Living inside the bubble of the marketing world, it’s easy to forget that many business owners and start-ups still don’t know the three core components of an effective marketing strategy.
A question I saw this week was a great reminder of this. It also reminded me that marketing strategy is far more important to the small business than marketing tactics. Strategy and tactics must work together in order for a business to achieve a measure of true momentum, but an effective strategy must be in place before any set of tactics make sense.
When developing an effective marketing strategy for your business the following three core components come into play.
1. Who Really Matters
For any strategy and set of tactics to work, they must first appeal to someone. Some
call this your “target market.” The first element, and in my opinion the most important
element, is “who”. Develop your marketing strategy around a clearly defined and
understood ideal client above all. This post titled What is a Marketing Strategy and How to Get One goes deeply into this process.
Using your ideal client profile as the basis of your strategy also allows you to think very personally about how you serve them and how you use your tactics to attract them. Without this concentration on an ideal segment your marketing strategy will often lack focus.
2. Be 100% Different
After developing a profile of an ideal client, it’s time to find a way to appeal to this group.
The only sure-fire way to do this is discovering or creating a methodology, approach,
tools, pricing, product, or service that clearly differentiates you from the rest of the
The market needs a way to compare and differ, and if you don’t give them one, they will
default to price comparison.
You need to search and find that one special way of doing things that your customers
truly value. Again, this post titled What is a Marketing Strategy and How to Get One unveils the best way to discover what your customers really value.
In some cases you may be doing something truly unique, you just aren’t communicating as your core marketing message.
If you don’t take this step seriously everything else you do in terms of marketing will be far less effective. That’s how serious being different is.
3. Connect the Dots
The final step in the marketing strategy game is to take what you’ve done previously in terms of defining an ideal client and creating a core point of differentiation – and turning it into your stated strategy.
When I created Indispensable Marketing my stated strategy was to create a strategy-first SMB marketing brand by consulting and coaching with the heart of a teacher. This strategy contained a narrowly defined ideal client and a clear point of differentiation.
Our mission was to explain marketing in a way business owners can understand and our “marketing with the heart of a teacher” strategy became how we would do that.
Like most effective strategy the gap in current offerings and positioning was what offered the clear opportunity. Connecting your strategy will also include careful study of the competitive environment and that of other unrelated industries in order to fill a need with your innovation or differentiation.
Now, before you determine whether Facebook is better for your business than LinkedIn
or if direct mail is still an effective way to generate leads, start at the point where you will
ultimately create the greatest possible impact – strategy!
About the Author: Patrick McFadden is the owner and marketing consultant at Indispensable Marketing, a strategic marketing firm based in Chesterfield, VA. We help small to midsize businesses get the strategy right so marketing tactics get results.