What is a Marketing Strategy

(and do we need one)

Honestly, I've just been looking for an excuse to post pictures of cakes. Photo by James & Carol Lee via Unsplash

When I tell people I’m a marketing strategist, a lot of people roll their eyes. Some because they don’t think marketing is really anything to do with them, some think I’ve sold my soul to the devil. (which I guess is kinda true!)

But recently when I was asked to sum up what a marketing strategy was, I answered:

It’s knowing where your business is going, how your going to get there, who’s going to help you, and who’s going to hinder you.

Which I think is rather catchy and clever. 🙂

Simply put, once you know these four things, its a lot easier to stay on track and avoid being distracted by all the shiny new things that dazzle businesses.

I’m no chef, but I do love cake so I like to think about marketing strategy as like having a recipe to follow, You identify what you want to make and you follow the recipe; and if you need to make changes, if you know what stage you’re at, it’s easier to know what change to make.

Honestly, I've just been looking for an excuse to post pictures of cakes. Photo by James & Carol Lee via Unsplash
Just try to imagine your business as a delicious cake

Why do we need a Strategy?

By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”
― Benjamin Franklin

Ah, Benjamin Franklin, you are so wise.

Any strategy, be it business in general, marketing, financial or logistical, is there to help us focus and give us a greater understanding of our business. Greater understanding leads to more creative design, more streamlined business models and a more time efficient workforce. All of which lead to a more successful business.

So it’s a win win.

So what are we looking at?

Know where you’re going

When we have clear goals in mind, its easier to achieve them. Your goals might change as you progress along and if you are clear on what the changes are, you can change the plan accordingly.

Know how to get there

Establishing the BIG goals can also help break them down into measurable and achievable smaller goals that will allow you to track progress as you go along.

By breaking things down the BIG goal can be much less scary and much more achievable. The plan allows you to think about timescales, additional resources and training you might need and as progress is traced you can adjust the plan if you need to.

Who’s going to help you

You want to have a fantastic relationship with your customers, serve them well and get repeat business and recommendations, so its important to identify what is important to them and how you can develop your business around them. Knowing who they are and how to connect with them is critical to building trust.

Equally as important is to know who can connect you with your customers, how to build relationships with other businesses and work together to grow.

Who’s going to hinder you
(OK, hinder is possibly too harsh)

While we don’t want to copy our competitors marketing activity, it can always be useful to know who they are, watch what they are doing, see what works for them and think about how we can use their activity to further our marketing knowledge.

It’s also beneficial to look at outside factors that might effect your business. If you sell Xmas trees for example, In July, you might have be more creative to stay relevant.

And having more knowledge helps us focus!

Everything moves very fast these days and there are new products, developments and fads cropping up all the time; so without having clearly defined targets deadlines and goals, it is easy to get distracted.

Having a marketing strategy that shows us where to go can help us ask (and answer) the question “does this move me towards my goal?” If the answer is YES then its worth pursuing, but if the answer is NO, you can quickly move on

So who needs a strategy?
In short, everyone needs some sort of a plan, otherwise we run the risk of flailing about in a mild state of constant confusion.

It’s easy to see why large businesses with marketing teams have a strategy, they need to keep a whole team on track and their campaigns might be on a larger scale, but equally, a small business needs to use its time efficiently and avoid taking unnecessary and costly detours, so keeping on track is vital.

So its time to sit down, decide on your goals, break them down and research your market.

You might be surprised at how much opportunity lays before you!