People often mean different things when they talk about strategy, and have differing opinions on how to create one. In this episode, Joel and Jess break down the elements that go into creating an effective strategy, how to integrate that strategy into a marketing plan, and how to collaborate with your team members to keep improving your strategies.
The Elements of an Effective Strategy and Marketing Plan
How can you integrate an effective strategy into your marketing plan? We like The Marketing Plan Handbook’s framework for creating an effective plan and strategy. Its major elements and terminology are explained below.
Definition: Typically, goals are broken out into monetary (how much revenue we want to achieve through how many customers) or strategic (market share, media attention, or other non-revenue targets). Most marketing plans will contain some combination of each. An example of this is a goal of “creating $x,xxx,xxx in revenue by becoming the leader in the industry.”
Definition: Perhaps the most important (at least the most effort-intensive) section of the marketing plan, the strategy is our “master plan” to achieve the goals set forth above.
First, we will determine our product’s target market, which includes each of our 5-Cs (Company, Customers, Collaborators, Competitors, Context).
Company: Who within the organization will be implementing the marketing? Which departments are involved and what do we need from them? What actions do we want our employees to take that will help our marketing efforts?
Customers: What needs do our customers have that we can solve? Where are we providing value for them? Who, specifically, are our customers? What do we want them to know about us that might persuade them to purchase?
Collaborators: What other businesses or organizations are required for us to provide our value proposition to our customers? Why would they want to work with us? How do we provide value to them?
Competitors: If our target customers do not choose to do business through us, where are they going instead? What are our competitors offering that we are not? What can we offer that they cannot? And remember, apathy and unawareness are competitors as much as specific businesses with similar products may be.
Context: What are the technological barriers to our success, and how will we address them? What are the political/regulatory changes that could hurt or help our business, and what can we do about them?
The other major component of our strategy is the Value Proposition. That is, how will we create value, not just for ourselves, but also for our customers and collaborators? We will also develop a positioning statement for the company that succinctly describes who our target customers are, how they’ll determine whether we are a good value, and the primary reason our target customers would want to work with us.
Definition: This section explains how we will translate our strategies above into clear actions. It is typically broken out into a few components, including:
Product: What can we do to our product to make it more appealing to our customers? Should we reduce the price? Can we make it easier to use? Can we offer superior customer service?
Brand: What is the visual identity of the product? What are the slogans and taglines we should use? What are the less tangible aspects of the brand, like its tone, emotion, and promise?
Incentives: What are the incentives we can provide to our customers (such as loyalty programs)? What can we provide to our collaborators (high margins, for instance)? And how can we incentivize our company and its employees to help market the product (sales commissions, etc.)?
Communication: This is the marketing mix we will use, as well as the creative approach we will take to entice and persuade our target customers. This includes the advertising (traditional, social media, digital), the public relations (press releases, media outreach), events/sponsorships, strategic partnership, and other communication methods we will use as well as the specifics of how we will use them.
Definition: This section contains the internal processes we will need to create or adapt to implement our marketing tactics, as well as the schedule and timing of our promotional efforts.
Definition: How will we determine if our efforts are working or not? This is typically broken into Performance Evaluation (are we getting more customers?) and Environmental Analysis (is the market changing in our favor? Are there changes in the regulatory/political environment that have been affected by our efforts?).