What You Need to Know BEFORE You Create Your Marketing Strategy

If you are in marketing, you feel the pressure. Competition is increasing. Customers are demanding more. Your salesforce wants more. Marketing options are expanding at a greater rate than marketing budgets. The impact of all this can result in suboptimal, mostly tactical marketing investments that may not contribute significantly to your company’s strategy.

Your marketing strategy needs to be rooted in the company’s core competencies, must support the company strategy, and align with sales. That’s no small task. So, before you begin the annual marketing strategy planning, start here:


Identify your organization’s core competencies

Core competencies are the proficiencies, resources and / or strategic advantages of a business, including the combination of pooled knowledge and technical capacities that allow it to be competitive in the marketplace. They are the combined activities, operations and resources that distinguish the company from its competitors. (Investopedia.com) Generally, they are not activities.


Essentially, a core competency creates competitive advantage and is a combination of these characteristics:

  • Provides tangible customer benefits

  • Can not be easily copied by competitors

  • A combination of intellectual property/knowledge, technology and operations

  • Can be used across multiple product categories and markets


Core competency examples

  • Honda’s core competencies are design and building powertrains and superior engines.

  • Apple produces products in multiple product categories based on its ability to make user friendly interfaces and design.

  • Amazon relies on technology to innovate new customer-centric solutions that make things easier, faster, better and more cost-effective.


Core competency questions to consider for marketing strategy development

What are your organization’s core competencies? Do they provide customer preferred benefits? What IP, technology and operations are involved? Are they easily copied by competitors? Can they be used across multiple product categories and markets? What additional markets could benefit from these competencies? What additional products could be created with these competencies?


Know your organization’s business strategy

Successful businesses are crystal clear about their business strategy. This is the company’s plan for achieving its vision, how it prioritizes objectives, competes successfully and optimizes resources and financial performance with its business model.Your business strategy defines what you do and what you won’t do. It begins with understanding the current state and then sets direction for a future state over a specific period of time.


Business strategy examples

  • Toyota’s strategy combines continuous improvement focused and production efficiency.

  • Southwest Airlines famous strategy is all about operational efficiency to compete on low cost.

  • Microsoft, one of the world’s top B2B brands, has a strategy with four parts: 1) Cloud-first, mobile-first; 2) Growth through mergers and acquisitions; 3) Focus on augmented and virtual reality; and 4) Promoting “Tech Intensity”.


Business strategy questions to consider for marketing strategy development

What is your organization’s business strategy? How does this differ from your closest competitors?


Clarify your marketing strategy

Now that you are clear on your company’s core competencies and how you will win in the market, you can focus on creating your marketing strategy. Marketing strategy is how your organization develops and utilizes brands, products, services, channels, pricing options and promotion to achieve specific goals. This also entails where and how to compete in chosen markets.


Marketing strategy examples

  • IBM transformed itself through reinventing technology and offerings (think cloud computing and AI). The marketing strategy now is to ensure all target markets understand and prefer the new product and service portfolio. They are specifically targeting small and medium-sized businesses.

  • Netflix leverages the simplicity of user interface and broad and deep content, including investment in original shows.

  • Starbucks marketing strategy invests in product consistency, customer-centric messaging and brand image management.


Marketing strategy questions to consider for marketing strategy development

What is your current marketing strategy? Consider your company’s core competencies and business strategy. What alternative marketing strategies are viable? What marketing strategies might work with current target markets? What markets could you target with different marketing strategies? Assess those against the marketing strategies of your competitors. Remember, strategies are not bundles of tactics.


Get all the tools you need for marketing strategy development with The Marketing Strategy Master Class.

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