Every business needs a marketing strategy; however, creating one from scratch is easier said than done.
Fortunately, you have the power to grow your organization, future-proof your career, and become a brilliant marketing strategist. You can know your customers better than they know themselves, understand exactly how to create content and launch campaigns they love, and get reliable results that power sales.
In short, you can succeed at marketing strategy.
Read this resource for a complete overview of the basics of marketing strategy.
What Is Marketing?
Marketing is a series of tactics used to communicate and promote a product or service. It exists to draw in and motivate prospective customers to take action and purchase goods.
Built on creativity and innovation, marketing delivers value to meet the needs of a target market. Ultimately, it strives to promote a brand and maximize a company’s profits.
What Is Marketing Strategy?
Let’s establish what we mean when we use the term “marketing strategy”. There are a number of different definitions that often get applied to this seemingly simple term, so it’d be best to clearly delineate how this guide defines the concept.
Marketing Strategy Definition
Marketing strategy describes the process of how businesses and organizations understand their markets and their methods for influencing profitable customer action.
That seems succinct enough, right? In other words, and in the interest of keeping things simple, marketing strategy is all about:
- Understanding who buys your products and services.
- Understanding how you’ll motivate them to take profitable action.
- Understanding your competitors who are trying to do the same thing.
- Understanding how you’ll measure marketing activities and refine your approach moving forward.
A company’s marketing strategy is its plan for reaching potential consumers and converting them into paying customers for its goods and services. A marketing strategy includes:
- Research: Analysis of target markets, competition, pricing triggers, buying behaviors, and more.
- Positioning: Differentiation in value promises, packaging look and feel, conversion messaging, and more.
- Promotion: Actual marketing of products and services through content, relationships, and experiences with the goal of influencing profitable customer action.
- Measurement: Proving value, learning from success and failure, and iterating future work to fulfill marketing goals.
Let’s look at some other definitions of marketing strategy from industry experts.
Marketing Strategy Definition From Philip Kotler
Philip Kotler, one of the co-authors of the discipline-defining textbook, Marketing Management, defines marketing strategy as the process to:
Create, communicate, and deliver value to a target market at a profit.
– Philip Kotler
Kotler goes on to say, “Creating value is called product management. […] You have to communicate value. […] That’s brand management. […] To deliver value is called customer management. […] So you’re in three businesses: product management, brand management, and customer management.”
Marketing Strategy Definition From Omer Farkash
Omer Farkash, the co-founder and COO at Mayple, writes:
“Marketing strategy is a long-term, forward-looking approach and an overall game plan of any organization or any business with the fundamental goal of achieving a sustainable competitive advantage by understanding the needs and wants of customers.”
– Omer Farkash
Marketing Strategy Definition From Adam Barone
Adam Barone, a content strategist, wrote the definition of marketing strategy for Investopedia:
“A marketing strategy refers to a business’s overall game plan for reaching prospective consumers and turning them into customers of their products or services. A marketing strategy contains the company’s value proposition, key brand messaging, data on target customer demographics, and other high-level elements.”
– Adam Barone
Marketing Strategy Definition From Noah Kagan
Noah Kagan, Founder of Sumo, told CoSchedule’s CEO, that the definition of marketing strategy starts with a question:
“Do you have a product or service that people want? If you don’t have that, nothing else matters.”
– Noah Kagan
Importance Of Marketing Strategy
Implementing a marketing strategy for your business is important because it empowers marketers to:
- Gain knowledge of target market, demand, and competitive differentiation that make investments in product development profitable.
- Provide your company with an edge over its competition with knowledge of what influences purchase decisions that can optimize product positioning.
- Set up marketing departments for success by defining marketing goals, lead indicators, lag indicators, and providing focus for marketers to focus their efforts on what has the best potential to influence results.
A robust and ideal marketing strategy will:
- Align your team behind a set of objectives
- Assist you in connecting your efforts to your company’s goals
- Differentiate your products from the competition with unique value propositions
- Allow you to determine what connects with your audience and test it
- Empower your team to prove its value to the organization
Benefits Of A Marketing Strategy
You might be thinking your company isn’t a global powerhouse. You might not even aspire to achieve that kind of growth, and, realistically, most companies won’t or don’t need to join the Fortune 500—though even the world’s biggest brands still need to pay attention to strategy, too.
That doesn’t mean focusing on strategy and making a real investment in it isn’t for you. If you have customers to serve, then you need to think strategically so your execution—you know, all the fun, creative parts that attract so many of us to this work in the first place—actually moves the people it needs to and drives the results you need.
Marketers Who Document Their Strategy Are 674% More Likely To Reach Goals
“You need a documented strategy” is an old chestnut that has been repeated around the marketing industry for decades. It turns out that there’s a good reason for this, and it’s not just a commonly accepted best practice that we all do without actually knowing why.
In fact, research from CoSchedule in 2022 shows that marketers who document strategy are 674% more likely to report success than their peers who do not document strategy.
Marketers Who Set Goals Are 377% More Successful
The same report that proves marketers who document strategy are more successful also found that marketers who set goals are 377% more likely to report success than their peers who do not proactively set goals.
If goals are the destination, then goal-setting marketers are very good at drawing the roadmap to get where they need to be. Without a known destination, marketers are directionless… seemingly meandering with no guideposts.
Marketers Who Plan Are 331% More Successful
A recent study from PsychTests.com discovered that “people who plan ahead are more self-motivated, resilient, and optimistic than people who take things as they come.”
marketers who proactively plan are 331% more likely to report success than their peers who do not plan ahead.
You Can Win At Marketing Strategy By Doing What Others Won’t
One last fact from CoSchedule’s research: Only 47% of marketers have documented portions of their process. Just 17% of marketers have documented the majority (if not all) of their marketing strategy.
If we put these statistics together, we can loosely draw a few different conclusions:
- Documenting strategy matters: It’s not a pointless exercise—especially when you do it effectively.
- Most marketers do not strategize well: This means more opportunity for you to kick ass.
- Success requires follow-through: The door is wide open for those willing to walk through it.
What Is Included In A Marketing Strategy?
A Marketing Strategy uses high-level elements to determine a company’s current value position and outline a future marketing direction. It generally contains:
- A Marketing Outcome: The end result a company wishes to achieve
- A SWOT analysis: An internal and external review of an organization to determine its strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats
- The Target Audience: The ideal customer a company wants to reach
- A Budget: The money allocated to marketing efforts
- A Product Mix: The analysis of product, price, place, and promotion – the key components in successfully marketing anything
- Marketing Tactics: The actions taken to accomplish a marketing objective
- A Content Schedule: A living document that blueprints when and where content will be posted
- A Marketing Timeline: A chronological plan, including an end date, of the marketing strategy
- Accountability: What success will look like and how to record it
Apart from the points discussed in the above section of the article, what are the key things you should include when working on your company’s Marketing Strategy?
- Begin with a documented marketing plan: A strong marketing strategy requires research and communication. A written plan with crucial information acts like a roadmap for marketers to travel to your desired destination—the goals you aim to influence.
- Understand your target audience and the market: Researching customers, market trends, and competition empowers marketers to differentiate products, pricing, distribution, promotion, packaging, and positioning. Accurate research to direct marketing efforts is essential for a marketing strategy—and team—to be successful.
- Define your unique value proposition and key differentiators: In this step, marketing strategists translate research into action. Marketing must influence product research and development, brand identity with visuals and voice, and unique positioning and benefits statements.
- Set marketing goals and objectives: After marketing strategists understand the market opportunity, they may set smart, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timely (SMART) goals.
- Identify the marketing approaches and media to reach your target audience: The goal of marketing is to generate profitable customer action. Marketing strategy focuses on stakeholders and practitioners by documenting marketing funnel stages, selecting the marketing tactics with the greatest potential to influence the goals and objectives, and defining the channels the organization will leverage to execute the plan.
- Execute and publish marketing activities: A marketing plan is only beneficial when a company actualizes it. Marketing strategists must identify when campaigns will launch and how contributors will collaborate with their resources to make the vision a reality.
- Measure and analyze results: Marketing strategists know that if you ship but neglect to measure your impact, you haven’t achieved anything. Successful marketers measure how their activities influence the goals and objectives outlined in the marketing strategy. From there, ideation from audits may lead to tests and iterations that may be even more influential in achieving marketing goals.
Read this resource for a complete and robust list of marketing strategy steps.
So how do you develop a marketing strategy? Let’s take a look at how to create a successful marketing strategy:
Step 1: Begin With A Documented Marketing Plan
To begin, document everything you learn and do so that all marketers, agencies, executives, and other stakeholders in your organization understand the following:
- Who you’re targeting
- What your objectives are
- How to differentiate yourself from the competition
- How to reach your audience
- What will measure your success
Documenting your content plan is critical to the effectiveness of your content marketing efforts.
Setting goals can often be the difference between success and failure. It is believed that writing (or typing) your objectives allows them to become more ingrained in your brain.
Organized marketers are 674% more likely to report success.
We know and understand how daunting it may be to create a marketing strategy from the beginning. That is why we have created 38 marketing plan samples to assist you in developing your framework.
Step 2: Understand Your Target Audience & The Market
Research Customer Pain Points & Expectations
Effective marketing targets a specific audience. Knowing who those individuals are can help you sell more effectively.
You can pinpoint your target demographic and design marketing accordingly with sufficient research and analysis.
Identify Market Trends
While understanding your audience can only get you so far, knowing your market trends keeps you shining on your path. Identifying and knowing current trends in the market helps you improve yourself and keep updated with the competition.
Understand The Competition & Your Unique Selling Proposition
- Competitive analysis is the process of determining the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors to acquire a better grasp of how to conduct your business and reach new audiences. Conducting a competitive study is critical for determining how you will run your whole organization.
- The SWOT analysis refers to a company’s Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. It can assist you in determining what may separate you from your competitors and the resources available to capitalize on that opportunity.
Document Buyer Personas
Your marketing persona is a document that covers the who, what, when, where, and why of your target audience and broad demographic data such as gender, job title, job function, business size, team size, requirements, pain points, and difficulties.
Step 3: Define Your Unique Value Proposition & Key Differentiators
Identify Your Brand Value & Offering
While your logo, goods, website, and even your digital marketing efforts may evolve, one constant must be your brand values. Your fundamental brand values are the principles around which you found your business.
They work as a compass for your brand’s narrative, activities, behaviors, and decision-making process.
Define Your Unique Brand Voice
The term brand voice refers to the personality and emotion infused into a company’s communication. It involves the words and language you employ to the personality and image elicited by your marketing materials.
You must ensure that your message is heard above the competition and leaves a lasting impact on potential clients.
Create Your Creative Visual Identity
Your brand’s design is its unsung advocate. Now, more than ever, the visual appearance of your brand can make or break your business.
Visual identity is not exclusive to large corporations; small, direct-to-consumer firms may also develop one at a modest cost. We strongly advise you to create an excellent visual identity, even if you are just getting started.
Document Your Brand Positioning & Messaging
Brand positioning determines how your product is viewed, while messaging serves as a vehicle for amplifying that perception. Together, they define your company’s position in the market and ultimately determine its long-term success.
Step 4: Set Marketing Goals & Objectives
What Are Marketing Goals?
Your marketing goal is a defined, quantifiable, aspirational, reasonable, and time-bound statistic that serves as the driving force behind all your marketing efforts.
Marketers who document their aims and objectives are more likely to see them through to completion.
What Are Marketing Objectives?
Marketing objectives are quantifiable goals that define the desired outcome of your marketing approach. Their primary objective is to direct your marketing efforts toward certain milestones.
Document SMART Goals
It is critical to ensure that your marketing objectives are Specified, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-bound – or SMART for short. The SMART approach enables a supervisor to manage marketing activities effectively and forecast the success of new objectives.
Step 5: Identify The Marketing Approaches & Media To Reach Your Target Audience
Understand Your Marketing Funnel
The marketing funnel is a funnel diagram that depicts how customers go through the customer journey.
Prospective consumers, like sales funnels, begin at the top when they become aware of a need. They then examine items that satisfy that demand before making a purchase.
Define Your Marketing Channels
Any technique or platform used to advertise a product or service to customers is considered a marketing channel. The fundamental objective is to transfer the product or service ownership from the manufacturer to the consumer.
Choose Your Marketing Tactics
Marketing tactics are the actions used to drive the promotion of a product or service to achieve specified marketing objectives.
A case study is an example of a marketing approach. Blog articles, white papers, and videos are examples of material that may be used to implement that marketing technique.
Step 6: Execute & Publish Marketing Activities
A marketing calendar is a tool that allows you to plan and organize all of your marketing efforts in one location. It serves as a road map for all of your marketing efforts.
Marketing execution is how your marketing plan transforms into reality. You already know that a marketing strategy serves as a road map for selecting, prioritizing, planning, and finally, executing tasks that eventually benefit your business’s bottom line.
Step 7: Measure & Analyze Results
Review Your Media
A marketing metric is a measurable metric used to track the effectiveness of a marketing campaign.
They are essential for your entire organization. Without them, it is hard to determine the precise impact of marketing on a business.
No matter which type of strategy you plan and execute, they all follow the same basic principles:
- Who are you trying to reach? These are your target customers or audiences you need to buy a product, make a donation, persuade to support an idea, or take another action that supports your objectives.
- Where will you try to reach them? These network and channel-specific strategies emphasize this area.
- How will you inspire them to take action and buy from you? Your branding, channels, and tactics come into play here.
- Which ways will you measure success? If you can’t measure it, then it didn’t happen. You must prove your strategy drives results.
Read this resource for a more complete list of all the types of marketing strategies.
1. Brand Positioning Strategy
A brand strategy is a comprehensive plan for linking your distinctive value to the appropriate target at every point of contact.
Brand positioning occurs regardless of whether you consciously include it in your marketing plan. You can affect this view proactively by designing your brand positioning before publishing content and defining your brand voice first.
2. Public Relations Strategy
Public relations is responsible for establishing and maintaining a positive connection with the public. To avoid falling behind, marketers must learn how to connect their public relations activities efficiently with other aspects of marketing.
Your public relations activities must target the appropriate audiences using the right strategies, and each strategy should have quantifiable objectives.
3. Product Marketing Strategy
Product marketing is like the interface between sales, marketing, and product development.
The majority of product marketing operations often concentrate in the bottom third of the marketing funnel – the thing that assists someone in making a final purchase decision and converting to successful, loyal customers. You can strategize the product marketing for better results.
4. Digital Marketing Strategy
A well-structured digital marketing plan is required to succeed as a business in today’s digital world.
Check out some helpful tips and more on our exclusive piece here.
5. Inbound Marketing Strategy
This strategy for attracting and engaging customers creates an organization that provides value and earns trust.
Rather than interrupting individuals who have not indicated an interest in your products, inbound marketing seeks to attract those who have previously acknowledged a need.
6. SEO Content Strategy
SEO is mainly concerned with content. With content marketing, SEO as we know it accelerated and gained popularity. Content marketers today have a greater potential than ever to leverage SEO-driven strategy.
7. Content Marketing Strategy
The content strategy ends in the publication of successful content. While you may have prepared your content and blog pieces, promoting them and ensuring that they reach your audience is an entirely different challenge.
Check out our blog post on content marketing strategy for more information on this and several templates you can use to do the same thing.
8. Social Media Content Strategy
A social media content strategy details the information you publish on various social media platforms while also defining how to connect with your audience.
This strategy saves you time and helps you manage your social media accounts more effectively.
9. Email Marketing Strategy
Email marketing strategy is crucial for any business because, through emails, organizations engage with customers, segment them, and strategize their further marketing plans.
We have written an article on email marketing strategy and how DigitalMarketer nails this approach. Make sure to check it out!
10. Video Marketing Strategy
Video marketing is an ever-increasing trend. The returns of marketing from YouTube and TikTok are proof. Producing high-quality video content takes time. CoSchedule will ensure it receives attention.
11. Internal Marketing Strategy
A marketing strategy that focuses on fostering employee loyalty, competence, and engagement by “selling” your product and vision to them is called an internal marketing strategy.
You want them to genuinely grasp why you’re selling those things so they can convey that message to others – including your customers.
12. Editorial Strategy
An editorial plan specifies the content formats, distribution channels, and procedures that power your marketing activities and enable you to achieve your marketing objectives.
It is always focused on your target audience. As a result, an editorial strategy establishes clear criteria and expectations for content creation based on what your audience wants.
13. Ecommerce Marketing Strategy
Marketing is the first consideration when starting an Ecommerce shop. Once you’ve decided on what to offer, you’ll probably wonder how to increase traffic to your site and convert that traffic into sales.
Figuring out how to strategize can feel pretty daunting. But worry not, as we have a dedicated blog post on Ecommerece Marketing Strategy to help boost your sales.
What Is The Difference Between Marketing Strategy Vs. Marketing Plan?
Is a marketing strategy the same as a marketing plan?
Marketing strategy is your purpose; it is the offering you supply, the method you deliver it, and why your marketing efforts will assist you in achieving your company’s mission and strategic goals. Having a clearly defined marketing strategy is critical for your business’s success.
A marketing plan, guided by your strategy, is the implementation, the roadmap for tactical marketing actions that assist you in achieving your marketing goals. It’s the detailed description of what you’re going to do, where you’re going to do it, when you’re going to do it, and how you’re going to measure success.
What Is The Difference Between A Marketing Strategy Vs. A Marketing Tactic?
Your marketing strategy defines your objective; it is the product or service you provide, how you give it, and why your marketing efforts will aid you in reaching your company’s mission and strategic goals. While many people see marketing as a hobby, having a well-defined marketing plan is vital to your business’s success.
Marketing tactics are the more specific methods to achieve the strategy’s objectives. While the process is long-term, tactics are more immediate and focused on a particular goal. Tactics complement strategy by conveying risks, successes, and failures.
What Is The Best Marketing Strategy?
The best marketing strategy is the one that will generate the most profitable action for your unique business. That’s a catch-all answer, which is not entirely helpful, though.
Here are some marketing strategies we’d recommend trying in 2023:
- Search engine optimization strategy: According to a Search Engine Journal poll, 49% of respondents said, “Organic search is the digital marketing channel that brings in the highest ROI.”
- Email marketing strategy: According to Statista, 4 billion people check email daily. Statista also estimates revenue reaching about 11 billion by December 2023. The chances are pretty good that your target audience uses this channel.
- Social media marketing strategy: Again, according to Statista, a projected 6 billion people will use social media in 2027 across all of the social platforms (e.g., Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, TikTok, etc.). As a channel marketing strategy, there’s a good chance you can reach your desired audience with a solid social media strategy.
Read this piece for a complete list of the different types of marketing strategies. You can use it as a jumping-off point to inspire your unique approach.
What Is An Example Of A Marketing Strategy?
What does a marketing strategy look like?
Check out our post, listing some 14 exceptional marketing strategies and campaigns from recognizable brands like Red Bull, Nike, Google, and more. This piece provides high-level examples of how these brands go to market and provides links to each case study in more detail.
- Airbnb’s marketing strategy leverages four tactics that set them apart. Airbnb is a software company that allows homeowners to rent properties like houses and apartments as a competitor to traditional hotel stays. The four tactics include building community with targeted outreach, leveraging user-generated content, leaning into a clear and unique value proposition, and creating a referral program.
- Disney’s marketing strategy also leverages four tactics that differentiate its products from competitors. Disney is an entertainment company with products such as movies and television shows, physical entertainment centers and amusement parks, and garments and toys that complement their filmed creations. Disney stands out by telling stories that resonate and inspire, using nostalgia to reinforce customer loyalty, targeting audience segments with a multi-channel strategy, and staying true to its very unique brand.
- Pepsi’s marketing strategy is unique because of branding, sponsorships and endorsements, social media engagements and partnerships, and taking risks to stay trendy.
What Is In A Marketing Plan?
A marketing plan is the written document that helps marketers execute the marketing strategy with tactical activities. The components and elements included in a marketing plan often include:
- Business components like a mission statement, business summary, branding, and SWOT analysis.
- Marketing outcomes components like goals, objectives, OKRs, and marketing metrics and KPIs.
- Market focus components like market analysis, competitor analysis, target audience, and buyer personas.
- Product focus components like product, price, place, promotion, packaging, and positioning.
- Marketing methods components like tactics, channels, and content.
- Action plan components like roles, responsibilities, reviews, revisions, tracking, reporting, and contingency plans.
What Do The 4 Ps Mean In Marketing Strategy?
The 4Ps – product, price, place, and promotion – refer to four key considerations in successfully marketing a product or service.
Together, they form the marketing mix, but are individually defined as follows:
- Product: Any good, service, or piece of information sold for profit
- Price: The monetary value consumers pay for a product
- Place: The physical or virtual location where a product is available
- Promotion: The publicization of a product (i.e., advertisements, social media, public relations)
What Are The 4 Types Of Marketing Strategies?
Marketing strategies mainly consist of these key points called ‘the 4 P’s of marketing. They are – Product, Price, Place, and Promotion. Check our blog post for a detailed breakdown here.
What Are The 5 Marketing Strategies?
These are the 4 Ps of marketing – product, price, promotion, place, only now including a fifth part – people. You can learn more about this in our post here.
Why Does My Company Need A Marketing Strategy?
The goal of any marketing is to generate profitable customer action. The more effectively you market your business and products, the more returns and increased customer base you will be able to see over time.
Tips For A Successful Marketing Strategy
Please have a look at the index of this hub to learn a lot more about all things related to marketing strategy.
This piece was originally published August 30, 2018, bylined by Nathan Ellering. Ben Sailer updated it significantly November 13, 2020, and gained the byline. The piece was updated again January, April, August, and December 22, 2022, bylined once more by Nathan Ellering. Ben Sailer contributed to this piece.