Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before the defeat
Many business people mistakenly assume that when you talk about “marketing”, you’re automatically talking about “tactical” marketing – e.g. placing ads, sending out mailers, attending trades shows, creating brochures, and so forth.
Tactical thinkers tend to focus on “doing things right,” and strategic thinkers are concerned with “doing the right things.” If you do something “right,” but it’s the wrong thing to do, your efforts will be futile. Conversely, if you do the “right thing,” but you do it wrong, you’ll also fail miserably.
The distinction between the two is huge. “Tactical Marketing” is the execution of your marketing plan – and the tasks you action each day – write blogs, post social content, run events or send emails – that implement the strategy.
If your strategy is wrong, you might execute the associated tactics perfectly, but it will be a waste of time and money, as the strategy will not deliver the results that you want. This is why it is always critical and cost-effective to spend the time and effort in ensuring that you have a marketing strategy that is right before you deploy any of the associated tactics.
Remember – only by getting your marketing strategy right will your marketing tactics drive the overall success you want.
Your marketing strategy should define your marketing tactics
Defining a valid marketing strategy followed by successful execution enables businesses to grow in an ever-changing and increasingly competitive marketplace. Small businesses often have to compete in a highly crowded market against big players with much bigger marketing clout, so setting yourself apart is never going to be easy.
In essence, your marketing strategy is an explanation of the goals you need to achieve with your marketing efforts. Your marketing strategy is shaped by your business goals. So, your business goals and your marketing strategy should go hand-in-hand.
Your strategy can only be determined if you understand your own strengths and weaknesses, those of your competitors and value as defined by your target market. Being strategic means you have taken a step back and reviewed your brand, value propositions and key messages. It also means you have looked at the competition, stakeholders and/or market.
Once you have clear marketing goals and a well-defined strategy, your marketing will be more focused and you can make more effective use of appropriate marketing tactics to grow your business. There is no point sending out press releases, posting on social media or spending money on marketing if you have no idea, for example, of your audience, stakeholders or market, or their media preferences.
So – with the right strategy in place, your marketing programs and advertising will get the attention of your target customers and facilitate their decision-making to buy your products and services. By understanding what’s important to your target market, you will put together a strategy that gets more qualified prospects to call you, reduces your sales cycle and costs, and increases your conversion ratios.
Without an effective marketing strategy you won’t achieve the results you want, no matter how much time and money you spend.
Have you got your marketing strategy right?
By considering the following in the development of your marketing strategy, you will be on the right track to developing tactics that will drive the growth and customer perceptions your want:
1. Define your goals
You have your overall business goals for the year and know the metrics you need to measure to ensure your marketing tactics are delivering those business goals (e.g. average revenue per customer, close rates etc.
2. Target markets
You have narrowed down the competitive environment to the key markets in which your business will operate. This includes the markets, locations and types of customers you will target. Profiling your prospects is critical, particularly in how they are likely to find information about new suppliers.
3. Customer needs
Understanding your ‘ideal client’ will allow you to identify where you should be concentrating your marketing and sales efforts. What are the wants and needs of your prospective clients that you can deliver – and deliver better than the competition? What is it you can deliver that your ideal customer will see as ‘value’?
4. Knowing the competitive landscape
You must define what value you are able to deliver to your market. And this value must be recognised and acknowledged by your prospective clients. This is about how you can create a competitive advantage – for you and your prospect/client.
You must also understand the competitive environment and the trends in your market – they are never standing still.
5. Your marketing capability
You need to consider what resources you have/ need to deliver your strategy – ask yourself “what capabilities do I need?” and “what structure and systems do I need?”. You also need to analyse the success of your previous marketing tactics to determine which you will optimise going forward.
6. Your competitive strategy
Ultimately there are only three ways to win business. You compete on price, on value or you compete on product/service differentiation:
Competing on price means your business needs to focus on increasing volume to achieve reduced cost of manufacture.
If you choose to win through differentiation and added value, you need to clearly understand what your customer sees and defines as value. Many argue that to compete through differentiation you require a ‘uniqueness’ that clearly differentiates you from your competitors, but ultimately it is about having a value that is recognised by your prospective customers and for which they are prepared to pay a premium.
In summary, your marketing strategy includes a definition of your business, a description of your products or services, a profile of your target users or clients, and defines your company’s role in relationship to the competition.
The marketing strategy is essentially a document that you use to judge the appropriateness and effectiveness of your specific marketing plans.
Remember, getting your marketing strategy right is critical to your future success.