What is marketing strategy? And more importantly – what ISN’Tmarketing strategy?

A term I regularly hear used and abused is “marketing strategy”. Most people, even smart business and/or marketing people, use it incorrectly.

The most common error is that people use “strategy” when they mean “tactics” or “campaign”. Many also seem to think a strategy needs to be hugely complex, or delivered in a language that’s so hard to comprehend it would make the management consultants on House of Lies look plainspoken. And marketing textbooks tend to give long definitions that can leave you scratching your head.

So here’s my ‘line in the sand’ on marketing strategy:

Good marketing strategy – What it is:

– A clear direction for how you’ll be working to achieve your objectives
– Something that ultimately can be summarised to a page (or better still, a paragraph)
– A brave or bold choice that you need to stick with for AT LEAST a year
– Something that all your tactical marketing activities must tie back to
– Articulates what’s special or different about your business (or how you’re going to become special or different) 

Good marketing strategy – What it isn’t:

– A goal (your strategy is how imagine you’ll reach your goal)
– A bunch of tactical activities on a calendar. You need these too, but that’s a marketing action plan, not a strategy.
– A lot of big and waffly words
– Only about the size of your budget
– Something you can ask someone to define for you, or make a firm recommendation about, after a brief meeting!

Glad I got that off my chest…