Strategic marketing isn't about guaranteeing success or playing it safe. It's about increasing your chances of success. Strategic marketing helps you pull the right levels, understand the potential outcomes of your actions, and align your marketing tactics to your business goals.
But first, a hockey analogy
If you know hockey, you know about the “dump and chase.” For those that don’t, it’s a play where a team gains the offensive zone by shooting the puck deep into their opponent’s end and chasing it down. The idea is to regain possession and set up a scoring chance by putting pressure on the opposing defencemen. It’s a low-percentage play that rarely produces a goal and, instead, often results in the opposing team gaining possession of the puck and turning the play the other way.
Coaches are divided on the effectiveness of the dump and chase. Some still embrace this “old school” play, while others have moved on. Businesses also get caught in the cycle of taking chances with little hope of a solid return. In recent years, studies show that entering your opponent’s zone with possession of the puck increases your team’s chances of scoring a goal. In essence, the more control you have, the better your odds of winning the game. As any coach will tell you, you need a good strategy to help you achieve your goals (pun intended).
Just like we drew it up
A solid marketing strategy is the best way to focus your resources on the best opportunities for achieving success. It allows your company to plan, execute and measure your marketing efforts through a unique lens.
One way to begin the process is by conducting an internal audit of your company with a SWOT Analysis (reviewing your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) and seeing how you stand out from the competition. Think of it as identifying what kind of team you are. The Philadelphia Flyers of the 1970s were known as The Broad Street Bullies. They were physically intimidating but knew they didn’t have a depth of skilled players who could fill the net. (Fun Fact: only two Flyers – Bobby Clarke and Rick MacLeish – ranked in the Top 20 for points during the 1974/75 season). The Flyers built their reputation on toughness, punishing their opponents whenever they touched the puck, yet still had enough finesse to outscore their opponents most nights. Their identity and brand of hockey were known throughout the league. Their goal was to win the Stanley Cup, which they did in 1974 and 1975.
Playing it SMART
Identifying your goals starts with your internal audit and finding what will drive your business forward. A popular acronym to follow is ‘SMART,’ meaning your goals should be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely. Without them, you have no way of measuring your progress and keeping your team focused on the main objectives. A Harvard Business study found that people who have goals are ten times more successful than those who don’t. Once you establish clear goals, make sure your entire team is committed to reaching the target. That way, everyone knows what success looks like.
Identify your audience
“People who may be interested in our product or service” is not a defined audience. It’s as vague as saying “anyone with a pulse and money to spend.” Creating a target audience allows you to focus your marketing dollars and brand messaging on the group most likely to buy from you and develop an accurate understanding of what drives their decision-making. By digging deeper into your current customer base, you get a sense of the demographic you’re already appealing to.
Survey the competition
Who are your competitors going after? Maybe it’s an audience you haven’t thought of. And while you’re keeping tabs on the competition, take a temperature check of your industry. What are the top trends? Are there any regulation changes on the horizon? What are the latest industry forecasts? These are questions you’ll need to revisit regularly.
Set clear marketing goals
This is the ‘how’ of making your business goals come to fruition. By establishing your audience and the current state of the marketplace, you’ll determine the best avenues to connect customers with your product or service. A marketing goal of filling your sales funnel could involve a paid ad campaign on social media, while a marketing goal of boosting your rank on Google to increase your exposure could translate into a campaign to deliver SEO-rich content. Again, make sure these initiatives are a team effort, and everyone is aligned on the campaign.
Strategic marketing is your path to achieving your business goals. It provides a roadmap for you and the team. It’s time to stop the dump-and-chase approach. Take control, and bring your customer to you.
Give your business a LIFT.
Ready to start with strategy? Check out our LIFT program. LIFT provides business owners with a marketing strategy, implementation plan, audience personas, and competitive analysis. Over eight weeks, we’ll dig into your business together and help you build the strategic marketing foundation you need to overcome obstacles, capture opportunities, and achieve your business goals.