The essence of good marketing strategy

It is impossible to give a ‘top tips’ kind of article on such a complex and fundamentally important subject as a marketing strategy.

It’s like asking how should we win a football match? Beyond the obvious that we should score more goals than we concede, no more can sensibly be said unless we know some background information. Are we a top Premiership team or a Sunday league pub side? Who are the opponents and what approach are they likely to take? What are the rules of the particular game?

What I can say about strategy, however, is that there are several key areas of consideration for any business (large or small / B2B or B2C).

The main reasons that marketing strategy is worth investing time in are:

  • Reduce risk
  • Improve speed to market
  • Eliminate wasted effort
  • Allow your business to stand out from the competition
  • It is holistic and reason based, not driven by creative process or numbers. It, therefore, produces better answers to any business problem.

One thing that is very obvious is that strategy has to be significantly wider ranging and longer term than any campaign. This is why it is important to be precise in our use of terms such as ‘strategy’, ‘plan’, ‘campaign’, ‘programme’ etc. Nobody benefits from confusing these things. Using the terms as if they are interchangeable does lasting damage to the standing of our industry, and can only lead to misunderstanding between clients and agencies regarding expectations.

A sure-fire way of determining when a ‘strategy’ is not a strategy is when the word appears at the end of a list; tacked on to the other things that have been elaborated on more fully. I know of no list that strategy belongs at the end of.

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