true entrepreneur
Clarity + Positioning + Connection = Remembered & Referred

Hi Cate, all these terms get thrown around, what does it mean to have a brand strategy and a marketing strategy?  What’s the difference?

Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.  Abraham Lincoln

As entrepreneurs we are constantly exhorted to chop down trees.  In my opinion, too little respect is paid to “sharpening the axe”.

That’s what strategy is.  Thinking and planning before implementation.  Building a foundation for later activity to increase your likelihood of success.

So let’s start with Marketing Strategy

DEFINITION:  A marketing strategy is the plan that directs limited resources to the best opportunities to make or increase sales and build a profitable market for our product and services

Let’s break it down:

Directs limited resources; money, time and effort

(Note: taking a strategic approach means you focus your effort and mean you say no to some things.)

To the best opportunities; how do we determine these?  The hardest part of strategy is the demand side.

Make or increase sales; matching our effort with the most fertile prospects

Build a profitable market; this has the implication of longer term thinking rather than exploitative first time sales.

In short, what offers for what markets and how you’ll approach your market.

Preparing your marketing strategy includes

ONE:  Having a solution (product or service) to sell

TWO:  Mining for insight and test hypotheses to identity your most receptive audience and establish that demand exists.

I generally recommend generating alternative directions, and test those to figure out which will be most motivating.

So, you’ve selected a receptive market who are ready for your solution, what comes next

THREE:  Further develop and test your solution (be it a product or service) so it will be a) easy to sell and b) deliver satisfaction.

FOUR:  A plan for how you’ll distribute (sell and deliver) your products and services.

[Note your strategy includes financials; expenses, pricing decisions, and how much you can spend to make a sale]

FIVE:  Next you will frame your offer – which is broader than the product or service, an offer is the full mix, including price.

It might include a special price, payment terms, bonuses, guarantees, additional services and support and other “sweeteners”

SIX:  Plan your messages and how they will be delivered.  You’ll position the offer by developing your sales material, including your proposition, sales hook and benefit copy  (Our Magic Words workshop will really help with this)

You’ll consider all the channels you could use to reach prospects with your offer, choose one to start and look to sell and iterate the offer and sales approach.

Obviously, there is a considerable set of dominos to lay out an effective marketing strategy and if you jump straight to execution “the channels you’ll use to reach prospects with your offer”, you can miss all that opportunity to sharpen your axe.

And if things don’t go well, you haven’t developed alternative ideas to test and you may end up throwing away a good idea that wasn’t well executed.

The message?  Plan, plan, plan.

So where does Brand Strategy fit in?

Brand strategy is a long play, and less dynamic than marketing strategy.   Done once, done well, Brand strategy doesn’t need a lot of time if maintained consistently, but it does so much heavy lifting for your business.

Your brand strategy gives you the kind of clarity and certainty that will be perceived as confidence.

The most common misconception is that your brand is your logo, your website design or your name.  Those are merely the outward expression, not the true brand.

Your brand is formed from the inside out, so the character of your brand (which can be hard to describe at first, because much of it is instinctive) underpins what is presented to the world.

The internal brand speaks to the essence your business (and you, if you run a personal brand business).  It captures your values, qualities, culture and your purpose.  These things are included in your brief to inspire the expression of the Brand.

The expressed Brand acts as the bridge between you and your ideal clients.

Brand strategy touches all areas of your business.  It defines what you stand for in the market, a promise you make and what distinguishes you from competitors.

Your tone and personality will appeal to ideal clients, allowing a connection to form.

It does include the visual elements like design, logo, colours, website, livery, packaging etc but it’s more about how you make clients FEEL, so you’re the way you write and speak, the way you take care of details, your responsiveness.  Every interaction is an opportunity to build your brand.

Here is a post about the “bare minimum” brand strategy.

Here is a post about true branding; Branding from the inside out, which includes a 5 day email series to hold your hand through this valuable work.