Everybody talks about your “marketing strategy”, but what does it actually MEAN? In today’s episode, I’ll tell you what a marketing strategy is, how it relates to your business goals, and most importantly, how we come up with them.
Are marketing strategies different from other strategies? How do we get to the Royal York Hotel? And what should you do if you’re REALLY confused. All this, and more, will be revealed. Give me less than 10 minutes, and I’ll explain… your marketing strategy.
Just click play, and I’ll meet you there.
Transcript & Shownotes
Welcome back to Naomi Explains Marketing, the show where I help coaches, consultants, experts, authors, and other associated nerds, geeks and misfits sell the contents of their brains for cash money. I am your host, Naomi, and today we’re talking about your marketing strategy.
Let’s do this.
Technically speaking, there are a few definitions of marketing strategy, but the one I like the most comes from Hubspot. It reads, “A marketing strategy is a plan for reaching a specific marketing-related goal (or goals) in a focused and achievable way.”
That’s pretty well described, and we’re going to break it down so that it’s manageable, and so that you can intuitively find a way to use this in your day-to-day activities as you work on growing your business.
A strategy – for marketing or for anything else – doesn’t stand alone. It’s actually the middle component of a three-part system. You have a goal. You choose a strategy for achieving that goal. And you implement tactics to make that strategy work effectively.
This is the ecosystem that underlies pretty much everything you ever purposefully do. Cleaning your kitchen? Goal, strategy, tactics. Wooing a paramour? Goal, strategy, tactics. Losing weight? Goal, strategy, tactics. The clearer the goal, the clearer the strategy.
For those of us who are not natural-born entrepreneurs – those who came into business in an indirect way – it is neither intuitive, nor generally explained, that marketing strategies are just like any other kind of strategies. They feel different somehow. More complicated. Higher stakes.
Most ittybiz owners are not natural born entrepreneurs. We came to owning a business in some kind of roundabout way. For some people, their industry collapsed. For some, their life situation changed and conventional employment was no longer a viable option. For some, they reached an income or autonomy ceiling in the workforce and the only way out was to become their own boss. For some, they stumbled on a hidden strength or genius or ability, and the only natural thing to do was to capitalize on that.
For people who did not wake up one day at the age of seven and think, “I want to be a solopreneur when I grow up”, we entered entrepreneurship in the middle of the stream. We read, or listened to, or watched mentor figures, and tried to incorporate what they said as best as we could.
We heard that social media is a thing, and we’re like, “Oh, right. Social media.” And we wrote it down in a little notebook in our minds. Then someone said something about Instagram, and we wrote that down. Then somebody said something about video on Instagram, and we wrote that down, too.
Someone talked about scaling, and not trading hours for dollars, and we wrote “passive income” in the notebook in our minds. They talked about SEO. They talked about branding. They talked about copywriting, content marketing, networking, whatever.
And each time we heard one of these things, we carefully transcribed them in the notebook in our mind.
Everything I just listed – and a few thousand more things like them – are somewhere on the strategy-to-tactic continuum. If you’re like most people, the notebook in your mind has hundreds of little things like that – things you should think about, do, try one day, implement, incorporate.
We’re surrounded by strategies, and tactics for implementing those strategies.
We stepped into entrepreneurship in the middle of the stream, and there was nobody there to say, “Ok, here’s where you start.” So we’re in the middle of the stream, without orientation, looking at all of those strategies and tactics, and wondering which ones to choose and which ones to ignore and which ones to modify.
In the middle of the stream, we find this very difficult, and that causes us pain, embarrassment, and extreme fatigue. Sometimes we say things like, “I shouldn’t find this so hard.” Sometimes we follow it up with helpful thoughts like, “God, I’m such an idiot”.
I am here to tell you that you’re actually not quite right. It’s not hard. It’s not hard, and it’s not difficult. It’s impossible.
It is quite literally impossible to create a strategy until you have a clearly defined goal. A goal is a destination, like Tokyo, or the Royal York Hotel, or Venice Beach. A strategy is our chosen method of getting to that destination. Like a ship from Juneau, Alaska, or the Yonge-University-Spadina line on the Toronto Subway, or a drive down Highway 1.
When we do not have a specific destination in mind, choosing a method of getting to that destination is… impossible. Trying to find the BEST method of getting to that destination is a complete non-starter. The sentence doesn’t make sense. “What’s the best way to get to?” is not even grammar.
So what do we do about this?
The best thing to do is reframe the situation into one we find more intuitive, and use that as our framework. I’ll give you an example, one that many more people are familiar with than are familiar with marketing strategies for internet entrepreneurship. We’ll make this like weight loss.
What strategy should I pick for losing weight? What’s the best strategy for losing weight? If you’ve ever tried to lose weight, or if you’ve known anybody who has, you know intuitively that we’re going to need a few more pieces of information before we can get to strategizing.
Some examples of that information are… how much weight are you trying to lose? Do you have a deadline in mind? What are your constraints?
Some people are insulin resistant, or prediabetic, or have significant endocrine issues impacting their landscape. In these cases, they could be looking at losing 100 pounds or more. Sometimes they do hard keto, intermittent fasting, HIIT training. Those might be their strategies.
Some people have seen their weight creep up a bit over the last few years – 30 pounds or so, and it’s mostly due to slipping into habits that aren’t working for them. For these people, a step counter and protein at breakfast can get most of the job done.
Some people don’t have very far to go, but something like fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue prohibits traditional exercise. They might find maximizing sleep, water, and no food after 8 pm, with some swimming a few times a week might be a good, steady choice.
The strategies are decided upon based on the goals. The goals are decided based on desires (I want to lose 15 pounds by Christmas) and constraints (but I have a lot of fibro pain.) Get clear on your goal, and sorting appropriate strategies from less appropriate ones starts becoming pretty clear.
This makes a lot of sense with weight loss, and it makes a lot of sense with marketing, too. We just have to make the sometimes not-very-obvious connection that they’re the same. Goal, strategy, tactics.
If you’re struggling with finding a marketing strategy…
…the odds are pretty good that your goal, or destination, could use more clarity. Once you have a clear, constrained, well-articulated destination that you’ve honestly decided upon, at least a few good, viable strategies will start separating themselves from the rest of the stream.
And when new options come into your field of view, you’ll be able to look at them and ask, “Is this a good idea for my goal?” or “Is this a good idea for my constraints?” And your answer, newbie though you may be, will probably be pretty good.
Now, once we start wanting things like BEST strategies, or when our constraints are more unusual or intense, that can require help. You might need a trusted friend or colleague, a mastermind group, or a coach. But pretty good strategies will take you pretty far, so don’t assume you need those things earlier in the process than you do.
The sheer volume of potential marketing strategies are overwhelming for everyone, including me. Confusion and indecision and uncertainty are normal parts of the business building process. But if you’re REALLY confused? That’s probably a sign to go back to the goal. Once your goals are clear, viable strategies will start making themselves apparent from there. Promise.
Thank you so much for joining me today for the final piece of our little series. In our next episode, I’m going to explain conversion. Until then, take great care of yourself, and I’ll see you very soon.
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