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Really. . . What is a Marketing Strategy?

By August 8, 2012May 16th, 2023Uncategorized

For the past several weeks, I have been asking people, “What is a marketing strategy?” I asked people in our agency, and I asked other agencies. I read posts about marketing strategies, I attended a couple webinars about marketing strategies.My question really was, “What is a ‘strategy’, as distinct from a collection of tactics?” Can we really start at the BIG picture and drill down into tactics and campaigns, or must it work the other way ’round?

What a marketing strategy is not

As you might expect, I heard a lot of diverse opinions.

“When we plan ahead and have a strategy set up for a client it’s based on what the goals of the marketing campaign are.”
So this means that I need to define a marketing campaign before we can get to the strategy? Seems backwards to me.

“We model our marketing strategy process with clients after our company’s strategic process – developing a 1year, 3year, 5year vision for what we want their marketing to look like.”
Call me naive, but I can’t belive that we can plan a 5-year strategy. At least we can’t do it with enough clarity to make the time involved worthwhile.

“From a very simple perspective, it’s first about “why” (establishing motive, metrics, etc.) and developing and implementing the “how” (medium for message, technology used, process-process-process…).”
—  Somehow metrics and processes don’t seem like strategy. Isn’t startegy much bigger than that?

“Strategy is how your marketing supports your business objectives efficiently and effectively.”
This may be correct. . . but it doesn’t  inform me how to create a strategy. It’s not very useful.

John Jantsch on marketing strategy

Then I came across an ebook by John Jantsch (@ducttape), founder of

“I believe marketing strategy is far more important to the small business than marketing tactics. . . an effective strategy must be in place before any set of tactics make sense.”

“A strategy is not a wish list, a set of goals, mission statement, or litany of ojectives.”

A marketing strategy is a clear explanation of how you’re going to get there, not where or what there is. . . To become a market leader, you may find that an effective strategy is to carve out one very narrow niche and dominate it. To serve your customers with honor and dignity, you may find that an effective marketing strategy starts somewhere in your hiring process. To double the number of new customers, you may find that an effective marketing strategy is to build a formal network of strategic referral partners.”

A marketing strategy is how you plan to use the available resources to build an ongoing case that your business, products and services are the obvious choice for a narrowly defined ideal customer.

Marketing strategy: A clear explanation of how you’re going to get there

This definition really works for me. A marketing strategy is something larger than goals and tactics. It is something that is simple (as a statement anyway), that inspires, that engages community.

Try answering the following questions to get started:

  • Who would make the best customers?
  • Who do you want to invite to do business with you?
  • What will you offer?
  • How will you package it?
  • How will you deliver it?
  • How will you promote it?

What is your marketing strategy?

John Jantsch has written two excellent books for marketers, Duct Tape Marketing and The Referral Engine, both of which are in our agency library. He was kind enough to allow us to giveaway FREE copies of his latest ebook, “How to Create a Marketing Strategy that is Perfect for Your Business.”

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Larry Levenson

Larry is passionate about inbound marketing and is a HubSpot Certified Trainer. He's learned the "secrets" of leveraging HubSpot to make marketing hyper-effective and customizes that information to help our clients meet their goals. Larry lives in Prescott, AZ, and when not at work, he is hiking or hanging out with teenagers as a volunteer with Boys to Men USA.