It’s planning season for many businesses. That’s why over seven weeks we’re posing seven questions you should ask yourself and your team that will inform your marketing planning for 2020.
This week we explore the fourth of our 7 Essential Questions: "What strategies should you pursue?" Our recent posts covered business goals, audience development and goal-setting. Now that you have a handle on these, it's time to develop these into your marketing strategies.
So, what is a marketing strategy and why is it important to your small business? Generally, marketing strategies are broad approaches that will lead to your success over time. They're not short-term fixes or 'quick wins,' but rather a broader map to describe how you'll connect with your customers.
Put another way, marketing strategies should flow directly from your stated business goals and what you know about your audience – the ‘why’ and the ‘who’ of your business. Now, via strategies, you’ll start to chart the "how."
It’s important to create these strategies before you jump to specific tactics – those finite activities that will cost you a specific amount of time and money. If not, you’ll run the risk of leaping before you look, and making expensive mistakes.
Let’s look at some examples:
In each of these cases, once these strategic decisions are made, the owners can confidently decide on where specifically to invest their time and money. So, Maria can hire a PR freelancer to work with legal media, Martin can enter the annual "Great Taste" awards program, and Terry can create "sport-and-stay weekends" in collaboration with his local surf and bike shops. They can test out ideas in each strategy to fine-tune them, but the strategies remain to guide the activities they'll undertake. By contrast, without taking the time to think through broader, strategic approaches, each business would be gambling on potentially expensive and ineffective shots in the dark.
Still confused? Not to worry, many professional marketers are also struggle to define a "strategy" versus a "tactic." Just remember the roadmap concept: if you’re going to take a holiday with your family (audience) you need to decide on your destination (goal) and generally which route to take (strategy) – then you can determine which plane, rental car or taxi (tactic) will get you there on time and on budget.
Next week: How do you choose the right marketing tactics for you?
Last week: Check out our blog on setting SMART marketing objectives
I'm Tim Hart, owner, coach and trainer at LoveSmallBiz.com. I'm also owner of marketing communications firm Hart Communications.