Does your business have a strategic plan for marketing? It’s surprising but many small businesses don’t.

Many times I will be asked for services that are simply tactics that would be planned for within a marketing strategy, such as using Google Ads or sending email campaigns but there is no marketing plan in place. How do you know if this is really the right tactic for the business if there is no strategy behind it? How will you know what audience to target and what messaging to use?

A Marketing Strategy is an evaluation of the marketing efforts and a plan on how a business will achieve its goals and may include research on the marketplace and competition. A tactic is a marketing initiative that implements part of a strategy.   A marketing strategic plan will give a guide for what initiative to take and describe the tactics that the marketing and sales team will use to reach and hopefully surpass desired goals.  To put it simply, in order to be effective you must have a strategy in place.

Without a marketing strategy, you could be spending money implementing the wrong tactics to the wrong audiences. In order to make the most of your marketing efforts, you first have to know what those efforts should be and in order to be efficient you need to have a guide.

Let’s go over what a strategy involves that can benefit your business:

  1. It will help you know what your goals and benchmarks are.
    Without setting goals, how can you know if you have reached them? And without setting benchmarks, how do you evaluate and measure your progress?
  1. You won’t know your market share without any research and analysis.
    In the digital age we have the ability to track things and see what is happening with analytics. There are tons of tools and software today that can do a deeper dive of the marketplace and your competition. A proper evaluation of the market, of your previous promotional efforts and competitor research can give you insight needed to know what direction to take. It can give you needed focus and help in making all efforts more strategic and effective based on the information found.
  1. It helps you know who your audience is.
    A key piece of a marketing strategy is determining who the audience needs to engage. Once the you define the market segment or segments, you will know who you are trying to target and what audiences your messages will be directed to.
  1. It will help you have direction and help your team to be integrated with each other so that the marketing efforts are appropriately coordinated.
    Development of a guide with marketing recommendations, ideas and tactics: The strategy should provide a clear focus so that action is not pointless or lacking in the direction it needs. Just because your competition is doing something, doesn’t mean it’s the appropriate approach for you as well. This part of the plan will consist of all the marketing initiatives that would be strategically effective for reaching the goals. This will coordinate the marketing efforts between channels and team members in order to make this into the greater sum of all the moving parts.
  1. It will keep you from wasting money and plan your budget.
    Every business wants a return on their investment. Every marketing strategy should include a plan for investment involved with the marketing efforts and costs. This will help in knowing what is needed and where to allocated the funds. A budget takes the guesswork out of the spending. Without this the spending could get out of control.
  1. With measurement your will be able to know what progress you have made.
    In today’s online world everything is measurable through analytics and tools that can show metrics and data. Even when a campaign is not digital, there are ways to measure the effectiveness through methods such as coupons and discount codes. This is how you can evaluate your progress and the goals. It creates accountability and its vital in giving you the insight necessary to know what tactics work and don’t.

It’s important to know that any marketing strategy is meant as a guide. It will have to be adjusted throughout the implementation process according to the results.

One last positive point about developing a marketing strategy: Once you have a marketing strategy for you business, you don’t have to create one from scratch again. You simply evaluate the previous marketing efforts, revise the plan accordingly.