Marketing strategy is probably one of the most misunderstood concepts in the entire industry. Every company thinks that they have a strategy in place, but in reality, they have little more than a marketing plan.

A marketing strategy comes from the top of the organisation. It should align perfectly with your business strategy. It doesn’t include vanity metrics like Facebook likes or even organic traffic volume. Instead, it looks at how marketing can be used to achieve business goals.

All companies can benefit from a marketing strategy. If you have competitors and business goals, then you should be thinking about implementing a marketing strategy.

What should a marketing strategy include?

Your marketing strategy should include everything, from information about your ideal target customers to the methods you will be using to measure success. In general, your marketing strategy should include:

  • Market research
  • Customer personas
  • Overview of your product
  • Pricing, positioning and branding
  • Competitor research
  • Budget considerations
  • Marketing goals
  • KPIs and measurement tools

This information will be compiled in a document that is continually being updated. If you ever find yourself going off track with your marketing efforts, you can bring your efforts back in line by referring back to your strategy.

Where do I start?

All marketing strategies start with your business strategy. Any marketing manager can come up with a plan to help increase x, y or z, but only the head of the organisation can say if this is in line with their wider business plan.

Your marketing strategy will include everything from business goals to positioning. It might also include your brand guidelines, so that anyone joining the organisation at any stage can look to your marketing strategy document to see what is expected.

How do I create my strategy?

In most cases, it helps to get a pair of fresh eyes and some outsider perspective. You could approach a marketing agency to bring a fresh perspective to your strategy. If an outsider view isn’t an option, then you’ll have to take it back to basics and start with your business objectives first. Once you know your wider business goals, you can set about devising a plan for how to reach them.

Stress testing your strategy

One of the biggest problems companies face is that their strategy is filled with conflict. You set yourself up for failure if one arm of your strategy is in direct conflict with another. For example, if you want to offer customer service with a personal touch but you also have plans to save money in your budget by automating your customer service with a chatbot, you’re going to struggle to achieve both objectives.

This is where stress testing comes into play. Once you have your strategy laid out in front of you, you can look for the weaknesses. What would be easy for a competitor to copy? What objectives are in direct conflict? Pick it apart and decide where your priorities lie.

Your strategy should always be evolving

New threats and opportunities will present themselves every day. To be successful in business, you need to be able to respond to these threats and adjust your course accordingly. In this way, you should see your marketing strategy is an evolving document. It isn’t something that you compile and then lock away and refer to once a year.

If a new competitor crops up, you should update your research. When you add new product lines, you should update your positioning. And if your team expands, you should think about if you are making the best use of the resources available to you. Your marketing strategy shouldn’t be a restrictive document, it should help you to broaden your perspective and identify new opportunities every day.