Friday, February 24, 2012

Marketing Strategies: An Overview

In my relatively short career I've met a lot of people and worked with a lot of organizations.  There are a lot of people who truly know what marketing is, and how to conduct it.  There are also a great number of people who believe that marketing is sending a flyer, an email, or is "just too expensive to do right now".  Many people think they know what marketing and branding are, but in reality, they don't have a clue.

There is a science to it, and more often than not, you need data to determine your strategy.  I'd like to spend the next few months continuing to discuss the basics of marketing.  Today I'd like to start to discuss Marketing Strategy.

Marketing Strategy.  Strategic Marketing.  What is it?  Marketing with a strategy?  Using strategy when you market?  I mean, it seems to define itself.  It seems so logical.  It's a bit more complicated than that.

Marketing strategy is a process that allows an organization to focus it's resources on the best opportunities to grow sales and maintain a competitive advantage.  Let's attempt to break this definition into digestible pieces.

It's a Process.
Marketing, and developing the strategies you are going to use, are part of a process.  It's not quick.  It's not fast.  If it's going to be effective, it takes time and data.  Don't rush.  Strategies are a fundamental part of marketing plans.  You can't even develop your strategy properly until your environmental scan is complete.  

It's centered on an Organization.
Marketing strategies are meant to help the organization meet it's goals.  They don't exist to meet your personal or departmental goals.  A key component of marketing strategy is to keep marketing in-line with a company's mission statement.  

It's all about Focus.
Marketing strategies are focused.  Focus comes from data.  Data helps you construct your multi-year plans.  That's how you achieve your goals.  When you stray from your focus, your strategies fall apart, and you start to bleed dollars from your marketing budget. 

Marketing requires Resources.
Marketing doesn't just involve the VP of Marketing & Communications.  It involves resources from all over your organization.  It's not just dollars (though you really do need the proper amount of them).  It's people.  It's staff.  It's ideas.  It's a team effort.  

It's about the Best Opportunities.
Creating marketing strategies allows you to focus on the best opportunities to grow.  Notice that I didn't say all opportunities, or some opportunities, or the easiest ones.  I said the BEST ones.  Just because you can do something, or spend your budget towards a certain media buy, doesn't mean you should.  It if doesn't directly fit the focus of your marketing strategy and your multi-year plan, then you shouldn't do it.

Marketing is supposed to help Grow Sales.
Marketing is worthless if it doesn't lead to sales.  Some of us don't want to admit that sales drive your business. Sales feed the company bank account.  Sales create cash flowSales allow you to keep your job.  Never ever forget this.  If your marketing strategies aren't growing sales over a defined time frame, then it's time to change.  Remember, marketing strategies are supposed to have the ability to be dynamic and interactive.

Marketing should give you an Advantage.
Effective marketing gives you a competitive advantage.  You should always be differentiating yourself from your competitors.  You should always be selling your competitive advantage.  If you're not, then you're just blending in with the rest of your market segment.

Are your marketing efforts focused?  Are sales growing?  Are you working with your team?  Are you chasing after every opportunity and wasting precious marketing budget dollars?

Maybe it's time to reconsider your strategy.


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