Ep. 55: How to Build Your Marketing Strategy

Build a strong marketing strategy.

The more people see your products, the more sales you’ll probably get – and a marketing strategy can help you do that.

Just ask Elena Fahrländer, the Chief Commercial Officer of Danish Endurance, a company that sells their products worldwide. She’ll be sharing what they do to find their target audience and how their approach to marketing changed as they grew. You’ll also hear from Elizabeth (Liz) Downing, director of partnerships at The Ecom Cooperative. She’ll give more actionable advice on how to build your marketing strategy using realistic goal setting and data analysis.

“It's really important to look inward, really examine who you are as a business, and then set your goals and your expectations based on what you think you can achieve,” says Liz, “and it all comes down to the data.”

In this episode you’ll hear:

(02:18) Danish Endurance’s story

(04:02) How to find your target audience

(07:02) The importance of clear and realistic goals and budgeting when building your marketing strategy

(11:02) Starting out with a structured marketing strategy

(11:50) How and why Danish Endurance constantly updates their marketing strategy

Key Takeaways:

1 - Before you start working on your marketing strategy, you need to figure out who your ideal audience is and how to reach them. Liz says there’s a few questions you need to ask yourself: what do you have? Do people want it? And which people want it and what is the best way to reach them. Elena also adds that Danish Endurance relies on data to understand their customer journey and figure out the best way to reach them.

2 - Customer reviews are important for multiple reasons. It tells you what your customer thinks about your product. Most customers use reviews to figure out if your product is worth buying, and it's important to the algorithm -- so it helps people find your product.

3 -  Realistic expectations and goals are important – and data will help you figure out what that might look like. But even if you don’t have data yet, Liz suggests that you look at data from other businesses that are similar to what you want to do.

4 - Build a marketing budget and monitor it. Monitoring how much money you spend on marketing and how successful your campaigns are will help you figure out what works and adjust your spending accordingly.

5 - Stay dynamic. Once you create a marketing strategy, be prepared to update it. Elena says Danish endurance review their strategy on a monthly basis to maintain competitiveness.

Episode Transcript


Andrea Marquez: Marketing is an essential part of your business. And I know, I know, I feel like I say that about everything we talk about on This is Small Business, but marketing is how you get people to know you exist. And even if you have the best product on the market, it'll just collect dust if you're not putting any effort into getting the word out.

I'm Andrea Marquez, and This is Small Business, a podcast brought to you by Amazon. Today we'll be talking about how to get started on your marketing strategy, because marketing yourself isn't always easy.


Elizabeth Downing: Whether you're in person business, whether you're an online business, it's just really hard with the saturation of people entering the marketplace, with the saturation of all the noise out there and all the different types of new media we have, and the changing behaviors of buyers based on their age and their demographics. It's just fascinating to me. And it's always such a hero story to me when somebody manages to get the word out about their product, and a small business becomes a bigger business because of their marketing efforts.


Andrea Marquez: That's Elizabeth, Liz Downing, Director of Partnerships at the ECom Cooperative, a platform that provides free resources to eCommerce businesses.


Elizabeth Downing: I got interested in marketing early in my career, I did promotional marketing for a while. And then I did so much freelance writing, and that was obviously to support people's marketing efforts. And when I started working at ECom Engine, we started working with all different types of sellers, people who had been on the marketplace since it opened, people who were just entering the marketplace. And I just found it fascinating.


Andrea Marquez: Liz says that she was always interested in marketing, mainly because of the psychology behind it.


Elizabeth Downing: I was always more entertained by commercials than other kids were, because I thought it was really interesting the way different products positioned themselves, different companies positioned themselves. And I just think that the marriage of small business and marketing strategy is my favorite thing to think about and my favorite thing to talk about.


Andrea Marquez: Liz has a lot of marketing advice that she'll share with us throughout the episode, but first, let's hear from a company that succeeded in getting its products in front of as many eyes as possible.


Elena Fahrländer: So DANISH ENDURANCE was founded in 2015 in Denmark by two Brothers. So it's a family business, and the brand is rooted in the belief that physical and mental balance forces personal endurance. So therefore, DANISH ENDURANCE, our brand, aims to inspire greater happiness through quality sports and casual wear. So it's really products for everyone, I would say.


Andrea Marquez: That's Elena, the chief commercial officer of DANISH ENDURANCE.


Elena Fahrländer: I oversee the sales operations across various third party platforms and marketplaces at DANISH ENDURANCE, and over the past six years I've witnessed the company's evolution from really a startup to a more established brand. It's been an exciting journey, contributing to the growth of our brand from just about four products when I started to now plus 100.


Andrea Marquez: DANISH ENDURANCE started because Nicolaj, the CEO, couldn't find high quality and affordable compression socks when he was training for a marathon.


Elena Fahrländer: So he thought, if you want something done right, you need to do it yourself. So he did. And then we entered into many other clothing categories, such as underwear for men and women, headwear base layers, and everything is with a very clean, Danish design and a sustainable twist.


Andrea Marquez: And they're selling these products all over the world, so clearly they know a bit about how to get their products seen by their customers. But before you start thinking of how to reach your customers, Liz says that first you need to know who your target audience is, which is a lot easier said than done.


Elizabeth Downing: As you get started with a small business in general, obviously you're going to want to take the temperature of the world out there and find out what the demand is for whatever it is that you're selling. So step one is what do you have? Step two is do people want it? And then step three is which people want it, and how is the best way to reach them? But there are things that you need to think about as you ramp up and you get started with that before you can even actually start marketing.

So it is a real chicken and egg situation, in that you have to have a pretty good idea of who's going to want what you're selling out there. But in terms of how you reach them, there are lots of steps to take, including what your competitors are doing, identifying what channels are successful for your competitors. That's probably the easiest hack, is look at who you're going to compete with and how they're doing it, and then figure out how you can do it better.


Andrea Marquez: Elena says that DANISH ENDURANCE is constantly using data to understand who their target audience is and how to best reach them.


Elena Fahrländer: We regularly request customer segmentation data, then we can use that to customize our imagery and our campaign content, such as headlines of the campaigns and so on. So it really tracks the very first touch point of the customer and lets us see where exactly the customer converts then in the end, how many touch points the customers had until the purchase happens so that we can see that all the different campaign types that they all play into, basically in the end, convincing the customer to buy our products.


Andrea Marquez: Understanding the user journey to your products is helpful, and looking at your reviews is another way to know more about what your customer wants.


Elizabeth Downing: Customer reviews are important, because it is the social proof behind the success of your product and how good your product is, but it plays into the search algorithm and it plays into how often you win with your advertising. It's a metric that's really important and really to get, because what we used to say is, “Happy customers don't leave reviews.” And for every bad review you get, you need to get a lot of good reviews to make up for it because that average star rating is really important.


Andrea Marquez: So reviews are important for multiple reasons. First, it tells you what your customer thinks about your product. It's how most customers decide on whether they'll be buying your product or not. And it's important to the algorithm, so it helps people find your product. Now, let's dig into how to set up your marketing strategy. One of the most important things you need to do is make sure you set clear goals and have realistic expectations.


Elizabeth Downing: So if you're launching, then you have an expectation for your launch and an expectation of the marketing you do around your launch. And then once you get into growth, then you're going to have a growth expectation. But you have to be realistic, so it's really important to look inward, really examine who you are as a business, and then set your goals and your expectations based on what you think you can achieve. And it all comes down to the data. So even if you don't have any data because you haven't done anything yet, you can look at the data from other people who have done what you're trying to do and you can get an idea of what your category is going to do.


Andrea Marquez: And of course, another important part of your marketing strategy is your budget.


Elizabeth Downing: So you'll have a marketing budget that you can allocate according to your goals. You can figure out which channels are going to be higher impact for you based on what your competitors are doing, based on what complimentary services are doing. You have to really geek out on it. You have to really get your data, set your expectations, set your goals, and then start small and execute from there. And if you do that, it's easier to avoid mistakes. But if you go in with unrealistic expectations, you're putting yourself at a huge disadvantage.


Andrea Marquez: When you're starting a business, money is always top of mind. And even though marketing isn't always cheap, there are ways to market your business and build brand awareness without breaking the bank.


Elizabeth Downing: So I think that what a lot of businesses do, and I think it's a good idea, is to get your product to some people and get some feedback on that. Because you don't want to put your product someplace and then all of a sudden have to change something about your product.  

So first, get it out there, get some feedback on it, and then you can develop your launch strategy and you can figure out which marketing channels are going to work best for you. And then conservatively using the social space, using whatever virality you can achieve is a good way to get your brand name out there without spending a whole ton of money right at first.


Andrea Marquez: We have a whole episode that's dedicated to social media and virality. It's episode 45 of This is Small Business, and it's filled with tips on how to go viral, what to do if you go viral, and how to create content for your brand on social media.

Let's say you've already set aside a budget for your marketing strategy and are now spending that money. Now, you'll need to make sure to monitor the data that's coming from your marketing efforts so you know what's actually bringing in customers. And keeping an eye on the data will also help you know what to stop spending money on.


Elena Fahrländer: I think at the very beginning when we started up our brand, we invested a lot. And we didn't have a lot of data transparency in the first few years, I would say. And now our company has adopted a very data-centric approach, it's one of our core values at DANISH ENDURANCE. And we really monitor different marketing KPIs so we know exactly how much we're spending on marketing every day. We have a few always-on campaigns that are very targeted towards different audiences and also our best-selling products mostly, but then we also make sure that we budget a bit of money to test some new initiatives. For these, we really oversee them very closely to make sure that we are not overspending on that.


Andrea Marquez: But before you experiment with different strategies.


Elena Fahrländer: I would really recommend everyone to start with a very structured marketing campaign account from the very beginning and roll that out then to the other locales that are opening up, or also new products that you're launching. And get full transparency into your product profitability from day one, because that's just so important that you know how much marketing money you can spend and what your margins allow you to spend. And then you can take very conscious choices about maybe selling at an unprofitable level for some time to gain market share. But I think the most important is that the choice is conscious on that.


Andrea Marquez: And once you create a marketing strategy, be prepared to constantly be updating it.


Elena Fahrländer: We create an annual budget for each market and for the company as a whole, and that's when we establish our overarching strategy. So our marketing strategy is very much aligned with our annual budget. But then we need to stay dynamic, so we conduct regular monthly reviews as well. We have some market trends, competitor activities that we need to monitor and that we need to adjust to. So it doesn't make sense to just create one annual strategy in January and never adjust. So I would say we go over that on a monthly basis, that ensures that we stay competitive in our marketing activities. And on top of that, there's always some new campaign types that are launching and that we need to test, and then roll out if the test proves successful.


Andrea Marquez: So to sum it all up.


Elizabeth Downing: You're going to want to set your goals and expectations. You're going to want to allocate a marketing budget. You're going to want to explore your most cost-effective channels that will have the highest impact. You don't have to do this alone, small business owner. You've got resources out there and people who really, really want you to succeed. Take advantage of that, because that's something that not every industry has that the e-commerce industry does have, is a ton of support and a whole lot of love.


Andrea Marquez: I totally agree. I definitely see that support and love in all the people I've talked to on This is Small Business. I learned a lot of important information about marketing from Elena and Liz. One thing that stuck out to me is that data is key to figuring out your marketing strategy. And if you're just starting out and don't have any data yet, you can always look at data from similar businesses. If you missed anything, don't worry, we've taken notes for you. You can find them at www. smallbusiness. amazon/ podcasts.  

If you enjoyed this episode or found any of the tips helpful, make sure to subscribe and tell your friends about us by sending them a link to this episode. And please, please, please consider leaving a review on Apple Podcasts. It helps other people find the show.  

Plus, I love hearing your thoughts on the episode and how you'll be using this information in your business. If you're an aspiring entrepreneur, or maybe you already have your small business up and running and you're ready for the next step, a super valuable resource that can help you is the Amazon Small Business Academy. Take the free self-assessment on the Amazon Small Business Academy site at www.smallbusiness.amazon.  

That's it for this episode of This Is Small Business, brought to you by Amazon. Until next time, I'm your host, Andrea Marquez. Hasta luego , and thanks for listening. This is Small Business is brought to you by Amazon with technical and story production by Jar Audio.


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