Achieving a competitive advantage is at the heart of superior financial and market success.  When your Marketing is aligned with your business strategy the probability of your business success increase. Choose and synchronize your Marketing to one of these four fundamental strategies.

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Align Marketing to Your Business Strategy

Before you can develop your Marketing strategy and plan, you first need to decide your business strategy. Your business strategy defines your organization’s vision, priorities, and what initiatives need to be executed to achieve success. Your are probably familiar with Michael Porter and his thoughts on strategy. He is known for saying “that strategy targets either cost leadership, differentiation, or focus. These are known as  Porters three generic strategies and can be applied to any size or form of business. The essence of strategy is that it reflects a choice in the the method for bringing about a desired future. It indicates what you will do as well as what you won’t.  Today most organizations select one of  four fundamental strategy types.

  1. Pioneer
  2. Fast Following
  3. Cost Leader
  4. Customer-Centric
Align marketing with the business strategy, success

Make sure you business strategy and your Marketing strategy fit together.

How you select, develop and execute on one of these will impact your overall performance. While being customer-centric is all the rage, there are times when one of the the other options is more appropriate. Here’s a quick overview of each.

  • Create a new market. Creating a new market belongs to the pioneers. Pioneers view the market from a different perspective. They see what’s possible. Pioneers identify and exploit new product and market opportunities. They develop and offer innovative solutions.   Pioneers are superb at product and/or market development efforts.  They are heavy users of market and customer research so they can keep a finger on the pulse of the market at all times. Marketing of the pioneers is not for the meek. A pioneer strategy requires an aggressive marketing strategy to target innovators and early adopters.
  • In pursuit of the mainstream. A company bridging the chasm between early adopter markets and early majority need a fast follower strategy. Fast Followers venture into new markets while protecting a stable core of existing products and markets. Fast followers tend to improve on the Pioneer’s offering.  Fast Followers are both customer and competitor oriented.  They are concerned with developing new solutions that offer a more complete solution to customer needs than Pioneers.  It is important for firms deploying this strategy to monitor customer reactions and to effectively learn about customers likes and dislikes. Because Fast Followers have an existing core they often have a well-established partner ecosystem. They rely heavily on this ecosystem as part of their strategy.  The marketing strategy needs to follow suit. Partner market is essential. Fast Followers Marketing is all about inducing switching and limiting new product introductions to categories that have shown the most promise.
  • Playing defense. Cost leaders are usually late entrants that engage in aggressive efforts to protect their market from competitors. They focus on seeking efficiencies across their value chain to enable them to offer low prices. To be successful with this strategy, a company needs to be internally-cost oriented, place a lower emphasis on product innovation, and reduce risk by waiting until a product concept is proven. Cost leaders pursue their market with adequate quality, low prices, and an intensive distribution strategy. This strategy requires being able to defend your market from competitors. Cost-leaders focus more on process innovation than product innovation. The Marketing of cost-leaders need to follow suit. Marketing operational efficiencies take center seat in the Marketing organizations for this strategy.
  • Own the Customer Experience. Organizations who deploy a customer-centric strategy create customer value by offering high quality solutions supported by superior service. This strategy takes a laser beam focus on creating an outstanding customer experience at every touch point. The Marketing for these organizations must be focused as well. Targeting narrow segments where a company can develop close relationships and provide high quality, innovative products to a specific customer set. The most successful customer centric oriented companies place a heavy emphasis on understanding the customer journey, personas, customers, and matching touch points and channels accordingly. Customer research is critical to the success of this approach. Research, data, and analytics are front and center for Marketing with this strategy.

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