A marketing strategy is crucial for driving sales, raising brand awareness, and growing a business–among other benefits. But we find marketing strategy is often severely neglected.
We’re not pointing fingers. Many of the business owners we meet are doing it all: operations, customer service, accounting, and more. Their plates are overflowing, and there’s no time in the day to think about social media marketing, Google analytics or increasing traffic to their website, let alone dozens of other marketing opportunities.
The small business owners we meet want to add marketing to their business strategy, but struggle to find the time to take the first steps. Instead, they focus on putting out the fires of day-to-day concerns but miss out on the ripe marketing opportunities that would take their product or service to the audience it deserves. We’re here to say it’s time to get started on a marketing strategy. You can do it!
Need extra incentive to take the next step? Read on to dive into why having a specific marketing strategy is essential for your business and its growth, and see the critical pieces of a marketing strategy outlined.
What is a Marketing Strategy?
Investopedia defines a marketing strategy as a “business’s overall game plan for reaching people and turning them into customers of the product or service that the business provides.”
What does this really mean? At its core, a marketing strategy is your plan for achieving your business goals via marketing that gains you a long-term advantage over your competition. It defines what sets you apart, how to share your uniqueness, and how you plan to execute your strategy.
Does My Business Need a Marketing Strategy?
Absolutely yes! Your business may be the most important factor in your financial stability and well-being. Why leave something so important up to chance? And even if your marketing goals are modest, you still need a strategy to ensure your marketing efforts are supporting your business goals.
Another reason your business needs a marketing strategy? It can be summed up in the old truth that “failing to plan is planning to fail.”
That quote sounds harsh, which is not our intention. But we do want to convey that we are true believers in having a marketing strategy. We’ve seen the results, and don’t want you to leave your success to chance.
Capitalize on Opportunities
When you don’t have a mapped out marketing plan or strategically choose where you’re devoting resources, you cannot capitalize on what’s working and pull back on what is not. Additionally, if any new opportunities come along and you need to move the budget around, you may not strategically know where to pull resources from. This can lead to missed opportunities and lost business.
Present Cohesive Appearance and Messaging
Cohesion across all platforms is one major goal of a marketing strategy. Being intentional about the words and images you chose to express your business means being in control of your brand image. Drastically different messaging, colors, fonts, tone, and other elements can leave your consumers confused about who your brand is. Small variations are okay, but good branding requires overall consistency in what you’re putting out for your business. A confused customer is harder to convert into a paying customer.
Stay Ahead of the Competition
A marketing strategy helps keep your business strong, healthy and ahead of the competition. We talk about this often because it really is a huge part of marketing. Figuring out what your competition is doing, or not doing, and how you can move in on the opportunity is key to staying afloat.
For the list-lovers (like us!) here’s an easy-to-digest summary of why your business needs a marketing strategy:
- Have a plan for tracking spend and results
- Easily track and compare all your ad campaigns
- Review results to capitalize on smart investments and tweak low performers
- Plan and organize your business presence across all platforms for a cohesive brand image
- Keep your business strong, healthy, and ahead of the competition
Skeptical about investing in small business marketing? Check out these marketing myths we commonly hear and our responses to them.
What Goes into a Marketing Strategy?
Looking at a marketing strategy from a broad perspective, everything that has to do with your marketing activity goes into your strategy. This includes:
- Online marketing (organic and paid social media activity, digital ads, newsletters, video, etc.)
- Print/Radio/TV ads
- PR and coverage of your business
- Collateral (menus, flyers, and branded gear like t-shirts, hats, and pens)
We suggest completing a marketing audit if you have an existing business to really take a close look at all of your current marketing efforts. Here are additional resources to guide you:
- Creating a Small Business Facebook Strategy: a Step by Step Guide
- Which Social Media Platform is Best for Your Business?
- Why Invest in Small Business Marketing?
- Top 3 Reasons to Hire a Marketing Agency
Once you’ve identified what you are currently doing in terms of marketing, you can set goals for where you want to go. This is where you’ll use a marketing strategy to identify how you are going to reach those goals. Will you begin posting to social media three times a week? What will you post about? What will the tone be? And so on.
If you’re planning to handle this yourself, we recommend taking it one step at a time so you don’t get overwhelmed with new tasks and goals. Focus on one or two pieces of strategy first before you add more.