Marketing strategy is the section of your business plan that outlines your overall game plan for finding clients and customers for your business. Sometimes marketing strategy is confused with a marketing plan, but they are different.
- Marketing strategy focuses on what you want to achieve for your business and marketing efforts.
- Marketing plan details how you'll achieve those goals.
A good marketing strategy incorporates what you know about how your business fits into the market and the 5 Ps of marketing to develop the tactics and actions that will achieve your marketing objectives.
When Is a Marketing Strategy Developed?
The marketing strategy is created before you start your business.
You can't effectively market your home business without understanding how it fits into the marketplace, your competition, how you'll compete, and what you need to achieve (i.e. sales numbers) to reach your financial goals.
The information you gather in creating the marketing strategy is then used to create your marketing plan, and start your business.
How to Create a Marketing Strategy
Before writing your marketing strategy, you need to know how your product or service benefits others and how it's unique (unique selling proposition) to other businesses in the marketplace. Further, you need to do market research to understand your competition, your target market, and other factors that will impact your ability to reach and entice people to your business.
Once you have your research, you can write your marketing strategy incorporating the 5 Ps of your marketing mix:
Product: What you selling? What are the physical attributes of your product or the uniqueness of your service? How is what you offer different from your competitors and what benefits does it provide your customer?
Price: What will it cost to get your product or service? How does it compare to your competition? What will your profit margin be by selling at that price?
Place: Where will your products and services be available for purchase? This is beyond having a home office, and instead are the places where consumers are able to buy. If you're in multiple places, you should work to calculate the percentage of sales from each place. For example, what will your Internet marketing strategy be? What is your sales strategy? How will the transaction take place, what is the cost of getting the product or service to the consumer/client, and what will be your refund/return policy?
Promotion: How are you going to let the market know about your product or services? How will you tell them about the features and benefits you provide to entice them to check out what you offer? What marketing tactics will you use and what do you anticipate will be the results of each method? Include information about any incentives or coupons you'll use to attract business.
People: This is a newly added "P" to the marketing mix, and is important if other people are involved in helping you create or deliver your product or service. Who are these people (i.e. sales people, virtual assistants) and what do they do (i.e. sales calls, customer service)? What is their level of training and/or experience in providing help to your business?
When writing your strategy, be specific, using detailed steps, visuals, and budget projections. Keep your brand (your promise to the customer) in mind so that your marketing strategy fits with what you want the customer to experience when doing business with you. Be sure to refer to your marketing strategy as you develop, assess, or change your marketing plan.
What to Do With Your Marketing Strategy
If you're using a business plan to get a loan or generate angel investors, the marketing strategy and marketing plan will be essential elements to your success.
Along with a quality product or service, sources of financing also want to see that you understand and have a plan for reaching your market.
If you ever watch "Shark Tank", you'll notice that many of their questions have to do with the market (who will buy) and what's special about the product/service (USP) especially compared to what already exists (why is your product or service needed?).
Like a business plan, marketing strategies can be fluid, changing as needed to improve your results. Once your business is operational, you'll need to assess and adjust your marketing strategy from time to time to account for changing market conditions, shifts in demand, and other factors that impact your sales, as a result of your market research activities and performance of your business.