Plenty of startups try to determine the perfect business model to take to market only to find that the market doesn’t need, want or understand what they are presenting.

The fact is most books or courses on business models take this into consideration by suggesting trial and error scenarios and market hypothesizes prior to launch.

Any business model, or plan for that matter, is little more than a guess and I believe that your best chance for getting that guess right is to build your business model based on a marketing strategy.

This assumes the role a fully developed marketing strategy actually should play in determining the direction of an organization. The fact is most people, if they consider marketing strategy at all, stop at a core message, identity elements and perhaps a sales proposition and call it a strategy.

A marketing strategy is how you plan to use the resources available to you to build an ongoing case that your business, products and services are the obvious choice for a narrowly defined ideal customer.

If you accept this expanded view of marketing strategy then I would suggest you answer the following questions in an attempt to measure where your strategy stands today and where it could go if your understood and integrated it fully as your business model

  1. What about this job, work, or organization are you passionate about?
  2. How does this business serve a higher purpose for you and your customers?
  3. What value do you really bring that benefits your market in ways that your competitors wouldn’t dream of proposing
  4. What’s the dominant personality trait that you need your customers to associate with your business?
  5. What does an ideal client look like?
  6. What is the simple 10-word core message that explains and excites?
  7. How will your market become aware of your business?
  8. How will your market come to trust that you have the answers?
  9. What are the revenue sources that you can tap to grow this business?
  10. Can you describe the perfect customer experience throughout your organization?
  11. What resource gaps and constraints do you need to overcome to achieve your strategy?
  12. What partnerships do you need to create in order to achieve your strategy?
  13. What would the result of using this strategy model to run your business look like?
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John Jantsch

John Jantsch is a marketing consultant, speaker and author of Duct Tape Marketing, Duct Tape Selling, The Commitment Engine and The Referral Engine and the founder of the Duct Tape Marketing Consultant Network.
  • Thank you, this is brilliant. Your list is succinct and effective. You are right, you need to be able to sell it to have a business.  

  • Thanks for a great article John, this point by point structure on what to consider is well worth a share. 

  • John – thanks for the thought provoking article. Point #6 above really resonated with me. Far too often (and I’m a victim of this too) we neglect to focus on the simple core message that captures our biz – one that explains AND excites.

  • Awesome post. Number 6 is a point that I feel strongly about. If you can’t tell me what you do in 10 words or less your marketing plan simply won’t be focused. 

  • Sarah Levy

    Thanks John, this is a great article. I think question #3 is so crucial. I know a lot of small business owners that get so excited about their new product/service that they easily lose site of the value it will provide to potential customers.

  • I loved #2. Any business is crated to serve the customers as well as the owners. And finding the purpose of it will surely help to develop it more.

  • Thanks for this new look at marketing strategy, John. This post really hit home for me. As I start my own business, I am looking for clarity and focus in my own marketing strategy. 

    In your opinion, how do you then go from this marketing strategy to setting the key objectives in your marketing and designing the right projects and action steps to take to make your strategy happen? In your experience, do the right objectives, how to measure whether you are meeting those objectives, and your action steps then follow naturally from this strategy? My background is in finance, and I want to make sure I have the clear ability to know that what I’m executing is actually working.

  • TracyP

    Thanks, John. These are all great questions. I would add one that becomes especially important as a business matures — “Why are we doing X?” It’s easy to get so busy executing a plan that you forget to think about the reason you’re using a particular tactic. The marketplace changes — quickly — so it’s important to keep an eye on the constantly shifting answers to those “why” questions. I recently wrote a brief blog post on this topic —,

  • Thanks John.! these all are great questions to create your perfect marketing strategy but some points may differ from business to business.

  • this is very intriguing..but I found this statement true ”
    The fact is most people, if they consider marketing strategy at all, stop at a core message, identity elements and perhaps a sales proposition and call it a strategy.”….sometimes we forget the best part 

  • Suraj

    Great questions which are also equally pertinent to existing businesses. I am going tol use most of these for a presentation on our 31 year old business. Gets us back on track and provide renewed energy and enthusiasm.

  • brentmkelly

    All great questions John. It just seems so many business owners get so busy is the daily grind of their business, they forget the core reason they are in business in the first place. These questions certainly address that. All the best.