9 Tips on Marketing Strategy for SMEs

Ah, marketing….never has a discipline been more misunderstood.

Use Marketing Strategy to create increased lifetime value

Depending on who you talk to, marketers are the ‘colouring-in department’; the ones responsible for slapping the company logo on branded merchandise; a murky black hole that no one quite understands, or latterly, apparently we’re ‘digital ninjas’ who offer a cheap marketing panacea involving shiny new bells and whistles and slapping up a few Google Adwords.

In truth, the above are, at best, a bunch of tactics or random acts of marketing that are the equivalent of hurling wet spaghetti at the wall and hoping it will stick; your efforts are likely to fall to the ground in a tangled heap without a solid strategy to underpin them.

So… if strategic marketing isn’t any of the above, what is it?

Our Strategic Marketing as a series of levers your business can pull to give you a competitive advantage, depending on the age and stage of your business. Moreover, a marketing strategy should be able to deliver sustainable revenue growth, attract investment funding, or even prepare your business for sale.

This is all well and good, but as a small to medium-sized business owner, where do you start on your strategic marketing journey when you’re faced with an increasingly complex world, with shiny new ‘1-stop solutions’ jostling for your attention?

The first issue all businesses need to address is whether marketing factors into their business planning process at all. Most businesses have a business plan, however rudimentary, but there is often a yawning gulf between the business plan and where marketing strategy should be, as businesses jump straight to marketing tactics. Marketing should be making you money, not costing you money, but if you don’t wrap a plan around it, how can you possibly measure it's effectiveness against goals that don’t exist?

It was with this dilemma in mind that we created the 9Boxes model as a template for designing your marketing strategy.

9Boxes - a strategic marketing framework

Divided into three key marketing areas, Find, Convert and Deliver, if you and your team can address these 9Boxes, you’re on your way to creating an effective marketing strategy.

So let’s look at each box in turn:

1. Position: What makes you different to your competitors?

2. Capability: Does your business having a functional marketing resource?

3. Channel: Do you know which channels give you access to your customers?

4. Buyer’s Journey: What makes your customers buy from you?

5. Communication: Does your business have a consistent language?

6. Starting Conversations: How does your business measure sales performance?

7. Product/Services: What are you selling?

8. Client Management: Do you know who your customers are?

9. Client Service: Are your client service levels consistent?

Getting Started

Now, there’s a lot more thinking and best practice around how you tackle each box, but if you’re going to start anywhere, start with addressing Box 1: Position.

Position is the cornerstone of your strategic marketing. It’s the DNA of your business and guides the other 9 boxes.

Best practice for Position would mean that you have done the following:

1. You’ve developed a marketing strategy

2. Your business plan is current and relevant

3. You know your current market position

4. You’ve documented your vision and values

5. Market, service, product and price strategies are all documented.

More than 5,000 business leaders have used our 9Boxes benchmark to gauge how well their marketing is working - try it NOW yourself.

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