How to develop a marketing strategy

marketing tactics versus strategy

Stop being Tactics Focused

It seems I’m always meeting business owners that are focused on marketing tactics instead of creating a strategic plan. They start individual campaigns and tactics but don’t consider how these tactics fit together or if these are the right tactics for their business.

I completely understand the desire to take action and get started marketing your business, but eventually you are going to come to the crossroad when you ask yourself “is this really working?”. Unfortunately, how much time did you spend on marketing activities, campaigns, and tactics before you realized it’s not working?

Being strategic doesn’t mean that you need to write a 30 page marketing plan, it’s a mindset. You can be strategic even if you only have a 2 page document. But you HAVE to know how all the pieces fit together, and if they are the right fit.

Let’s take a look at social media as an example. I feel that social media is the achilles heel for businesses, especially so for small businesses. The main reason is they don’t take the time to assess their approach. What kind of content do you want to share? What’s brand image you want to convey? What’s the message, and how do you balance that with calls to action. Social media cannot be 100% sales pitching; at the most it should be 10-15% sales and 90-85% valuable information. Then social media should drive other parts of your business- web traffic, email list, awareness, engagement, and more.

Marketing is NOT a Box of Chocolates

No marketing activity today can act in a silo on an island by itself, marketing is like a cocktail party and it has to mix and mingle in order to be seen. It’s important to stop throwing haphazard efforts around. You better know what every marketing activity is supposed to do and is doing for your business.

Marketing is puzzle, and you need to make all the pieces fit together in order to create a cohesive marketing strategy to generates brand awareness and grows your business. Focus on building a strong brand presence across the internet, and then use it to grow a list, get customers, and increase traffic.

How do you get strategic?

First, start thinking about how every marketing activity works for your business. Social media is a go, but which platform is the best? The only way to definitively know which social media platform to use is to test and measure it. Research which platform your target audience uses, which one do they engage on, and how they use each platform.

Each platform, au natural

Understand the nature of each marketing platform, the content your audience prefers and how your competitors are using each platform. But don’t mimic your competitors, just because their posting about new products doesn’t mean you should. You just need to beat them, not duplicate them.

The goal is to share content and use the platform in a way that appeals to your audience. If you can speak their language, they’ll be more likely to listen. Start posting they type of content they like, share resources from other places that are valuable, and engage with your audience.

Connect each tactic together

Now that you have a better understanding of which platforms your audience uses, start planning how these integrate together. It may take time plan integration, but this is what creates a marketing plan that helps grow your business in the long-term.

The ultimate goal is grow your business, but how does each platform do that? Social media can build an engaged community, but what do you want that community to do? Do you want them to visit your brick and mortar business, visit your e-commerce cart, go to your website, and/or signup for an email list?

So many options, but the strategy needs to be defined so that you can be specific about your approach on each platform.

Stop doing what doesn’t work

Once you concentrate on turning tactics to a strategy, you’ll start seeing trends of what activities work and which ones do not. But don’t rule out a marketing tactic until you get a grasp on why it doesn’t work.

Your initial research proved Pinterest as a viable social media platform, but you haven’t been able to build a community of followers. Is it the platform or is it your content? Have you spent time commenting and sharing valuable information? Once you’ve been active on the platform for 1 year, pause your activity on a platform if your moves were correct, but the results aren’t there. Don’t close the account, just come back to it.

These are some simple guidelines to get you started on the strategic way of marketing. However, this is a long-term plan of attack, it will take time and commitment to build a marketing program that generates results and is resilient to changes in the world of marketing.

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Gargi Bhola has extensive expertise in every facet of online marketing and branding: including developing, implementing and managing comprehensive online marketing initiatives for many organizations. She takes a hands on approach in formulating creative marketing campaigns that enhance brand value; increase brand recognition; and improve customer communication, which has results in revenue growth for the businesses she works with.
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