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3 Types of Marketing Strategies You Need To Know
If you search for types of marketing strategies online, you will find an endless number of answers. The truth is there are no set definitions of a ‘type’ of marketing strategy. Most articles you see will define types of marketing strategies as the strategy itself. For example, a social media strategy. This is great as an overview of different outlets and strategies, but it does not explain a strategy’s function very well.
As a marketing expert, I put types of marketing strategies into 3 categories based on their function and growth potential. This gives a broader viewpoint that can be used to understand why some businesses grow quickly and others don’t.
What is a Marketing Strategy?
First let’s answer the big question in the room, what is a marketing strategy to begin with? In short, a marketing strategy is a framework around your marketing plan. It is based on the 4 P’s for your business: price, place, promotion and product (or service). A marketing plan on the other hand discusses more in-depth topics that change quickly. Think of a strategy as the overarching approach you will take and a plan as the detailed steps within that approach.
An example of a strategy is that you will use social media as a channel to bring in clients. The plan is the steps you will take to ensure that strategy’s success.
A marketing strategy is the what, why, when, where and who while a marketing plan is the how. I hope this article helps you answer some of these questions for your business and gives you a solid understanding of when, where and why certain strategies work. I have categorized marketing strategies by function into 3 main types. Let’s dive right in.
The 3 Types of Marketing Strategies
When running a business, marketing only has two purposes. The first is to bring in revenue and the second is to grow that revenue over time. That’s why I categorize marketing strategies into these 3 sections: Stability marketing, growth marketing and catalyst marketing.
Each type of marketing strategy uses different channels to achieve a specific goal. I explain when to use each type of strategy, why they are important and where to promote your business for each.
Stability marketing, often called linear marketing is a marketing activity that creates a stable income and can increase at a steady rate. The defining feature of linear marketing is that once you have hit maximum efficiency, you cannot increase your revenue without increasing your marketing budget. An example of linear marketing is an advertisement for an e-commerce store. In this scenario, you might have a consistent and stable flow of customers through advertising, but your income can only grow by increasing your ad spend. This leads to a linear growth pattern, hence the name.
The benefit of stability marketing is that it works quickly and provides stable income long term. This is an important first step in marketing to ensure a business has enough capital to maintain and grow its operations.
Linear marketing is often used to grow a business to the $1-$3 million per year mark. Growing beyond that using this method alone is more difficult and takes more time. For businesses looking to grow beyond this point in a timely manner, you will likely add growth marketing and catalyst marketing to your toolbelt as well.
Stability Marketing Strategies:
Most linear marketing examples are paid promotions. When you get into anything that prioritizes brand awareness over sales, you are dealing with growth or catalyst marketing. It is important to keep in mind that all of these strategies will overlap at some point and can feed into each other. Most of the time there is a clear line between each of these sections. Stability marketing may include:
- Outbound Sales Employees
- Advertising for sales
- Hiring a lead generation company
- Retargeting Campaigns
Example: Let’s say I run an online store selling shoes. If I spend $2000 a month on Google ads I know I can consistently bring 1500 users to my website, sell 100 pairs of shoes and average $5000 in revenue every month. To increase this revenue, I need to increase my ad spend. I can choose to reinvest some of the profits back into the ads to grow my business at a linear scale or I can continue with my current budget.
Growth Marketing is also known as exponential marketing. Generally, it takes more time to produce results than stability marketing but has greater growth potential. It is usually based on organic and earned growth that increases brand awareness and your audience over time. Let’s continue with our shoe salesman example for exponential marketing.
My shoe business is booming, and I want to invest an extra $2000 a month to increase my revenue. Rather than adding to my advertising budget, I decided to spend the money on search engine optimization every month. After 10 months of SEO have 1500 visitors every month on my website through my blog. Although this is the same number of visitors coming from my Google ads, I find I am only selling half the number of shoes per user with organic website traffic. After 18 months my traffic has grown to 3000 organic visitors allowing me to make the same revenue from SEO as I do with advertising. After 3 years my organic search traffic has grown to 10, 000 users per month and brings in $16, 500 every month.
Let’s analyze this a bit further. You might notice that for the first 18 months, my return on investment is lower from SEO than it is from Google ads. This is why it is important to start with linear marketing strategies before moving to growth marketing. The income is little to none at the beginning stages of this type of marketing strategy. This changes at the 18-month mark where you start to see ROI go beyond that of advertising. At 3 years, although your budget for SEO is still at $2000 a month, the income from organic search is over three times that of your advertisement.
Exponential marketing is about planning for the future of your business. It is the difference between companies that are making 2 or 3 million dollars a year to those making $50+ million a year. Catalyst marketing, which we will go over later in this article, is about hitting those numbers faster.
There are a few reasons why someone may not want to invest in growth marketing. People who flip businesses for a living or grow businesses quickly to sell may not want to spend the extra dollars. In this case, they won’t have the company long enough to see the full benefits of growth marketing and would rather build revenue quickly to sell. Many businesses simply don’t want to grow or grow quickly. A brick-and-mortar that does not plan to expand beyond its store can only benefit so much from exponential marketing.
Growth Marketing Strategies:
As mentioned previously, growth marketing relies on building an audience and awareness. Make sure you can measure results when using growth marketing. The spray-and-pray method does not work here. I have seen many businesses put out press releases hoping to build awareness that inevitably fail due to a lack of targeting and longevity of the project. Exponential marketing does not happen overnight. It is a strategy that should span over at least 2-5 years to grow to its full potential. Exponential marketing includes:
- Social Media Growth
- Search Engine Optimization / Blogging
- Experiential Marketing
- Brand Awareness Campaigns
- Word-of-mouth campaigns
- Referral campaigns
All of the examples above are things that have the potential to increase your exposure and revenue over time without needing additional input to scale. I want to take a moment to address some overlap between linear marketing and exponential marketing. Although outbound sales are a linear method of growing leads, building worthwhile relationships can lead to exponential growth. Email Marketing is especially interesting because it has a component of linear marketing and exponential marketing. You need to spend more money on ads to increase your subscribers at first, but your audience continues to accumulate over time. With time, referral agreements, lead magnets on your blog and your social media can start to become your main source of subscribers. It is this combination of earned and paid marketing that makes email marketing such a powerful tool.
Catalyst marketing, also known as viral marketing is any marketing activity that is used specifically for speeding up your exponential growth. People are often scared by the words ‘viral marketing’, but by this definition, it is used all the time by successful businesses. Viral marketing does not necessarily mean a video that gets a million views but rather is the development of a strategy that can accelerate you faster than your competition. Here is an example.
Let’s say I run a blog for my shoe business and am working on SEO. I know that backlinks are a critical part of building my authority online. I decide it is a good idea to do a study about what shoes are in style in 2023 and show the results on my blog. Studies are often used as link bait posts. These are posts that give valuable information that people want to link to on their websites. This helps accelerate your SEO efforts by bringing in a large number of quality backlinks. Not all posts can be link-bait posts. They tend to take a lot more effort and don’t necessarily relate to your audience as well as a regular post might, but adding them to your strategy can accelerate your efforts.
Another example of catalyst marketing might be a social media giveaway that leverages influencers. Your goal might be to accelerate your social media followership, brand awareness and build your email subscriber list. This single event could accelerate your number of followers or subscribers by 6 months or more. Catalyst marketing should come after you have strong linear and exponential marketing strategies. It is a way to accelerate a process that already is established.
Catalyst marketing is a powerful tool that can accelerate a company by months or even years of growth. Think about The Dollar Shave Club or Old Spice commercials. Those are both examples of catalyst marketing that pushed, accelerated and advanced their business faster than their other marketing activities could for years. They received tons of backlinks, sales, follows and subscribers from a simple campaign.
It is important to note that most catalyst marketing won’t be as successful as the Dollar Shave Club example. The goal is to accelerate your efforts, not to become an overnight sensation. If you have a blog and have few to no backlinks, a link bait strategy that brings in 30 quality links a year is a huge boost. It is about consistently speeding up the process of your exponential marketing, even if that is incremental.
Catalyst Marketing Strategies:
Viral marketing is a vital part of your marketing strategy. It generally is used to increase the number of eyes on you and low-stake actions like a follow subscription, backlink or brand awareness. It is important to measure catalyst marketing. Similar to exponential marketing the stray-and-pray approach does not generally work here. Plan your catalyst campaigns carefully and take time to execute them effectively. 3 successful catalyst campaigns a year will get you much further than 30 unsuccessful ones. Methods of catalyst marketing include:
- Public Relations
- Celebrity ambassadors or influencers
- Link Bait
- Extraordinary events or commercials
The marketing strategy examples above are a few of the many ways catalyst marketing can be used. Catalyst campaigns are the most fun, but often the hardest to create because they take a lot of creativity and skill to pull off. New catalyst marketing ideas are created all the time. Coming up with creative and new ideas is critical for this type of marketing.
Additional Marketing Activities
There are a lot of marketing activities that don’t fall under your 3 marketing strategy categories. In my books, these are critical features of a business that help aid these types of strategies. For example, creating your branding, website and marketing plan is not part of your marketing strategy per sei, but they are foundational pieces to your business’s development. Make sure to have these basic marketing materials before you start working on your marketing execution.
Bringing It All Together
Businesses that plan to grow quickly over the next 5 years should use a combination of stability marketing, growth marketing and catalyst marketing. It is important to take a look at where your company is right now. If you need more income to keep the business afloat, spend more time and energy on getting an effective stability marketing funnel. If you have enough sales to pay the bills and have some capital to reinvest into the business, test out some exponential marketing tactics. Lastly, if you are already doing both of these activities, it is time to up your game on catalyst marketing to speed things along.
In my mind, there are only 3 types of marketing strategies. Everything else fits into one of the categories or is not a marketing strategy at all. Each serves its own purpose and needs a plan that aligns with your target demographics, company culture, product and inevitably leads to your company’s advancement.
I hope this article has helped bring some clarity to the types of marketing strategies and how they work. Remember to think about the function of a marketing strategy before putting your time and effort into it.
Branding Your Website
For most businesses, their website is the most important medium for communicating with customers. Your website’s design should have an effective user experience and be set up to meet your business objectives. Your website is an ever-changing asset, but it does not change as quickly as you post on your social media. Brand your website to your liking and mimic the mood on your social media accounts and other channels.
Your website is the face of your business while your brand is its culture and personality. Bringing these elements together is the first step to bringing your brand to the public. Base your website on your brand characteristics and your other channels on your website.