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What It Is, How It Works, and How to Create One

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What Is a Marketing Strategy?

A marketing strategy refers to a business’s overall game plan to facilitate the buying and selling of its products or services. A marketing strategy determines how to reach prospective consumers and turn them into customers. It contains the company’s value proposition, key brand messaging, data on target customer demographics, and other high-level elements.

A thorough marketing strategy covers the four Ps of marketing: product, price, place, and promotion.

Key Takeaways

  • A marketing strategy is a business’s game plan for reaching prospective consumers and turning them into customers of their products or services.
  • Marketing strategies should revolve around a company’s value proposition.
  • The ultimate goal of a marketing strategy is to achieve and communicate a sustainable competitive advantage over rival companies.

Understanding Marketing Strategies

A clear marketing strategy should revolve around the company’s value proposition, which communicates to consumers what the company stands for, how it operates, and why it deserves its business.

This provides marketing teams with a template that should inform their initiatives across all of the company’s products and services. For example, Walmart (WMT) is widely known as a discount retailer with “everyday low prices,” whose business operations and marketing efforts are rooted in that idea.

Marketing Strategies vs. Marketing Plans

The marketing strategy is outlined in the marketing plan—a document that details the specific types of marketing activities that a company conducts and contains timetables for rolling out various marketing initiatives.

Marketing strategies should ideally have longer life spans than individual marketing plans because they contain value propositions and other key elements of a company’s brand, which generally hold constant over the long haul. In other words, marketing strategies cover big-picture messaging, while marketing plans delineate the logistical details of specific campaigns.

For example, a marketing strategy might say that a company aims to increase authority in niche circles where their clients visit. The marketing plan puts that into action by commissioning thought leadership pieces on LinkedIn.

Benefits of a Marketing Strategy

The ultimate goal of a marketing strategy is to achieve and communicate a sustainable competitive advantage over rival companies by understanding the needs and wants of its consumers. Whether it’s a print ad design, mass customization, or a social media campaign, a marketing asset can be judged based on how effectively it communicates a company’s core value proposition.

Market research can help chart the efficacy of a given campaign and can help identify untapped audiences to achieve bottom-line goals and increase sales.

How to Create a Marketing Strategy

Creating a marketing strategy requires a few steps. Here are some of the steps you should consider when creating your marketing strategy.

  1. Identify your goals: While sales are the ultimate goal for every company, you should have more short-term goals such as establishing authority, increasing customer engagement, or generating leads. These smaller goals offer measurable benchmarks for the progress of your marketing plan. Think of strategy as the high-level ideology and planning as how you accomplish your goals.
  2. Know your clients: Every product or service has an ideal customer, and you should know who they are and where they hang out. If you sell power tools, you’ll choose marketing channels where general contractors may see your messaging. Establish who your client is and how your product will improve their lives.
  3. Create your message: Now that you know your goals and who you’re pitching to, it’s time to create your message. This is your opportunity to show your potential clients how your product or service will benefit them and why you’re the only company that can provide it.
  4. Define your budget: How you disperse your messaging may depend on how much you can afford. Will you be purchasing advertising? Hoping for a viral moment on social media organically? Sending out press releases to the media to try to gain coverage? Your budget will dictate what you can afford to do.
  5. Determine your channels: Even the best message needs the appropriate venue. Some companies may find more value in creating blog posts for their website. Others may find success with paid ads on social media channels. Find the most appropriate venue for your content.
  6. Measure your success: To target your marketing, you need to know whether it is reaching its audience. Determine your metrics and how you’ll judge the success of your marketing efforts.

Why Does a Company Need a Marketing Strategy?

A marketing strategy helps a company direct its advertising dollars to where it will have the most impact. Compared with the data from 2018, the correlation between organization and success in marketers jumped from being almost four times more likely to almost seven times more likely in 2022.

What Do the Four Ps Mean in a Marketing Strategy?

The four Ps are product, price, promotion, and place. These are the key factors that are involved in the marketing of a good or service. The four Ps can be used when planning a new business venture, evaluating an existing offer, or trying to optimize sales with a target audience. It also can be used to test a current marketing strategy on a new audience.

What Does a Marketing Strategy Look Like?

A marketing strategy will detail the advertising, outreach, and public relations campaigns to be carried out by a firm, including how the company will measure the effect of these initiatives.

They will typically follow the four Ps. The functions and components of a marketing plan include market research to support pricing decisions and new market entries, tailored messaging that targets certain demographics and geographic areas, and platform selection for product and service promotion—digital, radio, Internet, trade magazines, and the mix of those platforms for each campaign, and metrics that measure the results of marketing efforts and their reporting timelines.

Is a Marketing Strategy the Same as a Marketing Plan?

The terms “marketing plan” and “marketing strategy” are often used interchangeably because a marketing plan is developed based on an overarching strategic framework. In some cases, the strategy and the plan may be incorporated into one document, particularly for smaller companies that may only run one or two major campaigns in a year. The plan outlines marketing activities on a monthly, quarterly, or annual basis, while the marketing strategy outlines the overall value proposition.

The Bottom Line

Companies need to sell their products and services to generate revenue and put them on the path of being a successful business. To sell their products or services, they have to let consumers know of them. They must also convince consumers to buy them as well as convert consumers from competitors. Having a marketing strategy that outlines this process and more is a crucial step in converting consumers into customers.

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