How to write a strategy statement that you can use in your marketing plan

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As you build your plan, this article will help you build your marketing strategy statements. Additionally, you will find strategy statement examples to demonstrate how it is done. When I was in business school, I had a marketing professor who would say 15 times per class, “It is all about choices. It is all about choices.” Accordingly, your brand strategy statement helps make those choices. Your brand plan is a great tool to make tough decisions. You have to apply your brand’s limited resources of dollars, time, people, and partnerships against an unlimited number of choices. 

When you are leading a brand, it is easy to get distracted by creative options. However, brand leaders must use the brand plan process to limit their choices down to those that move your brand along the pathway towards your stated brand vision. Choose the strategic options that provide the highest return on effort (ROE) or the highest return on investment (ROI). 

 

Your marketing strategy statement in your brand plan answer, “How can we get there?”

I will show you how to write your strategy statements. Specifically, we use our five elements of strategy. Lay out a vision. Invest your limited resources into strategic programs. Bring a focus on an identified opportunity. Create a market impact. And, realize a performance result that makes your brand stronger and wealthier. Then, do it over and over. 

Let's start with the five elements that make up smart strategic thinking:

To illustrate, click on the diagram to zoom in.

  1. First, the best strategy sets a vision of what you want for your brand. The vision sets aspirational stretch goals for the future, linked to a clear result or purpose. Your vision should scare you a little and excite you a lot. And, the vision should steer everyone who works on the brand on the final outcome.
  2. Second, state the strategic program you will invest in. Think through the options of where you could invest to move your brand into a more powerful and profitable position. You can invest to solidify the brand’s core strength. Build a brand idea that tightens the consumer bond. Battle competitors on positioning. And, address the situational challenges and opportunities.
  3. Next, make sure you focus on an identified opportunity. Look for a potential change in the market, including changes to consumers, competitive situation, technology, or sales channels. 
  4. Then, leverage the breakthrough market impact. A smart strategy turns an early breakthrough win into a shift in momentum, positional power, or tipping point where you begin to achieve more in the marketplace than the resources you put in.
  5. Finally, state how the performance result pays back. The shift in positional power in the marketplace moves your brand toward your vision. Most importantly, it creates a future pathway to building a consumer bond, brand power, and brand profitability. 

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How to turn your strategic thinking into marketing strategy statements

To start, look at how to turn your smart strategic thinking into writing a strategic objective statement. It will help provide specific marching orders to everyone who works on the brand. For example, you can see below the classic way to lay out a brand vision, key issue question and the strategic objective statement. 

Our process covers all five elements of smart strategic thinking. You can see the brand vision, and key issue statement covers the first strategic element. However, you need the strategic objective statement to cover off the remaining four other strategic elements, including the program investment, focused opportunity, market impact, and the performance result. Now, let’s break this down so you can build your own strategy statements. 

To illustrate, click on the diagram to zoom in.

Here’s how our marketing strategy statement breaks down:

A: Program investment: First, the marketing strategy statement calls out the investment in a strategic program, with crystal clear marching orders to the team, leaving no room for doubt, confusion, or hesitation. In this example, the strategic program is to “Create an elevated VIP consumer experience.” 

B: Focused opportunity: Second, you need to see a breakthrough point where the brand will exert pressure to create a market impact. In this example, the focused opportunity is to “Reward our most loyal consumers.” 

C: Market impact: Third, the marketing strategy should achieve a specific desired market impact with a stakeholder you will attempt to move, whether it is consumers, sales channels, competitors, or influencers. In this example, the desired impact is to “Turn the consumer’s regular usage into a higher frequency ritual.” 

D: Performance result: Finally, the marketing strategy statement must drive a specific performance result linked to the market impact, either making the brand more powerful or more profitable. In this example, “Tightening their bond with our brand.”

This unique strategic model will force you to pick answers to build a strategy statement with marching orders for those who follow your plan. And, as you build your brand plan, I recommend you use these four elements of smart marketing strategy statements to ensure you structure the thinking. 

And to illustrate, click on the diagram to zoom in.

To illustrate, click on the diagram to zoom in.

Guide for you to pick your strategy

Using our guide below, you can follow along the A + B + C + D approach to writing your strategy statement. 

What will you do

First, lay out the strategic program by taking your available resources and applying them against a strategic program. You have money, time, people or partnerships. And, you can apply to your positioning, communication, purchase moment, innovation or the consumer experience. 

Second, you want to find a distinct focused opportunity in the marketplace that you can take advantage of. Is there a changing consumer need? A competitive battle you can win? Do you have an innovation? Can you see an influencer opinion you can use? Is there some new technology in your category? Or, is there a new channel? 

 

Shift to the desired result

For a brand, you need to a market impact, whether that is moving the consumer along their journey, tightening the bond, or establishing your brand positioning. 

Finally, the performance result should either lead to more power or more profit. 

Gray’s Cookies

Looking below, you can see how we’ve used this tool to help us structure our Gray’s Cookie example. In terms of the communication plan, we will take money and apply it to our brand positioning. Then, we will take advantage of the changing consumer needs. Third, I want to move new consumers along the journey from consider to buy. Finally, this gives me power against consumers and a share steal opportunity. 

And to illustrate, click on the diagram to zoom in.

To help you with the details, below you can see how our tool gives you an even tighter set of options to choose from. These guides can help you take your strategic thinking and then structure your strategic statements.  The example below uses the same Gray’s Cookies brand strategy statement. 

To illustrate, click on the diagram to zoom in.

Common brand strategy statements

And, to illustrate, click on the diagram to zoom in.

Let's try out this process with some of the more famous brands

Around 2000, Special K made a dramatic turn in the market. With all the diet-crazed consumers looking for new solutions, Special K had a stroke of brilliance when someone figured out that if you ate Special K twice a day for just two weeks, you could lose up to 6 pounds in two weeks. While all the other diet options felt daunting, this felt pretty easy to do.

While Special K had spent decades dancing around the weight loss idea, now they had a Brand Promise that was benefit focused and empowering: With Special K, just twice a day for 2 weeks, you can lose 6 pounds or better yet, drop a jean size. They stopped talking about the product and starting talking in the voice of the consumer.

The brilliant strategy is around the usage occasion of the second meal each day. Cereal had been a category that grew +3% for years, steady only with population growth and some demographics around boomers and echo generations. But now, there was finally a reason to eat cereal twice in one day.

To illustrate, click on the diagram to zoom in.

How we'd write out the Special K strategy statements

  • Advertise new Special K protein shakes (a) focused on loyal Special K consumers who are frustrated by “lose and gain” diet fads (b), to drive trial (c) and successfully enter into into the protein shakes category. (d)
  • Build an innovation plan focused on loyal Special K consumers (a) with new low calorie product launches across the entire grocery store (b) to drive early trial of new items (c) and successfully enter into new categories. (d)

Take the marketing strategy statement example into the Special K brand plan

If you took the strategic thinking model and began to outline a brand plan for Special K, these would be the core elements:

  • Vision: Be the delicious and healthy choice food brand across every tempting category of the grocery store.
  • Goals: Increase share in the cereal category. Successfully enter one new grocery category per year. Drive net promoter score and strengthen usage frequency and loyalty scores.
  • Key Issues: 1) How do we build an overall brand story to connect and develop a core base of brand lovers? 2) How do we take the “empowering women” brand idea into new food categories?
  • Strategies: 1) Advertise Special K’s brand idea of “empowering women,” focused on women who are frustrated by “lose and gain” diet fads, to move new consumers from awareness to trial and gain share. 2) Build a low-calorie innovation plan across the entire grocery store focused on our most loyal Special K lovers, to drive trial of new items and successfully enter new markets.
  • Tactics: New master brand advertising to project brand idea. Continue to improve shakes and potato chips product lines. Launch into breakfast snacks. Explore product innovation into pitas and pizzas.

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Let’s take a look at the Apple brand strategy. Apple gets on the side of consumers, using their simplicity brand idea to attract those who are frustrated by technology. They build intuitive products so consumers can do more with Apple than they could with other technology brands. Apple takes a fast follower approach, always trying to take what is current and simplify it. They build a very tight bond with their brand fans. And, they use that passion to enter into new categories. Let’s revisit our five elements of strategy and organize our thinking. 

To illustrate, click on the diagram to zoom in.

How we'd write out the Apple strategy statements

  • Advertising to competitive users (a) who are frustrated by the flaws of PCs (b) to inform them of how much simpler Macs are and get them to seek more information (c) to help increase penetration and steal market share. (d)
  • Launch iTunes aimed at competitive music consumers (a) taking a disruptive stance against the entire music industry (b) to inform consumers of iTunes superiority to CD’s (c) as a way to gain entry into music industry. (d)

Building those marketing strategy statements into the Apple Brand Plan

If you took the strategic thinking model and began to outline a brand plan for the Apple brand, these would be the core elements:

  • Vision: Apple wants everyone in the world to be part of the future.
  • Goals: Continue aggressive sales growth, geographic expansion into China, launch new consumer-friendly technology each year.
  • Key issues: 1) How do we convey Mac’s superior user experience versus the traditional PC? 2) How do we enter the music industry and increase the availability of online music to support our iPod?
  • Strategies: 1) Apple will launch a full communications assault to challenge the PC/Microsoft Windows dominant position by finding flaws in the PC to contrast with Mac computers’ simplicity to steal significant market share by enticing frustrated PC consumers to buy a Mac. 2) Apple will launch a full assault against the entire music industry with a disruptive innovator stance to show how iTunes provides higher quality digital music on your iPod much cheaper, faster and smarter than CDs to gain an entry point into the music industry.
  • Tactics: TV advertising to highlight new features and challenge competitors. Launch innovation each year including phones, tablets, online music, watches, and personal computers. Launch specific products for China. Increase retail space around the world. Build out the e-commerce program.

Here's how it can all come together into building out your brand plan:

To illustrate, click on the diagram to zoom in.

To keep you going on your thinking on your own brand, here’s more strategy statement examples of a few different options.  We focus on different types of strategy such as your brand’s core strength, consumer strategy, competitive strategy, and situational strategy.

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