Strategy REsources
Published on
May 2024

Why Business Strategy, Not Just Marketing, Drives High-Growth Entrepreneurship

If companies do not grow, external and internal inflation and competition will overpower them. Thus, selecting the right strategy for how to grow is crucial to any high-growth entrepreneur.

While marketing is often seen as the engine of immediate sales increases, it’s the broader business strategy that ensures long-term sustainability. This article explores why a comprehensive approach to business strategy, rather than a sole focus on marketing, is crucial for sustainable growth.

Understanding Growth Strategy

Growth strategy encompasses a broad array of approaches and methodologies a business can employ to achieve higher levels of market share, revenue, and profitability. While marketing focuses on promoting and selling products, business strategy involves a wider lens that ranges from organic growth to geographic expansion to diversification into related and unrelated markets:

Business Strategy:

This view involves the overall context of the company, including market positioning, development of competitive advantages, and plans for scalability and sustainability. Growth strategy through this lens is rooted in understanding a business’s core competencies, market opportunities, competitive environment, and internal capabilities. This sets the foundations for a broad range of growth strategies to outperform competitors.


This includes tactics aimed at increasing product awareness and sales, such as market research, advertising campaigns, and distribution strategies. Whilst this is incredibly important in increasing the business’s performance, it often leads to short-term results and not long-term sustainability.

The Role of Business Strategy in Growth

The foundation of any enduring business is its strategy. Business strategy provides the blueprint for all organisational activities, guiding decisions on resource allocation, operational processes, and market approaches. Here are key ways business strategy underpins growth:

Strategic Foundation: It aligns every department and function within the company with the broader objectives, ensuring cohesive efforts towards common goals.

Alignment with Long-term Goals: Business strategy ensures that short-term actions are steps towards achieving long-term visions, integrating immediate activities with future aspirations.

Market Positioning and Competitive Advantage: Effective business strategy identifies unique value propositions and competitive edges, crucial in distinguishing a company in a highly competitive market.

With this view, realising growth is not solely about choosing the right strategy; it also involves selecting the appropriate vehicles for execution, such as mergers and acquisitions, partnerships, joint ventures, or internal development projects. These vehicles are instrumental in bringing growth strategies to life, enabling companies to achieve their expansion goals more efficiently and effectively.

The Role of Marketing in Growth

The marketing function plays a crucial role in the growth of a business by directly influencing customer perceptions and driving sales. Marketing leverages a variety of strategies and tools to communicate with target audiences, build brand loyalty, and ultimately convert interest into revenue. Here are key ways marketing contributes to business growth:

Customer Acquisition: Marketing strategies are designed to attract new customers through targeted advertising, promotions, and outreach efforts. By increasing brand visibility and appeal, marketing drives customer engagement and acquisition.

Brand Building: Effective marketing establishes and reinforces a brand's identity, values, and promises. A strong brand differentiates a company in the marketplace, fostering customer loyalty and creating an emotional connection that can lead to long-term business success.

Customer Retention and Loyalty: Through consistent and appealing communication, marketing helps maintain a positive relationship with existing customers. Programmes like customer loyalty rewards, regular updates, and engagement campaigns ensure that customers remain interested and satisfied with the brand.

By driving the external interface of the company with its customers and the market at large, marketing plays an indispensable role in the growth of any business. Its direct impact on revenue and its ability to shape brand perception is vital for immediate results.

The Limitations of a Marketing-Only Approach

While growth is desirable, it comes with its own set of challenges and dangers. Rapid expansion can strain resources, dilute company culture, and introduce operational complexities. Focusing solely on marketing can lead to short-term gains but often misses the mark on sustainability as it doesn’t fully consider the consequences of growth. Here are some pitfalls of a marketing-only strategy:

Short-term Gains vs. Long-term Sustainability: Marketing can drive quick sales, but without a robust business strategy, these are often unsustainable. What starts as rapid growth, can quickly lead to dissatisfied customers and a poor reputation in the marketplace. As Bill Hewlett, Co-founder of Hewlett-Packard, said; “more companies die of indigestion than starvation“.

Risk of Misalignment: Marketing strategies not underpinned by a solid business strategy could lead to misallocated resources and misdirected efforts, moving away from the business’s core mission and capabilities. Realigning the business often requires organisation-wide change which has a notoriously high failure rate.

Integrating Marketing into Business Strategy

Growth is one of the most important challenges facing existing businesses. It is also the most dangerous. Taking a holistic approach that integrates marketing into the overarching business strategy can leverage the strengths of both and mitigate the risks associated with any growth strategy.

Holistic Approach: By considering marketing as a component of the broader business strategy, businesses can ensure that marketing efforts support overall strategic objectives. This leads to a vastly better chance of reaching the stage where a business is sustainable and enduring.

Feedback and Insights: Marketing provides valuable insights into customer behaviours, preferences, and trends through data gathered from marketing campaigns and market research. This information is crucial for refining products and services, tailoring marketing messages, and making informed strategic decisions that align with customer expectations and market demands.

In summary

For high-growth entrepreneurs, understanding the differences between business strategy and marketing and integrating them into a holistic approach is fundamental to sustainable success. While marketing can highlight where the company stands today, it is the business strategy that plots the course for tomorrow.

Brett Matheson
Co-founder & Director of Product and Operations

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