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Marketing for Small Businesses Series

Topic 1: Why Develop a Marketing Strategy?

If you a part of a start up or small business, you may be perplexed by all of the marketing terms thrown about these days and what you need to do to get your business growing. Target market, social media presence, SEO, marketing platform…..there are many marketing concepts to consider. In my mind, simpler is better. Start by a developing a Marketing Strategy. A Marketing Strategy can help you achieve your company’s goals. Marketing Strategy ties the overall strategic goals of a company to how marketing can complement and support the achievement of these goals. The marketing strategy combines all of the marketing goals into one comprehensive plan. It can be as short as a paragraph or a longer, more comprehensive document. Keep it high level - there are other opportunities (defined below) to get into more detail. The marketing goals should be more detailed than "increase revenue", for example. Go into more depth about your company's current position in the market, where the company wants to be, and what methods you will use to get there. Increasing revenue is a fine goal that we all aspire to, but each company will approach this goal in different ways that should be defined in your marketing strategy.

What can you do with Marketing Strategy?

Marketing Strategy helps you prioritize marketing activities and identify the ones that will be most efficient and effective for your target market. I worked with a client recently that did many marketing activities very pertinent to his target market. However, given the number of staff engaged in these activities and the budget, we pared down the list and prioritized activities to those that would bring in the most return on investment as well as increase client awareness. In six months, we will revisit those activities and determine which ones were effective and which ones were not, and reprioritize activities again. Make sure you measure specific metrics to determine the effectiveness of your efforts. It is also great practice to revisit your strategy periodically and update based on results, market, and goals.

How Does a Marketing Plan Differ From Marketing Strategy?

A marketing plan is the next step down (in terms of detail) from Marketing Strategy that starts to identify the very specific marketing activities a company plans to employ and how they work to complement each other. Each activity may be dependent on other activities to achieve success. An important element of the Marketing Plan is assigning responsibility for the different areas of the plan. I’ve seen many different formats for marketing plans: multiple page narrative documents identifying goals, activities, and person responsible – to a 1 page matrix that groups activities into overall categories. There’s no magic to the format, it just needs to work for your company and help you be accountable and hold others accountable for their pieces. I see the Marketing Plan as the blueprint of marketing activities to follow.

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