Marketing strategy is the section of your business plan (developed section) that outlines your overall game plan for finding clients and customers for your business.
What Is Marketing Strategy?
A marketing strategy refers to a business’ overall game plan for reaching prospective consumers and turning them into customers of the products or services the business provides. A marketing strategy contains the company’s value proposition, key brand messaging, data on target customer demographics, and other high-level elements.
Sometimes marketing strategy is confused with a marketing plan, but they are different.
- Marketing strategy focuses on what you want to achieve for your business and marketing efforts.
- Marketing plan details how you’ll achieve those goals.
When Is a Marketing Strategy Developed?
The marketing strategy is created before you start your business (or developed).
You can’t effectively market your home business without understanding how it fits into the marketplace, your competition, how you’ll compete, and what you need to achieve (i.e. sales numbers) to reach your financial goals.
The information you gather in creating the marketing strategy is then used to create your marketing plan, and start your business.
How to Create a Marketing Strategy
Before writing your marketing strategy, you need to know how your product or service benefits others and how it’s unique (unique selling proposition) to other businesses in the marketplace. Further, you need to do market research to understand your competition, your target market, and other factors that will impact your ability to reach and entice people to your business.
Once you have your research, you can write your marketing strategy incorporating the 5 Ps of your marketing mix:
Product: What you selling? What are the physical attributes of your product or the uniqueness of your service? How is what you offer different from your competitors and what benefits does it provide your customer?
Price: What will it cost to get your product or service? How does it compare to your competition? What will your profit margin be by selling at that price?
Place: Where will your products and services be available for purchase? This is beyond having a home office, and instead are the places where consumers are able to buy. If you’re in multiple places, you should work to calculate the percentage of sales from each place. For example, what will your Internet marketing strategy be? What is your sales strategy? How will the transaction take place, what is the cost of getting the product or service to the consumer/client, and what will be your refund/return policy?
Promotion: How are you going to let the market know about your product or services? How will you tell them about the features and benefits you provide to entice them to check out what you offer? What marketing tactics will you use and what do you anticipate will be the results of each method? Include information about any incentives or coupons you’ll use to attract business.
People: This is a newly added “P” to the marketing mix, and is important if other people are involved in helping you create or deliver your product or service. Who are these people (i.e. sales people, virtual assistants) and what do they do (i.e. sales calls, customer service)? What is their level of training and/or experience in providing help to your business?
When writing your strategy, be specific, using detailed steps, visuals, and budget projections. Keep your brand (your promise to the customer) in mind so that your marketing strategy fits with what you want the customer to experience when doing business with you. Be sure to refer to your marketing strategy as you develop, assess, or change your marketing plan.
What to Do With Your Marketing Strategy
If you’re using a business plan to get a loan or generate angel investors, the marketing strategy and marketing plan will be essential elements to your success.
Along with a quality product or service, sources of financing also want to see that you understand and have a plan for reaching your market.
If you ever watch “Shark Tank”, you’ll notice that many of their questions have to do with the market (who will buy) and what’s special about the product/service (USP) especially compared to what already exists (why is your product or service needed?).
Like a business plan, marketing strategies can be fluid, changing as needed to improve your results. Once your business is operational, you’ll need to assess and adjust your marketing strategy from time to time to account for changing market conditions, shifts in demand, and other factors that impact your sales, as a result of your market research activities and performance of your business.
Strategic Marketing Planning
Marketing strategy involves mapping out the company’s direction for the forthcoming planning period, whether that be three, five or ten years. It involves undertaking a 360° review of the firm and its operating environment with a view to identifying new business opportunities that the firm could potentially leverage for competitive advantage. Strategic planning may also reveal market threats that the firm may need to consider for long-term sustainability. Strategic planning makes no assumptions about the firm continuing to offer the same products to the same customers into the future. Instead, it is concerned with identifying the business opportunities that are likely to be successful and evaluates the firm’s capacity to leverage such opportunities. It seeks to identify the strategic gap; that is the difference between where a firm is currently situated (the strategic reality or inadvertent strategy) and where it should be situated for sustainable, long-term growth (the strategic intent or deliberate strategy).
Strategic planning seeks to address three deceptively simple questions, specifically:
- Where are we now? (Situation analysis)
- What business should we be in? (Vision and mission)
- How should we get there? (Strategies, plans, goals and objectives)
A fourth question may be added to the list, namely ‘How do we know when we got there?’ Due to increasing need for accountability, many marketing organisations use a variety of marketing metrics to track strategic performance, allowing for corrective action to be taken as required. On the surface, strategic planning seeks to address three simple questions, however, the research and analysis involved in strategic planning is very sophisticated and requires a great deal of skill and judgement.
Developing the vision and mission
In marketing world, there are various developed strategy. Let’s look at developing the vision and mission.
The vision and mission address the second central question, ‘Where are we going?’ At the conclusion of the research and analysis stage, the firm will typically review its vision statement, mission statement and, if necessary, devise a new vision and mission for the outlook period. At this stage, the firm will also devise a generic competitive strategy as the basis for maintaining a sustainable competitive advantage for the forthcoming planning period.
A vision statement is a realistic, long term future scenario for the organisation. (Vision statements should not be confused with slogans or mottos.) A vision statement is designed to present a realistic long-term future scenario for the organisation. It is a “clearly articulated statement of the business scope.” A strong vision statement typically includes the following:
- Competitive scope
- Market scope
- Geographic scope
- Vertical scope
Some scholars point out the market visioning is a skill or competency that encapsulates the planners’ capacity “to link advanced technologies to market opportunities of the future, and to do so through a shared understanding of a given product market.
A mission statement is a clear and concise statement of the organisation’s reason for being and its scope of operations, while the generic strategy outlines how the company intends to achieve both its vision and mission.
Mission statements should include detailed information and must be more than a simple motherhood statement. A mission statement typically includes the following:
- Specification of target customers
- Identification of principal products or services offered
- Specification of the geographic scope of operations
- Identification of core technologies and/or core capabilities
- An outline of the firm’s commitment to long-term survival, growth and profitability
- An outline of the key elements in the company’s philosophy and core values
- Identification of the company’s desired public image
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