Creating a Marketing Strategy: Tips to Get You Started

Discover the top tips to create a marketing strategy for your business. Gain valuable insights in our latest blog by Jonathan McGregor.

Jonathan McGregor
5 Feb
February 5, 2024
 min video
5 Feb


Creating an effective marketing strategy is vital for any business looking to thrive in today's competitive landscape. This article provides comprehensive guidance on how to develop a marketing strategy that aligns with your business goals, effectively targets your audience, and optimises your resources for maximum impact.

The Importance of a Well-Defined Marketing Strategy

A well-defined marketing strategy serves as a roadmap and a clear direction of travel for business growth and success. It helps in aligning marketing efforts with business objectives, understanding customer needs, and effectively positioning the brand in the market. Here we will explore the benefits and significance of having a robust marketing strategy.

What Happens When Businesses Operate Without a Marketing Strategy in Place?

Operating without a marketing strategy can lead to disjointed efforts, wasted resources, and missed opportunities. There are several risks and challenges businesses face when they lack a cohesive marketing plan, including:

  • Misaligned Efforts and Wasted Resources: Without a clear strategy, marketing efforts can become disjointed and inconsistent. This leads to inefficient use of resources, as money and time are spent on activities that may not align with the business’s goals or effectively reach the target audience.
  • Difficulty in Measuring Success and ROI: Without predefined goals and a strategic plan, it becomes challenging to measure the success of marketing activities. Businesses struggle to track return on investment (ROI) and may continue investing in ineffective channels or tactics without realising it.
  • Lost Market Opportunities and Competitive Disadvantage: Operating without a marketing strategy can result in missed opportunities to connect with potential customers and stand out in the marketplace. Competitors with well-defined strategies are more likely to capture market share, leaving businesses that lack strategic direction at a significant disadvantage.
  • Inconsistent Brand Messaging and Positioning: Without a cohesive marketing strategy, a business's brand messaging can become inconsistent, leading to confusion among potential customers. Inconsistent messaging undermines brand identity and can weaken customer trust and loyalty.
  • Reactive Instead of Proactive Market Engagement: Businesses without a marketing strategy often find themselves reacting to market changes and competitor actions rather than proactively shaping their market presence. This reactive approach can lead to missed opportunities for innovation and leadership in their industry.
  • Lack of Customer Understanding and Engagement: Without a strategic approach to marketing, businesses may fail to understand and effectively engage with their target audience. This lack of insight can result in marketing campaigns that don't resonate with customers, leading to poor customer response and lower sales conversions.
  • Stunted Business Growth and Market Penetration: A company operating without a marketing strategy may struggle with market penetration and business growth. For instance, a tech startup launching an innovative app might fail to gain traction because it hasn’t identified the right target audience or appropriate marketing channels. As a result, despite having a potentially successful product, the startup experiences slow user acquisition and limited market growth, allowing competitors to dominate the market space.
Jonathan McGregor - Fractional CMO, VCMO

“In summary – a clear marketing strategy will define the company’s purpose, direction and how to grow by focusing on meeting the needs of the customer.”

Identifying Your Business Goals and Objectives

The foundation of any marketing strategy is establishing clear business goals and objectives. This is crucial as it provides a clear direction for the company's efforts and resources. It ensures that all activities are aligned towards achieving specific, measurable outcomes. This alignment is essential for business growth, operational efficiency, and long-term success in a competitive market. Here's a structured approach to help you define them:

  1. Conduct a Thorough Business Analysis: Begin by assessing your current business situation. Review your company's strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT analysis). This will help you understand where your business stands and what it can achieve.
  2. Reflect on Your Vision and Mission: Revisit your business's vision and mission statements. These should guide your long-term objectives and provide a framework for what you want to achieve.
  3. Define Long-term and Short-term Goals: Distinguish between long-term aspirations (like becoming a market leader) and short-term objectives (such as increasing sales by 20% over the next quarter). Both are important but require different strategies and resources.
  4. Ensure Goals are Specific and Measurable: Vague goals are hard to achieve and measure. Set specific, quantifiable objectives. Instead of saying "increase sales," aim for "increase sales by 15% within 12 months."
  5. Align Goals with Industry Benchmarks and Trends: Consider industry benchmarks and trends. For instance, if digital transformation is trending in your industry, one of your objectives could be to digitise certain business processes.
  6. Consult with Stakeholders: Engage with key stakeholders, including employees, customers, investors, and partners. Their insights can help shape realistic and relevant goals.
  7. Evaluate Resources and Constraints: Consider your available resources (financial, human, technological) and any constraints you may face. This will help in setting achievable goals.
  8. Prioritise and Categorise Objectives: Not all objectives carry the same weight. Prioritise them based on factors like urgency, impact on growth, and resource availability.
  9. Review and Adapt Regularly: Business goals should be dynamic. Regularly review and adapt them in response to business performance and market changes.
  10. Document and Communicate Your Goals: Clearly document your goals and objectives and communicate them across your organisation to ensure alignment and collective effort towards achieving them.

Creating Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound (SMART) Marketing Goals

Creating SMART marketing goals is about establishing clear and precise objectives to guide your marketing strategy. Specificity ensures goals are well-defined, Measurable allows for tracking progress, Achievable makes them realistic, Relevant aligns them with your business vision, and Time-Bound sets a deadline for achievement, fostering focus and efficiency in your marketing efforts.

Here's a worked example of a SMART objective for a business:

Scenario: A small online bookstore looking to grow its customer base and increase sales.

SMART Objective:

  • Specific: Increase the online bookstore's customer base.
  • Measurable: Gain 1,000 new customers.
  • Achievable: Use targeted online advertising and social media campaigns.
  • Relevant: Attracting more customers is crucial for increasing sales and market presence.
  • Time-Bound: Achieve this goal within the next 6 months.

Worked Example: "Our objective is to acquire 1,000 new customers for our online bookstore within the next 6 months by leveraging targeted Facebook and Instagram advertising campaigns and engaging in monthly social media promotional activities."

Understanding Your Target Audience

Understanding your target audience involves delving into who your potential customers are, their behaviours, preferences, and needs. It's about gathering insights into their demographics, psychographics, and buying patterns. This knowledge is critical for tailoring your marketing messages, choosing the right channels for engagement, and creating offerings that resonate deeply with your audience, ultimately driving more effective and targeted marketing campaigns.

Competitive Analysis

Competitive analysis is the strategic process of identifying your main competitors and evaluating their marketing strategies to determine their strengths and weaknesses relative to your own product or service. This assessment helps in recognising market trends, uncovering gaps in the market, and informing your strategic decisions, allowing you to position your brand effectively and capitalise on competitive opportunities. Discover Porter's Five-Forces model can assist with competitor analysis.

Identifying Your Unique Selling Proposition (USP)

Identifying your Unique Selling Proposition (USP) is about pinpointing what sets your product or service apart from the competition. It's a clear statement that describes the unique benefits, value, or solution your offering provides, which is not available from competitors. Understanding and articulating your USP is essential for attracting your target audience and guiding the focus of your marketing campaigns.

Selecting Marketing Channels

Choosing the right marketing channels is critical for reaching your audience effectively. Marketing channels, also known as marketing channels of distribution or distribution channels, refer to the various pathways or routes through which a company or business delivers its products or services to its target customers. These channels play a crucial role in the overall marketing and distribution strategy of a company. Marketing channels can encompass both physical and digital methods, and they help ensure that products or services reach the right customers efficiently. Here are some common types of marketing channels:

  1. Direct Sales: In this channel, a company sells its products or services directly to customers without intermediaries. This can be done through physical retail stores, e-commerce websites, or company-owned stores.
  2. Retail Distribution: Products are sold through third-party retail stores, such as department stores, specialty shops, supermarkets, or convenience stores.
  3. Wholesale Distribution: Companies sell their products in bulk to wholesalers, who then distribute them to retailers. This channel is common for products that require wide distribution.
  4. E-commerce: The use of online platforms and websites to sell products or services directly to consumers. E-commerce can involve a company's own website or third-party online marketplaces.
  5. Franchising: Franchisors allow independent entrepreneurs (franchisees) to operate their own businesses using the franchisor's brand, products, and marketing support.
  6. Agent or Broker: Independent agents or brokers act as intermediaries between the company and customers. They facilitate sales but do not take ownership of the products.
  7. Social Media: Companies utilise social media platforms to market and sell their products directly to consumers. This channel is often combined with e-commerce.
  8. Telemarketing: Companies use phone calls to reach potential customers and promote their products or services. This channel can be both inbound (customers call in) and outbound (companies initiate calls).
  9. Catalogs and Direct Mail: Companies send printed catalogs or promotional materials directly to potential customers through postal mail.
  10. Affiliate Marketing: Companies partner with affiliates (individuals or other businesses) to promote their products or services in exchange for a commission on sales generated through affiliate referrals.
  11. Event Marketing: Companies participate in trade shows, exhibitions, or other events to showcase their products or services and connect with potential customers.
  12. Content Marketing: Creating valuable and informative content, such as blogs, videos, or podcasts, to attract and engage customers. Content marketing can be a part of various channels, such as social media and email marketing.
“The goal of an integrated plan is to create a seamless and consistent experience for the different customer types across the various communication channels.”

How do I pick the right marketing channel?

Selecting the right marketing channels involves a strategic approach tailored to your business and target audience. Here's a step-by-step guide to help you choose the most effective channels:

  • Know Your Audience: Understand your target demographic's behaviour, preferences, and online habits. This knowledge will guide you in selecting channels where your audience is most active.
  • Set Clear Objectives: Define your marketing goals and key performance indicators (KPIs). Are you aiming for brand awareness, lead generation, sales, or customer retention? Your objectives will dictate the choice of channels.
  • Analyse Your Resources: Assess your budget, manpower, and technology. Different channels have varying costs and resource requirements. Ensure you can allocate resources effectively.
  • Competitor Analysis: Study your competitors' marketing strategies. Identify which channels are working for them and where they might be missing out. Learn from their successes and mistakes.
  • Consider Channel Synergy: Some channels complement each other. For example, content marketing can support social media and SEO efforts. Look for opportunities to integrate your marketing channels for better results.
  • Channel Suitability: Evaluate the nature of your products or services. Visual products might benefit from Instagram or Pinterest, while B2B services may find success on LinkedIn.
  • Testing and Iteration: Start with a few channels and gradually expand based on performance. Regularly monitor analytics and be ready to adjust your strategy as you gather data on what's working and what isn't.
  • Stay Updated: Keep an eye on emerging trends and new channels. Technology and consumer behaviour evolve, so be adaptable and willing to explore new opportunities.
  • Consult Experts: Consider seeking advice from marketing professionals or agencies with expertise in your industry. They can provide valuable insights and recommendations.
  • Customer Feedback: Collect feedback from your customers regarding their preferred communication channels. This can help refine your choices and improve customer engagement.

Developing Content and Messaging

Effective content and messaging in a marketing strategy involve several key approaches. Start with a deep understanding of your target audience, their needs, and pain points. Craft content that provides value, solves problems, or entertains. Maintain consistency in your brand voice and messaging across all channels to build trust and recognition.

Storytelling techniques can be used to create engaging narratives that resonate with your audience. You can also incorporate visuals, such as images and videos, to enhance content appeal. It’s important to regularly analyse data and customer feedback to refine and adapt your messaging, ensuring it remains relevant and impactful in meeting your marketing goals.

Budgeting and Resource Allocation

Effective budgeting and resource allocation are vital for executing your marketing strategy. Planning a marketing budget involves careful consideration of various factors to allocate resources effectively. Here's a step-by-step guide:

  1. Set Clear Goals: Define your marketing objectives and key performance indicators (KPIs). Establish what you want to achieve, such as increased sales, brand awareness, or customer retention.
  2. Review Past Performance: Evaluate past marketing campaigns and their results to identify what worked and what didn't. Use historical data as a reference point.
  3. Determine Available Resources: Determine the total budget available for marketing activities. This can include funds for advertising, personnel, technology, and other marketing expenses.
  4. Allocate by Channel: Allocate a portion of your budget to various marketing channels (e.g., digital advertising, content marketing, social media, email marketing, events). Consider the effectiveness of each channel in reaching your goals.
  5. Consider Fixed and Variable Costs: Differentiate between fixed costs (e.g., salaries, software subscriptions) and variable costs (e.g., ad spend, print materials). Ensure your budget accounts for both.
  6. Competitor Analysis: Research what your competitors are spending on marketing to gauge industry benchmarks. This can help you make informed decisions about resource allocation.
  7. Prioritise Initiatives: Rank marketing initiatives based on their potential return on investment (ROI). Allocate more budget to high-potential activities that align with your goals.
  8. Seasonality and Timing: Consider seasonality and timing when planning. Some campaigns may require more budget during peak seasons or specific events.
  9. Include Contingencies: Allocate a portion of your budget for unforeseen expenses or opportunities that may arise during the year.
  10. Monitor and Adjust: Continuously monitor the performance of your marketing campaigns and adjust your budget as needed. Allocate more resources to successful campaigns and reduce spending on underperforming ones.
  11. Track Expenses: Keep detailed records of all marketing expenses, making it easier to analyse spending patterns and ensure budget compliance.
  12. Measure ROI: Regularly assess the ROI of each marketing activity to determine its effectiveness. Use this data to guide future budget allocations.
  13. Regular Review: Review and update your marketing budget periodically, at least on a quarterly or annual basis, to account for changing market conditions and goals.

Implementation and Monitoring Your Marketing Strategy

Putting your marketing strategy into action and regularly monitoring its performance is crucial. Here are some ways to implement and monitor a marketing strategy:

1. Clearly defined objectives and KPIs:

  • Start by setting clear and specific marketing objectives, such as increasing website traffic, generating leads, or boosting sales.
  • Establish key performance indicators (KPIs) that align with your objectives. These metrics will serve as benchmarks for measuring progress.

2. Strategic planning and execution:

  • Develop a detailed marketing plan that outlines specific tactics, channels, and timelines to achieve your objectives.
  • Allocate resources and responsibilities among your marketing team or agency to ensure efficient execution.

3. Regular data analysis:

  • Monitor and analyse data from various marketing channels, such as website analytics, social media insights, and email campaign metrics.
  • Use data insights to gauge the effectiveness of your marketing efforts and make data-driven decisions.

4. Continuous optimisation:

  • Identify what is working and what isn't through regular performance assessments.
  • Adjust your strategies and tactics accordingly, reallocating resources to high-performing areas and improving underperforming ones.

5. Feedback and adaptation:

  • Gather feedback from customers, team members, and stakeholders to gain insights into market dynamics and customer preferences.
  • Be agile and adaptive in response to changing market conditions and emerging opportunities.


In the ever-evolving landscape of marketing, crafting a successful strategy is paramount. These tips serve as a solid foundation to embark on your journey. With a deep understanding of your audience, clear objectives, and a flexible approach, you can navigate the dynamic marketing terrain. Remember, consistency, data-driven decisions, and adaptability will be your allies as you shape a strategy that propels your business to new heights. And using the right tools can also ensure you create a marketing strategy that's fit for for success. At VCMO we advocate PR Smith's SOSTAC© Planning Framework and recommend you visit this site to learn more.

About the Author

Jonathan McGregor is a Fractional Marketing Executive in the VCMO network and has established himself as an innovative and dynamic advisor with expertise operating as an Ecommerce Director, Chief Marketing Officer & Non-Executive Director/Strategy Consultant. Read his full bio.

About VCMO

VCMO helps SMEs and investor-backed portfolio companies with a £2 million or higher turnover that operate without a full-time Chief Marketing Officer. Our Fractional CMOs and tailored services transform marketing potential into a competitive advantage that delivers scalable and predictable growth, increased profits, and enhanced enterprise value.

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Jonathan McGregor
Fractional CMO

If this article resonates with your business situation, get in touch to discuss how we can help.

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