“Marketing Strategy” is one of the most commonly used terms in Marketing. The big issue that arises is most people have NO idea how to create a marketing strategy or what a marketing strategy is. Often times you will hear people call tactics a strategy and it pains me every time.
In this post, I am going to outline what is a marketing strategy and what is a marketing tactic. Once you have a basic understanding of this difference, you will find it so much easier to start creating your own strategies.
Over my years of working in brand marketing and brand management, I have seen almost every template imaginable for creating a marketing strategy. Naturally, there are themes that pop across all of them. I’ve collected those themes for you so you have all the essential components in one place.
BUT FIRST, LET’S DEFINE WHAT A MARKETING STRATEGY IS AND IS NOT.
A marketing strategy is an overarching method/plan used to attract prospective customers and then convert them into actual customers. It clearly states “what” you want to accomplish and “how” you will accomplish it.
A marketing strategy is NOT just individual actions you take. Those would be tactics. Your marketing tactics are specific and action-based. They are the specific tools and actions you execute to accomplish your strategy and thereby reach your goals.
Ultimately, you want to start off broad and then drill down to specifics. So you will first start with your goals and the specific audience you are going after. Then you will want to research your market and competitors to understand what the landscape looks like. But remember, never copy your competitors! You can improve upon their ideas or use what they are doing to inspire you, but do not be a “fast follower”. That is not a winning strategy.
MARKETING STRATEGY PROCESS
Bucket 1: What are you working towards? What are your goals? (Business Strategy Phase)
Your business goal and the time period for it. This is typically a set growth target (dollar or percentage) for your business for the year. The rest of the marketing strategy will build to help you accomplish this financial goal. Every metric you use to measure your marketing efforts will be measured against how it contributes to this goal. Tough love reminder: if it isn’t goal driven, it’s not marketing, it’s a vanity project.
Objectives of your marketing (what you are looking to accomplish with your marketing). This is typically stating “how” you will reach your business goal. The most common ways marketing supports your financial goals is by reaching new customers or selling more to existing customers.
Bucket 2: Who are the customers you want to attract with this marketing? (Customer Phase)
Target Customer Specifics (this can also be pulled from your Brand Strategy work or can be a segment of your wider target).
Insight about these customers (from your Brand Strategy work). This should include where they show up, how they interact, and other key details to help you connect with them.
Bucket 3: Market Landscape (Research Phase)
State of the industry/market (trends, insights, etc.). As a business owner, you should always have a pulse on this information. When I work with clients this portion of the marketing strategy is extremely collaborative as we will bring our findings together to ensure we capture a full picture of your market.
Key Competitors & their positioning (what are they doing well/poorly, what are the opportunity areas).
Inspiration/Learnings outside your industry/market. This is one of my favorite things to work with clients on because oftentimes the best ideas are already out there, they could just be in a different market entirely.
Bucket 4: Strategic + Tactical Plans (Planning Phase)
Marketing Strategies to achieve your objective (what are the broad plans you will use to accomplish your goals? these are your “hows”). A few common and broad marketing strategies could include raising brand awareness, driving brand loyalty, encouraging trial, building brand equity, increasing consideration, improving your search presence, engaging leads, re-engaging prospects, boosting loyalty among existing customers, etc. Smaller businesses sometimes like to get more specific with their strategies and that is okay too! Each of your businesses is unique and should be handled as such.
Intended results of each strategy (to make everything measurable, you have to have a specific outcome target - how else would you be able to know if your efforts were successful?). For example, if you’re strategy is to improve brand awareness, you’d want to include by how much, I.e. Double brand awareness.
Specific tactics to accomplish each strategy.
Metrics to assess each tactic.
Additional resource: Why Data and Tracking Marketing Matters
Bucket 5: Execution (Operational Phase)
Ownership & timeline of each tactic.
Metrics Tracking and KPI assessment - avoid feeling overwhelmed with tracking by using any of the handy tracking templates I created, formatted, and personally tested.
Another helpful guide to consider when building a marketing strategy is the Conversion Funnel (sometimes called the Marketing Funnel). Using this funnel, you can determine what stage the customers you are targeting are at. The diagrams for this are helpful, but essentially, there are 5 different types of conversion you can use marketing to influence. You can use this language as a part of the specific marketing strategies that you intend to use to help you accomplish your objectives.
Awareness: get your name and what you do out there for customers to learn about Consideration: deepens relationships with customers using targeted tactics Purchase/Trial: convince a customer to give your business a shot Loyalty: customer retention using marketing materials that continue to add value for them
MARKETING STRATEGY CASE STUDY EXAMPLE: COCA-COLA
Now that we’ve covered the technical information, let's look at a practical, real-life example to help put this into perspective for you. Here’s a hypothetical Marketing Strategy Plan for a company we are all familiar with: Coca Cola
Purpose Statement: spread happiness
Marketing Objective: Grow customer base by 5%
Target Customers: A15-21 who are seeking independence
Customer Insight: Gen Zers are constantly looking for ways to spread their own wings and find their own happiness independently of the constructs of society.
Industry/Market: Non-Alc Beverages
Key Competitors: Pepsi, Sprite, Dr. Pepper
Strategies: Drive awareness of the flagship brand Coke; Reward loyalty to encourage sharing
Tactic examples: Online video ads on YouTube, Influencers on TikTok, Customized Coke bottles, Refillable customizable coke containers, and Other types of personalization (please note - each of these tactics supports 1, not both, of the 2 strategies outlined above)
Metrics to Track: Impressions, Engagement, Sales
To learn more about how to apply the information in this post reach out to set up a consultation appointment! Our first conversation is free as I get to know about your business and your goals for Marketing.
Thank you for reading this post and for choosing to learn a bit more about marketing! We need more good marketers out there and you're taking steps to be part of that elite group. If you have any questions or want to learn more, feel free to check out the rest of the free articles published on this site and shop through the self-guided materials created for you.