Imagine you’re on a cross-country roadtrip. You’ve determined your route, you know what road to take next and how many miles you must travel on that path.
Yet, even with all of the steps in place, you still feel lost. Why? Because while you’re strategically charging your course, you can’t see a bird’s eye view of how far along you truly are, and how to pace yourself accordingly.
You need an overarching, big-picture map to not only show you where you are, but what that really means in the grand scheme of things.
Like a coast-to-coast trek, marketing is a journey that requires a plan—and a roadmap for achieving it!
In a recent blog, we discussed the importance of a strategic marketing plan (SMP), as well as the positive impact an effective SMP has had for our clients. But without a cohesive overview, a plan alone can be overwhelming. That’s why a central piece of crafting a strategic marketing plan (SMP) for our clients is developing a strategic marketing roadmap to accompany it.
What is a strategic marketing roadmap?
In essence, a strategic marketing roadmap is a one-page visual representation of all the pieces that contribute to reaching a business’ goals. This roadmap is incredibly helpful as it gives clients a snapshot understanding of how their work contributes to the plan we’ve established in our marketing partnership.
While a strategic marketing plan delves into the nitty-gritty, a strategic marketing roadmap boils the strategy down to its essence. As exemplified here, a roadmap ensures that everyone involved in executing the big-picture vision is considering the same strategic direction and overarching goals. Moreover, a strategic marketing roadmap helps clients effectively communicate and coordinate with external stakeholders, as well as track progress at a glance.
But what does a strategic marketing roadmap really look like in action? In today’s article, we’ll give you a full rundown on what makes a strategic marketing roadmap such a key piece to your branding puzzle.
A roadmap for the customer journey
Implementing a marketing strategy isn’t a one-and-done deal. If you want to truly cultivate relationships with future buyers, understanding their customer journey—from their first introduction to your brand through to conversion and loyalty—is key.
A marketing tactic in and of itself is just that: a tactic. But with a strategic marketing roadmap, that tactic becomes a clear pinpoint along the development of the customer journey, moving your target audience closer and closer to you through trust and familiarity.
The customer journey exists whether you plan for it or not. The question is, will you nurture the relationship as it unfolds? With a strategic marketing roadmap, you can gently and intentionally guide your future clients as they move through their journey.
Color-coded for clarity
You don’t have to be an expert marketer to understand and dissect your strategic marketing roadmap! This is largely due to the fact that it is color-coded, with each color correlating with a phase of the customer journey.
There are four key stages of the customer journey to consider as you chart your course via your strategic marketing roadmap. These stages include:
- Awareness. This is the business discovery phase, when your ideal client finds your brand in their search process. Perhaps they take note of your logo, or take a glance at the “about” section of your website.
- Trust. This is the relationship formation stage, in which your prospect begins to interact with your company, developing feelings of connection over time. Whether consciously or subconsciously, your prospect takes note of the brand image you present, viewing your brand as consistent and reputable. This feeling deepens as they engage with you.
- Nurture. In this stage, the individual starts actively reaching out and ultimately becomes a paying customer, as they’ve experienced your brand and trust you to meet their needs.
- Retain. In other words: brand loyalty. By providing a consistent brand experience, combined with a solid product or service itself, you turn your one-time customer into a loyal customer. You are the brand for them, and they want everyone to know it!
By sorting a strategic marketing roadmap into these four stages of the customer journey, you can fully see the status and category of various marketing efforts over time.
This gives a visual sense of both the status of lead generation, and the development of your marketing plan as a whole.
Marketing tactics along the road
On a strategic marketing roadmap, each mark of a specific color correlates with a specific marketing tactic that will occur during that stage in the customer journey.
For instance, in our example above, red represents the awareness stage of the customer journey. This means that any tactics listed with a red mark occur during the awareness stage. Social media advertising, SEO optimization and lead-generating events are some examples of tactics that might occur during the awareness stage.
In the trust stage, you may find tactics such such as networking, organic social media, and high-quality web copy labeled on the roadmap. When nurturing and retaining clients, there may be additional service add-ons mapped out.
Overall, we want you to hear this advice: don’t leave your customer’s journey up to chance! By developing a strategic marketing roadmap, you can reliably ensure that you meet your clients and prospects where they are at each stage of their discovery process.
Developing a strategic marketing roadmap is a process and an evolution. To be truly effective, the roadmap should be updated yearly to reflect your business’s current goals, assets, and capabilities.
And while your marketing strategy (and resulting roadmap) will likely come to fruition in the presence of a marketing team, don’t let the guidance end there! Just as maps aren’t just for cartographers, strategic marketing roadmaps aren’t just for marketers.
By familiarizing your entire team with your strategic marketing roadmap, it can evolve into a central guidepost that your team can refer to again and again to guide every customer-facing aspect of your business.