A lot of company owners and managers confuse marketing strategy with what kind of marketing they’re doing. Strategy and your activities are two different things that are often conflated. They’ll mention the ads they’re placing and that new video campaign they’re pushing on social media. However, when pressed to offer a succinct explanation of what their marketing strategy is, they have a hard time doing it.
The right marketing strategy is the difference between failure and success for most companies. It’s about the brand you build, what kind of audience you target, and how you spend your hard-earned money finding more leads. A marketing strategy is made up of hundreds or thousands of tiny actions that contribute to the whole. It’s a guiding light for you and your organization as you press forward in your operations.
Making strategy takes time, but it needs to be a priority. A good strategy unifies a company or team and keeps everyone focused on what the ultimate goal is. Strategy can be broken down into timeframes – a quarter, a year, or a decade, etc. – but should always emphasize who you want to become and how you’re going to get there. Let’s explore marketing strategy and how you can find set the right course for your business.
Marketing Strategy Starts with Who You Are
Before you create a marketing strategy, you have to know who you are as a company or organization. This a challenge a lot of new or smaller companies have. They’re still sorting out their identities. Companies shift over time, so you and your team have to be nimble enough to adjust as conditions change. But your strategy begins from wherever you are. You have to have a realistic view of where you stand.
Ask yourselves these questions:
- What’s the point of your company?
- What kind of competitive advantages do you possess?
- What direction do you see yourself trending in?
- What do you do well, and what do you need to fix?
Taking self-inventory needs to happen before you set a strategy. It will help you avoid putting time and resources into efforts that don’t yield any results.
Who Do You Want to Become?
Once you’re all set on your company’s identity, you can start playing with the idea of who you should or want to become. Where you are in your growth as a business will affect how this is done. If you’re a founder with an idea, you should be thinking about where you want to be in one year and what kind of impact you want to make. If you’re a bit more established, this kind of brainstorming should be done with your leadership team. Together you can make goals and set milestones along the way.
How you’re going to get from who you are now to who you want to become is what strategy is all about. You have a great idea and goal, but how are you going to make it happen? Strategy involves planning for success and risk management. Marketing strategy comes into play here because marketing promotes your organization, products, and services that are in line with your identity. The right strategy holds different parts of your business accountable to that strategy and identity.
Making It Happen with Marketing Strategy
With an overarching strategy, now it’s time to plan how your marketing strategy will get you there. Your marketing strategy also depends on where you are as a group. For example, if you’re a brick and mortar retail operation, and your corporate strategy involves growing into new demographics, then part of your strategy may be pushing into social media marketing. You could also say you want to improve your search engine results. It takes work and dedicated resources, but it can be done.
When there is enough attention placed on marketing strategy, you’ll start noticing results when it comes to sales. Leads will be better, and sales rates will improve because customers will know about the products before they come to buy. You’ll also be better able to curate content to people who are more likely to be interested in what you’re promoting.
That can be done with things like:
- Email campaigns
- Facebook ads
- Video content
- Online forums
- Sponsored meetups
- Guerilla marketing
Ross Kernez of Marble says remember, “starting to do social media marketing” isn’t a strategy, it’s a piece of a strategy. The best marketing strategies are broader and focused on a larger objective. These different marketing channels are simply ways you accomplish or work toward that strategy.
Getting Everyone Onboard
One of the largest components of a good marketing strategy is employee buy-in. You want a team that is committed to the strategy and motivated to keep pushing toward the end goal. Whether you’re trying to change your brand image, reach new customers, or break into a new industry, you need a team of people who understand and, more importantly, believe in why it’s relevant to your organization.
Getting to the end goal of your marketing strategy can take years, and it won’t be easy. What makes it easier is having a solid team that bands together and makes it happen. That also goes for the third-party services you partner with as well. You want vendors who buy into what you’re trying to do as a business. Think about it. The last thing you want it to pay someone who doesn’t think your strategy is right and is only in it for the money. Finding partners who share the same vision will go a long way in helping you succeed.
Before you enter into any agreement with a vendor or supplier, make sure your values align with theirs. A lot of organizations have been burned by associating with the wrong company with poor strategy. On the other hand, partnering with a company that’s got a great image and forward-leaning strategy can help your image. It’s all about staying true to who you are and measuring what you do in marketing against the marketing strategy you’ve set for you and your team.