Strategy is key in winning the marketing war

Feb 01, 2007

WHAT’S the difference between a marketing strategy and a brand strategy? What, too, is the difference between a marketing strategy and marketing promotions?

It’s a confusing area even for people within the business of marketing, simply because the terminology fluctuates, with different people using them at different times for different things.

It’s a confusion that leads many into assuming that because they’ve got a marketing strategy – containing a vision for the company, together with a mission statement, and usually based on an appraisal of consumer attitudes – this automatically transfers into a message that consumers will buy into.

Yet it’s rather like embarking on a war with the clear aim of conquering a country without providing the generals who will conjure up the strategies for the individual battles that need to be won in order to accomplish this aim.

War may seem an odd metaphor for marketing, yet for years the Japanese have based their own strategies on the ideology contained with Sun Tzu’s Art of War. You might have your tanks, your infantry, your cavalry – your promotional posters, events, direct mail etc – but they’re hardly an efficient force simply because they’re held together by a uniform or typeface.

Good generals, however, not only know the ultimate war aims but also transfer those aims into strategies suited for the particular terrain and situation they find themselves facing.

They know where to hit their rivals the hardest, where their own weaknesses lie, the levels of morale and how to make the most of the environment and lie of the land, such as areas where it’s easy going, others where it’s impassable.

In terms of a marketing strategy, the equivalent of a general’s insight is a Positioning Strategy which, as opposed to being business orientated, is much more consumer orientated, actually exploiting rather than merely responding to the confusing, undulating environment of consumer foibles and aspirations.

The product takes a unique position within the marketing battlefield by presenting it in a way that a judiciously chosen target market can instantly relate to.

As history consistently demonstrates, a general with a good strategy will invariably defeat a numerically superior but poorly led force.

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