A marketer's guide to advertising strategy
What is a marketing strategy?
A brand’s marketing strategy is a long-term plan for reaching shoppers. A marketing strategy encompasses products and pricing offered, as well as brand marketing and the promotion of products. Your brand’s marketing strategy should cover everything from advertising and raising the awareness of new customers, all the way to purchases and transforming customers into repeat visitors. A marketing strategy will be an invaluable resource internally as you chart your brand’s growth and marketing efforts, and it could also be adapted into a pitch deck or presentation to showcase your brand to external audiences.
There’s a wide variety of types of marketing strategies: editorial strategies, content strategies, social media strategies, influencer strategies, and so on. Basically, you can create a marketing strategy for any type of product, whether it’s physical or digital content. Having a strategy will help get that product in front of the consumers who want or need it most.
An important component of a marketing strategy is its tactics, or the tools used to complete and enhance your strategy. Examples of marketing tactics include case studies, paid marketing, or other categories for your brand’s products or content. These tactics will vary based on the type of marketing strategy you choose to pursue.
The duration of a marketing strategy can vary, whether it’s updated yearly or quarterly or for any other time frame. You can also adapt your overarching marketing strategy into different iterations for individual campaigns. Regardless, having a dedicated outline for the marketing goals, products, and promotions of your brand is vital.
Why are marketing strategies important?
Simply put, a marketing strategy can help make your brand better. There are plenty of resources for creating a marketing strategy, and a good one will explain all the details of what your products are, who your potential customers are, and how you’ll reach them. A proper marketing strategy will outline all three aspects for your business, and it could also address market research on your brand’s competitors or related companies. Having a marketing strategy will help you answer the question of what to do first: For example, should you begin by raising awareness of your brand’s message, or do you have existing audiences you want to introduce to a new product? Your marketing strategy could also help raise awareness of the pain points customers face and how your brand can help resolve them. Once you have a clear vision of your marketing goals, you can begin achieving them and measuring your progress every step of the way.
Marketing strategies vs. marketing plans
Marketing plans fall within marketing strategies. The marketing strategy is the big-picture view of a company’s goals for potential customers, and marketing plans fall within the strategy as smaller steps for achieving these goals. For example, a touchpoint in a marketing strategy would be to expand reach, and an effective marketing plan would outline how to utilize social media to increase reach by a certain percent as an initial goal.
What is an adaptation marketing strategy?
Marketing strategies provide an overarching view of your brand, but if you want a more specific option, an adaptation marketing strategy is one that adjusts your brand’s marketing to steer it toward a new goal. Adaptive marketing considers the specific needs of audiences and custom tailors your ads and content marketing toward them, and an adaptation marketing strategy can help hone in on the specific goal you want to achieve. For example, brands looking to reach new demographics would use an adaptation marketing strategy to outline their updates, or acquired brands may use an adaptation marketing strategy to become integrated within their parent company.
What is a go-to-market strategy?
A go-to-market strategy falls within a marketing strategy. It’s a plan that outlines the steps from ideation to launch of new products or services for your brand. Required elements of a go-to-market strategy include planning, of course, to outline how it fits within your brand’s overall strategy. It should also include competitor analysis, and it can include both internal and external resources, such as distribution partners. Naturally, different products or services will have different go-to-market plans, but all should fall beneath the goals outlined in your market strategy.
What is a market penetration strategy?
A market penetration strategy illustrates a plan to integrate your brand or products into an existing market. Initial research for a market penetration strategy should try to assess the areas of opportunity for your brand, and then it should outline the steps to both start and maintain that growth. Examples of market penetration strategies would include brands adjusting their prices based on demand or updating products based on gaps where there are consumer needs.
Key marketing channels
An effective marketing strategy should address all channels your brand plans to utilize to reach audiences. That could include in-store channels as well as digital content marketing channels such as apps, email marketing, social media, video advertising, display advertising, and digital advertising. Each of those could have their own strategy, as well, and specific tactics assigned to each to fully optimize them. For example, online news publications can create a content marketing strategy that addresses email campaigns, social media shares of blog posts, and external content collaborations as well. You don’t need to only provide physical products; marketing strategies can apply to a wide variety of companies and customers.
It could also help to map out a plan for omnichannel marketing, which is marketing to all available channels, or for multichannel marketing, which is a marketing strategy aimed at more than one channel. These two types of marketing strategies include the channels within your overall marketing strategy and are organizational descriptors.
Building a marketing strategy in four steps
Here are four steps to get started with creating the template for a marketing strategy for your brand.
Step 1: Discover opportunities
When crafting a marketing plan and strategy, the primary purpose of the first phase should be to discover the needs of your customer base and the opportunities to reach new customers with your brand and products. It’s also important to research the existing offerings before blindly creating a new product or content, to make sure your brand isn’t wasting valuable time or resources on something that customers may not want.
Step 2: Outline business goals
Next, figure out what problem you want to solve and determine the tactics you’ll use to do so. Along with deciding on your tactics, consider the channels you’ll use and the optimal audiences for each. You can also include collaborations in this step, as a way to expand reach and externally advertise or cross-promote your content alongside other brands or in new locations.
Step 3: Launch products
Once you’ve found an audience with wants and needs, you can reach them with a new product launch. This is where your go-to-market plan comes in handy as it will outline the steps within this phase of your content marketing strategy. Ensuring your plans and strategies are thought out beforehand can help increase the chances of your product launch being a success.
Step 4: Analyze results
Monitor your marketing strategy by keeping a close eye on growth metrics such as reach and sales. In order to measure the success of your strategy, consider the metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs) that will be most relevant to the goals for your brand. Also, search engine optimization (SEO) can be a huge help in reaching customers who are actively looking for new products and digital content.
Additionally, look at the feedback you received on your products or advertisements, and listen to the notes from both your team and external customers. Pay attention to what worked (or what didn’t work), and update your goals and next steps in your long-term strategy accordingly.
Examples of successful marketing strategies
Marketing strategies can cover a wide variety of products and content, but here are just a few examples of how brands in specific industries can use a marketing strategy to achieve success.
Grocery marketing goes online
One example of a success story is for online grocery shopping. By following consumers’ behaviors in shopping online for groceries, Whole Foods Market eventually opened its first-ever permanent online-only store in 2020. By looking at trends in their industry, they were able to create and execute an effective marketing plan and strategy.
Marketing seasonal toys and games
When it comes games and toy marketing, your brand’s strategy should be closely tied to the calendar. Using a marketing plan to outline the spikes and dips in the interest of customers can help lead to success. For example, 32% of holiday shoppers purchased at least one toy during Black Friday/Cyber Monday, making it a great time for brands to focus their advertising efforts.1
1 National Retail Federation, Retail Holiday and Seasonal Trends, 2020