The anatomy
of marketing strategy

Without a strategy, you’re nowhere.

Or at least: you don’t know where you are or where you’re going, and you haven’t got the faintest idea of how to get there. A strategy is the plan you need to achieve your goals. Having said that, what exactly is the difference between a marketing strategy and a communications strategy? And what happens when you’ve got different goals?  People talk a lot of nonsense about strategy, and you can pretty much guarantee a new self-confessed guru will pop up every week to launch yet another buzzword. However, the basics really haven't changed much: the questions you need to answer to build a solid foundation for your brand have remained more or less the same. The one thing that has changed over time is the context we operate in. New channels, new technologies, new behavioural patterns and new expectations are springing up out of nowhere all the time — all in all, there’s never been a more interesting time to be a marketer!

SMART

Your exact strategy and the techniques and tools you need to use will differ depending on your goals. If you’re taking an agile marketing approach, you’ll know that short-term, attainable goals drawn up using the SMART principle will suit you best.

SMART-1
Specific Is your goal clearly defined?
Measurable Which (measurable/observable) conditions or format will you use to know you’ve reached your goal?
Acceptable Is your goal acceptable for its target audience and/or management?
Realistic Is your goal attainable?
Time-limited By which point (in time) do you need to have achieved your goal?


That being said, you’ll still need some form of ‘primary strategy’, or in other words, a general marketing strategy that sets out the long-term goals you intend to achieve through marketing. This marketing strategy should provide the answers to three essential questions: who, what and why?

Brand identity

Who’s on the line?

This question refers to both the sender and the receiver. Who’s sending the message, and who is it intended for? The sender is you, of course. But who exactly are you? And how are you perceived by your audience? Before you broadcast anything at all to the world, you need to have a clear idea of your brand identity, both visually and in terms of content. Who are you, what do you want to be and how do you want to be viewed by your employees, customers or prospects? And how do you overcome any inconsistencies? If you’re not entirely clear on those points right now, you know exactly where to start. A workshop to help you on your way might be just what you need.

Vision and mission

Your vision and your mission are two essential elements of your brand identity. These two concepts are often confused, but in reality, they actually complement each other. 

Persona

From target audience to buyer personas

In the past, we referred to the receivers of your message as your ‘target audience’: a specific group of people who share a few common social and demographic features such as age, education level, gender, location or ethnicity. Today, marketing revolves more around buyer personas: semi-fictional characters that embody the needs, goals and observed behaviour of specific types of customers. Buyer personas can help you better segment your contacts and approach them with personalised content.

Golden Circle

Everything starts with why

To achieve your goals, you’re seeking to change aspects of the behaviour, knowledge or perception of your receivers. As such, it’s absolutely essential that your goals are clearly defined.

When drawing up your marketing strategy, this question runs parallel to the essence of your brand or business. Your marketing goals are exactly the same as your brand’s mission — if you apply Simon Sinek’s Golden Circle principle, that is.

 

Golden Circle_EN

Every single person knows what they do, some know how they do it, but very few know why they do what they do.

         Simon Sinek

 


The key question in the Golden Circle is why you do what you do, not what you do. This allows you to start from the perspective of what your customers need, rather than what your product does.

B2B Marketing

B2B or B2C: same principles, different rules

Do different principles apply to a B2C (business-to-consumer) strategy than to a B2B (business-to-business) strategy? Yes and no. In both cases, you need to provide answers to the ‘who, what and why’ questions. The main difference is in your execution or communications strategy. In a B2B environment, you’ll often use different channels and techniques because the decision-making process is much longer and much more complex. Even at the stage where you’re developing buyer personas, you need to take a slightly different approach, because the challenges, needs and goals of a business manager or purchaser are different to those of the average consumer. In addition, every industry has its own idiosyncrasies and you’ll often encounter highly specific terminology and circumstances that require in-depth knowledge. That’s why it’s a good idea to get a specialist partner on board.

Agile Marketing

Don’t do everything at once!

Right, we’ve found out who we are — or who we want to be. We’ve defined personas and we’ve established our goals. So, what exactly is the story we want to tell? In principle, this should be relatively clear by now, but in practice, that’s not always the case. A simple way to avoid getting stuck at this stage is to use a briefing document to formulate a single-minded proposition. This clear proposition should answer the question: how does this make me better, smarter or richer as a customer? One trap many people fall into is pursuing several goals all at once, because they believe choosing means losing. The agile working principle comes in handy at this stage: break down your journey into smaller steps and turn one main brief into three separate ones. Doing so will enable you to keep a clear overview, and you’ll find yourself making good progress in no time. This is often referred to as the growth-driven method: start with the essence (the 'must haves') before fleshing out your 'nice to haves'.