Ask a mentor – marketing strategy and planning

The information in our Ask a mentor article series is designed to help businesses better understand some fundamentals on each topic. It is not designed as a comprehensive resource or toolkit.

Having an effective marketing strategy and plan will deliver significant benefits to your business and will set the foundations for growth. It will help to:

  • keep your marketing efforts focused
  • connect with the right customers
  • make the most of your investment
  • measure and improve your results.

Learn more about marketing strategy and planning from our Mentoring for Growth (M4G) mentors:

If you're not sure where to start, you can:

Amber Porter—M4G mentor since 2021

Amber Porter

Amber's top 3 tips for marketing strategy and planning

  1. Research your buyers, specifically:
    • where they are searching for you or your services
    • how long the normal buyer's cycle is
    • how you can generate continued income from them once they've engaged you.
  2. Set a realistic goal for what you want to achieve and get quotes on how much investment is required to achieve this. Alter your goals depending on your affordability. When receiving quotes, don't just go with the cheapest option—look for what is being provided and how that aligns with your goals.
  3. Find your point of difference and how you service your clients' needs. What are their main pain points and how do you provide a solution that is better or different to everyone on the market?

It is very easy to waste money if you don't have a marketing strategy in place. You might be missing out on valuable leads by not looking at the entire lifecycle of your client. You need to set a goal and a realistic outcome from it.

The Business Queensland site has a template for developing your marketing strategy and plan. Completing this template would be your first step in creating a 1-page plan. Sleep on it for a week, then come back to it and define it further.

Connect with Amber on LinkedIn.

Andrea Anderson—M4G mentor since 2017

Andrea Anderson

Andrea's top 3 tips for marketing strategy and planning

  1. Complete a thorough market research analysis so you can better understand the marketplace you're competing in.
  2. Research your current business operation. For instance, how big is your current database? If you've segmented your database, what is your biggest segment? Is your largest segment your most profitable or least profitable?
  3. What is your desired growth direction? Do you want to franchise, structure ready for sale, amalgamate with other businesses, geographic growth or expand into different markets?

There is a massive difference. A marketing plan is like a road map which outlines everything you need to get from point A to point B. Marketing strategies refer to how you plan to execute to achieve your business goals.

There are 4 main types of marketing strategies:

  • market penetration
  • market development
  • product development
  • diversification.

Each of these strategies achieve very different outcomes for the business. To not understand the difference between a plan and a strategy does not give confidence in the marketer's ability.

Connect with Andrea on LinkedIn.

John Hale—M4G mentor since 2017

John Hale

John's top 3 tips for marketing strategy and planning

  1. Define your customer.
  2. Know how they decide and buy.
  3. Tailor your marketing to that.

Marketing basics for business and the 7 Ps is a helpful foundational article for businesses without a great deal of marketing experience.

In general, marketing strategy is not a set and forget process. It's highly dynamic and often tactical. Businesses have to continually assess, create options and place bets, and then repeat the process, over and over again.

Connect with John on LinkedIn.

Mark Hocknell—M4G mentor since 2004

Mark Hocknell

Mark's top 3 tips for marketing strategy and planning

  1. Do not jump straight into the marketing strategy and plan.
  2. First develop a good understanding of your customers, particularly the ones that get the value you offer, and the ones that represent the best value to you.
  3. Once you have identified these customers, you develop a strategy to engage with them (the marketing strategy).

It should exist to create a portfolio of customers for the business that delivers value for customers and value for the business. Advocacy and profitability.

Strategy is the thinking you need to work through to determine the outcomes you want to achieve and the optimal value exchange between the business and your chosen customers. The plan is the actions that will bring about the strategy (which also might need adjusting if the actions selected were not working).

Connect with Mark on LinkedIn.

Melissa Packham—M4G mentor since 2021

Melissa Packham

Melissa's top 3 tips for marketing strategy and planning

  1. Start with empathising with your audience. To know them is to love them. When you know them well, you're able to serve them better— which is a source of competitive advantage.
  2. Be really clear on your brand. What is your brand vision, purpose, values, beliefs and personality? These are often overlooked as being 'fluffy' when in actual fact they're the essential foundations for your marketing strategy.
  3. You make the rules. It's your business—work out what works for you and your audience. Just because someone is 'crushing it' on a channel or using a particular tactic, doesn't mean you need to do the same.

I always recommend people read This is Marketing by Seth Godin. It reminds us that 'scale' and follower numbers aren't the end goal, they are vanity metrics. It reminds us that good marketing feels good—to us as business owners and the audience.