So today I’m writing this post on marketing strategy from a town in Southwest Germany called Karlsruhe. Rumour has it that it’s the little known city that Washington DC was modelled on. Interestingly, both cities have a centre from which the streets radiate outward.
Anyway, enough about my current location, on to more important matters.
So what is marketing strategy?
Marketing strategy is about conducting marketing activities that are in line with your goals and SHAPE.
In my previous post I mentioned the notion of strategic planning, that post was aimed at helping you determine your ‘strategic direction’, this post is aimed at helping you conduct ‘strategic action’.
By now hopefully you’re moving forward with your plans and as you do so you’ll notice that details about the market will begin to unfold. As you move your market will give you signals, marketing strategy is about maximising the opportunities that they provide.
These signals might include; unexpected customer preferences that you notice, a new trend that is relevant to your business or the increasing clout of a new competitor. My advise is to keep your ears to the ground and take heed of what you hear - a few tips:
- Listen to your customers, act on the common and recurring trends in behaviour and assess the following :
- purchase behaviour
- Feedback and complaints
- The questions customers are asking
- The promotions they respond to
- Listen to the market
- Listen to the competition
Now here’s the thing, if your business is built on your SHAPE and you have adopted a unique position in the market, competition is of little consequence. This is why my advise to most new businesses is to carve out a niche and go for the long-tail.
Although I rarely advise acting based purely on competition, I always advise that you know the other army(s) and take heed of the competitive forces at work in your industry. This assessment should not be the basis of decision making but it should have an influence. This will help you prepare in advance for any eventuality.
So many companies like AOL, Blockbusters and HMV have been caught off guard and lost their position in the market, simply because they weren’t paying attention to the competition or the market trends.
Marketing strategy is also about adopting a bird’s eye view, don’t be so engrossed in the internal workings of your business that you forget to look outside it.
In times past competition was seen as the most important factor in determining the profitability of an industry, today competition is a much weaker force when it comes to eroding the benefits gained by those who adopt a unique position in the market.
Sun Tzu puts it this way:
“…to fight and conquer in all your battles is not supreme excellence; supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy’s resistance without fighting”
The key to breaking the enemy’s resistance without fighting is adaptive innovation:
Adaptive innovation is about making decisions based on what you’ve learnt, innovation does not occur by looking for best practice, adaptive innovators thrive by developing new opportunities.
Marketing strategy is not about big, radical and revolutionary innovations but incremental, adaptive movements that edge you forward in the market.
Amazon has a highly effective marketing strategy and is a great example of adaptive innovation in action. Here is the company’s vision statement for the Kindle:
We envision wireless electronic reading devices that embrace a traditional book’s
simplicity, utility, and the ability to disappear as we read, but offer consumers capabilities that are only possible through digital technology and wireless connectivity. Starting with Kindle, which enables consumers to think of a book, newspaper or blog and be reading it in less than a minute, we will build tightly integrated products that bring together great devices, powerful software, Amazon services, and unmatched content selection.
Do you see what I mean? The Kindle wasn’t a radical innovation for Amazon it was more of a natural progression. People were reading ebooks long before it came along, but, as a product innovation it leveraged Amazon’s shape. Amazon considered market trends, as well as where the competition might go in the future, and adapted its offering accordingly.
So, now that we’ve got marketing strategy sorted, in the next post where going to talk tactics, your weapons of warfare!by