What is a Marketing Strategy?

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Marketing Strategy, what does it really mean? I get asked this question a lot. It is common for business owners to be promoting their business without a clear direction or plan. Having a marketing strategy will set the foundation for your marketing plan and the marketing plan will help you focus your time and efforts on specific avenues instead of taking a “spray and pray” approach to promoting your business.

“Long-term, forward looking approach to planning with the fundamental goal of achieving a sustainable competitive advantage” - Wikipedia

A marketing strategy is the foundation of your marketing plan (the how/steps/tasks of promoting your business or product). The strategy understands your competition, your sales targets, your competitive advantage, your customer and the industry so you can identify how you will communicate your business or product to your target market (read: ideal customers). I know what you are thinking, this sounds great, but how do I do this for my business?! The outline below is my process when I work with my Marketing Strat-Plan clients.

SWOT Analysis

When I work with clients on developing their marketing strategy we start with a Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats (SWOT) Analysis. This really lays the groundwork for your marketing strategy.  

Think about asking these questions:

Strengths

  • What do you well?
  • What comes naturally to you?
  • What is the most profitable part of your business?
  • What is your experience?

Weaknesses

  • What doesn’t come naturally to you?
  • What is the least profitable part of your business?
  • What resources are you lacking?
  • What takes the most time in your business?
  • What could you learn more about?

Opportunities

  • Are there any gaps in the marketplace that you could fill?  
  • How could you serve your current customers/clients better?
  • Is there technology that you could use to streamline your operations?
  • Are your clients/customers asking for products/services that you currently don’t offer?
  • Who can support you and how can they support you?

Threats

  • What are your competitions strengths?
  • Are there technology changes that threaten your business?
  • How are your clients mindsets shifting?
  • What obstacles are you facing?

Customer Research

It is important to make decisions that are inline with your customers needs and the best way to do this is to ask your customers directly. Compile a simple survey on Typeform or SurveyMonkey or Google Forms and ask your current and past customers some of these questions:

  • What are you currently struggling with?
  • If I could wave a magic wand, what would solve your struggle?
  • What benefits do you (did you) get from working with {your company}?
  • What features are you looking for when you purchase {product/service}?
  • What ultimately led to your decision to buy {product/service} from us?
  • What goals do you have for your {business/life} this year?
  • What social media platforms do you use the most?
  • How do you like to receive content {blog posts, video, books}?
  • If I could answer any question about {your niche} what would it be?

In addition to surveying your current and past clients you should also look toward your dream clients to make sure that the strategy you will implement will connect with them. Try reaching out to 5-10 dream clients, buy them a coffee and ask them a few questions. The important thing is to not waste your dream clients time, so make the questions quick and easy to answer. You just want to gauge how you can meet the needs of your dream clients and where you can find them so you can focus your marketing efforts toward them.  

Product Value Proposition

A value proposition is basically how your product or service solves your clients problem, what the benefits of your product or service is and why clients should choose you vs. the competition.

A simple formula is Steve Blank’s XYZ template. Basically “we help X do y for Z”.

Example:

Larch & Lake consulting helps creative entrepreneurs grow their business by simplifying their marketing efforts.

Another template by Geoff Moore goes like this:

For ____________ (target customer)

Who ________________ (statement about what their need is)

Our __________ (product) ______________ (product category)

That ______________ (benefits)

Example:

For creative entrepreneurs

Who are busy doing #allthethings

Our marketing strategic plans that simplifies your marketing efforts so you can get back to running your business.

Once you have a value proposition for your business as a whole and your products/services you can start using throughout your marketing efforts.

Match goals with a strategy

This is a very broad category, the important thing is that your marketing strategy should align to your company’s overall goals. Personally, I like to focus on 3 goals. I list each goal and then how the goal will be achieved (the strategy).

For example:

Goal: Establish expertise and credibility
Through inbound and outbound content marketing

Goal: Increase web traffic to product landing page
Through value communication, social channels and paid campaigns

Underneath the goal we will eventually start to list the action items or the how. These action items will be your Marketing Plan. Download our marketing idea template, so you can record your ideas and determine which ones to tackle first.

 

Bringing it all together

Now, you need to take all your data and research and find some common ground. This will allow you to start building the framework for your marketing plan.

Get all of your research into one document and brainstorm some ideas to reach your ideal customers, and what type of content they are interested in.

Your overall strategy is going to dictate how you implement your marketing tactics. 

In next week's blog post we are going to discuss the next steps: Creating your Marketing Plan (the how)!


Interested in getting a customized marketing strategy for your business? Check out our Marketing Strat-Plans or get in touch for a complementary 15 minute consultation!