A marketing strategy is a plan of attack which proposes an overall marketing approach and the key marketing activities most likely to increase business sales over the short, medium and long-term.
It essentially provides the what, why, how and when for a business’s marketing focus in order to meet key business objectives.
A marketing strategy allows a business to align all of its marketing towards a common goal, providing consistency and focus on only the activities or channels (e.g. social media, email, ppc) which are most important to the business.
A marketing strategy is formed by:
- Analysing current marketing activities and see how effective they are
- Reviewing a company’s relative position compared to their competition
- Identifying where any potential gaps and opportunities may be
- Building an approach to seize the opportunities identified
- Highlighting key metrics, targets and milestones for the plan
- Creating a detailed plan on the key actions to meet the targets set
On completion, a marketing strategy should ensure that a business understands:
- Where the business needs to get to
- What the overall marketing goals should be
- What key activities need to be prioritised to get them to that point
- Why those activities will hit the goals set
- What the benchmarks of success look like over the short, medium and long term. e.g. 1 month , 3 months, 1 year
- An action plan as to who needs to do what by when to meet these goals (a marketing plan)
A marketing strategy is there to guide the business to the marketing direction and actions it should take to meet key business objectives.
These business objectives are usually focused on increasing traffic, leads, sales.
A marketing strategy should demonstrate what needs to be done to beat the competition.
Most importantly, it will demonstrate why this route will work, examples of other similar strategies and how it works in practice.
A marketing strategy should help anyone within the business to understand the direction of travel, so everyone can also work towards that common goal.
Why is a marketing strategy important?
There are a number of reasons why a marketing strategy is so important:
A marketing strategy gives you a common goal
Having a good strategy in place means everyone know where they are trying to get to, why they are doing it and what they hope to get out of it.
This stops the company pulling in different directions which might be worthwhile, but not ultimately aligned to the goal.
A marketing strategy aligns your activity to only the things that work
A marketing strategy should provide a logic to your marketing approach.
It should allow the company to only do the things which are going to help the business to reach their overall objectives.
If you are doing something which falls outside of the strategy, either the strategy is wrong or you shouldn’t be doing it.
A complete understanding of your market and how to beat your competitors
A good marketing strategy means that you know how your competition is ranking online, which keywords are performing well for them and what key activities they are doing to get them to that position.
If your marketing strategy is focused on your competition, then you have the opportunity to prioritise the actions you know are working for your competition.
This reduces the risk of spending time on things that might not work towards the things which are currently working for your competition.
You will also find with a good strategy in place you will see far more clearly the direction you want to take and the reason it is going to work.
The process provides opportunity for you to consider areas that you might not have looked at before, which could mean gaining some real insight into your business.
Benchmarking your performance
A marketing strategy should provide you with a destination you want to get to and the targets you should be trying to hit.
Having these targets means that you can quickly work out if the activities you are doing are helping you to hit these targets.
You can also use these targets to provide smaller targets that are on route towards you reaching the overall marketing objective.
This provides you with focus for both the short and long term.
What should a marketing strategy contain?
Marketing strategies will always be unique to the business, as every business has a slightly different positional context.
But fundamentally, a marketing strategy should contain the following:
This is the overall objective that all your marketing should be trying to reach. Usually this is a problem the business is trying to solve.
For example: my business needs to increase our rankings on Google or we need to increase sales by 20% online.
This is an honest account of where you are now and how well your current marketing is performing.
Are there particular areas that have fallen behind? Or are there aspects that could be improved?
By analysing your current performance versus the past, you might be able to understand key activities which are working for you and potential quick wins you may want to consider.
Current activity overview
This is an activity overview across all your marketing channels and is done alongside looking at your current performance.
For example, if you found that email marketing was performing well, the question will be what are you actually doing well to get it right.
Likewise, if you are not getting many sales from Facebook, but you are doing loads of activity, the question will become ‘is this the right route? Can this process be improved? Shall we stop this activity?’
It is important for you to understand where you are in comparison to your competition, in order for you to be able to benchmark what is working in your industry.
Once you identify and compare your competition, in terms of how they rank for keywords on search engines or what they are doing online which is working well.
You can then use this understanding to make improvements to your website or take a similar or better approach with your marketing.
Identify key opportunities
Based on the above analysis, you should be able to work out what the ‘art of possible is’ and the direction you should be heading in to hit your goals.
You should also be able to quickly identify the key activities you should prioritise which are most likely to work. In part because you know they are working well for your competition already.
You might identify some quick wins, some tactical priorities followed by an overall approach you need to take.
At this point, you should also know the keywords you need to rank for, which topics or phrases are pulling in traffic and which types of content are likely to connect with your audience and how approach creating your own valuable content for them.
Considering if you know which are the areas of content marketing or if there is a particular area you need to master.
Customer profiling is key to getting you focussed on the problem you need to solve for your customer.
This allows you to work out who you are speaking to and how exactly your content will help them solve their problems, on their terms.
Ask questions such as:
What is your customer’s behaviour like?
How do they spend their time and money?
What are they looking for in exchange, as well as a product or service that could improve their interactions with you?
How can you enhance their buying experience?
Think about whether your strategy is likely to engage their interests enough to get them to stay on your site and purchase.
You should then be able to write a mission statement, which clearly identifies your business aim and benefit to customers with your marketing.
The purpose of this is purely to ensure that your marketing efforts align to the value you wish to create and the connection you want to have with your audience.
Now your strategy approach is complete, you can add the fine details of what needs to be done to achieve the targets set.
Building a marketing plan is crucial for your overall marketing strategy.
This is the fine details of the strategy – the plan covers the actual step by step actions required to achieve the goals.
Obviously, this reflects the context the business sits in, and has to be realistic, but it should be clear and obvious as to what needs to be done by when to meet the objectives set.
Build a marketing strategy for your business
It is never a bad time to analyse your current position within the marketing you use already or use a marketing strategy to best understand a potential route to market.
Once you have one in place, it becomes easier to understand where you are and what you need to do.
It provides direction and a true north for your business to work towards.
Hopefully, everything here will give you everything you need to get started, but if you need expert help getting a marketing strategy, then get in contact.