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A Common-Sense Approach to Marketing Strategy: Part 3 - Strategy

Paul Whitney

Managing Director
05/01/2022

In our third blog, we’re focusing on how to define the business problem or opportunity and where do we want to get to.

So far in this series, we’ve talked about how to define where you need to get to, what obstacles are in your way and what it’s going to cost.

Along the way, we’ve answered the 3 key marketing questions – Who? Why? and How? - Who is my ideal customer? Why do they buy or not buy? and How do they buy?

And we’ve set our objectives (Where do we want to get to?) based on volume, value and revenue – filling the marketing funnel.

The point of all that was to make the next decisions in front of us easy to make.

So now we’re ready to fill in the decisive parts of our Marketing Plan to achieve those objectives:

  • Strategy – How do we get there?
  • Tactics – How do we get there in detail (what happens and when?)
  • Actions – Who does what?
  • Control – The ever-important measurement – are we getting there and did we get there?

The first thing to be clear about is that your goal is not your strategy. Just saying “We need to double sales” is like a football manager telling his players his strategy is to win the match. What we need to do now is point to the levers that need to be pulled in order to send us down the right track.

Now, until this point we have leaned heavily on logic. However, for the next part of the journey, logic ceases to be our friend for a while. It is the safari guide who takes us down the well-worn paths and actually spoils our chances of seeing an elephant, because where he takes us, all we see is the other tourists who arrived before us, and the elephants are long gone.

In marketing strategy, it simply doesn’t pay to be follow logic if everyone else is being logical – because it only gets you to the same place your competitors will get to.

As the marketing behaviouralist Rory Sutherland wrote in ‘Alchemy: The Surprising Power of Ideas That Don't Make Sense’:

“Marketing strategy is in some ways very much like military strategy – you can’t be conventionally logical as a military strategist, because the enemy will be able to predict what you are going to do.”

You need to take all these glistening threads of information and weave them into a coat nobody else will have imagined.

So, your strategy needs to be a leap of faith. A sideways jump off the springboard that no-one else will be taking. This is something we can’t help you with. Great leaps of strategy take judgement, inspiration, flair, courage and luck.

Of course, some people are better at it than others, have better judgement, more courage and more flair. But we can show you the steps you’ll need to get there.

The good news is that, while the analysis should be a good half of your plan, the strategy will be the shortest part. Short and easily understood, so no-one is in any doubt.

And this part, we can make simpler for you and break it down into steps. First, your strategy is made up of easily-identifiable parts:

  1. Segmentation and targeting strategy – we covered this in our previous blog.
  2. Product brand and positioning – This is your value proposition. Customers want to know ‘What’s In It For Me?’ – so your value proposition has to tell them (1) why they should buy your product/service (2) why they should buy yours (3) why they should believe you – all in 3 seconds! This “What’s In It For Me?” question is often shortened to “WIIFM” – as in “What’s the WIIFM?”.

Of course, it’s not enough to tell people yours is a better choice than anyone else’s – great marketing makes it clear to customers that they have no choice. So, your positioning should not just define your product attributes – it should define the market in such a way as to make your product the only one in it.

Note: This is not the same as a Unique Selling Proposition, or USP. The concept of a USP was defined many years ago by Rosser Reeves – one of those old marketing men whose experience was mainly in packaged goods that we talked about last time. In the modern world, a USP can be copied in hours especially if your production factory is abroad. No, your positioning needs to make you the only offering in your corner of the market – like Volvo is the safe family car, and BMW is a driver’s car.

  1. Creative strategy – Adding the magic, or the charm. How you get your message across can have as great an effect as (if not greater than) what you say. Outline the main creative concept, primary and secondary offers, key campaign messages and calls-to-action. You don’t need to go into great depth or produce artwork.
  1. Channel strategy – You can create different brands for different channels or vertically integrate. Perhaps you need to integrate multiple distribution and communications channels? For instance, banks offer complex products and services via high street branches, ATMs, telephone, Internet and financial advisors; a multi-faceted distribution strategy.
  1. Communication strategy - This does not have to be a detailed media plan, which goes in the tactics section. However – it does need to be thought out in detail. One of the main measures of a good report is a strong thread running between the targeting and channel strategies and the communications approach.

Which media mix will best reach your target segments? Can you afford a wide media selection? Do you need one to deliver the objective? Justify your communications strategy by assessing how efficient it will be in reaching the target audience and generating a cost-effective response.

  1. Testing strategy – Work out how you will test against the time frame, objectives and budget. Decide what will be measured by whom, how often, how much it costs and how long it takes. So, if daily sales analysis reveals a fall in sales, then the problem is identified immediately and alternative solutions are generated without delay. Of course, testing opportunities may be limited at times of varying demand, but comprehensive testing is an absolute necessity if you have little or no knowledge of how various media perform for you.
  1. Research strategy - Pre-campaign research might help you refine media selection if you have the budget for research but timescales are too tight for testing. Post-campaign research can give you valuable insights into why the campaign succeeded or failed.
  1. Database strategy – A whole course in itself, but in short, data should be clean, recent, valid, accurate, current, complete, consistent and secure.

Always use the VIP questions to evaluate your data – can it add Value, can we Integrate it, can we use it to Profile?

You need to cleanse and de-dupe it, and ensure all people who appear on it are opted in for GDPR purposes and ICO compliant.

So now we have all the jigsaw pieces ready to put together our marketing strategy. As we said above, this needs to be concise and clear. The detail is what got you here. Now you need to turn it into a plan everyone can understand – which means making things as simple as possible (but no simpler).

How Hallidays can support you

To help you we have built a template that acts as checklist, blueprint and bulletproof vest. It answers all the questions the rest of the people in the room will be waiting to hit you with. If you would like to receive a copy of the template, please get in touch.

If you’d like to discuss any of the content covered in this blog, please get in touch with our business advisers by calling 0161 476 8276 or email hello@hallidays.co.uk.

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