Marketing Strategy: Embrace and Grow Your Business!

Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory, tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.

Amazing words by an ancient Chinese military strategist, Sun Tsu.

If you are under the impression that marketing (and marketing strategy) is a rather recent (20th or 21st century) concept, you are mistaken.

We might have to look far back into the past.

Marketing: The B.C. Beginnings

It would amaze you to know that a gentleman named Umbricius Scauras had mastered the art of advertising, branding, packaging, and labeling centuries ago in 35 B.C.

His fish sauce was in high demand across the Mediterranean and modern France.

Market towns started booming in England and Europe during the Middle Ages; as well as during the 17th and 18th centuries.

The credit of modern mass marketing methods goes to English pottery makers Josiah Wedgewood during the eighteenth century.

Talking about more recent times (the 19th and 20th centuries), society (and businesses) started embracing a more modern marketing mindset due to advancements in transportation systems.

Market segmentation and product differentiation started gaining momentum in the early twentieth century.

When working on creating a marketing strategy, we heavily rely on demographic factors.

Researchers in the 1930s, through qualitative research, realized that demographic traits are not enough to explain the diverse marketing behavior of people and groups. 

As a result, marketers, and researchers started paying attention to the lifestyles, values, attitudes, and beliefs of consumers.

The first academic course in marketing was taught at the Haven-Mason Hall at the University of Michigan in the early twentieth century.

marketing strategy shashank shalabh

What is a Marketing Strategy?

It amuses me that so many people, including C-level executives, don’t necessarily understand the true meaning and purpose of a marketing strategy.

Let’s start by saying that a marketing strategy is not the same as a marketing plan.

A simple way to define marketing strategy is that it is a strategy that aims to promote a business (product or service) and generate profits.

It is a long-term, comprehensive plan that addresses the marketing goals and objectives of a business

As mentioned earlier, the “how” is not a part of marketing strategy; a marketing plan addresses that area.

marketing strategy anatomy shashank shalabh

The Anatomy of a Marketing Strategy

Let’s dissect the concept of a marketing strategy.

Note that all these elements are interrelated, and hence, do not function in a silo.

A marketing mix encompasses Market (Target Audience), product planning, pricing, place (distribution channels), and promotion (positioning, selling, communications, and support/service).

Did I forget “People”?

A business can have the strongest marketing strategy on paper. But without the right people, it might not bear fruit.

Here is a good visual representation of the Marketing Mix.

A well-built marketing strategy should include four main components:

Who am I?  – an honest assessment of who you are as a company. Who is my customer? What are the pain points of my customer? Which channels does my customer use?

marketing strategy shashank shalabh

Why do you need a solid Marketing Strategy?

Short answer- it provides a framework, a direction to identify and tap into your target audience and their needs.

It also saves you from wasting time, resources, and money on one-off campaigns, and wrong avenues.

With the ever-changing environment, it is easy to get distracted.

With a marketing strategy, your business will stay consistent across all channels- from a hashtag to the voice/tone of messaging.

A marketing strategy serves as a reference point for both new and existing employees- no more information overload!

So the next time another department approaches you with an “amazing” idea for a marketing campaign, you know where to look.

Think of a marketing strategy as the Google Maps to go from A to B using marketing.

I mentioned earlier that in the modern world, things change fast- they are dynamic. In our marketing world, this calls for a scalable strategy.

A scalable marketing strategy also helps align people from different teams in a business.

Your business is set for growth when you have a repeatable and scalable marketing strategy.

How to create a Marketing Strategy?

A good place to start is by first assessing your company and what it currently offers. 

Start with having clarity over the mission and vision of your business.

Why does your business exist (purpose)? What does it do unique?

Your goal should be to develop an honest, in-depth understanding of who you are as a company and how you plan on achieving success in the future. 

After that, gather information about your customers’ needs or problems they’re looking to solve – but do so from a perspective where there’s no bias on either side (customer vs. business).

target audience shashank shalabh

Target market and Target audience

Just as a marketing strategy isn’t the same as a marketing plan, people often do not necessarily document a target market and target audience correctly.

Target Market = Consumers

Target Audience = Buyers

Aren’t consumers and buyers the same? Not necessarily.

A business selling baby products would have babies as a target market, but parents/guardians of the babies as a target audience.

With a well-defined target audience, you can tailor content that appeals to the interests, needs, desires, and emotions of your target audience.

Audience Segmentation

Don’t make the mistake of selling everything to everyone.

Even Amazon started as an online book store, and then scaled to other verticals.

Audience segmentation can be done using demographics, location, behavior, and psychographics.

marketing conversion funnel shashank shalabh

Map Out a Funnel

Address how you will address the different stages of the funnel (starting with)- Awareness, consideration, decision, retention, and advocacy.

Be S.M.A.R.T

Use this framework to set goals and objectives that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound.

Analyses: PEST, SWOT, Competitor

Analyzing Political, Economic, Social, and Technological factors can help you understand the market trends and conditions.

PEST analysis also helps with helping you understand the constraints on your strategy. 

The next step is a SWOT analysis- Strength, Weaknesses; Opportunities, and Threats.

The first two are internal, whereas the last two are external.

Proceed with competitor analysis to assess the strengths and weaknesses of a potential competitor.

marketing planning shashank shalabh


Now that you have done market research and different analyses, it is time to have the budgeting in place.

Yor budgeting depends on factors such as your industry, business model, company size, business model, target audience, and market position.

Include elements such as traditional advertising, digital advertising, branding, content creation, and Public Relations (PR) in your marketing budget.

Depending on your goals and objectives, you may include or exclude some of these.


Don’t go over the board. You don’t need to whack your brains on vanity metrics. I like to keep it simple.

Revenue, CPL (cost per lead) or CAC (customer acquisition cost), customer lifetime value, and churn rate are what really matters.

I like to look at CLV/CAC Ratio as well.

Marketing Strategy: Do’s and Don’ts

What should you not do when creating a marketing strategy

A marketing strategy should have specific objectives with measurable goals. A vague marketing strategy does no good.

There should be enough market research to understand the pain points of your customer.

Think along these lines- what are the needs of my customer? Which channels do they use?

What is my value proposition?

Marketing Strategy vs Marketing Plan

Yes, they are not the same. Please don’t use them interchangeably.

A marketing strategy is a comprehensive plan covering the marketing initiatives.

It addresses questions such as: what is my customer’s persona? How do I find them and engage with them? What does their journey look like to buy or not buy from me?

A good marketing strategy will align with the company’s overall vision, goals, values, and brand personality. It includes everything from how to market your product to who should be targeted for that particular product or service.

A marketing plan, on the other hand, is a document that helps understand how to execute those strategies.

Examples of Great Marketing Strategies & Philosophies

I don’t believe that you should blindly follow a successful company’s marketing strategy.

What is the most brilliant marketing strategy you’ve ever seen?

Recall Apple’s original iPod?

During those days, most portable audio devices were black. Apple questioned the status quo by making their devices white.

Here is their first iPod commercial from 2001.

Coke increased customer loyalty and brand awareness through their Share a Coke campaign, where they gave out personalized bottles to users. 

And here is something you would love to read- Apple’s Marketing Philosophy.

apple marketing philosophy

Think Different!

Final Words

Rewording Michael Porter, the essence of a marketing strategy is choosing what not to do. It is all about choices.

You can’t be all things to all people.

As a marketing leader, I enjoy helping businesses achieve success through strategic marketing.

Drop me a line and connect with me.

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