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By Bethan Vincent

Bethan Vincent is an award-winning marketing leader with over ten years’ experience in the marketing sector. 

She is the founder of marketing consultancy Open Velocity, hosts The Brave, a podcast about resilience, and is a regular speaker at marketing and technology conferences.

There’s a lot of confusion in the marketing world about what it means to have a marketing strategy. Strategy is the step before decision making and planning and it should outline the framework and principles that will guide your decision making process. Your marketing strategy should be based on a thorough understanding of:

  • Where you’re going (what does success look like)
  • How you’re going to get there
  • Why are you setting off in the first place (why bother going to all of this effort - what’s the point?)

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Your business strategy

Before you even get to the point of doing marketing strategy work, you need to ensure that you have a solid business strategy in place. Your business strategy should provide direction on the following points, at a minimum:

  1. Your mission and vision - what does an ideal present and future look like?
  2. Will you be global or local, mass market or niche?
  3. Where do you want your company to be in the future and why does it matter?
  4. Your goals and objectives - goals are your headlines, what you want to achieve. Objectives are the way you’re going to achieve your goals.
  5. Your values - what are your deal breakers? What won’t you do in pursuit of your company objectives?
  6. The products/services you plan to sell - strip it back to your core offerings, not “we might do this in the future”. It has to be realistic, achievable and capable of supporting your objectives.
  7. Your competitive advantages - what attributes and capabilities will you nurture across your organisation to ensure you win? For instance, better customer service, your ability to react to market changes, a willingness to invest in talent.

Your marketing strategy

Building on your business strategy, your marketing strategy should include the following:

  1. Customer segmentation and targeting - out of every type of customer you could market to, who should you focus on?
  2. Pricing - are you going to be premium or budget? Will you discount for volume or longer contracts?
  3. Positioning - this is tied into everything above, but is also about perception and messaging. As positioning expert April Dunford says: “Positioning defines how our product is different and better than alternatives for a particular set of customers.”
  4. Opportunities and threats - identify existing and emerging opportunities and threats that may influence your market and organisation over the next few years. Many organisations skip the threats part until it’s too late, so make sure you don’t!

Your marketing plan

Next, you need a marketing plan. This is different to your marketing strategy and sets out the detailed day-to-day actions you need to take to achieve your goals and objectives. This will include:

  1. How you will measure your marketing KPIs (key performance indicators) that lead to you reaching your business KPIs. For instance, how many leads do you need, generated from your marketing activity, to reach your turnover target?
  2. How you will convey your winning proposition to customers (messaging)
  3. Where you plan to reach your target customers (channels & positioning)
  4. How you plan to organise your marketing activities (campaigns & themes)
  5. When you plan to run marketing campaigns and activities
  6. Who will be responsible for each activity and who will be required to ensure the marketing plan is implemented
  7. How, where and when the budget will be allocated

Using your marketing strategy and plan

Both your marketing strategy and your marketing plan should exist as living, written documents. The ‘living’ aspect is important because marketing strategies and plans are constantly changing along with the wider market and business contexts.

Don’t be afraid to change your strategy or plan if new information becomes available. Review your marketing strategy, at a minimum, on a yearly basis and your marketing plan every three months.

About the author

Bethan Vincent is the founder of Open Velocity, a marketing consultancy providing strategy and marketing leadership support to high growth technology companies, at a fraction of the cost of hiring their own chief marketing officer (CMO).

She acquired funding for her first business, which launched in 2013, while still a student at the University of York.

Explore more about Bethan's journey and the business support that may be available to you.

Read Bethan's Entrepreneurial Journey

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