What is Marketing Strategy all about?

With this piece, we take a look at what Marketing Strategy is all about. The author of this piece, Saurabh Bajaj, is an industry veteran and is currently working as the Head of Marketing, Dairy, at Britannia Industries. He is one of the most versatile individuals you will ever meet. He is an expert in Sales, Marketing and Strategy and often writes down valuable pieces on LinkedIn. His pieces add real value than they add “Gyan” and you will know why only in a few seconds.

Let’s get right in the piece!

What is Marketing Strategy in essence?

While we have all heard about those memorable jargons of marketing – The 4 Ps, STP (Segmentation, Targeting & Positioning), Advertising, Engagement, etc., how do these play out in real life? In my experience, there are just 4 simple steps to making your Brand’s Marketing Strategy:

1. Uncovering your Brand Task

2. Understanding your Consumer (aka. STP)

3. Figuring out what to Say (aka. Advertising/communication plan)

4. Making the Marketing Plan

Let’s take a look at each of these in detail.

Uncovering your Brands Task

So, once you enter a corporate board room, the first question that you can expect your Business Head or Managing Director to ask you is:

“What is your Brand Task?”

Now, of course, all of us want to deliver Business Growth and Gain Market Share. But here’s how you, very simply, understand brand Tasks. There are broadly just two you can do:

1. You either Grow the Category

2. Or you Steal Share!

Growing the Category is usually the task chosen by the Market Leaders like Coca Cola or Cadbury Dairy Milk. It is relevant when you have a large Share of the category & if the category grows, you get most of the benefit!

Industry veterans call it “Growing the pie”

It’s these tasks that leads to magical campaigns like “Kuch Meetha ho Jaye” or “Thanda Matlab Coca Cola”. Here you basically source business from outside your category. With Chocolate becoming a Modern Meetha or Coca Cola taking on the roadside Juice, Buttermilk or Lassi.

Related: Take a look at the Mondelez India story

Steal Share is often the strategy of the follower, but it’s no less exciting. However, here you are clear that you are a sourcing business from within the category. Like when Fogg said, no gas-only liquid and stole the thunder from every other Deodorant Brand or how One Plus took away the premium mobile market from Apple providing groundbreaking product innovation at competitive prices.

Related: Take a look at how FOGG changed the deodorant Industry in India
Understanding the Consumer

Once you are done with figuring out ‘What’ you want to do, you now have to figure out ‘Who’ you want to target. And hence the next important questions to consider are ‘Segmentation’, ‘Targeting’, and ‘Positioning’.

So next you try and cut the market into different consumer groups that you wish to target. You can do this through demographic or through attitude. Like in the case of Nano, one could target those that currently drive Scooters and tell them that they can move up to a car. Or you could just target guys who already have Cars and tell them to buy a second one for their wife or son.

However, the key task here is to understand what that parameter that drives differences in usage is? And which is that Bullseye consumer that you wish to target. So are you targeting kids, teens or adults? Are you targeting the Affluent or the Masses? Those living in small towns or larger.

Once, you identify your Bulls Eye Target Group. You next try and identify how do you Position your offering. This is done by studying the positioning of your competition and that positioning that is most differentiated & the most compelling to your TG (Target group). Like in the Juice market, if Real sharply targets Kids and tells mothers to give their kids Real Juice instead of Cold Drinks, then Tropicana targets the Youth and tells them that Tropicana is an ideal accompaniment to a healthy lifestyle.

Related: Take a look at BRU/Nescafe different audience: Coffee Industry in India
Figuring out what to Say!

After you are clear about your positioning, you now bring in the bright stars from the Advertising Creative team, who help you figure out the most engaging way to communicate your Positioning to the consumer.

Like in the case of Cadbury Silk, you know that you wish to position your Brand as a distinctly indulgent offering and the Creative guys figure out that all you need to communicate is how beautifully it melts. Some fabulous jobs of communication have been done by Fevicol, positioning the Brand as the best adhesive ever!

(Take a look at the ad below. PS, it’s funny)

Related: Take a look at the rise in Influencer Marketing
Making the Marketing Plan

So, you now have your Budgets allocated and are completely clear or the one thing that you want to say, that will drive your Brands business. How do you deploy that money? There are broadly 4 buckets where you can invest – Advertising, Consumer Engagement, Shopper Marketing & Innovation.

Advertising is, of course, the word most of us are most familiar with. Advertising is basically communicating your core proposition to the consumer or simply said, telling your consumer that 1 thing that will make all the difference. Like an Axe saying, you don’t need to bother with body odour as the girls will see you like candy, or Cadbury Silk saying, that this is the tastiest, meltiest chocolate ever!

Related: See how Paper Boat communicated one simple thing to get headway in the market, head to the story of Paper Boat

However, in today’s times, the role of Consumer Engagement is also growing. Consumer engagement is basically figuring out what your consumer’s passion point is, and then participating within it, in a manner that’s ownable by your Brand. It’s the hundreds of brands that participated in Vocal for Local, but perhaps only Tata that seemed credible, as it’s been positioning itself as “Desh ka namak” for the longest time.

Also, Shopper Marketing has a large role to play in the Marketing Strategy, where you basically make the Retail space an extension of the world of the Brand like Apple does it in their fabulous stores or the way many brands do it in Modern Trade.

Last is Innovation and new products. Both of these are an ideal way to express your brand proposition, as long as you extend the core of your Brand and not try and become the competition. Like Cadbury Dairy Milk expanding its core to Cadbury Silk is a great idea, but when Brands try and steal from their competition by copying them, it rarely leads to great results

In Summary

The Marketing Strategy process can take anywhere between a few months to a year, it starts with clarity on what you are setting out to achieve. And then understanding who your consumer is, what is the distinct benefit you wish to offer & finally how do you wish to communicate that difference. The entire process is rich and rewarding & down in collaborating with your agency partners. But the end result can be a brilliant innovation, clutter-breaking communication or an exciting activation.

The strategy is only successful if it leads to tangible business results and helps you deliver to your Brand Tasks!


The author of this piece is Saurabh Bajaj, if the piece adds value, head on to LinkedIn, and drop a thank you. You can also share the piece with your best friend on WhatsApp.

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