How a marketing strategy helps achieve business goals
Perhaps you’ve heard how important it is for your business to have a marketing strategy, but you don’t know what that really means or where to start. Whether you’re new to using marketing strategies or you just want to create better ones, it can be tricky to craft a documented, tactical approach for your marketing team.
But understanding the nuances of marketing strategy can help you create more successful campaigns that put your business ahead.
This article will give you a basic understanding of what a marketing strategy is and how to create one. You’ll also learn how to execute a marketing strategy to get the biggest return on your investment.
This post will explore:
- What a marketing strategy is
- Understanding marketing strategies
- Marketing strategy vs. marketing plan
- Importance of a marketing strategy
- How to create a marketing strategy
- Types of marketing strategies
What is a marketing strategy?
A marketing strategy is an overarching approach companies take to promote their products or services and reach potential customers. It’s a marketing playbook used to generate measurable business results.
The purpose of a marketing strategy is to generate brand awareness, nurture customer relationships, and convert leads into paying customers. The ultimate goal of any marketing strategy is to boost a business’s share of voice and generate more sales.
Marketing strategy is usually very high level. It marries your company’s goals with your marketing department’s objectives to create a strategic direction for your campaigns.
A documented marketing strategy helps your team decide on the company’s future direction. You’re free to adjust your marketing strategy over time, but it’s a necessity for making the most of your resources.
The key benefits of marketing strategies include:
- A better understanding of who your customers are and what motivates them
- More clarity about your company’s value proposition and what makes you unique
- Understanding how to position your product and communicate your value so you can outperform the competition
Without a marketing strategy, you risk promoting the wrong features, selling to the wrong audience, and misunderstanding your competition. Regardless of your company’s size or type, a marketing strategy can help you make the most of your resources while maximizing the results you get from marketing.
Understanding marketing strategies
An effective marketing strategy involves researching your customer, positioning your product, and planning how to promote it. Every business should have a unique marketing strategy tailored to the 4 Ps:
Once you have the 4 Ps in place, you can use them as a foundation for your marketing strategy. A good marketing strategy:
- Determines the general direction (but not the specific details) of your marketing
- Informs marketing initiatives across all of your company’s products and services
- Is long term and measurable
Marketing strategy vs. marketing plan
Although the two terms sound similar, it’s important to remember that a marketing strategy isn’t the same as a marketing plan.
- Are long-term, big-picture plans
- Ensure the company delivers on its mission and marketing activities support business goals
- Are a component of the marketing plan that explains your high-level goals
- Are shorter term
- Are documents that contain your marketing strategy, plus all of your high-level marketing activities
- List all of your campaigns, usually for the year, alongside your overarching marketing and business goals
For example, your marketing strategy might focus on attracting more subscribers for your SaaS products. Your marketing plan would help you attract these subscribers with tactics like content marketing campaigns, informational webinars, or LinkedIn influencers.
But marketing plans by themselves aren’t very actionable, which is why it’s smart to break your strategies down one step further into marketing tactics. These are the actionable steps you take to achieve your plan and, as a result, your strategy. For example, you might sign up for an influencer marketing platform to get influencers to promote your SaaS product, which delivers on your strategy of attracting more SaaS subscribers.
Importance of a marketing strategy
Plans and tactics matter, but they can’t work without an effective strategy. In fact, the right marketing strategy can make your business more successful.
According to a report by CoSchedule, organized marketers are 674% more likely to be successful. Marketing teams that paired their marketing strategy with a project management solution were 426% more likely to be successful too.
A marketing strategy is important because it helps you understand your customers’ needs and better communicate your offerings. It also sets a clear direction for your department and unifies marketing activities, so everyone works toward the same goal.
However, Smart Insights found 45% of companies don’t have a digital marketing strategy at all — and yet they still invest in digital marketing. Whether you do digital marketing or not, failing to document a marketing strategy can hurt your business in many ways, such as:
- Not being able to justify enough of a budget to execute your vision
- Causing internal chaos by changing strategic direction every few weeks
- Seeing little to no return on investment for marketing activities
- Missing out on timely marketing opportunities
- Misunderstanding your customers’ needs and expectations
Your first marketing strategy likely won’t be perfect, and that’s okay. An imperfect strategy is always better than a nonexistent strategy because you can refine an imperfect strategy as you go.
How to create a marketing strategy
If you’re ready to create your own marketing strategy, follow these seven steps to make one that is useful and actionable.
1. Define business goals
Marketing should deliver on your main goals. That’s why you first need to know your business goals, so you can create a marketing strategy that supports them.
Every business is different, but general goals include:
- Increasing brand awareness
- Increasing profits
- Diversifying income
- Increasing market share
- Retaining employees
- Beating the competition
- Fostering deeper customer relationships
For example, if your business goal is to increase sales by 10%, your marketing plan needs to support that goal. For marketing to increase sales by 10%, you might focus on generating more leads or expanding your target audience.
By first understanding your overall business goal, you can pivot your marketing strategy to focus on things that matter most to the business as a whole.
2. Identify and research the target market
Before you can understand your customers, you need to understand the realities of your target market. This will give you valuable context on how to best promote your business.
You might spot a few opportunities while you learn about your target market. In-depth market research can also help you predict your profitability and earning potential.
Some aspects to research include market:
- Economic factors
- Political factors
For example, if you realize that impending legislation will drastically change your market, that’s going to have a big impact on how you can promote your business. At the same time, if you realize there’s a lot of competition in the market, that means you’ll need to think outside of the box when marketing your product.
Don’t let this research deter you, though. The purpose of market research is to understand the current state of the market so you can overcome challenges and take advantage of opportunities.
3. Create buyer personas
Marketing works by pairing a business solution with a customer need. At this point, you might have a solid solution, but you can’t forget about the other side of the equation — the customer.
Once you know your goals and target market, it’s time to create buyer personas (for B2C) or ideal customer profiles (for B2B). Think of these depictions as an internal tool that helps your marketing team understand and empathize with your target audience.
Your buyer personas or customer profiles should include demographics, interests, and pain points. This data will inform your messaging, marketing channels, and strategic direction.
You don’t have to limit yourself to just one profile, either. Most companies sell to a variety of customers, so it isn’t unusual to have three to seven buyer personas or customer profiles.
4. Identify your unique value proposition
Your unique value proposition — or unique selling point (USP) — answers why consumers should choose your solution. It should also detail the key benefits of your product or service.
What makes your product, service, or company unique? What do you do better than everyone else? Why should customers buy from you?
List all of your products and services and document the benefits of each in your marketing strategy. Your marketing team can use these bulletpoint benefits to craft more compelling ad copy, emails, and content to persuade more leads to convert — so think carefully.
5. Craft your positioning and messaging
From here, you’ll take your unique benefits and create approved brand messaging.
How will you position your products, services, or brand to your target audience? Create preapproved messaging with boilerplate or templated language that your marketing team can pull from easily.
Blend your product benefits with your buyers’ pain points to make your message as enticing as possible. Documenting your messaging will also help you stick with one consistent story throughout your marketing campaigns and channels.
6. Determine your marketing channels and tactics
Next, you’ll need to define how specifically you’ll achieve your overall marketing strategy. To do that, you’ll need to choose channels and tactics.
Be sure to choose channels that your audience uses. For example, if Facebook is your audience’s social network of choice, it probably doesn’t make sense to invest a lot of energy and resources in TikTok. Every company’s approach will differ, but you should consider these channels and tactics to get started:
- Social media like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok
- Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising
- Social media advertising
- Influencer marketing
- Organic search engine optimization (SEO)
- Email marketing
- Content marketing, including blogs, podcasts, and videos
- Affiliate marketing
Once you’ve chosen your marketing channels, choose tactics for each channel that align with your marketing strategy. For example, if your B2B leads respond well to email marketing, you might create tactics to boost your email subscriber list or pre-plan a few seasonal email campaigns.
7. Measure your progress
Marketing strategies are a constant work in progress. Your strategy needs to include metrics or KPIs that help you assess whether you’ve been successful.
Your marketing strategy should list which KPIs you track and the acceptable benchmarks for those metrics. This should tie into your overall business objectives and marketing goals. For example, if your goal is to increase customer acquisition, you need to track metrics like leads generated and churn rate.
Try measuring your progress with metrics such as:
- Churn rate
- Views and clicks
- Comments and shares
- Conversion rates
- SEO rankings
- Click-through rates
- Social media followers
- Email subscribers
Regardless of your metrics, you need to assess your progress at least once a year (if not more often). If this is your first marketing strategy, you might need to meet monthly or quarterly to adjust as you go.
Types of marketing strategies
A marketing strategy can apply to an organization’s overall marketing strategy or just to one channel. Some companies have omnichannel marketing strategies that blend all of their channels together. But if you’re a smaller business, you might have separate strategies for email, social media, or content marketing.
There are several types of marketing strategies to consider, such as:
1. Inbound marketing. Inbound marketing persuades customers to come to you instead of pursuing customers yourself (outbound marketing). With inbound marketing strategies, you craft a playbook for connecting with leads who express interest in your brand. This includes tactics like email marketing and content marketing.
2. Search engine marketing. Search engine marketing strategies help businesses optimize their web pages to stand out on search engines. This type of marketing strategy focuses on keywords, rankings, and backlinks.
3. Content marketing. Content marketing is similar to inbound marketing, but this strategy focuses solely on content production and distribution. It includes blogs, podcasts, videos, reports, case studies, testimonials, and more.
4. Social media marketing. Social media marketing strategies detail which social networks you’ll use and your individual strategy for posting and interacting on each network.
5. Email marketing. Email marketing strategies help businesses get more mileage out of their email lists. Use this strategy to segment your lists, craft the perfect messages, and send emails at the right time.
Some businesses choose to create one overarching marketing strategy, while others prefer to create separate strategies that allow them to do deeper dives into separate strategies. Do what works best for your business.
Start building a marketing strategy
Marketing strategies can help you clarify your company’s value proposition, better understand your customers, and come out ahead of the competition.
Follow the seven steps in this guide to craft your own marketing strategy to see the difference firsthand. If you’re ready to get started, define your business goals and research your market. Don’t overlook the power of buyer personas, your USP, messaging, marketing tactics, and KPIs to create a strong marketing strategy.
When it comes to executing on strategy, even large marketing teams struggle to make sense of their big-picture marketing goals. That’s why many organizations rely on solutions like Adobe Campaign to help them plan, strategize, and execute.
Campaign makes it simple to visualize and connect personal customer journeys across every channel. With Campaign, you can control both online and offline customer journeys, delivering tailored experiences to every single person. Rooted in email but extending across all channels, it synchronizes campaign elements into one manageable workflow.
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Watch the demo video to learn more.
Adobe Marketo Engage can also help B2B marketing teams nurture leads and enhance customer engagement for complex B2B buying journeys.
To learn more about Marketo Engage, take an interactive product tour or watch the overview video.