A few weeks ago, I was on a call with a client and their marketing team who was sharing some incredibly creative ideas for an upcoming marketing campaign. My creative juices were flowing, my strategic wheels were turning, and my hands were doing their best to get my racing thoughts on paper.
With a huge smile on my face I was thinking, “I love this stuff!” Not only the specific topics being discussed, but the energy of collaboration and excitement of new opportunities. Then, as the marketing team wrapped up their presentation, one of the brand executives asked an interesting question… “How will this campaign fit within our current marketing strategy?”
There was an extended pause during which I wondered, did the marketing team jump too far ahead and leave the key stakeholders behind at the start? Were there high-level strategic details presumed so obvious they were simply overlooked? Which questions should have been addressed before pitching this marketing campaign to ensure everyone on the team is informed and prepared to move forward?
After this call, I tried to consider the perspective of brand executives and other stakeholders involved. If I were them, what questions might I have before launching a new marketing campaign or initiative? Breaking down any/all assumptions about the audience, which questions would I address to ensure everyone is on the same page? Here are a few that came to mind along with my responses:
What is a marketing strategy?
This is a surprisingly difficult question to answer. The Oxford Languages definition is simple enough, “A plan of action designed to promote and sell a product or service.” However, it is the simplicity of this definition that makes it difficult to sufficiently explain without further context.
Building upon the Oxford definition, marketing experts have presented four types of marketing strategies: Cause, Relationship, Scarcity, Undercover. Within each of those are a list of sub-sets and micro-topics which are dependent on the variables of any given scenario.
People often look for a more substantial answer than, “A plan of action…” but that is an accurate response to the initial question. Instead of trying to provide a different answer to satisfy the need for substance, we guide our clients through a process to determine a more relevant question based on their brand goals and objectives.
How is a marketing strategy different than our current marketing campaigns?
Whether the goal is to inform, persuade, or motivate action, each marketing campaign needs to play a role in building something bigger than itself. Without a marketing strategy, the individual campaign becomes the primary focus, and the overall marketing objective can become an afterthought.
For example, think in terms of building a specific brand identity. The marketing campaign is the building block, whereas a marketing strategy is the blueprint illustrating the desired result. It can be deceptively satisfying to keep producing building blocks but without a blueprint, there is no telling if those blocks are the right size and shape.
How do I measure ROI for a marketing strategy?
The key to tracking and measuring ROI is having clearly defined goals and objectives. This is a primary focus early in the strategic development process, which is partly why strategic development is so valuable.
With a set of clearly defined goals, there can be a collective understanding of what success looks like. From there, a series of performance benchmarks can be established leading from today forward to that desired outcome. Now all the pieces are in place to track and measure ROI; there is a starting point, an ultimate destination, and checkpoints along the way to ensure progress is being made.
How often should I update my marketing strategy?
A marketing strategy should be viewed as a living, breathing element of your overall brand strategy; so, it is wise to take an agile approach. Leverage ongoing consumer feedback and KPI analysis to guide decision making, which may require strategic modifications. Build upon tactics that are having the desired impact and adapt in areas that are not.
Just as market conditions and consumer preferences behave in a state of fluidity, so must your strategic approach. There is no time to fully halt and assess because the world keeps moving and will pass you by. It’s not a matter of when or how often you should update your marketing strategy; rather it’s a matter of maintaining strategic agility along the way.
If you have questions about marketing strategies, we would love to hear them! Send us a note to get the conversation started.