Marketing strategy. Two words that have an enormous power in the world of commerce and industry. Get your marketing strategy right and success is just a little bit of hard work away. Get it wrong and you’re doomed to failure. Except it doesn’t really work like that. Ask any successful entrepreneur or business and they will tell you that their strategy has evolved a huge amount since they started out.

The word strategy comes from the Greek for ‘general’s art’, meaning that it was the way a military leader would plan a battle and achieve a victorious outcome. Strategy has therefore come to mean a way of coordinating your actions to achieve a specific goal. What this has led to in the world of business is many companies defining their strategy in order to ‘do battle’ with competitors. Their strategy is all about being the best. And that’s where so many fail. A really successful strategy is one that positions you as unique, offering something that others can’t.

Your strategy is not something you pluck out of thin air. It involves a whole series of tasks and analysis before you come even close to working out what your overarching aim should be. In short, you need a strategy for defining your strategy. You need to assess and analyse trends within the industry and figure out how these affect you both now and in the future. You need to understand what your competitors are doing and use this information to create a new concept for your business.

It might take weeks or even months but you need to consider every aspect of your business. Who is your target demographic and how do you know this? What kind of marketing tools are available to you and within your budget? Are there any new marketing ideas that you could use to your advantage (think about how viral marketing can have a huge impact for relatively little input)?

You also need to think about how sustainable your strategy will be in the long term. Who will be responsible for actioning what needs to be done and overseeing any projects that come up?

As you can see, there is a lot to plan and consider before you set about designing your grand strategy. And without this hard work, your strategy simply won’t be as successful. Despite all the clever creative ideas, without the nuts and bolts in place, it’s going to be difficult to make it work.

For small business, marketing is incredibly important and often needs to be done on a budget that wrings every penny’s worth of value from it. And to achieve this, you need to plan your strategy very carefully before you start. Make bad decisions now and you set off down an expensive and time-consuming road that often achieves little.

So, start asking yourself some serious questions and gather opinions, data and information from a range of sources before you start. It’s all about the strategy to create your strategy.