The One Key to a Successful Business Strategy

This blog post is by guest author Tim Young, owner of Young Marketing Consulting.

Strategy (n): a plan of action or policy designed to achieve a major or overall aim

If you’re just starting your business, you’ve probably heard a lot about how important having a business strategy is to your future growth. You may have spent some time thinking about where you want to be, and you may have already written down a few thoughts on how to get there. In my experience working with entrepreneurs, I’ve found that most of them build their strategy while they’re building their business. It’s not ideal, but it’s the way life works when you’re trying to get things done with limited time and resources. And it makes you especially susceptible to the greatest risk any entrepreneur faces: lack of focus.

The most precious resource in the world is time. When you’re building your business, you need to devote as much time as possible to generating revenue in order to stay in business. That’s why focus is so critical: if you’re not tightly honed in on those activities that bring in sales, if you’re running from one task to the next without making any progress against your larger growth goals, you’re in trouble. So today, I want to introduce you to what in my opinion is the best tool to help keep your business strategy focused and on track: marketing.

It’s ok to admit that marketing is one of the last things on your mind. After all, it falls way down the list when compared to sales, product development, customer service, operations, payroll, etc… right? Well, not necessarily.

Marketing (n): every activity a business performs to acquire and retain customers

Think about that definition for a moment. It’s a lot more broad than “I need to run some ads,” isn’t it? At the end of the day if you don’t have customers you don’t have a business. So with that in mind is marketing really something you can ignore?

Now let’s dig a little deeper to understand why marketing is so critical to your business’s strategy.

 “Marketing identifies unfulfilled needs and desires. It defines, measures and quantifies the size of the identified market and the profit potential. It pinpoints which segments the company is capable of serving best and it designs and promotes the appropriate products and services.” —Dr. Philip Kotler S. C. Johnson Distinguished Professor of International Marketing at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University


To Dr. Kotler, marketing is business strategy. At its highest level the act of identifying unmet needs among a potential customer segment and delivering on those needs is basically the act of doing business. What adding a marketing filter to your business strategy allows you to do is vet any potential activity against its ability to deliver value to a target customer segment. If you can’t see a return for a particular activity, as demonstrated by customers paying for your output, the odds are good you shouldn’t be focused on it.

As well, the steps you take to create a marketing campaign gives you a relatively straightforward framework upon which to build your business strategy:

  1. Identify your target customer(s)
  2. Identify how you’ll meet your customers’ needs
  3. Identify how to reach your target customers with your marketing message

Once you’ve done these three things, you’ll know exactly how to focus your activities. Any item that doesn’t fall under steps 2 or 3 is something that should fall out of your daily routine. It’s just that simple!

Well ok, it’s really not. It takes discipline and focus to build this kind of a strategy, and it takes a lot of methodological trial and error. So if you’re looking for help, in April, I’ll be speaking in more detail on how to design a customer and marketing-based business strategy. The schedule is below, and I hope you’ll join us as we explore ways to stay focused and growing in 2015!

About the Author
Tim Young is the owner of Young Marketing Consulting, a full-service marketing and business strategy firm that helps clients identify, reach and convert their target audience into customers. With nearly thirty years of experience, the YMC team has driven marketing strategy, planning and campaign execution for everyone from Fortune 500 companies to the scrappiest startups. ​Founded in 2013, the company is based in Arlington, Virginia. Contact Tim at 703.732.0323 or [email protected].

Topic: BizLaunch
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