The Essential Guide to Marketing Strategy
Having a great marketing strategy in place is key to the success of any business. Without a marketing strategy, you lack focus. And without focus, you will, quite simply, fail to reach any of the goals and objectives that you have set. Failure to plan is planning to fail.
Marketing is not a standalone, one-off activity. It is made up of several different components that are necessary throughout each and every stage of a business’s endeavours — from long before a sale is even made, to long after. With so much going on, it is essential to have a strategy in place.
Marketing Strategy Definition
Investopedia defines a marketing strategy as the business’s overall game plan for reaching prospective leads and turning them into customers of the products or services the business provides. Generally, it involves the company’s value proposition, key brand messaging, data on target customer demographics, and other high-level elements.
A marketing strategy combines all aspects of the customer journey and gives visibility to each department. This then allows the organization to focus on the resources available, figuring out a way to use them to the best of their ability in order to generate sales and increase competitive advantage.
“The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well the product or service fits him and sells itself.” — Peter Drucker
Marketing Strategy vs Marketing Campaign
When it comes to marketing, there can be some confusion over the difference between a marketing strategy and a marketing campaign. They’re both the same thing, right?
In short, no. Your marketing strategy framework is more of a high level, overall strategic plan that is connected to the entire brand, and its organizational objectives. Whereas marketing campaigns are much more focused, short-term initiatives set out to achieve a very specific goal. Your marketing strategy should be used to help inform your marketing campaigns. A marketing strategy encompasses the bigger picture. A marketing campaign, on the other hand, describes the logistical details for each specific project.
But that is an entirely different topic for another time, so let’s get back to focusing on your marketing strategy…
Why Do I Need a Marketing Strategy?
In an environment that is subject to frequent and unpredictable change, you might wonder, why should we have to focus so much energy on developing a long-term strategy that is likely to need amending anyway?
Well, the answer to that is: without a strategy in place, we don’t have repeatability or scale.
The Importance Of A Repeatable Marketing Strategy
Whilst your marketing strategy might require regular adjustments or tweaks, it provides you with a template of where to start and makes it easier to see similar or improved results from each campaign without having to completely reinvent the wheel. It also creates stability and a sense of predictability within the marketing department.
Christopher Penn cleverly compares a marketing strategy to a menu; a menu is a repeatable process and a framework. For example, if your dinner menu during the Thanksgiving holiday is typically made up of turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, corn, and pumpkin pie, then it is probably fair to assume that this is going to be more or less the same each year. Yes, you might change your methods, or recipes or even add in or take away an extra item or two, but the core plan remains the same.
As marketers, our ‘menu’ probably looks similar each quarter, as we work towards a comparable outcome of brand awareness or lead generation, using our variety of ‘dishes’, from email marketing to SEO (search engine optimization) to PPC (pay-per-click advertising), and so on. Whilst our recipes are adaptable and can be altered, the menu is more or less the same, allowing us to have more free time to spend on improving our recipes, rather than changing the menu each week/month/quarter/year.
The Importance of a Scalable Marketing Strategy
Once you have a solid marketing strategy in place that is repeatable, you can now also use it for scale. So in other words, you could share it with another employee, team, or division of the company. That way, the entire company is able to adopt the same marketing strategy for all of the products and services you offer. This will help to keep everyone on the same page and allow for consistency across all of your marketing campaigns.
Let’s go back to Penn’s Thanksgiving example one more time…
Imagine you were super busy on the run-up to Thanksgiving, and you hadn’t found a minute to properly plan out your holiday dinner, and so your neighbour shared theirs with you. This would be extremely helpful and save a lot of extra stress and time. Instead of having to focus on the why and what, you can now simply focus on the how. And if this menu was a success, then you might want to share it with your own friends and family. So this one menu is now helping many homes prepare great dinners.
Taking this back to your marketing strategy…
With an effective plan in place, that is both repeatable and scalable, you are free to focus your efforts on improving the strategy and making it work, rather than wasting a lot of time that you don’t have, worrying about what the strategy is going to be.
Read the full, ungated essential guide to Marketing Strategy right here.