What Is the Difference Between a Marketing Strategy & a Marketing Mix?
Marketing strategy and marketing mix are closely related elements of a complete marketing plan. While marketing strategy is concerned with setting the direction of a company or product line, the marketing mix is primarily tactical in nature and is employed to carry out the overall marketing strategy.
The marketing mix is also called the Four P's, consisting of product, price, place and promotion. Product and price refer to the item offered for sale and the selling price. Place refers to the venues through which the product will be offered and might include online, retail or distribution channels. Promotion refers to the selling and advertising efforts undertaken to inform your target customers about the product and persuade them to buy.
Strategy is a military term that refers to the objective of a force and the plans and tactics employed in reaching the objective. In addition, strategy takes into account the surrounding conditions and the competition, rather than focusing solely on the company's own products. Strategy provides the overall direction of marketing efforts toward a specific goal that can be expressed simply and clearly. A company with a marketing strategy might have a goal of capturing 70 percent of a given market share and have definite plans on how to accomplish that goal. A company without a solid marketing strategy might intend to expand sales by growing several market sectors, but not really have a specific focus or a plan to achieve its goals. A good marketing strategy will include all elements of the marketing mix as part of its tactical plan.
Ideally, a company has a marketing strategy that is interwoven with its marketing mix. The first P, product, is the most strategic choice of all. Many businesses don't succeed simply because they are not offering the right product to the right market. Understanding your target customer is critical to choosing the second P, place, to offer the product. Pricing and promotion are tactical decisions made to support the overall strategy, in alignment with getting the right product to the right target customer.
The marketing strategy should be a company's initial focus. It should consider the opportunities and threats in each potential market, along with the company's own strengths and weaknesses. This is called a SWOT analysis, a marketing tool used to understand these elements. Once the target market, product and specific goals have been chosen, the rest of the marketing mix can be fleshed out around the central target of the marketing strategy. Marketing strategy should be heavily based on solid marketing research, not on assumptions.