At its simplest form, a marketing strategy is used to explain how an organisation will accomplish predetermined objectives. Much like a blueprint, this is a plan for achieving the market objectives of the organisation. This strategic planning moves business away from making decisions impulsively, on an ad hoc basis.

A well-written marketing strategy details your brands road map - telling people within a business where to go moving forward, and how they will get there.

This means that the marketing strategy is referred to at every touchpoint, connecting the dots between all the areas of your selling activity. This helps provide a generic direction to be followed in accomplishing your business goals, whether this is a set percentage of sales/growth increase, higher market share, or greater brand recognition. For example, your overall marketing strategy could be used to achieve aims such as bringing new customers, entering new markets, improve customer loyalty, or launching a new PR campaign.

‘Why is this so important?’ you may ask. Besides providing a systematic way to collect marketing research, it also minimises wastage of time and money. This is because following your research and looking at your businesses toolkit, you are then able to concentrate on allocating your resources on the best prospects that are most likely to help you achieve your goal. In doing this research, you have also thoroughly considered your target customer, what your competition is doing and what trends have been emerging. Using this information, you can determine the benefit customers/clients want, how much they are willing to pay and how you can differentiate your product from the competition. If these steps are skipped, you might make decisions that don't ‘fit in’ with the brand identity you want to create.

There are several other benefits to incorporating a marketing strategy within the overall business plan:

• It allows you to be realistic, identifying tools that are feasible within your business.

• Helps your business to distinguish its USP, differentiating itself from competitors.

• Serves as a platform for all your communication channels.

• Enables you to make business decisions logically, basing decisions on marketing information you have collected as opposed to what you believe to be true. E.g. How much are my customers willing to pay for my service?

• Helps you to allocate a fixed budget to your marketing plans.

In doing this exercise, the result will be a co-ordinated department who are all striving for the same result, and have a more focused, business-wide approach to marketing. You should list specific steps to take to implement this, and assign these roles to staff members to ensure they are accomplished.

You should also make time to monitor this regularly, aiming to carry out checks at least once a quarter to track performance against objectives set. How will you know if you are on the right track to reaching your long-term objectives, if you don't have a form of measurement in place?

So the question becomes, what’s the risk to my business if I don't have a marketing strategy in place? Doing this would make it difficult, if not impossible, to prepare or avoid pitfalls, adapt to changing markets and maintain a competitive advantage. Despite this, successful marketing strategies are ones that are malleable. Your marketing strategy needs to be flexible enough to withstand, for example, sudden changes in government legislation, changes in consumers needs, or the introduction of a strong competitor. Be prepared that you might have to make adjustments over time and refresh your promotional campaigns in order to keep your customers interested.

Want to learn more?

Magnificent Marketing is an online step by step course that helps you build your marketing plan. Based on Purpol’s Review, Acquire, Promote, Retain model, the course combines video-based learning with unique practical exercises and worked examples to develop your understanding of marketing. This is accompanied by our Magnificent Marketing Plan template which is populated in stages as the course progresses.

As well as the marketing plan template, we also provide two fully completed example marketing plans showing a B2B Manufacturing Business and B2C Fitness Coach business to act as a reference. As a bonus, you also get a marketing strategy eBook full of helpful hints on practical application.