So before we start this mini-marketing lesson, let me ask you a quick question:
What is your Marketing Strategy?
Let's be honest … You don't have one, do you?
No biggie. Don't feel bad. I've asked this question to hundreds of entrepreneurs and very few had one. 98% typically answer a list of tactics, not a strategy.
The reason strategy gets mostly lip service when it comes to marketing planning and running a real business is because most people misunderstand what marketing strategy really is. And hey, as I wrote earlier, I've seen a bunch of entrepreneurs, PR and marketing gurus posting misleading stuff about this topic too, so please don't feel bad. It's not your fault.
So what is strategy? And why does it matter so much?
Strategy is not a to do list, a mission statement, set of goals, or objectives.
"Giving away freebies" is not a marketing strategy. "Go viral" is not a marketing strategy. "Social Media" is not a marketing strategy. These are all tactics.
The legendary military theorist Carl von Clausewitz defined strategy this way: "Tactics is the art of using troops in battle; strategy is the art of using battles to win the war."
I'm sorry if the military lingo doesn't appeal to you, but that's where these terms came from, about 3,000 years ago. So if you want to get your marketing strategy right, this is the golden rule: Goals First. Then Objectives. You build strategy around them. Then tactics. Example:
Goal: Win the war.
Objective: Invade Iraq within 7 days.
Strategy: Shock and awe to paralyze the enemy's perception of the battlefield and destroy its will to fight.
- Cruise missile attack to shock and awe.
- Powerful air strikes with thousands of bombs and missiles.
- Quick ground assaults with overwhelming military superiority
A marketing strategy is a clear explanation of how the goal can be achieved. Like "Shock and awe". Strategy is the long game. It's the broad direction. Tactics is the short game. The small moves that help you achieve the bigger goal. Strategy is all about who you are, it's about your story, about what your brand stands for. Remember, it's not a strategy unless there's an idea behind it.
Missions, goals and objectives are nice and important, but how you plan to achieve them - aka your strategy combined with your marketing tactics - is the best route to success. Or as Seth Godin puts it: "The right strategy makes any tactic work better. The right strategy puts less pressure on executing your tactics perfectly."
Still confused about the difference between marketing strategy and tactics?
Ok. Let's try the "What if" test...
At Domino's one day someone said, "Hey, what if Domino's
delivers your pizza in more than thirty minutes
, the pizza is free?"
Domino's couldn't compete on quality or price, but they could compete on speedy delivery. So a strategy was born. After that, their entire operation and marketing tactics revolved around the "30 minutes or free" idea. They built a successful strategy around a simple, tactical idea. This strategy worked like a charm until 1993, when a court ruling determined that Domino's owed a $79 million dollar settlement to Jean Kinder, who was hit by a Domino's delivery driver in 1989. After this lawsuit, Domino's dropped the "30 minutes or free" guarantee, and instituted a new policy: "If you are not completely satisfied with your Domino's Pizza experience, we will make it right or refund your money."
So getting back to where we started.
How to develop a marketing strategy that is perfect for your business?
First we dream up your goals. Here's a simple hack. Pick one visionary goal only.
Because doing too many things at once is always a recipe for failure. Your marketing goal should be strategic and broad.
So promise me something right now. In 2018, you will have a singular focus towards just one goal. Just one. So you'll know exactly the right path your business needs to follow. Deal?
Example of a marketing goal: Rank my website on the first page of google.
Next we select your objectives. To keep you focused during 2018, you should pick only One SMART objective.
What's a SMART objective?Specific
– target a specific area for improvement.Measurable
– quantify or at least suggest an indicator of progress.Agreed upon
– specify who will do it.Realistic
– state what results can realistically be achieved, given available resources.Time-related.
Here's an example of a great SMART objective:I want to increase traffic to my Website by 50% within 52 weeks.
Next we draft a strategy. This strategy takes you to your goals. Your strategy should be practical but anticipates huge possibilities. And your strategy should always be based on your target audience and what you're trying to achieve.
To rank your website on the first page of google, an example of an effective strategy is to carve out one very narrow niche market and dominate it.Lefty's
is the perfect example of this. Based in San Francisco, Lefty's
is a left-handed retail and online store that sells left-handed products like tools, scissors, kitchen items, school supplies, and gifts. Between 10-12% of people on earth are "lefties", making lefties a natural niche market.