Defining a
Marketing Strategy

Winning is better - the Ultimate Guide




A marketing strategy is a plan of action that business uses to achieve its marketing goals and objectives. It delivers against the top-line of the company's business plan.

Defining a winning marketing strategy includes:

  • identifying the target audience and its wants and needs,

  • analyzing the competition,

  • setting goals and objectives, and

  • developing tactics and activities to reach the target audience and achieve the goals.

The strategy defines how a business will position itself in the market, what products or services it will offer, and how it will reach and connect with its target customers. It takes into account both external and internal factors affecting the business. It is a long-term plan that helps a business to align its resources and efforts to achieve its top-line revenue goals.

Marketing Challenges

Importance of having a Marketing Strategy

A robust marketing strategy is crucial for a business to achieve its goals, stay competitive, and build a strong brand. Here are some areas to focus on:

  • Understand your target audience: By identifying and segmenting its target audience, a business can tailor its marketing message to appeal to specific groups of customers.

  • Stand out from the competition: A competitive analysis can help a business to identify its strengths and weaknesses compared to its competitors and use this information to inform its marketing strategy.

  • How to meet your goals and objectives: By setting SMART marketing goals and objectives, a business can measure the success of its marketing strategy and make adjustments as needed.

  • Allocate resources effectively: Prioritize activities and allocate required (financial) resources to the most critical areas.

  • How to increase sales and revenue: A well-executed marketing strategy can help a business increase sales and revenue by better reaching and converting customers.

Why Does it Matter?

  • 80% of businesses that invest in marketing report a positive return on investment (ROI). Marketing is a valuable investment for businesses of all sizes. Businesses that invest in marketing are more likely to see an increase in sales, leads, and brand awareness.

  • 72% of consumers say they are more likely to do business with a brand that they are familiar with. Brand awareness is essential for driving sales. Consumers are more likely to buy from brands they are familiar with, even if they have never used them.

  • 57% of consumers say they are more likely to trust a brand with which they have had a positive experience. Customer experience is important for building brand trust. Consumers are more likely to do business with brands that they trust, and they are more likely to trust brands that have provided them with a positive experience.

  • 47% of consumers say they are more likely to recommend a brand to their friends and family if they have had a positive experience. Word-of-mouth marketing is a powerful way to drive sales. Consumers are more likely to buy from brands that their friends and family recommend, and they are more likely to recommend brands they have had a positive experience with.

  • 35% of consumers say they are more likely to buy from a brand that offers personalized experiences. Personalization is important for driving sales. Consumers are more likely to feel valued and appreciated by brands that offer personalized experiences and are more likely to do business with brands they feel connected with.

The goal of marketing is to make selling superfluous. - Peter Drucker


Components of a Marketing Strategy

Marketing strategies consist of several elements and different forms of marketing that a business can use. Some of the most common elements of a marketing strategy include:

  • Inbound Marketing: An effective Inbound marketing strategy focuses on attracting customers to a business through content marketing, search engine optimization (SEO), social media marketing, and other tactics. Inbound marketing looks to provide valuable information to customers and build trust so that they are more likely to become customers.

  • Outbound Marketing: Outbound marketing is a strategy that focuses on reaching out to customers through advertising, direct mail, telemarketing, and other tactics. The goal of outbound marketing is to generate leads and drive sales.

  • Content Marketing: Content marketing is a strategy that focuses on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and engage a specific target audience. Content marketing aims to build trust and establish a business as a thought leader in its industry.

  • Influencer Marketing: Influencer marketing is a strategy that focuses on partnering with individuals with a large following and a high level of engagement on social media platforms to promote products or services to their audience. Influencer marketing seeks to reach a large and engaged audience, leveraging the trust and credibility of the influencer.

  • E-commerce Marketing: E-commerce marketing is a strategy that focuses on the online promotion and sales of products or services to the (B2C or B2B) end customer through an e-commerce website or platform. E-commerce marketing is looking to increase online sales and revenue.

  • Event Marketing: Event marketing is a strategy that promotes products or services by organizing or participating in events such as webinars, trade shows, conferences, or product launches. The goal of event marketing is to generate leads and make sales.

Businesses often combine these and additional strategies to achieve their marketing goals and objectives. The key is to choose the right mix of strategies that align with the business goals, target audience, and resources.

Defining Marketing Strategy goals

Setting Goals and Objectives

Businesses need to set specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) goals and objectives to successfully implement their marketing strategy. SMART goals are a widely accepted framework for setting clear, attainable goals and helping measure progress. To set SMART goals, the following criteria should be met:

  • Specific: The goal should be clear and specific so that it is easy to understand and focus on.

  • Measurable: The goal should be quantifiable, so that progress can be tracked and measured.

  • Achievable: The goal should be realistic and achievable, given the resources and constraints of the business.

  • Relevant: The goal should be aligned with the overall marketing strategy and the business's mission and values.

  • Time-bound: The goal should have a deadline, so that progress can be tracked and the goal can be achieved within a specific time frame.

A SMART goal for your marketing strategy might state: "To increase website traffic by 20% within the next six months by implementing SEO and social media marketing tactics."

Setting SMART goals is not only to monitor the successful implementation of your marketing strategy but should be used across the business. By having a clear understanding of what the business wants to achieve, it will be easier to select the best marketing strategies and tactics to reach those goals.

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Target Audience

So how can a business identify and segment its target audience and tailor its marketing message to appeal to different segments of the audience, different channels, different company profiles, and buyer personas?


Identifying and understanding the target audience is crucial in creating an effective marketing strategy.

Your target audience is the group of people that a business is trying to reach and convert into customers.  Eventually, this means specific names and their contact information.

By identifying its target audience, ICPs, and Buyer Personas, a business can create a personalized marketing message that resonates with them and choose the right marketing channels to reach where they spend most of their time.

One way to identify the target audience is to create buyer personas, fictional representations of the ideal customers. A buyer persona description includes demographic data, interests, pain points, buying habits, and decision-making processes. Creating buyer personas will better understand your target audience and personalize your marketing messages to appeal to them. When have you last (or ever?) sold anything to "Dear Procurement department?"

Personalized Messaging to Buyer Personas

With a defined target audience, you can segment your contact list into different groups based on demographics, psychographics, and behaviors. With that, you can create more targeted and personalized marketing messages, significantly increasing conversion chances.

Download Buyer Persona Worksheet


For example, a business selling outdoor gear might segment its target audience into different groups, such as:

  • Backpackers

  • Campers

  • Hikers

  • Climbers

  • Hunters

  • Fishermen

And then customize its marketing messages and product offerings for each group, highlighting the specific benefits of specific and relevant products for that group.

Personalization is not about saying "Hello, <First_Name>," it's about understanding a customer's needs and tailoring the experience to them. - J.C. Penney

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Competitive Analysis

How do you analyze a business's competition and use the information to influence marketing strategy?

Competitive analysis is the process of identifying and evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of a business's competitors to understand the competitive landscape and identify opportunities to differentiate the business and gain a competitive advantage.


There are several elements to conducting a comprehensive competitive analysis, such as:

  • Identifying the main competitors: Companies that offer similar products or services to the same target audience.

  • Analyzing their marketing strategies: Analyze competitors' strategies, including their target audience, marketing message, marketing channels, and pricing.

  • Evaluating their strengths and weaknesses: Evaluate strengths and weaknesses, such as their reputation, customer service, and product or service offerings.

  • Identifying opportunities for differentiation: Identify opportunities to differentiate itself from its competitors, such as by offering unique features or benefits or targeting a specific niche market.

Once a competitive analysis is complete, a business can use the information to update its marketing strategy. Conduct a SWOT analysis. For example, if a competitor has a strong online presence, your business can focus on building its online presence to compete. Or if a competitor is targeting a specific niche market or channel, your business can consider targeting a different niche market to differentiate itself.


Let's review a realistic step-by-step guide for implementing a marketing strategy, including budgeting, resource allocation, and measuring the strategy's success.

Implementing a marketing strategy involves taking the goals and objectives set in the earlier stages and turning them into actionable tactics and activities. Here are some key steps in implementing a marketing strategy:

  • Budgeting: Allocate a budget for your marketing activities. This can include advertising, content creation, and event expenses.

  • Resource allocation: Allocate the necessary (financial) resources, such as staff and contractors and partners, technology, and equipment, to implement your marketing strategy.

  • Tactical plan: Outline the specific tactics and activities that will be used to implement the marketing strategy. This plan needs to include the target audience, marketing messages, channels, and timelines for each activity.

  • Implementation: Define a detailed plan for executing the specific tactics and activities required, and specify realistic deadlines, roles and responsibilities. Obtain the support of your key stake holders for the implementation.

  • Monitoring and measuring progress: Monitor and measure the progress of its marketing strategy using metrics such as website traffic, conversion rates, and revenue.

  • Adjusting the strategy: Adjust the marketing strategy as needed based on the results of its monitoring and measurement. It is key to pivot, reinforce, accelerate, and expand what is working, and modify or stop what isn't. 

Following the above steps will allow you to effectively implement your marketing strategy.

We have a strategic plan. It's called doing things. - Herbert David Kelleher


Having a solid marketing strategy is crucial for the success of any business. Without a strategy, a business will waste time and money on ineffective tactics, miss opportunities to reach its target audience and fail to achieve its desired results.


A general timeline for implementing a marketing strategy might include the following phases and general timeline:

    • Planning: This phase typically takes 1-2 months, including researching the target audience, analyzing the competition, and setting SMART goals and objectives.

    • Strategy development: This phase typically takes 2-3 months, including creating a tactical plan, allocating a budget, and identifying the resources needed to execute the plan.

    • Implementation: This phase typically takes several months and includes executing the tactics and activities outlined in the tactical plan.


The resources required to implement a marketing strategy will vary significantly depending on your business's specific goals and objectives and the tactics, activities, and timeline included in the tactical plan. However, some of the most common resources types required to implement a marketing strategy include:

    • Financial resources: A budget is required to fund the marketing activities, such as advertising, content creation, and event expenses.

    • Human resources: A marketing team or a marketing person typically needs to research the target audience, analyze the competition, create a tactical plan, and execute the tactics and activities.

    • Technology: Depending on the tactics and activities included in the tactical plan, technology such as marketing software, analytics tools, and social media management tools may be needed.

    • Equipment: Depending on the tactics and activities included in the tactical plan, equipment such as cameras, video editing software, and audio equipment may be needed for content creation.

    • Partnerships: In some cases, partnerships with other companies or organizations may be required to execute certain tactics and activities, for example, influencer marketing or event marketing.

In addition to these resources, a business must clearly understand its target audience and a well-defined marketing message that resonates with them. Clear and consistent messages are the key element of any marketing strategy, and it will require considerable time and effort to develop, refine, and maintain.

Key Success Factors

There are several key success factors for the successful implementation of a marketing strategy, which include:

  • Set clear and measurable goals and objectives: Make sure those are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART).

  • Understand the target audience: Your marketing will significantly underperform if you don't know who you are talking to and their pain points.

  • Conduct a competitive analysis: Understand where and how you are different and how you articulate and leverage those differences. How do you stand out?

  • Allocate resources effectively: Don't spend what you don't have. Increase spending in areas of success, and reduce it where things are not working.

  • Measure and analyze performance: Plan, do, review, and adjust.

  • Adapt to change: The definition of insanity is to repeat the same mistake numerous times while expecting a different result.

  • Communicate and align: Win the support of your key stakeholders during each stage of the implementation.

  • Continuously test and optimize: Don't be afraid of mistakes, and don't be overly confident in thinking that you figured it out.

What's the best strategy for you? Learn more about Smart Marketing!

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a marketing strategy?

 A marketing strategy is a plan of action that businesses use to achieve their marketing goals and objectives. It includes identifying the target audience, analyzing the competition, setting goals and objectives, and developing tactics and activities to reach the target audience and achieve the goals.

What are some common types of marketing strategies?

Some common types of marketing strategies include inbound marketing, outbound marketing, content marketing, influencer marketing, e-commerce marketing, and event marketing.

Why is it important to have a marketing strategy?
Having a marketing strategy is important because it helps businesses to focus their efforts, allocate resources effectively, and measure the success of their marketing efforts. With a strategy, businesses may save time on effective tactics and take advantage of opportunities to reach their target audience.
How often should a marketing strategy be reviewed and updated?
 A marketing strategy should be reviewed and updated regularly, at least quarterly or annually, to ensure that it stays aligned with the business goals and objectives and the market conditions.
Can a business have more than one marketing strategy at a time?
Yes, a business can have more than one marketing strategy at a time. Many businesses use a combination of different marketing strategies to reach their target audience and achieve their goals. However, it's important to ensure that the strategies are aligned and complement each other, and not conflicting.

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