareness and no leads, focus on gaining more followers and building an email list.
You can use an email marketing software like ConvertKit or ActiveCampaign to get started.
Warm up your audience and go for the upsell further down the road.
But hold on, not so fast!
Before you start guiding new customers along the customer journey, it’s important to know your target demographic like the back of your hand.
Let’s take a closer look at how to create a marketing strategy...
How to Create a Marketing Strategy
Before you dive into marketing strategy development, you’re going to need a clear picture of who you’re trying to win over.
Marketing is a dance, and you can’t tango without a solid feel for your target audience.
Know Your Target Demographic
Let’s say that you want to seduce me into becoming your loyal customer (who doesn’t!).
The more you know about me, the more ammo you have in your pocket.
Go all-out by creating a detailed “buyer persona.”
… and above all else, what are their buying motivations and buying concerns (aka pain points)?
Identify their pain points and provide solutions.
Know your target customer like a close friend, then put your assumptions to the test...
Put Your Buyer Persona to the Test
Not a lot of businesses go the extra mile to test their assumptions about their target demographic, but you don’t run just any business.
Marketing ideas don’t become reality until you prove that they’re accurate.
Reach out to people who fit your description of the ideal customer.
Email them, or better yet, get them on the phone for a few minutes.
Ask them what their interests are and get a feel for how good of a match they’ll be for your service.
Get more interviews done by incentivizing with discounts and free giveaways.
In a perfect world, you could contact the right people once and get them to buy.
Here’s how acquiring customers actually works in the real world...
Taking Your Customers from Freezing Cold to Piping Hot
You wouldn’t walk up to somebody you don’t know and ask them to marry you, right?
The same goes for new leads.
In most industries, new customers aren’t going to buy your product the first time they see your ad.
You have to build brand recognition and trust before you can expect them to pull the trigger and buy.
Do this in baby steps. Get them to engage a little bit more at each point of contact.
Here’s how to take them from cold, to lukewarm, to piping hot…
Incubating New Customers
Warming up cold leads typically takes a few points of contact.
Let’s say a potential customer’s first exposure to your brand is through a Facebook ad.
As long as you’ve tested and confirmed your buyer persona, you should have a good chance of getting their attention.
The goal of your first ad is to test engagement.
If you feed me a video ad and I watch it, consider me lukewarm.
Vice President of Digital Marketer
A lot of people run ads right to a product like, "Hey, you never met me, but don't you want to buy this $3,000 product?" It just doesn't make sense in terms of how humans work and how relationships work.
Now you can target me more aggressively on the next go-around.
Maybe you’ll ask for my email in exchange for a free cheat sheet. Since I’m already lukewarm thanks to your first ad, I’ll be more likely to join your email list.
As you get more points of contact with a customer, the chances of them buying into a bigger offer increases.
As trust and familiarity grows, get BOLDER!
Offer to sell them your $17 ebook at 50% off the third time you retarget them.
They’ll be itching to buy.
You’ve warmed them up from ice-cold to hot-tub-level warm.
Now’s the time to upsell your premium product.
Think you’re ready to enter the battlefield and achieve marketing glory?
First, you must know your enemies so that you have a competitive advantage...
Spy on Your Competitors
Your top competitors are your top competitors for a reason: they’re doing a lot of things right.
What’s their secret sauce? Find it. Taste it. Spice it up, and leverage it.
Find out what’s working for them and do it better.
How do they advertise? What marketing channels do they use?
Pinterest campaigns can skyrocket your traffic in certain niches like homemaking and parenting.
Other industries couldn’t give a darn about Pinterest.
Top performers in your industry have probably experimented with several different funnels, tested them, and settled on the best.
Use their split testing to your advantage.
What Are People Saying About Your Competitors?
Use tools like Mention to quickly scan the internet for what people are saying about your rivals on social media.
Some specs to look for include…
Use tools like BuzzSumo to find out which of their articles have the most shares on social media.
Once you’ve done this, it’s time to go super covert with your competitor espionage…
If You Want to Beat ‘em, Join ‘em
Are you curious what the email campaigns of your top competitors look like?
You should be!
Signing up to their email list gives you instant access to their email marketing strategy.
Do they send notifications about weekly articles, promote offers, incentivize for affiliate programs, or all of the above?
You may find out how they promote a new product launch.
Join their list, and you’ll be smack in the middle of their customer journey.
Now that the easy part has been taken care of, let’s dig a little deeper with some good ‘ol fashioned SEO analysis…
Backlink Analysis and Beyond
Got link juice?
Your top competitors sure do, and you might as well know where they got it.
Ahrefs is by far the strongest of the four when it comes to backlink analysis.
They have the second-most active crawlers on the web, second only to Google.
Ahrefs gives you a detailed list of the sites that are linking to your competitors.
...and the ratio of anchor text, you can get a sense of their link profile so you can duplicate their success.
Ahrefs goes a step further and displays link profiles in charts and graphs.
Programs like Ahrefs let you see your competition’s top-ranking content and where they advertise online.
It’s literally a treasure trove of data.
Are you ready to figure out which marketing channels are best for your niche?
Picking Your Marketing Channels
Where does your ideal customer spend their time on the internet?
From your research, you should know how your competitors advertise, so that’s a good place to start.
There are quite a few options when it comes to traffic sources:
Start with what seems to work for the other guys, then split test, split test, and split test some more.
Back in the pre-internet days, all companies had at their disposal was a spray-gun approach to brand exposure.
Plaster a billboard or run television ads and hope that enough of the right people see them.
Well, we’re out of the dark ages and into the golden era of targeted ad campaigns (thank the gods!).
Installing a tracking pixel on your site allows you to record who visits, and more importantly, from where they came.
Co-Founder & CEO of Digital Marketer
Soon all display advertising will be retargeted advertising and the pixel will become even more valuable than the click itself. As larger advertisers continue to buy up ad inventory (and create their own retargeting audiences) those that fail to ‘pixel’ their site visitors won’t be able to afford to advertise.
You can use this information to hit the right leads with the right ads based on their previous behavior. This information becomes incredibly valuable when it’s paired with Facebook ads.
Here’s how the different traffic sources work together to get you more customers…
3 Types of Traffic Sources
I like to divide traffic sources into four main categories: owned media, earned media, paid media and partner traffic.
When you’re first starting out, aim for a 2:1:1 ratio of owned media to earned and paid media.
You can never have enough partner traffic.
There’s always enough room in your budget for more affiliate sales, so never stop growing your affiliate army!
Let’s do a quick review of what you just learned before we start getting into the best marketing strategies.
So far you’ve learned how to…
Remember how I said that you can’t hack your growth without getting creative?
I think it’s about time to put your party pants on and get to crushing it.
Killer Marketing Strategy Examples
As a marketer, I’m always looking for new ways to squeeze the best possible results out of my marketing investments.
To do this, I usually have to venture off the beaten path and get crafty with new marketing strategies.
The following are some of the most efficient ways to growth hack your business.
HINT: I saved the BEST one for the very end!
1. Hit Up the Forums
Forums are like miniature, niche-specific search engines that you can use to post comments and gain visibility for your brand.
There are subReddits for nearly every area of interest known to man.
Scan industry-related subReddits for unanswered questions to specific pain points.
If your product provides a solution to their problems, you’ll become their savior.
People tend to share that sort of thing ;).
Check these forums out too (especially relevant if you're in the online marketing space):
Walter Chen of iDoneThis got his first batch of customers (and then some) from submissions to Reddit and Hacker News.
In January of 2011, Chen posted an article on Hacker News about iDoneThis.
Later that same day, The Next Web saw the post and published an article about them.
Traffic immediately came flooding in.
They had 150 signups in just a few days.
If the exposure train stopped there, it would’ve still been impressive, but iDoneThis was just getting started.
Co-Founder & CEO, iDoneThis
The major insight we had early on was that our first users already existed, they were just part of other communities. We decided that we would go to those communities, tell them a custom narrative (not a generic story), and see if they were interested in our product. It turns out that they were.
(Read Chen’s full story here)
Two months later, Chen cross-posted their Hacker News article to Reddit.
Signups lept to 400.
The article went viral and ultimately led to a feature on LifeHacker.
Virality aside, it’s the quality of the customers that most impressed Chen.
The people who came from Reddit and Hacker News were active in the community.
They didn’t just subscribe.
They messaged, tweeted, and blogged about iDoneThis to the high heavens.
Final Forum Tips
It’s a win-win!
2. Build an Affiliate Army
Wouldn’t you like an infinite army of marketing soldiers that promoted your service while you sleep?
Well, it’s your lucky day. You have such an army right at your fingertips. All you have to do is launch an affiliate program.
People are more likely to take recommendations from a source that they know and trust.
How much more likely?
I’ll give you a hint:
“92% of people trust personal recommendations from someone they know more than any other source.”
Why go through the trouble of warming up a cold audience if you don’t have to?
Let’s say that Jim has a site in the marketing niche with 100 loyal followers.
If he becomes your affiliate, that’s 100 warm clients who you have access to through Jim.
With tools like ThiveCart, it’s easy to have an affiliate offer up and running in no time.
It’s a one-stop-shop for your online shopping cart needs, and includes an affiliate management system that works extremely well. I've used it myself for well over a year and couldn't be happier with it.
Affiliate programs are underutilized by most companies, and it really is a shame.
Even if you offer a 70% commision on your info product, the remaining 30% is earnings that you otherwise wouldn’t have had.
It’s free money!
Another way to hype your product is to join forces with an established brand…
3. Team Up with an Established Brand
Obviously, your direct competitors won’t be interested in partnering up, but companies in related niches might.
Are you preparing to launch a big info product or a virtual summit?
The more complimentary the niche, the better, but this doesn’t even need to be the case for the strategy to work.
When Android developers were preparing to release Android 4.4, they teamed up with Kit Kat to make an android-shaped Kit Kat bar.
Exposure is exposure, so as long as it’s cost-effective and increases brand awareness, it’s a fair game.
4. Reach Out to Specific Communities
Rather than creating an ad for people interested in marketing, create one for a specific community of marketers.
A video ad filled with inside jokes about ClickFunnels is going to resonate with thousands of ClickFunnel users around the globe.
Run ads that specific communities can relate to and you’ve got a solid chance of cementing your brand into their minds.
You get the picture.
5. Challenge New Customers to Get Sensational Results
Do you have a bodybuilding app?
Host a contest for the “Most Phenomenal 30-Day Transformation.”
Facebook is one of the best platforms for hosting a contest. It tends to get you a lot of new likes and fans.
The best part? Facebook contests cost close to nothing outside of prizes, but the reach can be huge.
Challenges like these can end up spreading like wildfire on social media. Users love to share their accomplishments with friends and family.Codecademy had impressive results with this tactic in 2012 when they promoted their learn to code New Year’s resolution challenge.
Late one night in mid-December 2011, Zach Sims of Codecademy created the domain codeyear.com to promote the challenge.
Nine weeks later, he’d collected over 408,000 emails from people who took the challenge.
In exchange, subscribers got a weekly coding lesson delivered to their inbox throughout the year.
Just seven hours after the launch, Code Year raked in 16,000 emails!
By day three, the number had climbed to 100,000.
As it turned out, learning to code is something that people like to brag about.
Code Year subscribers sent out over 50,000 tweets promoting the program over a three week period.
Codecademy is now one of the biggest names in online coding programs.
Need I say more?
6. Get Guest Posting and Podcasting
According to Neil Patel, guest blogging is the best inbound marketing strategy around.
Co-Founder of Neil Patel Digital
I’ve tried many different inbound marketing strategies, but guest blogging has remained my most treasured tool. QuickSprout wouldn’t have been as successful as it’s become if I’d neglected guest blogging.
Large publications and podcasts have large followings. Getting featured in a popular blog can lead to a huge traffic spike.
Gregory Ciotti used guest blogging as a launchpad for HelpScout.
He was able to generate 36,733 email subscribers.
Offer to guest post for the biggest blogs in your niche.
It’s not always easy.
There’s usually a gatekeeper or two get through before you reach the decision maker, but when you do, it’ll be all worth it.
Plus, you’ll have the added benefit of being homies with a big player in the industry.
What’s more important than looking cool?
In the midst of all the tricks and hacks of marketing, it’s always helpful to remember that internet marketing boils down to building relationships.
Delivering a professional interview or a quality article provides value while expanding your network.
7. Be Your Product’s #1 Fan/User
This strategy is most applicable to young companies and those who’ve recently launched new products.
When you only have a handful of users, treat them like royalty.
It’s hard not to feel taken care of when the owner of the company is at your beckon call.
Quora’s founder Adam D’Angelo did this in the early days with impressive results.
He still refuses to use a ghostwriter to respond to Quora questions.
Answer all of your customers’ questions and comments with a personal touch.
You may even get to add them to your growing legion of brand ambassadors.
Use your new product or service regularly so that you can catch errors and glitches before customers have to point them out.
Client acquisition is easier with a finely-tuned product.
8. Target People Who Use Competing Products
Users of competing products are high-quality leads.
They’ve already gone through the entire customer journey from ice-cold to reaching for their wallet.
These people have proven that they’re ready to engage in similar products like your own.
Getting your life coaching business off the ground?
Target fans of Tony Robbins on Facebook.
Folks who already subscribe to Tony’s products are going to be more likely to engage in your ads and read your blog.
When you set target demographics according to interests, Facebook puts a lot of guesswork into building your audience.
Targeting users who have declared a direct interest in similar products are your best bet.
9. Promote a Social Cause
Okay, the key here is to promote a cause that resonates with your target demographic.
Let first-time customers know that a portion of your earnings will be going towards a social or environmental cause.
It’s a memorable way to connect with clients and frames your business in a positive light.
Maker’s Mark whiskey joined forces the nonprofit organization One Warm Coat in the winter of 2015.
The tour collected and donated over 20,000 coats, 5,000 cups of hot cocoa, and 3,500 gingerbread cookies.
Maker’s Mark, though, was the real winner.
The campaign drove 40,000 new followers and totaled 26.41 million impressions between Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
10. Create a Powerful Lead Magnet
Nothing says “Get ‘em while they’re hot!” like a virtual summit packed with industry leaders!
Cheat sheets, checklists, and tutorial videos can get the customer acquisition grill sizzling as well.
Make your promotion time-sensitive to add a sense of urgency.
“30% off all-access passes to the next 30 people to sign up!”
Provide enough value to the right people, and you can snag some serious trophy leads.
11. Leveraging LinkedIn
According to Marcus Murphy of Digital Marketer,
“If you’re not active on LinkedIn, you could be missing out on 80% of your leads.”
That means that if you’re not using LinkedIn at all, you might only be at 20% of your potential results.
This is especially true for B2B businesses.
Create a video explaining your entrepreneurial journey and post it to your LinkedIn account.
While you’re at it, tell the same story in the “Summary” section of your profile page.
Do this now if you already have a large network of professional connections.
Here are a few more ways to polish-up your LinkedIn account.
12. Gmail Remarketing Campaign
Gmail remarketing may not be exactly what you think it is.
You’ve probably heard of email campaigns.
You schedule a series of emails to be sent over a period of time, each with different offers and content.
Gmail remarketing is placing Google AdWords campaigns directly into the Gmail inbox of your leads.
Gmail ads allow you to retarget specific types of consumers.
You can target customers based on previous interactions with your website.
If anyone engages with your website, messages, or content, Google knows, and they allow marketers like you to remarketed them by dropping an ad into their inbox.
Google delivers the messages with a colored label that specifies “AD,” SOCIAL” or “PROMOTION,” so that recipients have a heads up.
Traditional email marketing has a depressingly low click-through rate of only 4%.
Are you okay with that?!
I hope not.
Thankfully, Gmail remarketing can be a way to catch the attention of customers who have become blind to traditional email campaigns.
13. Develop Relationships with the Media
When iDoneThis’ article got picked up by LifeHacker, it was a major windfall, but breaks like that don’t have to be left up to chance.
Rather than waiting for your content to get “discovered,” reach out to big news blogs in your niche proactively.
Dmitry Dragilev, the founder of Saas, used this strategy to receive media attention for his startup before they even had a product to promote.
Building real relationships with reporters takes longer than blasting out thousands of emails, but the long-term payoff is much greater.
One way to get your foot in the door is to subscribe to HARO (Help A Reporter Out).
There’s a free and a paid version.
HARO sends out multiple emails a day with requests from journalists for sources.
Providing them with info that makes their day easier could be the start of a mutually beneficial relationship.
Without further ado, here’s the single most powerful marketing strategy plan available today...
The Most Powerful (and Underrated) Marketing Strategy Available Today
Virtual summits are your new secret weapon that you can add to your marketing mix.
Nope, it’s not the newest snowboarding game for Xbox.
So, if it’s not a video game, what is it?
Virtual summits are online events where leaders in the industry come together to speak and share their ideas.
According to Convince and Convert, virtual summits have up to five times more attendees than regular conferences.
The best part is, you don’t even have to be an established authority to host one!
By hosting a virtual summit, you become an industry expert by association.
It’s a high-volume, high-octane, networking, marketing, and lead generating mega-event.
Traditional Marketing Tactics vs. New Marketing Tactics
Virtual summits are the new, super effective marketing strategy and business model to grow your business faster than anything else you’ve ever tried before.
Traditional marketing, like blogging, podcasting, social media and publicity just don’t compare in terms of “bang-for-your-buck.”
With traditional tactics, it takes time to nurture a cold audience and gradually win them over.
And paid advertising is getting more and more expensive, so it could cost you a small fortune to get new qualified leads, which simply isn’t doable when you’re just starting out or you’re in the early stages of your business.
Virtual summits leverage the existing clout of established experts and funnels all the benefits right to you.
It’s going to give you a massive competitive advantage in the market place too if you can host the go-to online event in your industry.
Benefits of Hosting a Virtual Summit
No matter where you are on your journey, curating a virtual summit is the super sauce that brings exposure and promotes your brand.
Here's a few reasons why you should consider hosting a virtual summit in your niche:
Virtual summits can even be an entire business model on their own… and I don’t know any better marketing activity you can spend your precious time on.
Luckily, I teach you how to host them successfully in my Virtual Summit Mastery (VSM) program.
Still don’t think that virtual summits are for you?
No Product? No Problem
Think that you can’t host a virtual summit without a product to promote?
People who host virtual summits typically charge $67-97 per all-access pass (it varies a bit by industry, so be sure to do your market research properly so you know what people are willing to pay for something like this).
When VSM graduate Augustus Kligys hosted his first European Private Label & Seller Summit, he had no previous experience or connections in his industry.
He was just starting his business. He had NO product.
Augustus sold “all-access passes,” and his virtual summit instantly became his first information product (which he could also turn evergreen and automate afterwards).
1,500 new email subscribers
$15k in revenue
He crushed it even harder at his second summit, bringing in 2,100 emails and $30k.
No Street Cred? No Worries
Out in the real world, it’s the head honchos that corral the troops for summits and masterminds.
On the internet, it’s little ‘ol you.
You’re going to look like one of the cool kids by being the host of the party. In fact, you’re going to come across as the master of the mastermind.
Your reputation will thank you for it. And your lead generation? Forget about it!
Take Aaqib Ahmed.
He launched his first virtual summit using the marketing strategy framework he learned in Virtual Summit Mastery.
At the time, Ahmed had NO audience.
In just one summit, he grew his email list to 10,000 subscribers and made $230k in revenue… talk about getting amazing results from his marketing efforts by hosting a virtual summit.
Bring On The Fandom
Hosting a virtual summit can put you on the fast track to being seen as an authority.
Now that you have a stellar reputation (nearly overnight), prepare to live the lavish life of an industry leader.
Quing client floodgates in 3, 2, 1....
Blogs and podcasts can be painstakingly slow for lead generation.
When I first got started, I toiled away for 18 months, made only a few thousand dollars, and had only 1,000 subscribers to show for it.
I held my first Branding Summit in 2014.
It brought in 3,000 subscribers and over $20k in revenue.
The month after the summit, I made over $40k in affiliate revenue through promoting one of Ramit Sethi’s info products.
If you think that’s impressive, it’s nothing compared to what Chandler Bolt of Self Publishing School accomplished with the VSM Method.
From just two summits he generated over $700k in revenue and reeled in 60,000 email subscribers… which helped him go from low 6-figures to a multi 7-figure online business very quickly.
Watch the video of what Chandler and other Virtual Summit Mastery students have to say below about this incredible marketing strategy:
Yes, Virtual Summits Can Work In any Industry!
Virtual summits are for every niche under the sun.
Try thinking of the most obscure skill or passion imaginable, and you might come up with being a harpist.
Diana Rowan’s VSM success story is a prime example of how universally applicable the virtual summit strategy is.
She decided to create the first ever Virtual Harp Summit in 2016.
Her first summit generated 2,100 email subscribers and 460 all-access pass sales (over $40k in revenue).
Diana used the email list to successfully launch a membership site.
She continues to receive monthly revenue thanks to traffic generated by the summit.
Are you ready to give virtual summits a try?
Your Next Steps: Ready To Develop and Execute Your Own Killer Marketing Strategy Plan?
By now, your marketing toolkit should be brimming with new tactics.
Play around with them all until you find the magic recipe to turbo-charge your growth.
Neil Patel of QuickSprout and KISSmetrics exploded his traffic in 2013 when he started guest blogging regularly, but that was 2013.
The internet moves fast, and in 2018, virtual summits are the most effective way spread your marketing message and build meaningful relationships.
When you’re ready for a major product launch, you’ll have a squad of industry influencers to give you a leg up.
Do whatever you have to in order to gain more social followers, increase sales, build your email list, and boost traffic to your site.
Make not mistake about it: you need to continually learn and experiment.
Get to know your target demographic. Know their pain points intimately.
Human drives and motivations stay the same, technology and the environment move forward.
Your solutions to your customer’s problems need to adapt with the changing tides.
Give the people what they want!
The most effective way to do that is by hosting virtual summits.
Growing an email list can be a super slow process for most online business owners.
It sure was for me at the beginning of my entrepreneurial journey.
Then I discovered virtual summits.
They launched my success into the upper atmosphere. I was instantly hooked and never looked back.
Does any other marketing strategy even come close to matching the power of virtual summits when it comes to effective lead generation, building authority and generating more revenue quickly?
Let me know in the comments below.