Every good marketing campaign is rooted in a strong strategic foundation.
Strategic planning helps us determine who our audiences are, what kinds of messages they’ll interact with and where we should put our marketing dollars to get the best return on investment.
Over the next few weeks, we will explain three different types of strategic planning that help your business overcome challenges and achieve its goals. These three areas are business strategy, marketing strategy and communications strategy.
Don’t Let Your Company Be the Bear in the Woods
To establish the importance of strategic direction, let’s start with a great metaphor from the team at Brain Traffic on the importance strategy plays in marketing.
The bear in this picture has a goal to catch fish. His tactic is to open his mouth, and his strategy is to stand where the fish are jumping. When you have a strategy and a tactic, you will achieve your goal.
The bear below has the same goal of catching fish and the same tactic of opening his mouth, but this one lacks a strategy.
Without a strategy, you’re just a bear standing in the woods with your mouth open. Don’t let your company be this bear!
3 Types of Strategic Planning That Grow your Business
Every client and business situation is different, making it useful to take a look at each of these types of strategic planning for an understanding of which is the best option to help solve your company’s challenges.
What Is a Business Strategy?
Companies that seek a business strategy are looking for help defining a profitable business model. Common starting points for business strategies include defining the company vision and the company goals.
A business strategy also covers the question on many people’s minds: How do we grow our business when we’ve hit a plateau?
Our strategy team leverages a classic model to evaluate four options that grow businesses:
1. Market Penetration
- Increasing market share by gaining more buyers
- Increasing product usage by getting current customers to buy more products
2. Product Development
- Creating new products for an existing market by improving an existing product
- Extending a product line
3. Market Development
- Taking existing products into new markets by expanding geographically or targeting new audience segments
4. Diversification Strategies
- Creating a completely new product targeted at a new audience
If your company has hit a plateau with sales, it may be time to re-evaluate your business strategy. The first step in this process is meeting with a strategic expert to help you identify areas of growth for your business.
What Is a Marketing strategy?
Marketing strategies are useful for motivating customers to choose your brand. This starts by gaining a thorough understanding of your brand positioning and why current customers are loyal to your company, products or services over competitive alternatives.
Gaining focus of your company’s positioning starts with an understanding of three key positioning pillars:
1. Brand Foundation
A thorough understanding of your brand, including emotional and rational reasons why customers choose your brand over another.
2. Target Customers
Your current and potential customers, including profiles and personas summarizing the process behind your customers’ purchase decisions.
3. Competitive Landscape
Your closest competitors clarify what sets you apart in the market. In other words, why your target would or should choose you over competitive alternatives.
When taking the marketing strategy approach, we evaluate whether your brand position meets three criteria: is it unique, compelling and believable? If your position passes this test, then your customers will easily understand what sets you apart from competitors.
If a brand position does not pass this test, then we need to uncover the essence of your brand to discover a position that will resonate with your customers. At Risdall, we have many tools including positioning workshops to accomplish this task.
What Is a Communications Strategy?
The communications strategy brings your brand position to life with meaningful messages that reach your target audience where they’re the most active. Your strategic marketing expert can help you decide which tools in the communications strategy toolbox will earn the best results.
Communications strategies combine three elements: a creative strategy brief, a campaign idea and an engagement plan that is sure to reach your audience. The one-page strategy brief guides all written and creative materials, and is designed in a way so anyone creating a communication or creative piece can easily understand your brand’s positioning and guidelines for messaging in just one page.
When to Enlist Help from a Strategy Team
Sometimes a company’s issues with growth are black and white – easy for everyone to see. On the other hand, sometimes employees are so close to their company that they cannot identify the challenge they are facing. Even though they can’t put their finger on the problem, they know it exists because their sales show it.
This situation is when it is most beneficial for companies to bring in strategic experts to help identify challenges and propose solutions. When strategic experts are brought in, we will start with these questions: What is your company’s goal? What is working? What is not working?
The answers to these questions determine which type of strategic planning will be most beneficial to your company. Based on the answers, we can identify a roadmap to success.
Measuring Results from Strategic Planning
Strategy is considered a foundational activity for marketing campaigns. It is difficult to measure the return on investment (ROI) of strategic planning and research because in many cases the ROI is attributed to the tactical elements that are developed from the strategic foundation.
An experienced strategic professional always tries to make every activity as measureable as possible. We start our strategic planning by setting a goal that defines what we intend to achieve from this process. Then we can attribute statistics such as pre- and post-awareness tracking on campaigns, sales results and digital analytics (eg. click-throughs) to the product or service we are promoting.
If you’re considering a marketing campaign, it makes sense to invest 10% of your budget in strategic planning to make sure your marketing tactics will resonate with customers. After all, you don’t want to be the bear standing in the woods with its mouth hanging open!
Want some help planning your marketing campaign? Get in touch with one of our marketing experts.