What is Marketing Strategy?

Actionable Marketing 101

Yes you are doing marketing, but do you have a marketing strategy? Time and again, I see marketers in companies, agencies and forums, both online and in real life, rush to develop tactics without stopping to think about how these relate to their larger business goals. Regardless of what form of marketing is being considered, social media, mobile or old-fashioned print and direct mail, or how senior the marketers involved, there’s often an irresistible desire to go to straight to tactics. This is because tactics are concrete and therefore easier to wrap one’s mind around. The problem is that the best marketing requires an approach that’s integrated into an organization’s overall business objectives.

While grounded in the language of war, marketing is about driving profitable revenues not just about ”winning” campaigns. Marketers compete for consumers’ scarce resources:  attention and disposable income. To this end, it’s important to understand how the following five components are integrated.

  1. Business objectives. What is your organization trying to accomplish? This is the really big stuff. Among the options are build a brand, get new customers, introduce new products, expand into a new category and increase market share with current customers.
  2. Target audience. Who are your customers? Which market(s) do you serve? How do you describe them so that you can reach them with appropriate messages, generally through third party, owned  and/or social media.
  3. Marketing strategies. What marketing do you need to do to help achieve these business goals? These are relatively high-level plans often related to the four Ps: product, pricing, place and promotion. Bear in mind that social media has influenced how we view these four fundamental elements of marketing.
  4. Marketing tactics. What specific actions do you need to take for your strategy to succeed? Which elements are in your marketing mix and how to they relate to your marketing strategies? Here’s where the rubber meets the road. What specifically are you going to do and when are you going to do it? Here’s where you worry about things like how your website should look, what’s your Twitter strategy and should you test Groupon.
  5. Metrics. Which things do you need to measure to assess how well your tactics and strategies have accomplished their goals? The critical issue with metrics is to determine the specifics after you have processes in place as you roll-out your tactics. This way you can get rapid feedback as to the success of each tactic and quickly make adjustments if necessary. At a minimum, make sure that you’re measuring the number of people exposed to each of your marketing initiatives, time exposed, their actions, sentiment change, sales influenced and costs.

When you’re developing your marketing plans, at a minimum, include these five elements. This will help you to communicate where your organization is headed and how you propose to get there. It will also help show your senior management that you’ve a good handle on the return they’re getting for their valuable marketing dollars.

Happy marketing,
Heidi Cohen


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