Everything you need to know about marketing strategy documents

You may have a content calendar or some research on your buyers, but most companies don’t have a real marketing strategy document on hand.

Even large, enterprise-level corporations are often challenged when it comes to taking a pause from daily activities long enough to create and refine something like this.

Download a sample marketing strategy document now

Why do I need a marketing strategy document?

Marketing strategies, when built correctly and used, bring more efficiency and revenue. In many cases, the return on investment is exponential.

They tend to cost many times less to develop than the amount of money they bring in for the company. They also help make better use of the team, tools, clients, and audience that you have so that you can do more total business with what you have.

You can create or update a marketing strategy at any time, but there are two pivotal times that companies most often turn to marketing strategies:

  1. When the company’s revenue has taken a downturn and continued efforts have failed to reverse it.
  2. When the company has experienced recent major growth and wants to seize the opportunity to reinvest and continue growing at scale.

The request for a strategy document is normally generated by someone at the C-suite, VP, or director level. Managers and technicians rarely need to look around at a high enough view to identify the need for a strategy document, although it does happen when they’ve seen it work somewhere else and know to suggest it.

Why doesn’t everyone have a marketing strategy?

In reality, a lot of companies don’t even know that they could benefit from a strategy document. They usually need an agency partner or internal advocate to recommend it and drive home the value. And the only reason those champions push for a strategy is because of personal experience where they’ve seen the transformative value.

But even for those who know how much a marketing strategy can do, there’s still a problem: It takes courage to step back for a second, pause, and think strategically. There’s often internal pressure in your company to take action now, especially when how busy you are is more important than the results you generate. Short-term action prevents strategic thinking.

There’s also the problem of when marketing strategies get done wrong. If they’re built without expertise, data, processes, and logic, a strategy document will most likely be a waste of resources. Even worse, a broken strategy can steer you in the wrong direction and hurt revenue. Some organizations and individuals have faced this before and have thrown out the baby with the bathwater rather than changing over to a better strategic system and team composition.

If you’re in a position or a company that allows you to put on your strategic hat sometimes, you’re in luck.

If you understand the benefits and are ready to learn to eliminate the risks, you’ve got the right mindset.

And if you’ve already decided that you need a marketing strategy document, you’re in much better shape than the unfortunate marketer who wants to go straight to writing social media posts and sending emails without thinking first!

What exactly is a marketing strategy document?

A marketing strategy document is a special assembly of marketing analyses and instructions that has three unique and essential features. The simplest way to break it down is to remember that each feature corresponds to a word in the name of the product:

  1. Marketing: A marketing strategy document relates to marketing and sales before it makes recommendations for fulfillment, operations, or anything else. It not a business plan or a business model. It is not a set of revenue goals for the year. Wherever the document’s info and recommendations touches on outside parts of the business, it still has to concern marketing.
  2. Strategy: The contents of a strategy correlate to one another in their logic, function, cost, and more. This will make it so that the whole marketing strategy is greater than the sum of its parts. This is what separates a strategy document from a collection of marketing plans or a list of tactics.
  3. Document: The whole product is unified in a single, thorough, and understandable manner, resulting in a readable book. Simply finding a bunch of solo projects or assessments and dropping them into the same folder on Google Drive or Dropbox is not enough.

Also, there are three types of information in a marketing strategy that weave together throughout:

  • Inputs: Information to educate you, the reader, so you can learn about your marketing.
  • Outputs: Tasks for you or your team to execute in order to succeed in your marketing.
  • Follow-up: Notes of where the scope of the marketing document ends, and further research or analysis is needed.

Inputs, outputs, and follow-ups are not completely separated, so be mindful of the differences between an educational item, an action item, or a discovery item.

What goes into a marketing strategy document?

Organization is key to a solid strategy document.

Rather than organize the content by grouping research, ideas, and follow-ups together, it makes way more sense to separate the content into domains like keywords, software tools, personas, messaging, and more. This way, the justification (info) and the resulting output (tactic) are grouped closer together.

The more the reader enjoys and understands each section, the more likely they are to use the information and implement it correctly.

We call each section a module. Custom marketing strategy documents can have different modules depending on your company’s needs, but the list of modules available stays relatively the same.

When a module has an understandable layout and predictable process, the results are better for both the creator and the end user. In other words, accuracy and clarity are more important than the quantity and quantity of ideas.

Here is a list of the modules we most frequently see in strategy documents.

  • Personas
    • Persona list
    • Individual personas
  • Website audit
  • Social media analysis
  • Tools audit
  • Competitive analysis
  • Keyword research
    • Organic keywords
    • Paid keywords
  • Messaging
    • Message Map
    • Unique Value Propositions
  • Content outlines
    • Email workflows
    • Blogs
    • Premium offers
  • Resource check
  • Goals analysis
  • Next steps

How do I get my own marketing strategy?

If you’re really set on getting a marketing strategy for your company, you have two main options:

  1. You can make one internally. If you want an example for your team to follow, here is a downloadable sample marketing strategy document for you to use in addition to the information provided in this article. This works best when you have a large, experienced team and a decent amount of time and software budget available. If you decide to go internal, good luck on your strategic project!
  2. You can engage an agency partner. If you’re interested in getting outside perspectives and ideas, or want to recruit software and talent that don’t make sense to have internally, you’ll probably want an agency partner. Third-party options are also ideal for when you want to avoid confirmation bias (where you just end up deciding to do the same things as before.) If you want to work with an agency, we are here to chat and either fulfill your project or point you in a better direction. Click here to schedule a free 30-minute consultation with us now.