What’s your marketing strategy?

5th June 2016

Marketers love words and phrases that sound important and weighty. The latest seems to be the propensity for marketers to talk about their ‘strategic marketing plans’. Because we all want to ‘do’ strategy and appear ‘strategic’.

But a ‘strategic plan’ implies that there is an overall marketing strategy which the plan then executes.

Do you really have a marketing strategy?

A marketing plan is not marketing strategy. Without strategy, plans are just a random set of tactics that may or may not actually achieve anything for the wider business. At best, plans without strategy may realise some short-term targets.  At worst, they consume valuable time, budget and energy in the wrong direction, in pursuit of misaligned objectives.

Developing strategy is, in essence, about clearly articulating:

  • What is our long-term goal?
  • Why do we exist?
  • Where will we compete?
  • How will we win?

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: strategy is the foundation for everything. It articulates the approach we take towards our markets and provides both clarity and purpose around what we do – and more importantly, what we don’t do. A marketing strategy organises our thinking and thus our actions around what is most important for our business, enabling us to develop and execute marketing plans that actually make a difference.

But strategy is hard; and it takes more than tactical marketing expertise – it takes a deep understanding of our customers and our business.

Differentiate, develop, deliver

My 3D Marketing System© provides a framework for strategy and planning that looks at 3 critical actions to focus our thinking:

3D Mkarketing System 2

This seems pretty obvious at first glance. But I emphasise these 3 focal elements because I’ve found too many of us overly complicate both strategy and planning. We thus default straight to the delivery – the tactics – and skip the critical thinking that’s necessary to really make a difference to our businesses.

As a first step, the next time you have a team meeting, try this simple exercise=>

On separate Post-It notes, take a few minutes and have your people answer these 3 questions:

  • What is your marketing purpose?
  • What is your marketing goal?
  • How are you going to achieve that goal?

Don’t think too much about it, there’s no right or wrong answer here, just write down what first comes to mind, or simply put a question mark. Then stick the Post-it notes onto a wall or other surface.

What are these responses telling you? Some things to consider:

  • Purpose: Like Simon Sinek, I always start with WHY. In a world where there is very little that distinguishes us from our competitors, purpose can be the real differentiator for organisations. As a marketing function, we must continually ask ourselves why we are doing what we do and why it matters – to both our organisations and our customers.
  • Goal: a goal isn’t just about growth; it’s a long-term primary outcome that provides a clear direction for your business. From a marketing perspective, this means thinking about the impact you actually have and the impact you want to have within your business as well as the marketplace.
  • Strategy: Strategy is the approach you take that encompasses your purpose in order to achieve your goal. It’s NOT the marketing plan; it’s NOT the tactics. It’s the fundamental story you tell in the marketplace, articulating your value proposition in a way that differentiates what you do.

So what’s your marketing strategy?

Because strategy isn’t just words on a page; strategy is the touchstone that every marketer in the organisation needs to understand, and against which every single marketing activity must be aligned and measured.

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I hold ½ and full day workshops for you and your teams to articulate marketing strategy and develop subsequent plans that create impact and differentiation. Please do contact me if you’d like to talk!


Heidi Taylor is an award-winning senior marketing strategist with 25 years' experience of helping organisations engage with their customers, creating impact and differentiation. She is a sought-after speaker at marketing conferences in the UK and internationally, and regularly contributes articles to marketing journals in print and online. You can follow her on Twitter @TaylorMadeInKew.

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