What is a marketing strategy, and do I really need one?

If you’re confused about marketing strategy and what it actually is, then we can totally understand. We’re marketers and even we’re exhausted with all the noise out there!

Facebook is the only strategy you ever need. Video is where it’s at now. You need to be posting on LinkedIn every single day. If you’re not running Google Ads, you’re missing out on sales. You really need to be blogging. Marketing has changed. Nobody sells anymore, it’s all about education.

And because a lot of marketing is less than empirical, even the definitions of marketing strategy vary, depending on who you talk to. So we’ll try and clear it up a little.

A marketing strategy is the lens you can use to cut through the crap.

It’s a methodical, logical process of determining who your customers are, what they actually want, what will persuade them to act, and then experimenting with the best way of presenting your business to them, ultimately to encourage a sale.

It requires an in-depth knowledge of your business, your competitors and the overall market. And once you’ve nailed a strong strategy you’ll know, with confidence, what messages, channels and tactics are most worth trying.

Because that’s what most of the noise is. Simply vehicles, or tools, to deliver your strategy.

And they are useful, of course, but the strategy behind it should guide everything.

But do I really need a marketing strategy?

Let’s say you run a business that prints business cards. You do it cheaper than anyone else, your quality is spot on, all you do is run Google Ads and you’re flat out all the time.

Do you need a strategy for that? Perhaps not. If the leads keep flying in the door, and you’re happy running the printer every hour god sends, happy days. But nothing stays the same forever.

What happens when you’re not the cheapest anymore, and the leads dry up a little?
Do you drop your prices? How much margin can you afford to lose? Can you ever compete with the cost of printing in China? You may be quicker, but do people really care when they’re saving on costs? What do people really value in their printing anyway? Who actually are your customers and how can you secure their loyalty?

Or, are the leads slowing because people just don’t need business cards like they used to?Do you know that for sure? Do you look at printing something else instead? What’s an area where a physical, printed ‘thing’ is not only a necessity, but actually increasing? Is there a different niche you can focus on, that very few are looking at?

So perhaps you don’t need a marketing strategy … until something changes, and then suddenly you do – when it might be too late!

Or perhaps you’ve simply grown as much as you can doing things the way you’ve always done them, and you need some help to reach the next level. This is prime time for some strategy work.

OK, so let’s take a look at Red Bull, a marketing strategy done well.

You’d have to be living under a rock not to know of this heart-pumping, who-knows-what’s-in-it, ‘energy drink’. Launched in Austria in 1987, Red Bull was first exported in ’94 and now it’s sold in 171 countries, employs over 12,000 people and hit sales of $10.4 billion AUD in 2020.

Oh, and it’s a privately owned company, so it’s certainly giving somebody wings and more!

So how did they do that? Certainly not just running a few Google Ads.

They looked very carefully at the market, who was buying the product, and zeroed in on a younger demographic who liked active sport and aspired to extreme sport. ‘Red bull gives you wings!’ was, and still is the tag line and they went hard on sponsorship to associate the product with that aspiration of speed, invincibility and endless physical ability.

Seems obvious now doesn’t it? But they could have positioned the drink as a coffee alternative to simply get more out of your day. The target market for that would have been much bigger, after all. But no. Strategy means knowing what not to do.

If they had a chance to sponsor a snooker tournament or a fashion event would they have taken it? Apply the strategic lens, and the answer’s no. If Facebook had existed back then would they have considered it? Well, is it a place where the ‘extreme sports’ lifestyle plays out? Most certainly. And you can find them all over it now.

A marketing strategy shouldn’t really be a mystery, and it doesn’t have to be incredibly complex. But it does need to be well considered, and well informed. So do you really need one? Well if you want to grow your business, the answer is probably yes.

True Value Solar, the strategy that changed everything!

Here’s another example of a successful marketing strategy, one that we created, which led to the business being totally repositioned in the Australian market.

We started off, as always, with our strategic blueprint process. Getting to the bottom of the business, the competitors, the market, what’s been done so far, what’s worked and what’s not.

And we realised the market for solar was changing, growing and becoming both more competitive and more sophisticated. The yell & sell approach they used in the past wasn’t cutting through anymore. Uncovering what consumers were now looking for, a strategy began to evolve around standing up for people’s rights to energy independence and taking a stand against polluting generation sources.

Using that as a lens we rebranded the business, developed an automated lead generation funnel, created a rewards partnership with Qantas and embedded the idea in every single touch point. Here are examples of our work on the brand.

As we attracted and engaged the market, the website reached record levels of traffic, staff were engaged like never before – and leads converting to sales doubled.

So much so the new German buyer of the business took the money and ran (well actually consolidated the business into their other global assets) – maybe Red Bull gave them wings or maybe it was our successful strategy!

So what do you think now?

Do you know what marketing strategy is? Do you think it will help you filter through all the noise, sit at the centre of a well thought out plan to take your market by storm, and direct your business towards greater success?

Because if you do it right, that’s exactly what can happen.

And if you want to learn more about our unique approach to making great strategy accessible to SME businesses or you need some help, give us a shout.

Read more about Inside-OutHouse services here. Inside-Outhouse was created by specialist SME marketing consultancy Permission. Read more about Permission here.

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