When Marketing Is Strategy: Harvard Business Review

Strategic marketing is what happens when your company’s marketing efforts are integrated with how you approach business as a leader. It’s staying ahead of the competition, developing new strategies and tactics to draw in customers, and creating meaningful experiences for customers who come from within or outside your organization.

As companies become more reliant on technology and information to stay competitive, strategic marketers develop ways to use these tools to achieve their goals more efficiently. They look at how advances in technology can enhance productivity and create efficiencies for them and the rest of the organization.

Some examples of strategic marketing include: designing products that appeal to consumers, devising creative advertising campaigns, finding cost-effective alternatives to traditional advertising methods, and changing the way you do business by exploring new possibilities.

Business leaders often talk about leadership as something that comes naturally to them, but research shows that being a good leader requires deliberate practice. This means spending time working on your strengths, investing in training and development opportunities, and giving yourself credit for your accomplishments. If you want to be a great leader, make it a goal to put some effort into it.

Definition of marketing

when marketing is strategy harvard business review

According to Merriam-Webster, “marketing” means “the process of promoting products or services by creating demand for them.”

That definition makes sense, but it doesn’t tell you how to do it.

It also doesn’t really say anything about market research or advertising. So what is that?

Well, those are types of marketing, but not every business has those as part of its core mission. For example, McDonalds isn’t doing any type of market research or running TV advertisements, so they don’t fit the definition.

But even though they aren’t formally defining it, people who work at McDonalds perform other things like educating customers on food quality or supporting local businesses through their charitable donations and promotional efforts…so they definitely influence the way others perceive the company.

They're leaving an impression on potential buyers.

Examples of marketing

when marketing is strategy harvard business review

What is marketing? According to Webster, it’s “the action or process of promoting sales by creating demand for products or services through advertising, public relations, and other promotional strategies.”

That sounds about right! And while that definition includes some fancy words like promotion and sale, it also includes something much more basic – telling people what product you have and selling a little bit of it.

I think that gets lost in all the debates around whether social media marketing, search engine optimization (SEO), influencer marketing, content marketing, direct response marketing, etc., are actually parts of marketing. They may be part of marketing, but they're not the whole thing.

In fact, I would say that most experts agree that without engagement and communication with your audience, none of the others matter.

Touchpoints in marketing

when marketing is strategy harvard business review

It’s important to remember that not every conversation you have with someone is about business. That’s why marketers use the term “touchpoint,” which comes from the word “contact.” A touchpoint can be an interaction like talking with a friend or colleague, texting back and forth, making a phone call, sending an email, posting something online, etc.

The reason companies create these interactions is so they can reach out to you at any time and get your attention. They want to connect with you, but they also need your help their company to succeed.

That’s what marketers do when they promote a product through social media sites, talk advertisements, billboards, TV commercials, and more.

They are trying to get your attention, and once they do, they would ask you to try out their product or service.

Some of the most common types of touches used by marketers include:

* Talk advertisements where advertisers speak directly to you, either via broadcast (TV) or direct-to-consumer (YouTube).
* Product demonstrations or reviews done by other people for additional credibility.
* Messages sent to you as a person or via content you might have subscribed to. For example, if you subscribe to a fitness site, then the fitness company could send you tips and tricks weekly or monthly via a newsletter.

These touches vary in how much influence they have on you.

Know your customers

when marketing is strategy harvard business review

A few years ago, marketing was mostly about telling people what brands you represent and trying to get them to choose one of those brands for a product or service.

Now that social media has become such an integral part of our lives, marketers have found new ways to use it to connect with individuals and create conversations around their products and services.

By incorporating conversation into your marketing strategies, you’re giving your company more opportunity to spread its message and learn something new.

That is why having knowledge of who your audience is and how they spend time online is so important. By understanding individual users, you can find out when they are most receptive to your messages and talk at that moment, or even respond directly!

You also want to be clear on what your target market wants and needs. Are there certain features they need to know about your product before buying? If not, then why would they buy it if they wanted something different than what you already offer?

Held in high regard by academics, B2C (business-to-consumer) marketing focuses on educating potential clients on the benefits of your product while promoting brand recognition. This approach works well for big companies that have solid branding and loyal followers.

B2CMarketing shifts towards business-to-customer (or consumer-to-marketing) approaches as technology makes it easier to interact with larger audiences.

Creating a brand

when marketing is strategy harvard business review

The term “brand” comes from the word “marking,” which is a way to identify something specific you want people to associate with your business or product. With technology making it easy to produce and distribute content at lightning speed, brands are becoming less about logos and slogans and more about how you position yourself in the marketplace through activities that convey who you are and what you offer.

The best brands consistently put out quality products or services while simultaneously positioning themselves as an authority in their field. They align their messages with those of others in their sector, creating internal consistency and rapport. By investing time into developing and promoting this image, they create trust that attracts future customers.

A good place to look for examples of strong brands is the media, television, movies, magazines, and books. You can also find them by looking at successful businesses and industries and studying why they were able to build such a reputation.

Business owners often get so focused on producing quality goods and services that they forget about the rest of the equation — how to make sure people know about them! This article has some tips designed to help you develop your own marketing strategy and plan.

How to start a business

when marketing is strategy harvard business review

Starting your own business may be one of the best decisions you will ever make. There are many reasons why starting your own company is the right choice, but more than anything, it’s simply about hope. You hope that by creating your own business, your dreams will come true. Your dream can be as big or small as anyone else’s, but all matter somewhere between our internal and external lives.

You hoped with your life before you took charge of your destiny that things would change for the better. That your personal success would inspire others to achieve their dreams. But even if it doesn’t do that, at least you tried.

Hope is needed in this world, and it’s not very strong when most people have no control over what happens to them beyond walking out their door every morning. Hope is being able to anticipate good outcomes despite knowing how often that does not happen. It is believing there will be food tomorrow, and that you will find it in the freezer aisle of the grocery store.

Marketing strategies

when marketing is strategy harvard business review

Marketing is more than just advertising your product or service. It’s not about telling people what you sell, it’s about helping them understand why they should buy something from you.

That way, they’ll be willing to spend money on your products instead of the competitor’s that are less expensive but don’t do as good a job of marketing their offerings.

Marketing includes things like designing a logo, picking a brand color scheme, writing persuasive copy, producing effective advertisements, finding ways to promote your services through social media, and so on. These activities aren’t necessarily direct sales promotions, but they all contribute to creating a perception in potential customers’ minds of who your company is and what you stand for.

You want your competitors to believe that your company has run out of ideas, that there is nothing new that you can add to improve your business, and that you will try anything to make sure that people don’t stop buying your products.

It's our duty as marketers to show how well we're doing every day by analyzing his or her performance and determining whether or not changes need to be made. This requires us to look at both numerical data as well as qualitative observations.

Numerical data include metrics such as circulation (how many times your advertisement was seen), e-mail open rates, visits to your website, etc.

Develop a website

when marketing is strategy harvard business review

With the explosion of technology, there are now many ways to develop and market your business’s presence online. Starting with a web domain name and an easy-to-manage hosting account, you can build your site using any one or a combination of some free software, such as Google’s free platform, Google Sites, or Squarespace, a paid service that has lots of features.

You can also use another popular tool — probably already in your possession — to create and edit pages on Facebook.

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