Marketing Strategy Definition

defining marketing strategy

Let's unpack and explain the marketing strategy definition in-depth as this is a topical subject which arises from my client meetings from time to time. First, we need to explain what marketing really is and then the correlation between marketing and marketing strategy as this does have a profound impact later on when explaining where the marketing plan fits into the 'marketing system'. 

What is Marketing?

Philip Kotler says:

Marketing is the science and art of exploring, creating, and delivering value to satisfy the needs of a target market at a profit.  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.
— Philip Kotler

Marketing is often performed by a department within the organisation. This is both good and bad. It’s good because it unites a group of trained people who focus on the marketing task. It’s bad because marketing activities should not be carried out in a single department, but they should manifest in all the activities of the organisation.

In Kotler's edition of Marketing Management, Kotler describes the most important concepts of marketing in the first chapter.  They are: segmentation, targeting, positioning, needs, wants, demand, offerings, brands, value and satisfaction, exchange, transactions, relationships and networks, marketing channels, supply chain, competition, the marketing environment, and marketing programs.  These terms make up the working vocabulary of the marketing professional.

Marketing key processes are:

  1. Identify opportunities
  2. New product development
  3. Customer attraction
  4. Customer retention and loyalty building
  5. Order fulfilment

A company that handles all of these processes well will normally enjoy success.  But when a company fails at any one of these processes, it will not survive.

Marketing Defined

Let’s explain the above terms – it is both a SCIENCE and an ART.

In the above quote, Philip Kotler states there are 3 components:

  1. Exploring – To Whom? ANSWER: A Target Market
  2. Creating – Why? ANSWER: To make a profit
  3. Delivering Value – How?   
    • IDENTIFYING unmet or unfulfilled needs and opportunities.

    • DEFINING, MEASURING and QUANTIFYING the size (how big) is the target market.

    • Calculating the PROFIT POTENTIAL.

    • Identifying MARKET SEGMENTS (niches) you can serve best.

    • Designing and PROMOTING the appropriate products or services.

Marketing Strategy Definition

 The marketing strategy is the way in which the marketing function organises its activities to achieve a profitable growth in sales at a marketing mix level
— Philip Kotler

When we add in the word “Strategy” we’re now talking about the WAY this function ORGANISES.


How Do We Conduct A Marketing Strategy?

  1. By specifying what resources should be allocated to marketing.
  2. By specifying how these resources should be used to take advantage of opportunities which are expected to arise in the future.
  3. Organising marketing resources, to match products with customers in the most efficient and effective way possible, i.e., so as to maximise customer satisfaction and the organisations profits or sales revenue.

Source:  MPRA Paper Munich Personal RePEc Archive Strategic Marketing. A literature review on definitions, concepts and boundaries Jorge Mongay Autonomous University of Barcelona, SBS Swiss Business School - Quote by Philip Kotler

Marketing Strategy Explained

  1. We must SPECIFY what RESOURCES are available (heard this common phrase before – “What’s your Marketing Budget?”)
  2. We must SPECIFY HOW they should be used (i.e.  what to spend on like PPC, SEO, Software Tools, CRM, CMS, Consulting etc)
  3. We must ORGANISE these resources to match products with customers.

Marketing strategy is a section of your overall business plan that outlines your overall game plan for how you will find and attract clients or customers to your business in a profitable way.

Difference between Marketing Strategy and Marketing Plan

Sometimes a marketing strategy is confused with a marketing plan, but they are different. Your marketing strategy focuses on what you want to achieve for your business and marketing efforts. A marketing plan is the detail on how you will achieve those goals. Have a look for direction with our Marketing Strategy template.

Marketing Strategy Template

What you will learn:

  • What you need to research to become successful
  • Where to invest your strategic focus
  • Describing your go-to-market strategy
  • Marketing content collection
  • Technological development required
  • Measurable reporting metrics and KPIs required