Renowned business strategist Michael E. Porter once said, “The essence of strategy is choosing what not to do.” This particularly rings true when devising a marketing strategy.
Creating and executing a great marketing campaign can be hard. It requires creativity, data, project management, and marketing budget planning. Most marketing campaigns are a relatively large undertaking, no matter whether your business is large or small.
If your marketing strategy isn’t well thought out, you will likely miss out on opportunities to help your business grow. Alternatively, effective marketing strategies can drive your business’s growth and ensure that your team is focusing its efforts on marketing that performs.
What is a marketing strategy?
A marketing strategy is a detailed plan for how you’re going to reach and engage the customers in your target market in order to drive revenue as well as brand awareness, brand affinity, or customer loyalty. Successful marketing strategies may include referral programs or loyalty programs, or special ad campaigns to increase brand visibility. A complete marketing strategy is a robust document that can include product positioning statements, marketing funnels, a planned channel mix, the target audience, market research, and more, depending on the business. But at its core, a solid strategy answers three key questions:
- What products or services will you offer?
- Who are the potential customers that you’re going to target?
- How are you going to reach them?
The strategy is typically part of a business plan, and used by marketing teams to develop marketing budget plans, creative briefs, and other strategic documents.
4 elements of a marketing strategy
The 4 Ps are the most common elements of a good marketing strategy. They are considered the universal language for marketing strategy and are necessary to effectively market and plan your product or service. The 4 Ps of marketing strategy are:
A solid marketing strategy starts with understanding the product being marketed. Part of that process includes considering the product’s positioning, or how it differs from competitors and what benefits it provides targeted buyers
If a business has multiple products, it must also consider what mix of products it wants to promote. For example, some businesses view one product as their “hero,” or bestselling, highest-priority item that is promoted the most alongside complementary products.
Price is a key part of any marketing strategy because it impacts revenue and has a significant effect on consumer psychology, or what customers think about the value and quality of the products or services you offer. Marketers can use the the psychology of pricing in their strategy in a few different ways:
- Discounting. Marketers have the option to attract new customers by offering temporary or seasonal sales. However, they must balance this with the loss of gross margin.
- Perceived value. This is the opposite of discounting. Lower prices can make products seem lower quality. Sometimes, businesses will do the inverse, and actually increase their prices to raise perceived quality.
- Anchoring. For example, if an electric bike costs $8,000, that might seem expensive compared to regular bikes, but not compared to a new car.
Initially, the concept of the 4 Ps referred to the physical place where your product could be purchased. Now, it refers to a brand’s omnichannel strategy: business decisions about whether to sell your products across physical retail locations, online, and other digital channels. Place also affects pricing, since a business must decide whether to keep the same prices or not depending on where the product is sold—for example, through partners or third-party online platforms such as Amazon.
Promotion refers to how you tell the world about your products. This is also often referred to as a channel strategy because it means defining your marketing channels. A modern promotion strategy includes digital marketing channels like search engines and social media marketing, as well as more traditional channels such as TV/radio advertising and trade shows.
8 Marketing strategy examples
A robust marketing strategy considers all 4 Ps of marketing. To help illustrate how different those decisions can be, each of the below marketing strategy examples focus on one of the Ps.
1. Lululemon Studio
After Lululemon acquired Mirror, the interactive fitness mirror for a home gym experience, it had to determine how to adjust Mirror’s marketing efforts to position the product within Lululemon’s overall offering. So Lululemon’s product decision was to package the Mirror as part of its broader membership offering that included member discounts, community partnerships, and more.
Slack is a team collaboration tool for B2B (business-to-business) companies. They use price to enable a “bottom-up” approach to selling, meaning selling to individual users within an organization instead of selling only to executives. Although their product can be expensive for large businesses, Slack uses a freemium model, in which small teams can use it for free (including those within larger organizations), but larger businesses have to pay for the features they need, like enhanced security. This helped create sales momentum for the product within companies for a larger rollout.
SmartSweets is a candy brand offering a low-sugar alternative to regular candy. One of their early place decisions involved focusing on retail partnerships—such as with Whole Foods—over online sales. They have since adopted an omnichannel strategy, but this early collaboration helped quickly build a community and expand market share.
Patagonia is an outdoor brand known for its premium pricing compared to competitors. One way the company addresses this is through product positioning—marketing products to target customers as long-lasting, and offering free repairs to help extend product life, and therefore, increase customer perceived value of its higher prices.
Another outdoor brand, Arc’teryx, takes a similar but slightly different approach to its product positioning relative to price: its ReGEAR program helps people resell their gear to give price-sensitive consumers a more affordable way to buy without affecting the brand perception of quality.
Knix is an intimate apparel brand with a retail footprint within the US and Canada. The COVID-19 pandemic, however, posed a challenge: transitioning its annual warehouse sale, typically held in-person, online. To boost sales, Knix changed its promotion plan to create a virtual fitting room experience, promoting this unique experience entirely through unpaid social and email.
BlenderBottle, a 20-plus-year-old brand, typically promoted products through its retail partners. To expand online, BlenderBottle had to develop a larger digital marketing strategy and made a placement choice to focus on digital advertising. It leveraged data and AI (artificial intelligence) for promotional targeting to determine what the best audiences were using, a practice called lookalike audiences.
8. BlumeBlume creates superfood latte mixes, a relatively new type of product that may be unfamiliar to many consumers. To help acquire customers, Blume made the product decision to offer limited edition drops a few times a year. These types of limited edition releases can help create urgency and a sense of excitement among customers to buy the product.
Marketing strategy example FAQ
What are the 4 main elements of a marketing strategy?
The four main elements of a marketing strategy are: product, price, place, and promotion.
What are the 7 Cs of marketing?
The seven Cs are the framework for great communication. They are the keys to effective marketing strategy and messaging that is:
What is an example of a marketing strategy?
A comprehensive marketing strategy is typically a multipage document that’s distributed across an organization. An example is HiSmile’s marketing strategy which relied on social influencer marketing and promoting the company’s product on its social media channels to break into a new market, capturing a larger male demographic.