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Often colleagues will ask if they can grab a coffee to bounce their marketing strategy off of us. When we ask them what their marketing strategy is, we often get complicated explanations. Sometimes marketing strategy is even confused with marketing tactics.

In order to get our colleagues focused, we kick off the conversation with these three questions:

What objective do you want to achieve?

Is it better brand awareness you want to achieve? Maybe you want to increase your sales?

Knowing your broad objectives is a good starting point but it’s better to be more specific and well-defined. An example of a well-defined objective is “increase top-line sales by 25% by December 31st, 2017.

You don’t need to be super-specific here but it’s helpful to define your marketing goals in terms that are measurable and connected to your business’ mission and vision.

Who’s the target market?

Once again, don’t overthink this. You can define your target market simply as “B2B marketing managers in the southwestern Ontario area” or “CEOs of businesses managing companies that make $5 million to $25 million dollars in revenue”.

It might help to start with examples of some of your best customers and extrapolate from there. What kind of job titles do they tend to have? What industries are they in? Even if you’re going after a totally new market, you’ll need to do your best to answer these questions.

What’s the best way to get your message out to them?

Think of all the ways you can get in front of your target market and write them down. Next, prioritize the list. Give higher priority to the activities that you think will get your target market to act and that are within your budget.

For example, sending out an email promotion to an opted-in list of your target market is going to be more effective, targeted and cost efficient than doing magazine ads in a trade publication.

Marketing can be complicated but the starting point of your marketing strategy planning doesn’t have to be. Simplify your marketing strategy planning by answering the three questions above.