Everyone can learn a thing or two about marketing, but not everyone can be successful in the field. Successful marketing is undeniably a broad idea.
What works (marketing strategy) for one brand doesn't necessarily work for another.
If you search "successful marketing" on Google right now, you will see about 438,000,000 results. There's an ocean of online articles and blogs that can tell you how to succeed in your marketing efforts right now.
I'd say, some of these online resources are helpful, and some are nothing but complete BS!
Ask marketing experts about successful marketing, and you'll end up getting even more confused. I'm pretty sure you'd receive a host of different ideas about what you need to do to see success with your marketing.
Just take a look at how many marketers say that their marketing efforts are less than stellar:
Obviously, only 57% of marketers surveyed by CoSchedule report positive marketing results. That's not very good, is it?
What does this mean?
Simple. You need a solid plan (aka strategy) first before you take action and jump into the marketing tactics to achieve your goals.
There you go! The cat is finally out of the bag...
Marketing requires you to create a strategy first and then implement tactics to be successful.
In this article, I will help you understand why strategy must come before tactics, what happens if you don't, and the benefits of focusing on creating a strategy first.
Buckle up, because here we go!
Let's say you own a coffee shop and you're looking to invest in direct mailers to get new paying customers. You'll probably just go ahead and tie up with a printing and mailing company to mail your postcards or flyers to consumers around your location.
I like where your head is at, but what if most of your ideal customers are between the ages of 19 and 25 and they don't pay any attention to mailers? Do you think that launching a direct mail campaign will give you the best return on your investment? Probably not!
A strategy gives you a bird's eye view of what is more important to your business. It helps you answer basic questions such as:
In other words, prioritizing a marketing strategy first lets you set goals, know your target market, and differentiate your business.
Without a marketing strategy, you're just throwing tactics against a wall and seeing what sticks...
When tactics come first without a solid strategy in place problems will come to the surface quickly. Here's what can happen...
A critical element of successful marketing is brand messaging aka BRANDING.
Branding is about what consumers think about when they see something that represents your company. It is a practice, a process, and a story that you need to create to make great first impressions and long-lasting relationships.
Lack of a marketing strategy leads to inconsistent and unclear brand messaging. Without a strategy, it's impossible to determine compelling messaging that will speak to your ideal customer and engage them to do business with you.
Many businesses don’t have well-defined goals. This is not surprising!
The same CoSchedule survey I mentioned earlier revealed that marketers who set goals are 429% more likely to succeed.
Without a marketing strategy in place, you will lack clear goals regarding what you want to accomplish and who you are trying to reach.
Remember, you should always set S.M.A.R.T marketing goals as part of your overall plan.
Without a marketing strategy, you will likely bleed money and waste time on ineffective marketing tactics.
Why? With a marketing strategy in place, you will know who your ideal customers are, how to reach them, and what messaging to use for maximum engagement.
Lacking this information, you are really praying your marketing tactics will reach the right people with the proper messaging. It's like randomly pulling a card out of a deck hoping you get an ace.
Remember what the great Sun Tzu once said:
Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy are the noise before defeat. - Sun Tzu
If you think about it, successful marketing is exactly like winning a battle.
All of your tactics should flow out of a marketing strategy. Doing otherwise is a recipe for disaster. You need a clear plan first before you go into battle.
A STRATEGY FIRST plan helps dictate your decisions and makes it easier to determine where to spend your time and money. You'll be focused on what you need to do to execute your plan and won't get distracted by shiny objects (aka the newest marketing tactic of the week.)
Like in chess, a player needs both STRATEGY and TACTICS to beat their opponent, but to identify the proper tactics you need to know your strategy first.
Here are some of the benefits of focusing on your marketing strategy first...
Creating a marketing strategy helps you identify your most profitable customers and your ideal customers. It reveals their patterns:
If you don't know who your business is trying to reach, it's like driving a car without a set destination. You'll never accomplish anything!
Understanding your ideal customer will make all your marketing more effective.
When you know who your ideal customer is, you won't waste money trying to reach people that aren't a good fit for your business.
A marketing strategy will help you identify when, where, and how to spend your marketing budget to reach your ideal customer.
Are you starting to see how having a marketing strategy in place before tactics lead to better results?
Knowing your ideal customer will allow you to understand their wants, needs, and desires better as it relates to your products and services.
Armed with this information, you can create marketing messaging that will resonate with and engage them. Your messaging WILL be better than your competition, giving you a distinct competitive advantage.
A marketing strategy before tactics will always translate to better results.
Better results = Better ROI
It's literally the natural result of experiencing the benefits 1-3 above.
Ultimately, a marketing strategy helps you create and implement a marketing system that continuously generates prospects and converts leads into customers.
Systems yield consistent, repeatable results and your marketing strategy will serve as the foundation for your marketing system.
And that's a WRAP! That's the secret to successful marketing.
It's a simple 1, 2 punch! Create a strategy first and then implement marketing tactics. When you master this trick, you'll unlock other awesome marketing secrets along the way.
Did you get some value from this article? Have additional questions?
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Creating a solid marketing strategy is a must for effective marketing? Check out our Ultimate Guide to Marketing Strategy to learn more.
Header image courtesy of Pexels.
Tim Fitzpatrick is the President of Rialto Marketing. At Rialto Marketing, we help take the guesswork out of marketing so your small business can grow. Marketing your business shouldn't be a constant challenge. If you are ready to eliminate the uncertainty and confusion of marketing your business, we can help.