web marketing

Search site

Web Marketing Resources Home

Web Marketing Articles

Search Engine Optimization

Free Training

Marketing Jokes

Current Issue

Back Issues

John's Articles

Free Search Engine Marketing & Optimization Tools:

Keyword Suggest
Keyword Density
Keyword Typos
PageRank Search
Future PageRank
Link Popularity

Chamber of Commerce - on the Web logo

The Marketing Strategy Blueprint
by Bob Serling


From working with clients and talking with business owners and managers at various speaking engagements, I've noticed that there's a lot of confusion over what marketing strategy is, how it differs from marketing tactics, and how to go about creating a powerful, highly effective marketing strategy for your business.

In this issue, I'm going to deal with all of these points, clear the air, and give you a simple blueprint you can use to create marketing breakthroughs for your business.


What Marketing Strategy Isn't


First, let's clear up a common misconception. Marketing strategy is not the same as business strategy. A great business strategy is defined as something that is analytical, scientific, and quantifiable. It is very logical, left-brained, and follows a linear path of rigorous steps.

But a great marketing strategy is a combination of emotional and logical elements, is creative rather than analytical, and is the result of innovation rather than analysis alone.


Marketing Strategy Defined


There are dozens of definitions of marketing strategy. Ask twenty different marketing consultants and you'll get twenty different answers. The problem I have with most definitions of marketing strategy is that they tend to be more confusing than illuminating. 

For example, a common definition of marketing strategy is "the combination of choices you make about which tactics you use". But use to do what? Without knowing what you want to do, or where you want to get to, tactics are just a bunch of mud you throw at the wall and hope some will stick.


So My Definition Of Marketing Strategy Is:


Marketing strategy is the overriding "game plan" that gives your business a substantial advantage over all your competition.

This definition tells you both what strategy is, what it's expected to produce, and how you'll know when you've created the proper strategy for your business. So, armed with this definition, let's move on to the next step.


How Strategy Differs From Tactics


Tactics are things you do to carry out your strategy. But a great strategy is much grander than any single tactic. It has as its essence the ability to deliver a tremendous breakthrough for your business.

Let me give you one of my favorite examples of a breakthrough marketing strategy, one that I often use to clear up the difference between strategy and tactics.

When Burger King was first getting started, their tactical approach was to offer hamburgers made specifically to the customer's taste. Their tag line for this was, "Have it your way". This was an excellent tactic to use against other fast food restaurants that gave the customer little or no choice.

But the overriding "game plan" Burger King employed was much more potent than any marketing tactic could ever be. They made the strategic decision to open all their stores within a couple blocks of existing McDonalds locations. 

Why? Because they realized that people who were coming to the area had already "raised their hands" to identify themselves as customers who buy hamburgers. And they also knew that people get tired of eating at the same place every day. This strategy proved to be the cornerstone of Burger King's massive success.

And that's the difference between a marketing tactic and a truly breakthrough marketing strategy that can transform your entire business.


The Marketing Strategy Blueprint


Now let's take a look at how you create a breakthrough marketing strategy that will give you an incomparable competitive advantage. Remember, a proper marketing strategy must describe what the strategy is, how it will take you from where you currently are to where you want to be, and how to determine you've reached your goal.

That's a lot to accomplish and it can't be done casually or in just a single step. I've found that creating an optimal marketing strategy requires a blueprint that shows precisely what the core idea is and each step that will be used to achieve it, much the same way you use a blueprint to design and build a house.

Here's the proprietary blueprinting process we use to create breakthrough marketing strategies for our clients. There are five steps in this process. The first four steps are completed by asking yourself and your staff critical questions. The fifth step is used to fine-tune and maintain your competitive edge:

1. What is your company DNA?

2. What is your vision of where you want to be?

3. What is your customer's DNA?

4. What big idea will combine elements of the three previous steps to produce a marketing breakthrough?

5. Plan to re-plan.

Let's take a look at the details for carrying out each step.


Step 1: What Is Your Company DNA?


In this step you need to define the essence of your company. What do you stand for? How do you want to be known to your customers and the greater community?

Most strategy experts don't include this step. They view strategy as a tool to move product, to make "X" amount of sales in "Y" amount of time. But that's a purely logical, analytical approach that yields a very thin, ineffective strategy.

You must create a vision of what your company values are. This will become a critical piece in creating both a breakthrough strategy and the tactics you use to implement your strategy.

Perhaps you insist on offering only the highest quality, or the best prices, or you're an environmentally friendly "green" company. Whatever it is, you must clearly know what you stand for in order to create a strategy that includes this critical component and the tactics that communicate it to your customers.


Step 2: What Is Your Vision Of Where You Want To Be?


This question needs to be answered in two categories - the short-term and the mid-term. In my experience, trying to plan marketing strategy beyond the mid-term is a waste of time as too many things change and whatever plans you make now will certainly be obsolete five or six years from now.

For my own business and for my clients, I use one year for the short-term and five years for the mid-term. Also, it's implicit in this step that you define where you stand currently. Part of creating a breakthrough marketing strategy is to clearly understand precisely where you are right now and where you want to be.

For each company, the goals may be different. And there are different ways to state your goal. I know of one company whose goal was to have each of their employees produce $1,000,000 in revenue in an industry where companies that are highly profitable produce just $200,000 per employee in revenue.

Your goal may be to have sales of five million, 50 million, or 500 million. Or you may want to revolutionize your industry. Or you may want to be acquired or take your company to an IPO and retire within three years. What matters most is that you have a clear, precise vision of where you are, where you want to be in one year, and where you want to be in five years.


Step 3: What Is Your Customer's DNA?


What core value, quality, or experience do customers want when they do business with you? This is a critical component, yet most companies who specialize in strategy development don't even know it exists. And I've never seen a client who was aware of what this is, how to determine what their customers truly value and how to use it to their advantage.

What makes the answer to this question so elusive is that more often than not, this core value, quality, or experience is usually unspoken. And the only way you can truly uncover it is to talk directly with your customers. Ask your customers what made them decide to do business with you rather than your competition. If you ask 20-30 customers, a clear pattern will emerge. And what that pattern reveals will often surprise you.

Even in the same market, the answer to this question can be different for different products. For example, when I used to do the speaking circuit and offer my marketing courses to the audience, what mattered most to my customers was getting a special discount or extra bonus items that were only available if they made their purchase right there at the event.

But for another speaker who specialized in tax shelters and asset protection, a topic the majority of the audience felt they needed to know about "yesterday", the determining factor was whether they could take the product home with them that day. If not, this speaker's sales suffered dramatically. So he learned to have cases of his product shipped to each location he spoke at. UPS loved him and his bottom line profits enjoyed healthy, sustained growth.


Step 4: What Big Idea Will Combine Elements Of The Three Previous Steps To Produce A Marketing Breakthrough?


Here's where things really heat up! For this step, use brainstorming techniques to create a big, creative, market altering idea. Create an idea that will put fear in your competitors' hearts and substantial profits in your bank account.

Keep in mind the example of Burger King. You have to think that this powerful strategy must have had the high muckety-mucks at McDonalds pounding their desks until they were red in the face.

Here's another example to help you on your quest. When the catalog company Harry and David was first starting out, they ran into a situation that could have potentially put them out of business. Their policy was to let their fruit ripen on the trees as long as possible and pick it at its peak of flavor. But an early cold snap brought a hail storm that damaged their finest pears.

As wonderful as these pears tasted, they were now damaged. If Harry and David couldn't sell this crop, the loss might put them out of business.

What did they do? They made the strategic decision to advertise these pears as "hailstone pears", left on the vine to their ultimate peak of ripeness and flavor, and the only pears in existence that bear hailstone marks to prove how long they've been allowed to ripen. Customers bought every last pear. And the following year, they had dozens of inquiries from repeat customers who wanted to reserve an order of the wonderful "hailstone pears".

So here's your challenge. What big idea can you create that will cause your competitors to lose sleep at night wishing they had thought of it first? When you come up with it, you'll know. When you shoot out of your seat shouting, "That's it!", you'll be well on the way to increasing your sales and profits and capturing far greater market share.


Step 5: Plan To Re-plan.


Regardless of how well you've planned your marketing strategy, the one thing that's inevitable is that you'll be forced to change it at some point. Real marketing doesn't take place in a laboratory with fixed conditions. It's constantly being affected, twisted, and reconfigured by the real buying decisions of real people.

People's preferences change, the reasons they use your product or service may change, competition forces you to respond, not to mention government regulations, increases or decreases in costs, the entry of new players into the market, and dozens of other conditions beyond your control.

Be aware of this and plan for change right from the start. Stay abreast of any significant changes in your marketplace and adjust to them accordingly. Also, plan to review your marketing strategy and how well it's working at regularly scheduled intervals. I recommend a full review of your marketing strategy and the results you're producing every 60 to 90 days.

Be prepared and get in the habit of taking corrective action immediately, rather than being caught trying to gain lost ground after it's too late.


Creating a great big, breakthrough marketing strategy isn't that difficult. But it does take time, diligence, and a liberal dose of creativity.

You now have a complete blueprinting process for creating the kind of marketing strategy that can make a massive impact on your business. Follow it, have fun with it, profit from it, and let me know how well it works for you.


Copyright 2003 by Bob Serling All rights reserved


Big ideas to improve your business...Need a powerful marketing strategy that will get the results you really want? Find out how our strategic marketing services have helped businesses double their profits in record time. To get all the details click: http://www.product-lab.com/strategic.html

©WebMarketingEzine.com 2000-2015
Postal Address: 13 Finnerty Pl. Kambah Canberra ACT 2902 Australia
+61 2 6282 6266