As the leader of a marketing agency, I have the opportunity to constantly meet business leaders who have questions about marketing or curious about our work.

Almost every conversation starts with… “Our marketing strategy isn’t working…” or “We need a new marketing strategy that will help us reach more customers.”

Once we dig a little deeper, there’s nearly one common reason why most companies struggle to generate success through their marketing efforts — they define marketing by thinking about tactics instead of strategy.

Marketing Tactics vs. Marketing Strategy

Let’s take a step back and look at the difference between strategy and tactics. In marketing terms…

  • Strategy = defining the space where the business decides to engage, and how it plans to win in the market.
  • Tactics = identifying the tools and executions deployed in order to deliver on that strategy.

A strategy is an overall framework that is filled in by the tactics you use. It is essential for determining which tactics will be most effective.

When most businesses say their marketing strategy isn’t working, what they typically mean is that the tactics aren’t effective. When this happens, it’s likely an indicator that they didn’t take the time to develop a strategy in the first place. The reason their marketing strategy isn’t really working is that there wasn’t really a strategy to begin with.

How to Develop a Marketing Strategy

At Green Apple, there are a few key components we encourage brands to consider when developing a marketing strategy:

  • Define your target market and buyer personas. If you want your marketing tactics to work, you need to have absolute clarity about your ideal buyer and how they operate. You need to know their challenges and pain points. Defining your target audience and evaluating the buyer’s journey are essential for an effective marketing strategy.
  • Identify your unique value proposition. What makes you better than your competitors? Answering this question is imperative for your marketing strategy. Your value proposition is a unique value that a buyer desires and will receive from your company, product, or service. Think of the word “only” and how you can apply it to your business, products, and services.
  • Determine how marketing will support your larger business objectives. In order to develop and implement an effective marketing strategy, you need to be absolutely clear on what you’re trying to achieve. What are the larger business objectives your marketing strategy is supposed to support?

Once you’ve addressed each of the issues above, you need to start asking which tactics you should use to reach customers. It’s only after your target market and buyer personas have been defined that you can decide which kinds of tools and processes might be deployed to reach them.