I’m a Strategic Marketing Specialist, but try explaining that to people at a BBQ.

Here’s the three questions I regularly get asked and how I answer them (while the sausages sizzle on the Barbie.)

What’s a Marketing Strategy?

A Marketing Strategy is your plan for winning. I call it a playbook for winning. It answers the three questions of when, where and how we are going to compete to win the work we should be winning.

The when question is about timing to enter a market. For example,  if you have a start-up that’s got a flexible, innovative, healthy appetite for risk, you may enter a new or emerging market early. This might be a different strategy from a larger established player who might be looking to ‘buy-out’ a start-up after the market has matured.

The where question – in the days before the internet, the ‘where’ was almost always about geographical markets. While this is still the case, digital delivery and interconnectedness has meant that the choice of where we compete has been opened up. Even industries like heavy engineering which once competed in local markets, can now communicate their specialist services to the world. This means that while services will remain local given logistics constraints, the ability for companies to sell their intelligence and expertise to the rest of the world is wide open.

How we compete – The ‘how’ questions focus on how an organisation positions itself vs the competitors, how it has leveraged its strengths, and what it offers in the way of values to customers. This is a BIG question because the ‘how’ is all about how you position the business vs competitors. What services you offer? How you communicate those services and at what price?

What is Strategic Marketing?

Strategic Marketing is about being different in a way that matters.

Strategic Marketing is the process of developing a plan to win and achieve revenue or market share in the short to medium term by answering the ‘when’, ‘where’ and ‘how’ questions.

What’s the difference between Corporate Strategy and our Marketing Strategy?

The difference? It depends on who you ask.  To me, Strategic Marketing and Corporate Strategy have some big overlaps. In general, Corporate Strategy sets the direction of the firm. Marketing Strategy defines how to win – whatever winning means to you.

For me, the Marketing Strategy is an important and driving subset of the company’s overall strategy, but the lines are blurred and becoming more blurry between the Corporate Strategy vs the Marketing Strategy. These two strategies are becoming increasingly hard to define.

Here are a few examples of how they could be different:

1) A Melbourne Legal Firm’s corporate objective might be to grow through acquisition to $5 million revenue. The Marketing Strategy objective might be to ‘define what capital city market to enter first? Perth? Adelaide? Sydney?

2) A Mining Services Firm’s corporate objective could be to increase revenue by $5 million by extending its service offering. The Marketing Strategy would define which services and in what markets the firm would stand the best chance of winning the work.

3) Where the Corporate Strategy objective of an LED Lighting Manufacture might be to ‘upgrade company wide IT systems for a 15% increase in efficiency’. The Marketing Strategy might focus on implementing a CRM System or Marketing Automation Platform to increase customer retention and conversion by 25%.

Final Word

When I explain ‘strategy’ to people I unashamedly quote business guru and former Dean of the Rotman School of Management, Roger Martin, who said, “strategy is about the future, it’s about shortening the odds of winning.” It’s about answering 5 essential questions:

1) What is winning to us?

2) Where will we play?

3) How will we win?

4) What capabilities do we need to win?

5) What systems and processes to we need to make it all happen?

Your Marketing Strategy provides the answers to the first three questions.

Does this help you understand what Marketing Strategy is all about? Let me know.

free team day strategy infographic