Your business strategy and marketing strategy are two different plans of action. Both are essential to the success of your business. In fact, they work in harmony. You start with a business strategy, and then you build your marketing strategy to support it.
What is a Business Strategy?
A business strategy is the big-picture, long-term plan of where you want your company to go. Here are a few of the things that go into a business strategy:
1. Vision and Mission
Your vision is essentially where you want the company to go. Your mission statement is how you are going to get there.
Start with your vision statement, which should include:
- Core values and long-term objectives
- Defined outcomes and plans to diversify
- Contingency plans
Once your vision statement is in place, it’s time to address how you plan to get there.
Your mission statement should:
- Align your staff to work towards a common objective
- Initiate goals which are focused and cohesive
- Inspire your team to be dedicated to your company’s goals
2. Company Structure
A second important part of a business plan is your company structure. The company structure defines what needs to be done and by whom. People in different roles will undertake specific tasks to achieve defined objectives. Teams must be established, coordinated and directed toward achieving your company’s aims.
3. Action Plan with Measurable Outcomes
A business strategy is no good if it doesn't include an action plan that outlines how and when set goals will be met. When establishing your action plan, make sure your steps are definite, measurable and achievable.
Once your action plan is clear, then assign accountability for each action step and identify those that will be supporting them. Making an individual or team responsible for a particular task eliminates the confusion of who is responsible for what, and allows the individual/s to take pride and satisfaction in a job well done.
5. Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)
KPIs are critical elements of your business strategy, as they tell you whether you're meeting your goals, vision and mission. Set KPIs and track them on a regular basis. This ensures you will have accurate updates on the progress and success of each of your projects.
Your business strategy is essential to organizing your operations and to setting and achieving your goals.
Once you have a business strategy in place, then you can build your marketing strategy to support it.
What is a Marketing Strategy?
Your business strategy is in place – operations are clear, staff are motivated and KPIs have been set. Congratulations! Now it's time to put marketing to work to help achieve your business goals.
Here's what goes in a marketing strategy:
1. Target Market
One of the most important decisions that companies make in developing their marketing strategy is about their target market. It's a mistake (even though it's tempting) for a business to try to appeal to everyone. It’s called a “target” market for a reason. Miss the bull's eye and you loose. You must identify your target market, address the pain points and determine what your potential customers are looking for.
You have already established your target market, now you need to decide how your company will position itself in that market. Positioning is easiest to think of as 'what do you want your reputation to be?" When people talk about your company, what do you want them to say? Are you the low cost competitor? The premium service provide? The cutting edge innovation company? To determine an effective position, think of your company's strengths in light of what your target market wants and needs. That's usually the best position to take.
3. Messaging / Competitive Advantage / Value Proposition
Identify what makes your company stand out from the crowd. If you don’t clearly define your competitive advantage, your marketing will end up as just a lot of noise in the marketplace because you won't have a solid message. Too many companies don’t realize this and end up wasting a lot of time and money. For tips, read How to Improve Marketing Messages with Competitive Advantage.
4. Future Expansion and Diversification
Companies grow, industries expand, and market demands change.
Your strategic marketing plan must evolve with your company’s expansion and diversification plans. At some point, it’s often better to split your target market into segmented groups and remodel individual marketing strategies for each of them.
Strategic marketing involves a set of integrated activities that align with your business strategy.
Remember, a marketing plan supports your business plan. So you need a clear business plan first - although a good marketing plan can help confirm your business plan.
For help developing your strategic marketing plan, download the Executive Guide: