How is ‘Marketing Strategy’ related to Business Strategy?

I’ve had many conversations with people about marketing. Many of these involve people assuming that the product, target market and what customers want are already fixed.

But why should this be the case? Is ‘Product’ not a flexible element of the marketing mix?

Many companies begin with excellence in R&D or with a new concept, or, with an interest that the business founder wishes to make into a commercial venture.

Many people, professionals included, then mistake product knowledge for market knowledge.

It is only right to acknowledge that there are serious risks inherent in this process. If we take the classic ‘product oriented’ approach, we might succeed. But it occurs to me that if we do succeed it will be because by chance there are sufficient individuals out there who share our interests.

A client may be fantastic at R&D and therefore finding solutions to problems they have dentified. But it is reasonable to suggest that sometimes they may require support in identifying what issues need their attention and how to prioritise these. Further, there are many occasions when good marketing strategy helps to reshape a product that was previously considered ‘market-ready’.

All of this demonstrates that marketing is so much more than the obvious communication elements.

For proof of what I mean, consider the fact that a third of the population are over the age of 55. The median age in the UK is 39 (Office for National Statistics, 2012). The average age is hardly reflected in the range of marketing communications that are produced.

A private business exists to maximise profit through the effective use of its resources, by setting the overall purpose and direction. They might also want to develop particular products for specific markets and maximising sales while keeping costs under control. Which of these goals is not also a marketing goal? The line between one strategy and another is therefore arbitrary.

Marketing does not (if done correctly) begin with a product or service that we seek to sell to what we deem are the appropriate targets. Marketing starts with trying to select market needs that we can best meet. It then sets about finding specific ways of meeting such needs. Communication of the solution comes next (though apparently the process is continually reviewed and not entirely linear).

It is perhaps an inconvenient but essential truth. Consider whether your business is gaining value from each of these stages. If not, it is never too late to revisit your strategy. That’s the thing about strategy – it is not fixed but dynamic, and any work you do on this will pay off over time.

So my suggestion is simple: Reclaim marketing strategy from those who will have you believe that strategy is nothing more than a brief plan. It is not a simple plan that encompasses media and messaging to promote your business.

Marketing is not about finding markets for our products; it is about finding products for our markets.

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