Marketing Strategy and Planning: The Road Map

Many small to medium sized businesses face a common struggle; a balancing act of plans, strategies, departments and decisions. All of the elements are present, all of the gears in working condition, but business isn’t exactly booming at the pace it had anticipated or forecasted for. What exactly does this growth and sustainability require? In a turbulent economy teeming with congested airwaves and aggressive business practices, it’s about standing out from the crowd. And surprisingly, your marketing strategy has a lot more to do with it than you might realize.

Conflicted business owners can overcome the masses and draw the customers that are right for their product by executing a stellar marketing strategy, not by yelling louder than their competitors or using neon banners on their storefront (or banner ads on your website). My point is, you don’t have to be throwing yourself out there with a bunch of noise all the time. What you need to do is paint a vision for your business, your employees, and your customers. Make promises that nobody but you can keep, and then blow them away with your admirable businesses practices and superhuman skills.

Take a moment to consider this: marketing strategy is the single most important factor in determining the prosperity or deterioration of a business. That’s a pretty substantial claim and I’m willing to prove its legitimacy. Marketing strategy distributes itself throughout all the facets of a business, whether intended by its creator or not. This is possible because the strategy is created and defined by the overall objectives of a specific business, and integrates these objectives with a company’s unique vision and mission. Put simply, every level of a business should be oozing marketing strategy. Really!

Marketing Strategy

Does it seem far-fetched? Let’s examine the relationship between marketing strategy and four key aspects of any business: market research, the marketing plan, corporate identity, and the economy. First, let’s get the formalities out of the way and set forth a definitive explanation of what marketing strategy actually is. After scouring several websites for the official definition, I settled on a less-official but more effective description of marketing strategy:

Marketing Strategy:
A strategy that integrates an organization’s marketing goals into a cohesive whole. Ideally drawn from market research, it focuses on the ideal product mix to achieve maximum profit potential. The marketing strategy is set out in a marketing plan.

While your marketing strategy is, essentially, a document; its purpose is far more load bearing. Included in the strategy should be your mission statement and business goals, an exhaustive list of your products and services, a characterization or description of your target clients, and a clear definition of how you integrate into the competitive landscape of your industry.

Marketing Strategy v. Market Research

This relationship establishes an order of operations: the first phase in any marketing or branding initiative is research. (See our white paper on this subject: Market Research for SMB’s). No matter the scope of your research, whether it is a broad canvassing of your current client list or unveiling specific, detailed findings about your target market, the outcome will have a direct effect on your marketing strategy. It’s imperative to find out everything about whom you are trying to reach. What generation are they in? How big are their families? Where do they live, eat, and hang out? How do they spend their free time and money? All of this information will influence and alter your marketing strategy.

Research alone will not benefit your business without a solid marketing strategy. Often, business owners narrowly define market research as the collection and organization of data for business purposes. And while that is technically an accurate definition, the emphasis lies not on the process of research itself, but the impact it commands on future decisions regarding all levels of a company. Every business decision presents different, unique needs for information, and this information then shapes a suitable and applicable marketing strategy.

Research can be a grueling, confusing, and tedious process. From establishing or cleaning out a database to creating surveys and conducting interviews, you can receive a lot of information about your clients and potential clients and wonder what to do next. Before beginning to formulate a strategy, the information and data collected must be organized, processed, analyzed, and stored. Rest assured, with a little creativity and a lot of effort, this will all be molded into a structured, effective, and easily adaptable marketing strategy. Furthermore, continuous and updated research will ensure your strategy is a current and relevant reflection of your target market, marketing goals, and future business endeavors.

Marketing Strategy v. Marketing Plan

In this relationship, the marketing strategy is essentially a guide to judge the performance and efficiency of a specific marketing plan. In simple terms, a marketing strategy is a summary of what you offer and how you are positioned in the market (in relation to competitors’ products and services), and your marketing plan is an organized list of actions that you will enforce to achieve the goals outlined in your strategy. The plan will encompass the steps to a real-life application of a marketing strategy, bringing life to your mission and vision. It’s your time to show and sell your products and services so that your target market can experience them in the presence that you truly imagined.

Often, businesses lack a balance of creative personality and logic personality. While a business owner might have the creativity to dream up a stellar product, business model, and brand, they may lack the entrepreneurship and discipline to bring it all to life through research, planning and execution.

Marketing Strategy v. Corporate Identity

It’s no surprise that some of the most successful and recognizable companies in the world are those who establish distinguished, one-of-a-kind cultures that permeate through every channel of a business and reach customers on a human level. The culture of a corporation, its psychology, attitude, approaches to business, values and beliefs, lays the groundwork for a unique and compelling corporate identity. There is a powerful and undeniable connection between the health of these companies and the identities that their culture has provided.

These companies have discovered the delicate balance between a brand and a strategy, and how this symbiotic connection encourages visibility and growth. The relationship is simple: the marketing strategy represents where a company wants to go, and the culture determines how (and sometimes if) it will get there. Think of a corporate identity – the style, words, images, and colors – as the personification of your marketing strategy. The corporate identity is extended and applied in every phase of the marketing strategy, and plays a stylistic role in its execution.

Let’s look at an example. Starbucks, until recently, didn’t really have a marketing or advertising budget, per se. Starbucks started advertising in the New York Times and on TV in 2009, and very gingerly at that. Once a week it would print full-page ads in the Times, and on select channels it would air brief, lighthearted commercials. Prior to, the company was able to very successfully promote itself and its products through word of mouth and slapping the 25-year-old logo on every cup its baristas cranked out, proving that even something as simple as a logo can deeply resonate with consumers. But it was the Starbucks’ identity that its millions of customers were happily waiting fifteen minutes in line for. The infamous Starbucks cup rapidly became associated with wealth, leisure, high standards, and urbanites. From college freshman to corporate CEO’s, people couldn’t get enough.

Starbucks enforced its marketing strategy through clever, catchy campaigns, a genuine and human “front line” at the store level, and for the most part, acknowledging any mistakes or shortfalls that it might’ve run into. All of these actions are traits, portraying a deeply rooted culture that is exuded from top to bottom of the Starbucks hierarchy. And, love ’em or hate ’em, there’s no denying their great success, even in a strained economy.

Marketing Strategy v. The Economy

The economy is an incredibly sensitive subject around the globe. What we’ve also noticed is that a lot of companies and business owners are using a depressed economic state as a reason (and in some cases, an excuse) for the shortcomings in their business.

For example, a big trend recently has been layoffs. Larger corporations are using weak economies as a reason to purge its staff and cut positions, when it knows just as well that that’s exactly the opposite of what needs to happen. Or does it? It’s become hard to tell. Is surviving a “depression” really as simple as, say, reassessing your marketing strategy? While an unstable economy is troubling, risky, and unpredictable, it’s also an excellent test of the flexibility of your marketing strategy. Your strategy isn’t set in stone…the whole purpose of designing a strategy in the first place is for smooth navigation through any given circumstance, whether good or bad. Unfortunately, many CEOs and CFOs target their marketing departments first in lean times, while the reality is that it should be investing in these areas so that its marketing managers can adjust their strategy to survive-maybe even prosper, through tough times. An excerpt from the blog of R. Bruer, the owner and head of a strategic communications firm in Portland, Oregon, lays it all out:

“Most businesses treat marketing as a discretionary expense, making it an easy target for budget cutters. It’s as if marketing is a luxury afforded only when times are flush. Less customer demand, less we can afford marketing, or so conventional thinking goes.

But really, can we ever afford not to market?

It’s natural to want to preserve cash during a downturn. I was an employer for nearly 14 years, so I’m sympathetic. But the tendency is to make deep cuts in marketing when sales head south. Companies often start by reducing or eliminating outside expenses, such as advertising, events, sponsorships, research. And when that’s not enough, they lay off marketing employees, sometimes the entire department.

The net effect of gutting marketing is to stifle generation of customer awareness, demand and retention just when these things are needed most. It’s a penny-wise, pound-foolish decision.”

Your Marketing Strategy

While marketing strategy isn’t tangible, its role in business is just as dire as the product or service being offered. It’s contribution bears significance through every phase of a business plan, from conception to execution and far beyond these four aspects of research, planning, identity and economy.

Marketing strategy will continue to fold itself into business plans as long as it is created and executed properly. Research on your industry and competitors will enable you to develop and formulate a proper, pliable strategy. From here, your marketing plan will act as a guide that will bring your strategy to life, attaining and exceeding the goals outlined, all while establishing your corporate culture and identity. Remember, the culture piece works two ways. Your culture helps to form the strategy, and following that strategy will reinforce your culture. Lastly, your strategy must be both strong and flexible enough to withstand the most difficult or unpredictable of circumstances, such as an economic depression, new trends or competitors in your industry.

Strategy is a small piece of a much larger picture. It can all be overwhelming at times, sure, but it’s part of the adventure. With dedication, organization, and a champion marketing team (ahem! B&A), the pieces will come together with ease, allowing for the truly awesome personality of your business to shine, and profits to follow shortly thereafter.

A Online Marketing Strategy Formula For New and Expert Network Marketers 101

Online Marketing Strategy With A Powerful Formula

The online marketing world can be very competitive at times when it comes to creating an audience.In the beginning all of us have struggled at some point to find the right online marketing strategies who were looking to build a business online. Everything we need to learn & implement is broken up into pieces then scattered for us to run wild to find. Hopefully this will put an end to your run around marathon, here are some key points we will be touching:

  • What type of online marketing strategy you should use?
  • What strategies you should focus on?
  • Common Short-term, mid-term, long-term strategies
  • Advantages/disadvantages of short-term, mid-term, long-term strategies
  • Online strategy formula & how to use it

After reading over these key questions & points, their will be a solid blueprint for you to follow and grow any network marketing company. The true benefit will come by implementing what you read within this article. Now it’s time to jump to fun parts of this content.

What Online Marketing Strategy Should You Use

This is a very common question that is asked from most beginning online marketers who are looking to grow network marketing company online. In fact it’s never a surprise to many of the network marketing guru’s who have managed to build a successful business online & offline. It becomes an applause for the beginners who come online to market because we have a large-scale of Network Marketers who try to build their opportunity only offline with minimum amount of exposure.

Little do Network Marketers know it takes a proper marketing formula and/or system to create unique branding for themselves and network marketing opportunity. This formula and/or system that is used for branding purposes is called attraction marketing. attraction marketing is used very commonly among the Network Marketing Guru’s. So here’s what every Network Marketer need to look for within their online marketing strategy… the proper attraction marketing system.A very good formula to memorize is this “attraction marketing+network marketing=perpetual marketing“, But also understand that with this one formula comes with a plug-in of online/offline marketing strategies.

What Marketing Strategies Should You Focus On

To help you have a better conception of what is being explained to you, I will explain to the percentage of concentration for your market in regards to attraction marketing. Most commonly a large amount of 10% of 20% percent is missing within large amounts of the Network Marketers establishment. And this is because that they have not yet learned the proper 80/20 rule of network marketing.

Your Online marketing strategy should consist of 10%, while the other half of the 20% will consist of offline marketing strategies. The large factor of 80% percent is made up of making solid strong connections most of the time from both online/offline. For most Network Marketers who follow the 80% of the rule find themselves making connections more online(70%) than offline(30%).

Remember to never eliminate offline attraction marketing from your strategy, If it’s just passing out a card or attending marketing meet-up in your local area then so be it. The best type of cards to use are both drop/sizzle cards for offline attraction.This will allow you to be visible offline also.

Common Types Of Online Strategies

There is a variety of online marketing strategies that can be used to grow your business. Within the mist of paths to take within the online world.. is usually a point that we most commonly become stuck with. Most Marketers can never make up their mind with what type of online marketing strategy they want to spend the most time with. But here’s a keynote for you: “learn the basics of all of mass majority of online marketing strategies“.

By learning the basic ropes of each strategy, you will have an idea of what marketing strategies interest you. For example outsource information for each online marketing strategy from online search engines,blogs,forums,social media sites etc.. before making any type of investment for the strategy. Now to keep you in the loop, I want to provide you with the most up to date attraction marketing strategies used online. Within this enlistment you will know of the short-term, mid & long-term attraction marketing strategies:

Short-term

  • P.P.C. ( Pay Per Click )
  • P.P.V. ( Pay Per View )
  • Solo Ads
  • Voice Broadcasting
  • Any type of paid advertising

The advantages of short-term attraction:

  • When creating a starting point, it is one of the quickest way to obtain very fast results for your business.
  • Minimum amount of time invested when creating short-term attraction

The disadvantages of mid & long-term attraction:

  • Can be very expensive to produce results if not done correctly
  • Cannot stick to one way of advertising content and/or information
  • Advertising only attracts & sticks to audience for a brief amount of time

Mid & Long-term

  • Article Marketing
  • Video Marketing
  • (S.E.O) Search Engine Optimization
  • Email Marketing
  • Blogging

Advantages of mid & long-term attraction:

  • When content is structured correctly, You can position work for a consistent rewarding with less effort
  • Content always sticks
  • If structured properly, You can target a consistent audience without spending a large amounts of time

Disadvantages of mid & long-term attraction:

  • Have to spend a large amount of time structuring content
  • If not done correctly, You can just be wasting time and not even know it
  • You must invest into proper tools to optimize your content to make it stick

The Attraction Marketing Picture

Overall, you want to be use an attraction marketing formula that will help you mark a blueprint to success. If you can learn all of them that’s great, but try to learn one of each when starting out. For example you may want to start of with an interest to master Pay Per Click for short-term, video marketing for mid-term & search engine optimization for long-term. For recommendation purposes.. take full training on search engine optimization, This will eliminate the majority of your headaches.

Remember the whole purpose behind the appliance of this formula provided, When applying this formula you will position yourself to become an expert when it comes to building a business online & offline.Another reason is also to attract people towards your primary opportunity just from branding leadership & marketing skills.

Good luck to you and your business, the very best should come to those who strive for greatness in their online marketing business.

David C. Simmons