strategic marketing planning meaning

What is Strategic Marketing Planning? A Step-by-Step Guide

In today’s fiercely competitive business environment, understanding what is strategic marketing planning and creating a successful plan is crucial to achieving growth, profitability, and long-term sustainability.

This step-by-step guide will not only help you comprehend the importance of what is strategic marketing planning but also provide essential insights on how to develop and implement a well-rounded marketing strategy to stay ahead of the competition.

Short Summary

  • Strategic marketing planning is a systematic approach to achieving business objectives and optimizing resources.
  • Key components include market research, target audience identification, objective setting & utilization of the 4 Ps of marketing.
  • The process involves effective execution & monitoring with regular reviews for successful results and continuous improvement.

Understanding Strategic Marketing Planning

Strategic marketing planning is a systematic approach that our agency follows to reach predetermined marketing objectives. It provides the essential foundation, guidelines, and steps to achieve those objectives. Strategic planning plays a pivotal role in optimizing marketing efforts and achieving better results, ultimately leading to business growth and profitability.

Definition and significance

Strategic marketing planning is defined as a systematic approach to achieving marketing goals through the analysis, segmentation, and identification of competitive advantages. Efficient marketing operations are crucial for the successful strategic marketing implementation of the successful strategic marketing plan. By employing successful strategic marketing planning , businesses can ensure that their marketing plan is well-executed and delivers the desired results.

Crafting a successful marketing strategy primarily emphasizes the marketing mix, which consists of the following:

Incorporating price into a strategic marketing plan is essential to guarantee that the value of the product is justified to prospective customers.

Key components

The essential elements of strategic marketing planning include:

  • Market research
  • Identification of the target audience
  • Establishment of objectives
  • Formulation of the marketing mix
  • Assessment of performance

A SWOT analysis is a tool used to evaluate a company’s internal strengths and weaknesses in comparison to external opportunities and threats.

Defining the ideal customer profile is crucial in creating efficient marketing communication strategies, conserving time and resources by concentrating on the requirements of the current consumer, and serving as the foundation of any marketing campaign.

The Strategic Marketing Planning Process

The strategic marketing planning process is a comprehensive approach to achieving business objectives by conducting market research, identifying the target audience, and setting marketing goals that align with overall business objectives. This process enables marketers to gain an understanding of the business’s current standing and craft suitable marketing strategies, optimizing marketing efforts and achieving better results.

By following this process, marketers can ensure that their marketing efforts are aligned with the overall business objectives.

Market research and analysis

Market research and analysis play an essential role in understanding external factors, market trends, and consumer behavior and conducting a competitive analysis to identify potential opportunities and threats. By analyzing the business environment, prevailing market trends, and consumer behavior, the likelihood of the marketing plan’s success is enhanced.

A competitive analysis assists in identifying opportunities for improvement in the largest competitors’ marketing strategies, enabling the agency to focus on areas where they are lagging behind.

Identifying target audience

Identifying the target audience involves:

  • Defining the ideal customer profile based on similarities between existing clients and prospective customers
  • Recognizing the target audience is significant in the strategic marketing planning process
  • Assisting businesses in creating efficient marketing communication strategies
  • Conserving time and resources by concentrating on the requirements of the current consumer
  • Serving as the foundation of any marketing campaign

It is important to understand the target audience in order to create effective marketing campaigns that will reach the target audience.

Setting marketing goals

Setting marketing goals requires using prior data and desired business outcomes to establish realistic objectives that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART). In strategic marketing planning, specific marketing goals may include acquiring a certain number of new clients, growing followers on social media, or sourcing additional leads for the sales funnel.

Establishing marketing objectives enables the ability to:

  • Assess performance
  • Assign resources
  • Maintain a clear direction
  • Make decisions based on data
  • Ultimately leads to improved marketing results.

Developing Marketing Strategies

Developing marketing strategies involves crafting the marketing mix and selecting appropriate marketing channels to reach the target audience effectively. The marketing mix is a combination of product, price, promotion, and place, which can be utilized to select marketing channels by determining which channels are most effective at reaching the target audience.

By understanding the target audience and the marketing mix, marketers can determine which channels are most effective.

Crafting the marketing mix

Crafting the marketing mix involves focusing on the four Ps of marketing to create a comprehensive marketing strategy. The components of the marketing mix are:

A successful marketing strategy primarily emphasizes the marketing mix.

Each of the four is one of the four. Ps of marketing must be carefully considered when creating a marketing strategy. Product refers to a product.

Selecting marketing channels

Selecting marketing channels involves choosing the most effective digital and traditional channels to boost brand recognition, draw in new customers, and accomplish marketing objectives. Digital channels such as websites, social media, email, search engine optimization, and online advertising are available, as well as traditional channels such as television, radio, print, and outdoor advertising.

Choosing marketing channels can assist businesses in:

  • Connecting with their target audience
  • Maximizing visibility
  • Utilizing resources effectively
  • Increasing brand recognition
  • Monitoring and assessing outcomes.

Implementing and Monitoring the Strategic Marketing Plan

Implementing and monitoring the strategic marketing plan involves executing the plan, managing projects, and measuring performance to ensure success. Execution and project management are essential components of the strategic marketing plan, which can be ensured by using tools such as Teamwork or Plaky to assign tasks, set timelines, and track milestones.

These tools can help ensure that the plan is executed on time and that all tasks are completed.

strategic marketing planning meaning

Execution and project management

We utilize project management tools such as Teamwork or Plaky to assign tasks, set timelines, track milestones, and ensure the successful implementation of the marketing plan . These tools offer a convenient solution to marketing planning by providing capabilities for task management and assignment, as well as a pre-made marketing strategy plan template.

With these tools, teams can easily collaborate on tasks, assign deadlines, and track progress. This is a very good article.

Performance measurement

Performance measurement entails tracking progress, assessing effectiveness, and making data-driven modifications to marketing strategies, tactics, and KPIs/OKRs. Monitoring progress assists in assessing the efficacy of marketing strategies and tactics and in recognizing areas that require adjustment.

Assessing effectiveness enables us to recognize which strategies and tactics are successful and which are not and to make adjustments as needed.

Adapting to Market Changes

Adapting to market changes in the strategic marketing planning process involves:

  • Modifying the marketing strategy to remain competitive
  • Consistently reviewing and updating the marketing plan
  • Recognizing and responding to the changing needs of the target market.

It may also include product adaptation to appeal to a new or evolving customer base.

Regular review and updates

To avoid potential implementation issues caused by fluctuating internal and external factors and to guarantee compatibility with corporate objectives, it is essential to regularly review and revise the strategic marketing plan.

Regular review and updates of the strategic marketing planning process are essential for the following:

  • Assessing effectiveness
  • Responding to changing market conditions
  • Ensuring alignment with business goals
  • Optimizing resources.

Continuous improvement

Continuous improvement involves executing, monitoring, and refining the marketing plan to reach goals, increase competitiveness, and foster strategic thinking. Launching, executing, reporting, and iterating the marketing plan should be done in an orderly fashion to ensure objectives are met, competitiveness is increased, and strategic thinking is promoted.

Ongoing improvement is fundamental for any effective strategic marketing plan. It guarantees that the plan is current and that objectives are being achieved. Moreover, it encourages strategic thinking and boosts competitiveness.

strategic marketing planning meaning

In conclusion, a successful strategic marketing plan is pivotal to achieving business growth, profitability, and long-term sustainability. Through a step-by-step approach involving market research and analysis, target audience identification, goal setting, marketing strategy development, implementation, monitoring, and continuous improvement, businesses can adapt to market changes, stay competitive, and achieve their objectives.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the marketing strategy planning.

Strategic marketing planning is the process of creating a plan to achieve a specific marketing goal, such as increasing revenue and profits or improving the brand’s visibility. Companies use this process to outline their objectives, the programs they’ll use to reach them, who is responsible for those metrics, and when they’ll be achieved.

These objectives are typically broken down into short-term and long-term goals, each goal having its own set of strategies and tactics. The plan should also include a timeline for when each goal should be achieved, as well as a budget.

What is the purpose of a strategic marketing plan?

Strategic marketing planning is an essential process that involves creating a plan to reach specific marketing goals. This plan outlines objectives, programs, who is responsible, and when the goals need to be achieved in order to increase revenue and profits, gain visibility, discourage competitors, or improve their appearance.

What are the five parts of a strategic marketing plan?

A strategic marketing plan consists of five core components: product, price, promotion, place, and people. These are the key elements that you need to focus on in order to create a successful plan that will help your brand reach its goals.

Each of these components should be carefully considered and planned out in order to ensure that your plan is effective. The product should be tailored to meet the needs of your target audience, while the price should be reasonable.

What are the 4 phases of strategic marketing planning?

The 4 phases of strategic marketing planning are formulation, implementation, evaluation, and modification. This process involves setting goals and objectives, analyzing internal and external business factors, product planning, implementation, and tracking progress to ensure successful outcomes.

Setting goals and objectives is the first step in the process. This involves identifying the desired outcomes and the resources needed to achieve them. Internal and external business factors must be considered.

What are the key components of strategic marketing planning?

Strategic marketing planning involves market research, target audience identification, goal setting, creating a marketing mix, and assessing performance. It is essential for businesses to have an effective strategy in place to be successful.

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strategic marketing planning meaning

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Strategic Marketing Planning: Transforming Ideas into Impact

Unleash business potential through Strategic Marketing Planning, a transformative process aligning objectives, target audiences, and robust strategies. Strategic Marketing Planning is a systematic approach to setting organisational goals, understanding market dynamics, and developing effective strategies. Read this blog ahead to learn more!

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In the business world, where competition is fierce and consumer preferences constantly evolve, Strategic Marketing Planning emerges as a vital tool for organisations to thrive. Whether you're a startup looking to carve out a niche or a well-established company aiming to maintain relevance, Strategic Marketing Planning provides a roadmap for success by translating ideas into tangible results. 

Table of Contents 

1) What is Strategic Marketing Planning? 

2) Steps of Strategic Marketing Planning 

   a) Establish your initial position 

   b) Perform market research 

   c) Identify a specific target audience 

   d) Establish clear and measurable objectives 

   e) Obtain approval for the budget 

   f) Determine an array of strategies 

   g) Formulate a comprehensive schedule and commence implementation 

3) Example of Strategic Marketing Planning 

4)  Conclusion 

What is Strategic Marketing Planning? 

Strategic Marketing Planning is not just a buzzword; it's a dynamic and systematic process that can be the game-changer for businesses seeking to thrive in the competitive landscape. It involves a comprehensive approach to developing and implementing marketing strategies that align with overall business goals, ensuring a cohesive and purposeful approach to reaching target audiences.  

Understanding the core concept 

At its core, Strategic Marketing Planning is about setting a roadmap that guides a company's marketing efforts. It's a forward-thinking process that involves careful analysis, planning, and execution of initiatives designed to achieve specific marketing objectives. Unlike tactical or short-term approaches, strategic planning takes a holistic view, considering internal and external factors that may impact a company's success in the marketplace. 

Holistic analysis 

Strategic Marketing Planning begins with thoroughly examining the organisation's current standing in the market. This includes conducting a SWOT analysis—evaluating Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. By understanding internal capabilities and external market dynamics, businesses can identify areas for improvement and formulate strategies to leverage strengths while mitigating weaknesses and capitalising on emerging opportunities. 

Aligning with business goals 

One of the distinguishing features of strategic planning is its alignment with overall business objectives. It's not a standalone effort but an integral part of the broader business strategy. By ensuring that marketing goals resonate with the company's mission, vision, and long-term objectives, Strategic Marketing Planning helps create a unified approach, fostering synergy across different departments and functions. 

Strategic Marketing Masterclass 

  

Strategic Marketing Planning Steps 

Effective Strategic Marketing Planning entails a systematic approach encompassing several key steps. Let's delve into each of these steps in detail:  

Steps of Strategic Market Planning

1) Establish your initial position 

Before delving into Strategic Marketing Planning, assessing your current standing within the market is essential. This involves thoroughly analysing your company's Strengths, Weaknesses, opportunities, and Threats (SWOT analysis). By clarifying your organisation's internal capabilities and external market dynamics, you can identify areas for improvement and devise strategies to capitalise on your strengths while mitigating potential risks. 

2) Perform market research 

Market research serves as the foundation of Strategic Marketing Planning, providing valuable insights into consumer preferences, competitor strategies, and industry trends. Businesses can gather relevant information through surveys, focus groups, and data analysis to inform their marketing decisions.  

3) Identify a specific target audience 

While mass marketing strategies were once dominant, today's hypercompetitive landscape often necessitates a more targeted approach. Successful companies prioritise identifying and targeting specific market segments with tailored messaging and offerings. By defining a clear target audience based on demographics, psychographics, and behaviour patterns, businesses can personalise their marketing efforts. This can address their customers' unique needs and preferences, driving higher engagement and conversion rates. 

4) Establish clear and measurable objectives 

Setting precise and measurable goals is essential for guiding Strategic Marketing Planning initiatives and assessing their effectiveness. Whether it's increasing brand awareness, driving sales growth, or expanding market share, objectives should be specific, achievable, and aligned with overall business goals. By implementing Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and metrics to track progress, organisations can measure the success of their marketing implementations. 

5) Obtain approval for the budget 

Allocating sufficient resources is crucial for executing Strategic Marketing plans effectively. Once objectives are defined, organisations must obtain approval for the budget required to implement various marketing initiatives. This may include allocating funds for advertising campaigns, digital marketing, market research, and other promotional activities.  

6) Determine an array of strategies 

With objectives set and resources allocated, the next step is to develop a comprehensive set of marketing strategies to achieve desired outcomes. This may involve a mix of tactics, such as content marketing, social media engagement, influencer partnerships, email campaigns, and SEO optimisation tailored to reach and engage target audiences across various channels. 

7) Formulate a comprehensive schedule and commence implementation 

Once strategies are finalised, it's time to develop a detailed schedule outlining the timeline and sequence of marketing activities. This includes setting deadlines, assigning responsibilities, and coordinating efforts across different departments or teams involved in execution. By adhering to a structured timeline and closely monitoring progress, businesses can ensure that marketing initiatives are implemented efficiently and effectively, maximising their impact and driving desired outcomes. 

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Example of Strategic Marketing Planning 

To illustrate the effectiveness of Strategic Marketing Planning, let's consider the case of a technology startup aiming to launch a new mobile app. Following the steps outlined above, the company conducts market research to identify target demographics, sets clear objectives to acquire a certain number of users within a specified timeframe, and allocates a budget for digital advertising and social media promotion. Leveraging data analytics, the company continuously monitors user engagement metrics and iterates on its marketing strategies to optimise performance and drive app downloads. 

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Conclusion 

Strategic Marketing Planning is pivotal in helping organisations navigate uncertainty and achieve sustainable growth in the business environment. Businesses can transform their ideas into impactful marketing campaigns that align with consumers and drive tangible results by systematically assessing market opportunities, targeting specific audience segments, and aligning resources with clear objectives. By embracing Strategic Marketing Planning as a core business practice, companies can position themselves for long-term success in an ever-evolving marketplace. 

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Frequently Asked Questions

Strategic Marketing Planning involves a comprehensive and systematic approach to developing and implementing marketing initiatives. It goes beyond short-term tactics by aligning marketing efforts with overall business objectives , conducting thorough market research, and setting clear, measurable objectives .  

Success in Strategic Marketing Planning can be measured through various KPIs such as increased brand awareness, higher conversion rates, expanded market share, and improved customer engagement metrics. By tracking metrics over time, businesses can evaluate the effectiveness of their strategies and make data-driven adjustments as needed.  

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Strategic Marketing Planning: Definition and Examples

In the vibrant world of business, where the landscape constantly shifts, and consumer preferences evolve, having a clear roadmap is crucial.

This is where strategic marketing planning enters the scene.

At its core, successful strategic marketing planning is about crafting a comprehensive plan that aligns a company’s products or services with the needs and desires of its target audience.

It’s not just about advertising or promotions; it’s about understanding market dynamics, analyzing competitors, and setting clear, measurable goals that steer a business toward growth and profitability.

A strategic marketing plan transcends the realm of mere tactics. It’s the meticulous process of planning, implementing, and evaluating approaches that will help a business thrive in its industry.

By laying out a well-defined strategy, companies can anticipate changes, seize opportunities, and navigate challenges with agility and foresight.

Table of Contents

The Importance of Strategic Planning

Diving into the marketplace without a clear strategy is akin to setting sail in turbulent waters without a compass.

Strategic marketing planning serves as this compass, guiding businesses through the complexities of the market. Here’s why it’s indispensable:

Clear Direction

With a strategic plan, a company knows precisely where it’s headed. Every decision, every campaign, and every investment is made with a purpose, reducing wasted efforts and resources.

Competitive Edge

In the bustling marketplace, standing out is paramount. A strategic marketing plan helps businesses identify what makes them unique and leverage this uniqueness to gain a competitive advantage.

Efficient Resource Utilization

Resources, whether time, money, or manpower, are finite. Strategic planning ensures these resources are channeled effectively, maximizing ROI and minimizing wastage.

Anticipating Challenges

The business world is rife with uncertainties. With a well-laid-out strategy, companies can anticipate potential challenges, devise contingencies, and adapt swiftly.

Building Stronger Relationships

At its heart, marketing is about building relationships. Strategic planning allows businesses to understand their audience better, cater to their needs, and forge lasting bonds.

Measurable Outcomes

One of the hallmarks of the strategic marketing planning process is the emphasis on measurable objectives.

It’s not about vague goals but clear, quantifiable outcomes that allow businesses to gauge success and recalibrate if needed.

In essence, strategic marketing planning isn’t a luxury; it’s a necessity. It’s the linchpin that holds together all marketing efforts, ensuring they’re not just sporadic shots in the dark but well-calculated moves propelling a business forward.

Key Components of a Marketing Strategy

Crafting a robust marketing strategy requires a keen understanding of its building blocks. While each company’s strategy might differ based on industry, target audience, and goals, there are some universal components that lay the foundation:

1. Market Research

Before plotting any strategy, it’s imperative to understand the lay of the land. This involves researching market size, growth potential, and key trends that might influence business decisions.

2. SWOT Analysis

Standing for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats, this analysis helps businesses take stock of their internal capabilities and the external factors that might impact them.

3. Target Market Segmentation

Not every product or service appeals to everyone. Segmenting the market into distinct groups based on demographics, psychographics, or buying behavior helps tailor marketing efforts more effectively.

4. Value Proposition

This defines what sets a business apart. Why should consumers choose your product or service over competitors? A strong value proposition answers this, providing clarity and focus to marketing endeavors.

5. Marketing Goals

These are clear, quantifiable objectives that the strategy aims to achieve, whether it’s increasing brand awareness, boosting sales, or enhancing customer loyalty.

6. Tactics and Channels

Here, the strategy delves into the specifics. Which marketing channels—be it social media, email, or traditional advertising—will be employed? What tactics will be used to reach the set goals?

7. Budgeting

Every strategy needs financial backing. Allocating budgets ensures that the plan is not just ambitious but also realistic and achievable.

By ensuring each of these components is meticulously addressed, businesses can build a holistic strategy that’s both visionary and grounded.

Steps to Create a Strategic Marketing Plan

Creating a strategic marketing plan isn’t a haphazard endeavor. It’s a methodical process that, when done right, can catapult a business to new heights.

Here’s a step-by-step guide:

  • Set Clear Objectives: Start with the end in mind. Whether it’s expanding market share, launching a new product, or entering a new demographic, set clear, measurable objectives.
  • Conduct Market Research: Dive deep into market dynamics. Understand customer preferences, identify market gaps, and scout for potential opportunities.
  • Analyze Competitors: Know thy enemy. A thorough competitive analysis can provide insights into what competitors are doing right and where they might be lacking.
  • Segment the Target Market: Break down the broader market into manageable segments. Identify which segment aligns best with the business’s offerings and focus efforts there.
  • Craft the Value Proposition: Define what sets the business apart. This unique selling proposition will be the cornerstone of all marketing efforts.
  • Choose Marketing Channels: Based on the target audience and the product or service, decide on the most effective channels to deploy the marketing strategy.
  • Allocate Resources: Set aside budgets, assign roles, and ensure every element of the plan has the necessary resources for successful execution.
  • Implement the Plan: With everything in place, roll out the strategy. Whether it’s launching campaigns, hosting events, or initiating partnerships, this is where the plan comes to life.
  • Monitor and Adjust: Regularly track the progress against the set objectives. If something’s not working, pivot. Flexibility is key to navigating the ever-evolving business landscape.

While these steps provide a broad outline, the devil, as they say, is in the details. Each step in the strategic marketing planning process requires meticulous attention, robust business objectives, a deep understanding of the business ecosystem, and a dash of creativity.

Setting Measurable Objectives

In the realm of strategic marketing plans, the saying “what gets measured gets managed” holds profound significance.

Objectives that can’t be quantified or tracked can leave a marketing team sailing adrift. Setting measurable objectives ensures a clear trajectory and accountability:

Define Clear Metrics

Depending on the goals—be it brand awareness, customer acquisition, or sales growth—identify relevant metrics. This could range from website traffic, conversion rates, to customer retention percentages.

SMART Goals

An acronym that’s become a standard in objective setting, SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound.

It’s a framework that ensures goals aren’t just lofty aspirations but grounded, actionable targets. While it is used for many different practices in business, it is a great place to start with strategic marketing planning.

Baseline Measurements

Before launching any initiative, note down the current metrics. This baseline will be pivotal in gauging the effectiveness of the strategy later on.

Improving upon empirical data and current analytics can ensure that you have a strong marketing plan moving forward.

Periodic Review

Marketing isn’t a “set it and forget it” endeavor. Periodically review the objectives. Are they still relevant? Are they being met? If not, what’s the gap?

Revising a marketing plan may be necessary in a landscape that is dynamic and ever-changing. A marketing budget may need to change and go into review to keep up with new strategic marketing planning each year.

Adjust and Adapt

In the dynamic world of business and marketing strategies, flexibility is a virtue. If certain objectives aren’t being met, reassess the strategy and strategic marketing process.

Perhaps the tactics need tweaking, or maybe the objective itself needs reevaluation.

By grounding the marketing strategy in measurable objectives, businesses not only have a clearer direction but also an objective yardstick to evaluate success.

Analyzing the Competitive Landscape

No business operates in isolation. The competitive landscape is a vital determinant of a company’s marketing strategy. Here’s how to decode it:

  • Identify Key Competitors: Start with a list. Who are the main players in the market? Depending on the business, competitors might range from local enterprises to global giants.
  • Understand Their Offerings: Dive deep into each competitor’s product or service lineup. What are they offering? How does it compare to your business?
  • Study Their Marketing Tactics: From social media campaigns to email marketing, observe the channels and tactics competitors are leveraging. It can offer insights into what’s working in the market.
  • SWOT Analysis (For Competitors): Just as businesses analyze their strengths and weaknesses, do the same for competitors. Where are they excelling? Where are the gaps?
  • Customer Feedback: Often, customers are the best source of insights. What are they saying about competitors? Reviews, testimonials, and feedback can provide a wealth of information.
  • Stay Updated: The competitive landscape isn’t static. New players emerge; old ones pivot or perish. Stay abreast of industry news, attend trade shows, and keep an ear to the ground.

By thoroughly understanding the competitive landscape, businesses can carve out their niche, preempt competitor moves, and craft a strategy that not just competes but excels.

Target Audience Identification

A cardinal rule in marketing is: Don’t try to be everything to everyone. Knowing precisely who the business is catering to can amplify the impact of marketing efforts manifold. Identifying the target audience involves:

Demographic Analysis

Look at factors like age, gender, income level, and educational background. These basics can often provide a preliminary understanding of potential customers.

Psychographic Insights

Dive deeper. What are their lifestyles, habits, interests, and values? This offers a richer profile of the audience, guiding the tone and content of marketing messages.

Geographic Location

Is the business catering to a local community, a national audience, or a global market? Geography can influence product preferences, purchasing habits, and even the medium of communication.

Behavioral Patterns

How do they interact with products or services? Are they repeat customers, or do they buy once and move on? Recognizing these patterns can inform customer retention strategies.

Feedback and Surveys

Direct feedback from customers or potential customers is invaluable. Surveys, feedback forms, or even informal conversations can offer insights that might not be evident through mere data analysis.

Social Media Analytics

In today’s digital age, social media platforms can offer a treasure trove of information about target audiences, from their preferences and dislikes to the times they are most active online.

By honing in on a specific target audience, businesses can tailor their messages, ensuring they resonate and prompt action.

Positioning and Brand Strategy

In a bustling market, standing out is both a challenge and a necessity. This is where positioning and brand strategy come into play.

Define the Unique Selling Proposition (USP)

What sets the business apart from competitors? It might be product quality, customer service, pricing, or something entirely unique. This USP will be central to the brand’s positioning.

Craft a Memorable Brand Message

Once the USP is identified, encapsulate it in a compelling brand message. This message should be consistent across all marketing channels, reinforcing the brand identity.

Visual Identity

From the logo to the color scheme, the visual elements should reflect the brand’s ethos and appeal to the target audience.

Tone and Voice

Whether the brand adopts a formal tone, a quirky voice, or something in between, it should be consistent and resonate with the audience.

Emotional Connect

Brands that evoke emotions tend to be more memorable. Whether it’s the warmth of nostalgia, the thrill of adventure, or the satisfaction of luxury, find the emotion that aligns with the brand and weave it into the narrative.

Consistency is Key

Across platforms, campaigns, and communications, the brand’s positioning should remain consistent, building trust and recognition.

With a clear positioning and a well-defined brand strategy, businesses can carve out a distinct space in consumers’ minds, fostering loyalty and driving engagement.

Tactical Execution in Marketing

Once the groundwork of setting objectives, understanding the competitive landscape, identifying the target audience, and establishing a brand strategy is laid out, the focus shifts to tactical execution. This is where the rubber meets the road:

Choose the Right Channels

Depending on the target audience, some marketing channels may be more effective than others. For instance, a younger demographic might be more receptive to social media campaigns, while an older audience might be more responsive to email marketing or traditional advertising.

Content Creation

Content is king in today’s marketing world. Whether it’s blog posts, videos, infographics, or podcasts, producing high-quality, relevant content can engage the audience and drive conversions.

Promotions and Offers

Periodic promotions or special offers can incentivize purchases, increase sales, and attract new customers. However, they must be strategically timed and should align with the brand’s positioning.

Engage and Interact

Modern marketing isn’t just about broadcasting messages. Engaging with the audience, responding to their queries, and fostering a community can enhance brand loyalty.

Analyze and Optimize

Use analytics tools to track the effectiveness of various tactics. Understand what’s working and what’s not, and be prepared to pivot if necessary.

Stay Updated

The world of marketing is ever-evolving. New platforms emerge, consumer preferences shift, and global events can reshape the landscape. Staying updated ensures that the tactics remain relevant and effective.

Monitoring and Adjusting the Plan

A strategic marketing plan isn’t static. As the market dynamics change, as the business grows, and as feedback from campaigns trickles in, the plan might require adjustments:

  • Feedback Loop: Establish a system to gather feedback from various campaigns. This could be through analytics, direct customer feedback, or market research.
  • Key Performance Indicators (KPIs): Define KPIs that align with the marketing objectives. Regularly monitor these KPIs to gauge the success of the marketing initiatives.
  • Periodic Reviews: Schedule regular review sessions, be it monthly, quarterly, or annually. Evaluate the outcomes against the set objectives and understand any gaps.
  • Pivot if Necessary: If a particular strategy isn’t yielding the desired results, don’t hesitate to pivot. This might involve tweaking the tactics, reallocating resources, or even revisiting the objectives.
  • Stay Open to Innovation: Sometimes, a fresh perspective can invigorate a marketing strategy. Whether it’s experimenting with a new platform, adopting a novel tactic, or partnering with influencers, remain open to innovative approaches.
  • Celebrate Successes: While it’s vital to focus on areas of improvement, it’s equally important to acknowledge and celebrate the successes. This boosts team morale and fosters a culture of continuous improvement.

Real-world Examples of Strategic Marketing Planning

Dove’s “real beauty” campaign.

Background : For years, the beauty industry projected a narrow definition of beauty, focusing mostly on young, slim models. Dove decided to take a different route by addressing the prevalent insecurities about physical appearances.

Strategy : Dove launched the “Real Beauty” campaign, featuring everyday women rather than professional models. These women ranged in age, size, and ethnicity, emphasizing that beauty is diverse and universal.

Outcome : The campaign received worldwide recognition. Not only did it boost Dove’s sales, but it also initiated a broader conversation about beauty standards in society. Today, Dove’s commitment to body positivity and self-esteem continues, distinguishing them from many other brands in the beauty industry.

LEGO’s Digital Transformation

Background : In the early 2000s, LEGO faced declining sales as digital entertainment began overshadowing traditional toys. There was growing concern that building blocks might become obsolete in the digital age.

Strategy : Instead of resisting the digital wave, LEGO embraced it. They launched video games, mobile apps, and even movies that combined the tactile fun of their physical toys with the dynamic world of digital entertainment. Their strategy was to provide a comprehensive ‘LEGO experience’, merging the physical and digital play.

Outcome : This pivot proved immensely successful. The LEGO video games and “The LEGO Movie” franchise became hits, attracting both old fans and a new generation of LEGO enthusiasts. By strategically integrating digital elements into their brand, LEGO rejuvenated its appeal and remains a dominant force in the toy industry.

Starbucks and Customer Experience

Background : Starbucks doesn’t just sell coffee; it sells an experience. As more coffee shops emerged, Starbucks needed to differentiate itself beyond just the quality of its beverages.

Strategy : Starbucks focused on making its stores a ‘third-place’ – a space between work and home. Their shops were designed to be cozy and inviting, encouraging customers to stay, work, or socialize. Moreover, Starbucks invested heavily in employee training, ensuring that every customer interaction was pleasant and memorable. They also embraced technology early on with their mobile app, streamlining the ordering process and offering rewards.

Outcome : These strategic decisions bolstered Starbucks’ brand identity as a premium coffeehouse and community hub. Customers were willing to pay a premium not just for the coffee but for the experience that came with it. Today, Starbucks’ brand is synonymous with comfort, community, and premium service.

Airbnb’s Experience Marketing

When Airbnb wanted to move beyond just accommodation sharing, they centered their strategic marketing planning around the idea of ‘belonging’.

By promoting unique experiences in cities worldwide, Airbnb’s strategy shifted the conversation from where you’re staying to what you’re experiencing.

Challenges in Strategic Marketing Planning

  • Rapid Technological Changes : With new platforms, tools, and technologies emerging regularly, marketers often find it challenging to stay ahead and effectively integrate these into their strategies.
  • Data Overload : While data-driven decisions are the norm, the sheer volume of data available can be overwhelming. Extracting meaningful insights requires expertise and a strategic focus.
  • Changing Consumer Behaviors : As generations shift, so do their behaviors and expectations. Brands that fail to adapt can find themselves becoming irrelevant.
  • Budget Constraints : Often, there’s a mismatch between marketing ambitions and the budget available, necessitating tough decisions and prioritization.
  • Globalization vs. Localization : Crafting a strategy that resonates globally, yet remains relevant locally, is a delicate balancing act.

The Future of Strategic Marketing

As we peer into the horizon, several trends are poised to shape the future of strategic marketing:

Personalization at Scale

With advancements in AI and data analytics, marketers will be able to offer personalized experiences to consumers at an unprecedented scale.

In fact, personalization is quickly becoming one of the most important features within strategic marketing planning and should be considered with every marketing plan that includes customer communication.

Integrated Omnichannel Strategies in the Marketing Mix

Brands will seamlessly integrate experiences across physical stores, online platforms, social media, and more, offering a unified brand experience.

Marketing strategies will be easier to employ across different channels in the marketing mix with new and upcoming technologies that emerge daily.

Sustainability and Ethics

As consumers become more conscious, brands will need to infuse sustainability, ethical practices, and social responsibility into their core marketing strategies.

Customer satisfaction will require that brands become more eco-conscious as it becomes more and more important to preserve the earth and reduce the carbon footprint.

Interactive and Immersive Experiences

With technologies like AR, VR, and interactive video, marketing will become more experiential and immersive, further blurring the lines between brand messaging and entertainment.

In conclusion, while the principles of strategic marketing remain rooted in understanding audiences, setting clear objectives, and effective positioning, the tactics and tools will continuously evolve.

Brands that stay agile, informed, and consumer-centric will lead the way in this dynamic landscape of marketing strategies.

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The Definitive Guide to Strategic Marketing Planning

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No matter your goal, it’s always better to have a solid plan with defined steps in place than to try and haphazardly complete tasks. With strategic marketing planning, you can ensure that every step your business takes, regardless of which team contributes, will all coherently move towards promoting your brand and attracting new customers. 

What is the Strategic Marketing Planning Process?

The strategic marketing planning process allows you to outline your company goals for reaching your audience and the steps of how to reach them. Each step of the process defines your business objectives, your customers’ needs, and how your products can meet those needs. As your goals are defined, the steps of the process also track your implementation and progress toward your objectives. 

Mission Statement

The first step for strategic marketing planning is to outline your mission statement. We describe in the section below what a mission statement is and how to write it to effectively describe your business objectives. 

What is a Mission Statement?

How to write a mission statement.

A mission statement should be no more than three or four short sentences and should contain your long-term goals as a business. Your mission statement should be concise and inline with your North Star metric. Outline your objectives and ensure they can be measured. Then, break them out into examples so that your mission is clear. 

Situation Analysis

The second step is to evaluate the situation and analyze any internal or external factors that affect your business. Depending on your industry, these factors can incorporate a large number of possible aspects. Some examples of factors include:

  • Industry competitors
  • Available resources
  • Current sales revenue
  • Customer desire

Analysis Methods

Strengths might include competitive advantages, how your products stand out in the market, what you hope to improve or do with your services, or how your employees work together. Weaknesses might include limited resources, issues your business is facing internally, or areas where you aren’t reaching your goals.

Opportunities are external and therefore not under your control. It’s important to be aware of the socio-political climate to monitor your customers’ changing needs. For example, a company that produces cleaning products likely saw the COVID-19 pandemic as an external opportunity to take advantage of by producing more and increasing their advertising. Threats are the opposite of opportunities and present unpredictable problems that your company must notice and address immediately.

5C Analysis

The five Cs in the title refers to Company, Customers, Competitors, Collaborators, and Climate. These Cs include both internal and external factors to accurately analyze the entire situation for your business.

  • Customers – Who are the people buying your products?
  • Climate – What kinds of external factors affect your business?
  • Competitors – Which other companies are producing similar products?
  • Company – Do people know your brand name? What do they think of you?
  • Collaborators – Do you work with distributors, suppliers, or other affiliated companies, and how do they affect your business?

PEST Analysis

A PEST Analysis measures the Political, Economic, Social, and Technological factors that affect your business. Unlike the previous analyses, the PEST Analysis only measures external factors, so we recommend using it in addition to another type of analysis that measures your internal factors, so you can have the complete picture of your business.

The political aspect looks at the laws and regulations that influence your customers and their purchasing habits—economics shows how the stock market, taxes, and exchange rates affect your services. Social demonstrates the attitudes and lifestyle demographics that define your customers. Technical examines any patents, technologies, or production trends that might influence your product.

Marketing/Strategy Plan

With the data you collected in the prior steps, you can start brainstorming which metrics you want to collect and leverage. Depending on your industry, some metrics may be more valuable than others.

How Does a Plan Help

With a marketing plan, you can identify the audience you want to appeal to and define the best ways to reach them. You’ll also be able to estimate how your marketing efforts will affect your business by predicting the rough costs and benefits.

What to Include in Your Plan

Ideally, your marketing plan should include overall cost, how you’ll place your product or brand among your competitors, and what your predictions for customer reactions are.

Using Kissmetrics, you can create a report documenting certain factors about your customers to see who is buying your product. You can also offer surveys and accept feedback from your customers to monitor their changing desires. Another option is to monitor social media interactions with your brand by your existing customers.

In order to see if your plan is working, you need measurable goals. The best goals are tangible, realistic, and have milestones for you to monitor during the timeline you choose. Your goals depend on what you want to achieve with your marketing plan. Do you want to grow your sales revenue? Brand awareness? Are you looking to increase the number of users on your website?

Be careful not to set any goals that are outside of your control. If you have a goal to increase the number of social media engagements on Twitter and a large number of people stop using that platform, you won’t be able to achieve the goal through no fault of your own.

Likely the first part of your marketing plan outlines the estimated budget. As with all plans, you should budget an extra amount for emergency funds, but you should be able to give a rough estimate of how much it will cost to create, implement, and monitor your plan.

Marketing Mix

Now that you’ve established what you want to achieve, who you are as a company, and what is happening inside and out of your business, it’s time to begin planning how you’ll actually accomplish your goals.

The first part is knowing what your company offers. What kind of product or service does your brand offer to your customers? How do you want them to interact with your offerings? The answers will dictate your metrics and how you measure your plan’s success. 

Knowing your customers also means knowing how much they’re willing to pay for what you have to offer. 

Promotion includes the platforms you plan on using to appeal to new and existing customers. Incorporating social media postings, a contact email, reviews, a phone number to call for support, and other communication methods are all essential for promoting your brand and spreading awareness. 

This aspect is more important for physical products because you’ll want to plan how you’ll get them to the customer. Are you planning to ship them from online orders? Will the customers need to come to your store to pick up their purchases? 

Implementation and Control

The final step means it’s time to put your plan into action. This means measuring your metrics over time and comparing them to your established objectives. As time goes on, you’ll likely need to come back to your marketing strategies to update them or change them in accordance with your company’s needs. 

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How To Build a Strategic Marketing Plan (+ a Free Template!)

strategic marketing planning meaning

You know what you want your campaigns to achieve, but you’re not quite sure how to get there yet.

Sound familiar?

For even the most experienced marketing teams, it can prove difficult to turn aspirational business objectives into actionable steps. While you’re busy trying to figure out what actually works, resources are being spent left and right while showing minimal returns. Fortunately, you can avoid falling victim to this common trap.

Read on to learn how to create a strategic plan to hit your own marketing goals — plus, since you’re already here, be sure to grab your free template to get the ball rolling.

What Is a Strategic Marketing Plan?

A strategic marketing plan is a comprehensive outline for the advertising and marketing efforts of a brand or organization. Founded on audience research and industry trends, this ultra-focused, strategic plan formalizes the steps an organization will take to promote its offerings to a target market of existing and potential customers.

The strategic marketing planning process follows 6 key components:

  • Know where you are .
  • Know your audience .
  • Know where you want to go .
  • Pick your channels and tactics .
  • Develop your budget and your revised tactics .
  • Measure and adjust your strategy periodically .

By following these steps, your team will be well on their way to achieving a sustainable competitive advantage — all while making sure each marketing dollar is well spent.

Strategic marketing plan template

Why Is a Strategic Marketing Plan Important?

Planning for any major undertaking is essential for success.

The modern media landscape is crowded; researchers have estimated that most Americans see between 4,000 and 10,000 advertisements per day .

A strategic marketing plan lays the groundwork for your brand to delight and satisfy your customers. As the old saying goes: “Proper prior planning prevents poor performance.”

By taking the time to develop a thoughtful marketing strategy, you’ll gain several benefits, including:

  • A better understanding of your brand’s value proposition.
  • Deeper knowledge of your audience’s needs and desires.
  • A roadmap for how to manage your brand’s growth.
  • Methods for measuring your marketing performance.

strategic marketing planning meaning

Creating an effective plan takes time, but when you see the results, you’ll know it was well worth the effort.

4 Basic Marketing Strategies: The 4 P’s of Marketing

Today’s digital marketers have a long pedigree of great thinkers who have shaped the way we think about appealing to customers.

We may be producing content for distribution on digital channels that few people could have predicted several decades ago, but the basic principles combining human psychology and economics are still relevant and powerful today.

In fact, the marketing mix commonly deployed in any modern campaign was first conceived by Harvard Business School professor Neil H. Borden and subsequently expanded upon by University of Minnesota professor E. Jerome McCarthy.

Though first published in 1960, McCarthy’s four P’s of marketing are still the common starting point of an effective marketing strategy.

strategic marketing planning meaning

A product can be a tangible item or an intangible service that satisfies a need or want.

B2B and B2C marketers need to possess a firm grasp of both what the product is and how it provides value to customers. The more specifically you can define these aspects, the more confident you will be in your marketing strategies.

For example, when selling products and services to other businesses, you’ll need to know what challenges your customers face and understand how your offering solves those problems.

Importantly, marketing and sales departments need to be aligned so that every customer encounter can occur within the same context.

The cost of your offerings has an obvious influence over your customers.

Having a complete understanding of the product and its features will help stakeholders determine the best possible pricing strategy.

You may need to determine if it’s better to offer your product on a subscription basis or as a one-time purchase.

Your product’s price point will impact your organization’s profit margins, inventory requirements and more. The marketing team can work with other business units to determine the best course of action.

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3. Promotion

With deep knowledge of the product, it’s value and price point, you can more effectively promote the offering in the marketplace.

This is where your strategic marketing strategy will come into play.

As you’ll see a little further on, your marketing plan should include the various channels you’ll use to communicate with your customers.

These days, the avenues for communication are much more varied than when the four P’s were developed, but the advice remains the same. Whether you’re promoting your product on a billboard or on Instagram, you need to ensure that each touchpoint supports your brand’s goals and addresses key customer needs.

The fourth P can refer to a physical location, a digital touchpoint or a mindset.

As the old saying goes, it helps to be in the right place at the right time. Marketers can control this factor by developing thoughtful buyer journeys – or sales funnels – and lead nurturing campaigns that help customers make a purchase decision.

For example, if you find that your customers are most inclined to buy once they understand the cost-saving benefits of your offering, you can construct a marketing funnel that places your audience in that position before making the hard sell. So, if customers read a blog and then download a white paper about cost savings, you could include a call to action at the end of the white paper, encouraging readers to call for more information.

6 Steps of the Strategic Planning Process

When making a marketing plan, it’s a common mistake for new marketers to start with the deliverables. Full of enthusiasm, they’ll dash off several blog articles, social media posts and pay-per-click ad headlines. Often, their eagerness will begin to wane when they don’t see huge results from their efforts.

This happens due to a lack of foundation.

The best marketing strategies aren’t built on gut feelings, enthusiasm or brute force; they’re built on carefully researched information, scientific analysis and psychological understanding.

An effective strategic marketing process includes:

  • Deep knowledge of your organization’s goals and how your marketing plan promotes those objectives.
  • Researched findings about your customers’ needs and desires.
  • Campaign-specific marketing goals (E.g. building thought awareness or driving sales) supported by measurable performance indicators.
  • Tangible collateral and associated distribution channels.

Follow these 6 steps to create an actionable marketing plan for your business:

1. Know Where You Are

Before you can make a plan, you need to know where your organization stands today.

Work with relevant stakeholders to define the goals of the business and how the marketing department currently supports them. Consider the brand’s current search engine optimization strategy and how it will benefit the organization’s marketing efforts.

Conduct a SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) to pinpoint what you’re doing right, what you can improve on and how external market factors will affect your customer relationships. This process can open up areas in need of further analysis.

The beginning of the planning stage is the time to consider everything that might influence your market position.

SWOT analysis

2. Know Your Audience

Understanding your organization is one side of the coin, knowing your customers is the other side.

Segmenting your audience is a good way to identify the number of marketing tactics you’ll need to employ. For example, if you find that only half of your customer base uses social media, you’ll need to spread your efforts across multiple channels.

The importance of scientific research at this stage cannot be overstated. Even if you have years of experience in the field, you can’t fully predict how your customers’ expectations, needs and wants will evolve over time.

Conduct surveys, do research and – most importantly – talk to your audience!

3. Know Where You Want to Go

With a firm understanding of your offerings and your audience, you can start thinking about next steps.

Define your goals for the year, then break them down into quarterly, monthly and weekly objectives. Tie these goals to the organization’s long-term goals. For example, if your organization wants to increase revenue by 10% over four years, what marketing objectives must be accomplished for that to happen?

Be optimistic when setting goals, but never lose sight of real market conditions.

For every target you establish, you should define metrics by which to judge your success. Metrics can tell you when to adjust your course of action.

4. Pick Your Channels and Tactics (Think Big)

An effective marketing strategy addresses the entire sales cycle.

For B2C brands, that might be as simple as making customers aware of your brand. For more complex B2B brands, you may need to build thought leadership, spread awareness, develop engaging relationships with potential buyers and more.

There are many unique ways to appeal to B2B customers .

strategic marketing planning meaning

At this stage, you should think big.

  • How would you market your product or service if you had an unlimited marketing budget?
  • What channels would you use?
  • What type of content would you create?

Get all of your ideas out so you can consider each one carefully. At this stage, you may need to conduct further research into the cost and ROI of each tactic.

5. Develop Your Budget and Your Revised Tactics (Pare Down)

Now it’s time to solidify your plans into actionable tactics.

Decide which channels you want to use and create a calendar of content you want to promote. If you’re using paid advertising like billboards, radio ads or pay-per-click display networks, you’ll need to create budgets and bidding strategies.

Compared with the previous step, this is where you get realistic.

To maximize your marketing budget, and choose the ideal mix of collateral, you’ll need to be confident that each investment of time and resources is relevant to your business goals and your customers’ needs.

6. Measure and Adjust Your Strategy Periodically

Implementing your marketing plan isn’t the end.

Once your strategy is off the ground, you’ll need to watch it carefully to determine if it’s meeting expectations. By giving every tactic a metric by which to judge its performance, you can make valuable adjustments to your strategy over time.

These alterations may be small, like posting to your social media accounts at a different time of day; they might be big, such as swapping out one tactic for another. The important thing to remember is that any change you make should be informed by keen analysis of your current progress.

Your Free Strategic Marketing Plan Template

Use this template to structure your own marketing plan. It’s designed to be extensible and easy to use. Simply make a copy of it and add or delete fields as they apply to your needs. By filling it out, this template will help you visualize your strategy more clearly and ultimately become more confident in your ability to grow your brand’s footprint in the marketplace.

Your ability to clearly plan your marketing strategy will determine your future success. The more detailed your plan, the better your chances of success. Map out your goals, choose your metrics and commit to adjusting your strategy based on scientific evidence.

[Company name]

Marketing mission statement.

Briefly outline how your marketing strategy will support your organization’s business objectives.

SWOT Analysis

What are you currently doing that’s giving you an edge over your competitors? What do your customers like about your brand?

What do your competitors do better than you? What can you do more efficiently? Where do you struggle to fully support your customers?

Opportunities

How is your industry changing? How can you prepare for the future? How can you better define your value proposition to engage new customers?

What could draw your customers away from your brand? What industry disruptions are on the horizon? What could slow the growth of your organization?

Marketing actions

Overview: Briefly describe the initiative. (E.g. We’ll build a library of infographics to help our customers understand market trends.)

Desired outcome: What’s your goal? (E.g. We want to increase organic traffic to our resource library by 3% over the next quarter)

KPI / Metric: How will you objectively measure your outcome? (E.g. Page visitors, time-on-site, clicks, etc.)

Desired outcome:

KPI / Metric:

Market segments

[segment 1].

Demographics: Superficial details about your audience. (E.g. gender, age, income and marital status.)

Psychographics: What motivates your audience? (E.g. personal interests, attitudes, values, desires.)

Challenges: What problems do they need to overcome?

Preferred channels: Where do they absorb industry news? Where do they go to ask questions and seek professional insights?

Preferred content types: How do they prefer to gain new knowledge? Do they prefer video, audio or written content?

[Segment 2]

Demographics:

Psychographics:

Challenges:

Preferred channels:

Preferred content types:

[Segment 3]

Buyer personas, [persona 1].

Name: Each persona should have a unique name.

Age: What’s the average age range of this persona?

Job title: List a few common job titles.

Motivations / goals: What do they hope to achieve? What drives them?

Personal interests: What do they like to do outside of work?

Challenges: What business challenges do they face? What’s stopping them from achieving their goals?

[Persona 2]

Motivations / goals:

Personal interests:

[Persona 3]

Competitor analysis, [competitor 1].

Company name:

Competing products: How are their offerings similar to your own? How are they different?

Areas of overlap: How do they market their offerings? Are you competing for space in the same channels ?

[Competitor 2]

Competing products:

Areas of overlap:

[Competitor 3]

Strategy overview, [product / service 1].

Price: What’s the current pricing strategy? How do customers perceive the price in relation to the value of the product?

Promotion: How will you communicate the offering’s value proposition?

Place: Which channels will you use to promote this offering?

[Product / Service 2]

[product / service 3], website / content.

Channel Name:

Intent: What’s your goal? (E.g. We will promote brand awareness through a series of blog posts written by our senior leadership.)

KPI / Metric: How will you measure your progress? (E.g. Organic traffic, bounce rate, conversions.)

Social media

Influencers.

Editor’s Note: Updated November 2021.

Alexander Santo

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strategic marketing planning meaning

Alexander Santo is a Brafton writer living in Washington. ​He enjoys searching for the perfect cup of coffee, browsing used book shops and attending punk rock concerts.

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The Definitive Guide to Strategic Marketing Planning

By Joe Weller | June 23, 2017

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In this article, we’ve researched and outlined the key components of a strategic marketing plan that will help you align your overall marketing and business goals.

Included on this page, you’ll find the essential steps to develop a strategic marketing plan with free downloadable templates, examples of how various marketing processes work , and how marketing automation can give you a competitive edge .

5 Essential Steps for a Successful Strategic Marketing Process

The strategic marketing process is a deliberate series of steps to help you identify and reach your goals. Even more, you’ll discover what your customers want and develop products that meet those needs. Here are the steps to a successful strategic marketing process.

  • Situation Analysis
  • Marketing Strategy/Planning
  • Marketing Mix
  • Implementation and Control

Marketing Process Overview

Strategic marketing planning involves setting goals and objectives, analyzing internal and external business factors, product planning, implementation, and tracking your progress. Consider the example of Apple, winner of the CMO Survey Award for Marketing Excellence for the past seven years. Here’s an example of the strategic marketing plan for one of the most successful companies in the world.   Mission: Apple is dedicated to making innovative, high-quality products.

Situation Analysis: Apple’s competitive advantage is driven by its commitment to understanding customer needs, focusing on the products that are core to its mission, and fostering a collaborative work culture.

Marketing Strategy: Apple usually is first to the marketplace with new products and the company relies on brand loyalty from existing customers as a strategy when launching new products and services.

Marketing Mix: While Apple offers a range of products, it values premium pricing and relies on strict guidelines for distribution.

Implementation and Control: Each Apple product complements the others and work within the same ecosystem, so customers tend to stay with the brand, creating loyal consumers.   The strategic marketing process puts all the pieces together so that everything you do contributes to the success of your business. Rather than executing haphazard activities and ideas, developing a solid plan that weaves goals and tactics into a seamless experience is essential. You can follow these steps to create products and services that will delight your customers and beat out your competitors.

Step One: Mission

First, identify and understand the company’s mission. Maybe it’s written down and promoted throughout the organization. If not, talk to stakeholders to find out why your company exists. A mission statement explains why a company is in business and how it can benefit consumers. Sometimes, the mission statement is aspirational, motivating staff and inspiring customers. Or it is simply a straightforward statement about who you are. Either way, you can’t plan a marketing strategy without knowing clearly what business you are in and why.   Here are some example mission statements:   Citigroup: Our goal for Citigroup is to be the most respected global financial services company. Like any other public company, we’re obligated to deliver profits and growth to our shareholders. Of equal importance is to deliver those profits and generate growth responsibly.   IKEA: At IKEA, our vision is to create a better everyday life for many people. Our business idea supports this vision by offering a wide range of well-designed, functional home furnishing products at prices so low that as many people as possible will be able to afford them.   Universal Health Services: To provide superior quality healthcare services that: PATIENTS recommend to family and friends, PHYSICIANS prefer for their patients, PURCHASERS select for their clients, EMPLOYEES are proud of, and INVESTORS seek for long-term returns.   Unlike the other steps in the planning process, senior leaders or the board of directors typically develop the mission statement and corporate objectives. Your role is to identify those objectives in the planning process to ensure that your efforts stay aligned with corporate leadership.   The mission statement is a core message that guides and influences your marketing strategy. Questions to ask when evaluating the mission:

  • Why is your company in business?
  • What is the purpose of your business?
  • What is the strategic influence for your business?
  • What is the desired public perception for your business?
  • How does your mission statement clarify your strategy?
  • How does your mission statement unify your team?

Step Two: Situation Analysis

The second step of the strategic marketing process is to evaluate internal and external factors that affect your business and market. Your analysis will illuminate your strengths and the challenges you face — either with internal resources or with external competition in the marketplace. Situation analysis provides a clear, objective view of the health of your business, your current and prospective customers, industry trends, and your company’s position in the marketplace.   There are several methods to conduct this analysis. A typical analysis is called a SWOT analysis: strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.

Strengths and weaknesses are internal factors, under your company’s control. What do you do well? What needs to be better? Opportunities and threats are external factors, such as interest rates or a new competitor in the market. Here are some questions that can help you identify internal and external factors:

  • Strengths: What do you do well? What are the factors that you control? What is your competitive advantage? How are your products and services superior to others in the marketplace?
  • Weakness: Where are you underperforming? What is limiting your ability to succeed? Where do limited resources affect your success?
  • Opportunities: What are untapped markets? Where is the potential for new business? Can you take advantage of any market trends?
  • Threats: What are the obstacles? Which external factors (political, technological, economic) can cause a problem?

SWOT Analysis with Summary Template

Download SWOT Analysis Template With Summary

WORD | Smartsheet

A 5C analysis (Company, Customers, Competitors, Collaborators, Climate) is another way to evaluate the market environment. Like SWOT, it includes an internal analysis as well as an exploration of external factors.

strategic marketing planning meaning

Here are some questions you can ask when working on a 5C analysis:

  • Company: How successful are your product lines? What is your image in the marketplace? How effectively are you achieving your goals? How does your company’s culture affect your performance?
  • Customers: Who is your audience and what is the market size? How much is your customer base growing? What motivates customers to buy your product or service? What are overall sales trends and how is the buying process changing? 
  • Competitors: Who are your direct, indirect, and future competitors? What are their products and market shares? How are they positioned in the market? What are their strengths and weaknesses?
  • Collaborators: Who are your suppliers, distributors, partners, and agencies? How can they help you grow your business? How does the stability of their business affect the success of your business?
  • Climate: What are the governmental policies and regulations that affect the market? What economic factors (inflation, interest rates) are at play? What trends influence your customers? What is the impact of technology on the demand for your product or how could technology give you an advantage over your competitors?

Download 5C Analysis Template

Excel   |   PDF

You can also conduct a PEST analysis (Political, Economic, Social, Technological), which is similar to the climate section of a 5C analysis. This method provides a comprehensive analysis of external factors that could affect your company.

PEST Analysis

Here are some questions you can ask when performing a PEST analysis:

  • Political: What laws and regulators affect consumers? What’s the impact of trade regulations, employment laws, and tax guidelines? How stable are the foreign markets and countries in which you sell products, contract with suppliers, or offer services?
  • Economic: How do interest rates, inflation, taxes, and exchange rates affect your customers and your bottom line? What is the impact of the stock market on your business? What are the local business cycles and overall economic growth?
  • Social: What lifestyles and attitudes affect the buying habits of your consumers? What are the demographics of your customers (age, gender, education, etc.)? How are they changing?  
  • Technical: What patents, innovations and licenses can influence your company? Which manufacturing trends can increase your production levels or drive down costs? How can information technology help or hurt your product placement, positioning, and promotion?

Download PEST Analysis Template

Your analysis, no matter which method you use, will help you list the most critical problems and relevant opportunities, as well as show you how well your company can tackle projects. Once you have a clear picture of your business, you can identify potential markets and products.

Step Three: Marketing Plan

Now that you’ve identified opportunities through your analysis, you should prioritize and map out which ones you are going to pursue. Writing a marketing plan will specify your target customers and how you will reach them, and should also include a forecast of the anticipated results. These questions can help:

  • How will customers respond to your marketing efforts? 
  • How much will the plan cost? 
  • How will your competition respond? 

The data from your market research and situation analysis will help you build these projections into your plan.   Define Your Target Audience

Few companies can meet the needs and wants of the entire market. You want to split the market into a segment that aligns best with your strengths and opportunities. Your goal is to identify customers. You can select your target market by choosing all kinds of characteristics, behaviors, and demographics. The important thing is to make sure the audience is clearly defined and large enough to support your product or service.  

how to segment your target market

  Even though you may have some information about your customers based on your situation analysis, you may need to conduct more research on their needs and wants. With research, you can create detailed profiles or personas of your ideal customers. The more you know about your target audience, the more effectively you can offer them value through your product or service. Nothing matters more than how you make customers feel about your company.   Set Measurable Goals 

How will you know if your plan succeeds? You need specific, measurable goals with milestones that measure your progress. Do you want to increase your sales? The goal you set should specify how much you want to grow the sales number, and the timeframe for meeting that target. Each goal should be actionable and attainable through tactics you control. At this stage, avoid contingent goals, which are dependent on circumstances beyond your control. With each goal, list the tactics or steps you will take to achieve it. Combine simple, clear, and precise goals (whether it’s gaining customers, improving brand recognition or something else) with a detailed plan that defines the tactics to meet your goal. For more information on writing SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-Bound) goals, read this article .    Identify and Set a Marketing Budget 

Now it’s time to allocate the resources that will turn your plan into action. Your budget will outline all the expected costs for implementing your marketing plan, including advertising, online content, branding, public relations, staffing costs, and more. Depending on the size of your budget, you may have to make some tough choices about which goals and tactics are the top priorities. Or you may have to adjust your tactics until you reach a budget that’s affordable. By creating the budget, you can finalize and stick to your plan. For more help with marketing budgets, read 12 Free Marketing Budget Templates .

Step Four: Developing Marketing Mix Decisions

At this stage of the strategic marketing process, it’s time to focus on the “how” of planning. Your marketing mix is based on the 4Ps of marketing, including Product, Price, Promotion, and Place.  In 1960, E. J. McCarthy first expressed the 4Ps, and it is probably the best-known way to describe the marketing mix. The 4Ps will guide the way you convey the value of your product to your customers. You are positioning your product and its competitive advantage. You need to be clear about what you are marketing: convenience or quality? And you need to know who is likely to buy your product or service.    By using the market research conducted in step two, you can develop the ideal marketing mix for your target audience and the type of product or service you sell. Although there are dozens of marketing channels, you will want to choose the tactics that will reach your prospects when they’ll be most receptive to your message.  

The Four Ps of Marketing

  Product: A product is a good or service that meets the needs of your target market. Even more, products solve problems. Whether you are developing a marketing plan for Coca-Cola, a luxury hotel, or a cell phone, you have to know what problem it solves and why your product is a unique solution. Make sure you have a clear understanding of all the details of your product, including its features, branding, and packaging.

  • What is the product or service?
  • What does the customer want from it?
  • What needs does it satisfy?
  • What features does it have to meet these needs?
  • How and where will the customer use it?
  • How does it compare with similar products?
  • Who are the competitors? 

Price: The price is the amount of money your target market is willing to pay for your product. Factors for price include any discounts, payment periods, and list price, as well as how much it costs your company to produce the product. You also need to consider overall marketplace conditions and your competition. How healthy is the economy? How much are your competitors charging for a similar product? Do they have the same business model?   The marketing message around your price depends on your market and your audience. Maybe it’s a way to position your product in a crowded marketplace. It might be a competitive advantage or a way of demonstrating the value of your product.

  • What is the value of the product to the customer?
  • Are there existing price points for similar products? If so, what are they?
  • Will a small decrease give you extra market share? How much will that affect the product’s perceived value?
  • Will discounts to certain market segments be part of your strategy?

Promotion: The way you communicate with your target audience about the value and benefit of your product is promotion. Think of promotion as an opportunity to educate your customers about your products and services. You teach them the value of what you offer and how your product meets their needs or solves their problem. There are countless ways to educate them through marketing channels including direct marketing, paid search and social, advertising, public relations, and sales promotions that create brand awareness. This extends to almost every aspect of how you present the product to your target market, and is everything that teaches your audience about your product or brand. 

  • Where can you get your marketing messages across to your target market? Options include advertising on TV and billboards, direct marketing, public relations, sponsored events, and promotions. Consider the details you used when segmenting your audience.
  • What marketing channels does your target market use on a regular basis? Where and when are they most ready to buy your product?
  • When is the best time to promote?
  • How do your competitors do their promotions?

Place: Consider place as product distribution or how you plan to get your product to your customers and make the buying process easy. Place includes distribution channels, outlets, and transportation to get the product to the target market.

  • Where do customers look for your product? In a store? Online? Through a catalogue?
  • Do you need a sales force to reach customers or should you sell directly to your target market?
  • What are the best distribution channels?
  • Where are your competitors reaching customers?

Step Five: Implementation and Control

Now it’s time to put your plan into action. Identify how and when you will launch your plan. At this stage of the strategic marketing process, you will reach out to customers to inform and persuade them about your product or service. Your next steps include getting the resources (cash and staffing) to market your product, organizing the people who will do the work, creating calendars to keep the work on track, and managing all the details for each goal. It will help you stay focused and energized if you create monthly benchmarks and projects, weekly action steps, and daily marketing appointments.   Remember, the strategic marketing process is dynamic. You need to regularly measure and evaluate the results of your plan in order to succeed. This will help you see whether you are accomplishing your goals and where you need to adjust tactics to improve your results. This can include looking at revenue, sales, customer satisfaction, the number of views your website receives, or other metrics. If the numbers aren’t meeting your projections, you can make changes to get back on track. You also need to monitor the actions of your competitors. How does the success of your product affect the price of similar items on the market? Are new products being released that could be perceived of greater value by your audience? Use this information to make informed decisions about the 4Ps for your product.

What Is the Definition of Strategic Marketing?

A marketing plan establishes the goals and tactics of every marketing campaign. It keeps everyone in your organization on the same page about the direction and purpose of your marketing efforts. A marketing plan also provides a way for you to measure your success. Without a plan, you won’t really know whether you’re succeeding.

While every individual campaign should have a plan, your company also needs a strategic marketing plan to guide your overall efforts. A strategic plan identifies your business goals, the marketplace in which you compete, your target audience, the ways you want to reach them, and how you will evaluate your success. It integrates everything you say and do to grow your company. A strategic marketing plan is not a static document that gets tossed in a drawer once it’s written. Instead, a plan is a living document that guides your work and is regularly updated to reflect changes in your business, your customers, and your competition.

The process of developing a strategic marketing plan is crucial to your business. You cannot create strategic marketing without strategic thinking. This planning helps you clarify your goals and identify where you see your business in the future, which ultimately strengthens your strategy. A strategic marketing planning process also helps with:

  • Providing a clear map of your company’s goals and how to achieve them.
  • Getting all stakeholders to share a common goal and a have a common understanding of your company’s opportunities and challenges.
  • Identifying and meeting customer needs with the right products in the right places.
  • Growing your market share and product lines, leading to more revenue.
  • Enabling smaller companies to compete with bigger firms.

One caution: A strategic marketing plan focuses on your goals for your products and customers. The overall business plan, which outlines all of your company’s goals, should support the marketing plan. If they don’t work together, neither plan will succeed.   What Problems Should You Anticipate in the Strategic Marketing Process 

Every manager knows to expect the best but plan for the worst. In the marketing planning process, here are some challenges you may face:

  • Confusing Strategy with Tactics: A strategic marketing plan outlines your larger goal. Sometimes, this can be confused with a tactical marketing plan. The difference between the two is that the strategy identifies your goals and objectives and the tactical marketing plan outlines the details for how you’ll reach those goals. Your strategy may be a larger goal, such as increasing your market share. Tactics are the action steps, such as lowering your prices, so more people buy your product. A successful plan needs both, implemented at the proper stage of the process.
  • Lack of Resources: Maybe your goal is to increase sales, but you don’t have the workforce to meet all the incoming orders. Perhaps you don’t have the resources to hire experienced people who can adequately staff the marketing pipeline. The strategic planning process will help you identify the resources you have and the best way to put them to work for the good of the company.
  • Assumptions About Your Customers: Market research can help you identify your target audience. Sometimes the audience changes, and your planning process should include steps for adjusting to the evolving tastes of consumers.

How Do Specific Marketing Processes Work?

The steps of the strategic marketing process (mission, situation analysis, marketing plan, marketing mix, and implementation and control) are different than the process for a specific marketing effort. Specific efforts may support one goal or business line, but the strategic process supports the entire mission of your organization.   Target Marketing Process

Target Marketing Process

Target marketing identifies the specific market segments that will help your business grow. The three main activities of target marketing are segmenting, targeting, and positioning. Organizations use this S-T-P approach to pinpoint the best prospective customers.

  • Segmenting: Segmenting divides the overall market into smaller groups based on demographics, geography, lifestyle or behavioral approaches.
  • Targeting: Choose the segment of potential customers that offers the most business opportunity for you.
  • Positioning: The final step is to position your product in a way that will appeal to the needs of your target audience and encourage them to buy your product.  

Content Marketing Process 

Content marketers generate demand for a product by generating a steady flow of content that focuses on the problems and desires of potential and current customers. Here are the five steps of the content marketing process: 

  • Plan: Develop a plan that specifies the details of creating, publishing, distributing, and measuring a content marketing program.
  • Create: Take key ideas and themes, and turn them into raw material.
  • Publish: Turn raw material into various kinds of content assets, including articles, blog posts, whitepapers, online events, videos, printed documents, and podcasts.
  • Distribute: Use a range of promotional tactics to distribute content assets.
  • Analyze: Track and measure the results so you can publish more effective content in the future.

Product Marketing Process

The product marketing process is the pipeline from strategy to implementation for a product marketing campaign. To be successful, this process focuses on making sure the product continues to meet the needs of customers throughout the product cycle. Here are the stages of this process:

  • Product: Research new ideas for meeting customer needs from a wide variety of sources, including customer feedback, sales requests, and competitor products.
  • Reach: Work with other departments to implement new ideas and develop marketing plans to deliver new products to consumers.
  • Audience: Track response through metrics and direct customer feedback.
  • Pricing: Prioritize innovation based on the customer value, the cost of implementing them, and the revenue they will generate. 

Inbound Marketing Process

Inbound Target Marketing Process

Inbound marketing draws prospective customers to your product by providing useful and quality content that entices them to find out more. The inbound approach includes content marketing, social strategies, and search engine optimization, all tactics that bring your target audience to you. It’s different than outbound marketing, a traditional approach in which you advertise your product or service, typically through television and radio, print ads, and direct mail. Here’s how inbound marketing works:

  • Attract and Engage: Create targeted content that answers your customers’ questions and be readily available online. This includes blog content, a social media presence, keywords that guide prospective customers to your site when they are searching for answers, and a well-designed and helpful website.
  • Convert: Get more information about your prospective customers so you can guide them through the sales funnel. Start collecting details about your customers through sign-up forms and landing pages, email newsletters, ebooks, whitepapers, and tip sheets. The key is to deliver targeted marketing to the right audience at the right time.
  • Close: Once you’ve collected detailed information about your prospective customers, you can customize the marketing that leads them to buy your product or service. This includes email messaging, which is typically done using marketing automation software that responds to the actions of a prospective customer.
  • Delight: While an immediate goal may be the sale of one product, your strategic goals focus on brand loyalty and long-term value. In this stage, you should be staying in touch with your customers, monitoring the conversations on social media, asking for feedback through surveys, and finding ways to provide rewards for customer loyalty. 

Email Marketing Process  

Email Campaign Segmentation Process

  Email marketing is one of the most powerful drivers of sales for many businesses. It has an advantage over direct mail because you can track and measure your results, and it tends to be less expensive than other marketing channels. Here’s an overview of the email marketing process:

  • Define: Identify your goals and your audience. Base the content of your email on who you want to reach and what you want them to do.
  • Test: Email marketing has a range of variables that can affect the performance of your campaign. You need to choose the best design, content, and format for the message you want to send.
  • Send: Email is one of the largest drivers of sales for many products. Each email you send has to align with your brand, connect with your audience, and offer a clear call to action.
  • Measure and Report: You want to understand how people interact with each campaign. Track the open rate for your email, the number of clicks through to your site, and when they read your marketing. This data will help you create a more effective campaign next time.

How Is Marketing Automation Changing the Strategic Marketing Process?

Marketing automation is about software that streamlines, automates, and measures marketing processes and tasks. It reduces the amount of manual effort and tracking that marketing campaigns require. Automation makes your marketing, and your company, more efficient, effective, and profitable. Whether you have a small company or a large organization, you can gain a competitive edge by automating your ability to target your audience and track and measure your results. Here’s how:

  • Marketing automation helps you nurture prospects for the long-term. Automation connects multiple digital channels, including social media, email, and content marketing. You can create and deliver a comprehensive plan in which every consumer touch point is optimized for conversion.
  • Marketing automation makes your communication stronger. Once you’ve collected user data, you can add dynamic content that adds personal touches to your campaign. You’re not blasting customers with broad or irrelevant advertising messages. Instead, you’re guiding prospects through the sales funnel. With every action by your prospective customer, you can automate a response.
  • Marketing automation can help your company find an effective approach for email campaigns. You can test different variables like email send times, subject lines, and ideas for personalization.
  • Marketing automation improves your ability to segment your customers. As you gather data about their behavior, interests, and demographics, you can refine your messaging.
  • Marketing automation helps you listen to your customers. You can map sales cycles, collect email data (unsubscribe rates, open rates, spam complaints), and customer service feedback.

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Strategic Marketing

What is strategic marketing.

Strategic marketing is a marketing process used to identify and leverage a business’s growth opportunities. It combines planning, market research, competitive analysis and other key elements to execute an effective marketing plan . With a strong focus on understanding customer needs, it helps businesses develop their products and services to engage their target audience.

At its core, strategic marketing helps businesses gain a long-term competitive advantage by making smart decisions about product offerings, pricing, distribution and promotion. It's critical for long-term business success, since it allows brands to identify opportunities, grow their market share and increase profitability.

5 steps to creating a strategic marketing plan

Through strategic marketing, businesses can effectively target their ideal customer base by tailoring their marketing plan to satisfy them. This involves developing value propositions that meet consumer needs and executing plans that effectively deliver the desired results.

The following are five steps that can help businesses of any size build a strategic marketing plan of their own:

1. Assess the current market

Before creating a strategic marketing plan, it’s important to assess the current market and competitive environment in order to identify potential opportunities and threats. This can be done through market research, competitive analysis and customer behavior analysis.

2. Set strategic objectives

Once you have an understanding of the market, set objectives to guide your strategy and plan. These should be based on an assessment of your business’s strengths and weaknesses, as well as market opportunities and risks.

3. Identify strategic goals

Your next step is setting a list of goals your business wants to accomplish with your marketing plan. These goals should be specific, measurable and attainable.

4. Create a strategy

Having identified your marketing objectives and goals, it’s time to strategize a plan. This strategic plan should outline the steps, resources and timeline needed to achieve each of your business goals.

5. Monitor and review

The last step in creating a strategic marketing plan is to monitor and review its progress regularly. This will ensure that any adjustments needed are made accordingly and that the strategic goals are being met on time and within your budget

Strategic marketing metrics and analysis

This is the process of identifying opportunities and risks in order to inform your marketing plan. This process involves analyzing market trends, assessing customer behavior and competitor strategies in order to stay ahead of the competition. Common strategic marketing analysis metrics include customer segmentation, positioning, competitive landscape, product portfolios and pricing strategies.

You may also be interested in:

Market Share

Target Market

Focus Group

Market Penetration

Multi-channel Marketing

Small business marketing

Strategic marketing examples

Some famous examples of brands who nailed their strategic marketing thinking, planning and execution include:

Apple's "Think Different" campaign

Introduced in 1997 , this campaign by Apple celebrated the creativity and innovation of artists, musicians and other cultural icons. The ads strategically helped establish Apple as a leader in the tech industry and reinforced its image as a company that values creativity and innovation.

Old Spice's "The Man Your Man Could Smell Like" campaign

Old Spice’s 2010 campaign featured a charismatic spokesman who challenged men to upgrade their grooming routine. The ads were a huge success, strategically driving sales and establishing Old Spice as a leader in the men's grooming industry.

Books on strategic marketing

Want to be inspired? Get started with these resources.

Blue Ocean Strategy : How to Create Uncontested Market Space and Make the Competition Irrelevant by W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne: This book offers a framework for creating new market space and attracting new customers. For businesses looking to disrupt traditional markets, it provides practical strategies on how to gain a competitive advantage.

Crossing the Chasm : Marketing and Selling Disruptive Products to Mainstream Customers by Geoffrey Moore : Moore provides a roadmap for businesses marketing innovative products to mainstream customers. The book explores the challenges and opportunities associated with crossing the "chasm" between early adopters and the mass market.

Related Term

Marketing Management

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What is Strategic Marketing Planning?

The strategic marketing planning process involves creating a marketing strategy that outlines what your objectives are, what programs you’ll use to achieve those objectives, who is responsible for those metrics, and by when you’ll be achieving those goals. In short, developing and managing a strategic marketing plan is crucial in reaching business objectives.

What is the strategic marketing planning process?

Step 1: liaise with other departments.

While marketing does proactively drive demand and new business, they need to do so in the framework of supporting the larger business objectives. That’s why when it comes to the planning process, start by looking at other departments. Here’s what to ask yourself before developing and managing a strategic marketing plan: 

  • What are the executive team’s top priorities for this year and long term?
  • Who is our target market?
  • What pipeline and revenue numbers are we aiming for this fiscal year?
  • Are any adoption rates or implementation goals being set for our products and services? 

Step 2: Create marketing goals that align with the business

Now that you’ve understood the business goals, you’re more informed on  how to plan marketing strategy.

For example, if the business has a goal to generate $5 million in new business from Jan. 1 to June 1, you have to ask yourself how marketing can drive new business. For instance, let’s say in your business, each new client would be purchasing an average of $500,000. That means sales needs to close 10 new clients in order to meet their $5 million goal. 

Then you need to figure out how many qualified accounts you need to tee up for sales, in order to close 10 new clients. For example, a good way to start is: how many accounts today engage with our marketing content, get passed to sales, are qualified, have a demo, and then book? If the percentage is 10%, then you need 100 contacts to get transferred to sales in order to close about 10 new clients. 

That is to say, starting with a focus on your goals, you ensure that you are actually building a marketing strategy vs. plan (a list of marketing tactics). 

Step 3: Determine which campaign planning will achieve that marketing goal 

In order to generate 100 engaged contacts for sales, you want to look at your existing programs and determine the success of each at driving engagement. For example, let’s say you ran four webinars last quarter. Each had 100 registrants, and 30 people attended. Of those 30 people, 10 requested a demo and five were from qualified accounts. Once passed over, sales closed one lead. 

If that’s the average data, then you now know that you can expect a webinar to result in five contacts and one deal.

After that, replicate the process across your campaigns to plan out which activities will actually support your company growth goals.

Step 4: Create a marketing campaign calendar that aligns with your goals 

Now that you have focused goals that are strategically aligned with business objectives, you can create a calendar of activities, from content marketing to events. The best part? You won’t have someone asking “why is marketing running that webinar again” because you’d know the answer—it’s to drive X number of leads to sales.

Then, in your marketing campaign planning calendar, you’d want to include this information:

Period: Q1 Goal: Support sales in generating $5 million in new business, from Jan. 1 to June 1, by generating 100 engaged contacts.

Step 5: Establish your investments

After that, it’s time to align investments to your planned campaigns. The good news is that marketers who conduct the marketing strategy process from the get go can easily justify and secure budget for their activities—because they can directly tie that dollar into how it will impact the business goal. That’s one of the reasons why Uptempo’s process of marketing strategy planning encourages marketers to directly tie their spend to specific company goals.

Step 6: Let it run!

Finally, it’s time to execute on your plan—and start achieving business impact. While you execute on your strategic marketing plan, keep in mind that you should revisit the business goals quarterly. That keeps you on the right track to ensure the marketing organization continues to drive toward overarching corporate goals.

Knowing how to strategize marketing plans is a critical part of the marketing process. Now that you’ve completed the six steps of strategic marketing planning, you’ve set yourself and your team up for success. 

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strategic marketing planning meaning

  • The Strategic Marketing Process: A Complete Guide

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strategic marketing planning meaning

A well defined and feasible marketing strategy makes meeting customer needs a likely and attainable goal. And while most companies do great marketing, only a few have created brand attachment and customer loyalty through their marketing practices and tactics.

The Strategic Marketing Process: A Complete Guide

© Shutterstock.com | PureSolution

In this article, we explore, 1) the definition and purpose of strategic marketing , 2) the three phases of the strategic marketing process , 3) guidelines for effective strategic marketing process , 4) problems to expect in the strategic marketing process , 5) p.e.s.t: trends to consider when implementing marketing strategy , 6) strategic marketing process simplified , and 7) why Apple’s strategic marketing process is genius .

DEFINITION AND PURPOSE OF STRATEGIC MARKETING

Strategic Marketing is a process of planning, developing and implementing maneuvers to obtain a competitive edge in your chosen niche. This process is necessary to outline and simplify a direct map of the company’s objectives and how to achieve them. A company wanting to secure a certain share of the market, should ensure they clearly identify their mission, survey the industry situation, define specific objectives and develop, implement and evaluate a plan to guarantee they can provide their customers with the products they need, when they need them. Of course, the central objective of any company will be customer satisfaction so they may dominate the market and become leaders in their industry and thus providing substantial business satisfaction. In order to do that, three phases of marketing strategy must be perfected to create delight in their customers and beat out the competition.

THREE PHASES OF STRATEGIC MARKETING PROCESS

1. planning phase.

The planning phase is the most important as it analyzes internal strengths and weaknesses, external competition, changes in technology, industry culture shifts and provides an overall picture of the state of the organization. This phase has four key components that will provide a clear diagram of where your company is and what it is doing.

  • Analyze competitors
  • Research company’s current and prospective customers
  • Assess company
  • Identifying trends in the company’s industry

Once this analysis is complete the results should be used as a basis for developing the company’s marketing plan, which should be measurable and attainable.

  • Marketing program – Once the needs of the customers have been determined, and the decisions have been made about which products will satisfy those needs, a marketing program or mix must be developed. This marketing program is the how aspect of the planning phase, which focuses on the 4Ps and the budget needed for each element of the mix.
  • Once the customer needs are understood, goals can be set to meet them, thus increasing the chances of success with new products.
  • Find points of difference: like your company’s unique selling point, each product should also have a certain set of traits or characteristics that makes it superior to the competitive substitute. For example, your product could be longer lasting, more accessible, more reliable or very user-friendly so the buyers will choose it over the competition each time.
  • Position the product: market so that in people’s minds your product is the “go to” for their problem. Through emotional and mental marketing customers will associate your brand with their solution and eliminate choice. For example, many mothers use “Pampers,” when referring to diapers, as this brand has been positioned as the go to in baby diapering needs.
  • Select target markets: based on the research and their commonalities, that way needs and goals are both met.
  • Price strategy : focuses on the list price, price allowances (reductions), discounts, payment periods, and credit contracts.
  • Place (Distribution) Strategy : the final ‘P’ in the marketing mix should focus on distribution channels, outlets and transportation to get the product to the customer when they need it.
  • Promotion Strategy : this element of the program should focus on direct marketing, advertising, public relations and sales promotions that create brand awareness.
  • Product Strategy : this element focuses on the features, packaging, branding and warranty of the product.

2. Implementation Phase

The implementation phase is the action portion of the process. If the firm cannot carry out the plan that was determined in the early stages, then the hours spent planning were wasted. However, if the planning was adequately and competently structured, then the program can be put into effect through a sales forecast and a budget, using the following four components.

  • Obtaining Resources – sums of cash to develop and market new products.
  • Designing marketing organization – there should be put in place a marketing hierarchy to properly see the plans to fruition.
  • Developing planning schedules – time needs to be allocated to specific tasks so they can be accomplished.
  • Executing the marketing plan – effectively executing the marketing plan will take attention to detail, and focus on the strategy and tactics defined in your marketing plan.

3. Evaluation or Control Phase

The evaluation phase is the checking phase. This process involves ensuring that the results of the program are in line with the goals set. The marketing team, especially the manager will need to observe any deviations in the plan and quickly correct negative deviations to get back on course; for example fluctuations of the dollar creates a lesser need for the product than in the past, then the production of said product should be repurposed for a new more desired item. And they should exploit the positive divergences as well, for example if sales are better than predicted for certain products then there could be more resources allocated to greater production or distribution of the same item.

A few ways to evaluate the effectiveness of your marketing strategy include paying attention to:

  • Strategy versus tactic – strategy defines goals and tactic defines actions to achieve goals.
  • Measurable versus vague – have milestones that define when you’ve achieved your goals.
  • Actionable versus Contingent – According to Inc.com : “ A strategic goal should be achievable through the tactics that support it, rather than dependent upon uncontrollable outside forces.”
  • Marketing strategy should be backed by a business plan with tactical moves to accomplish goals, or it is useless.

GUIDELINES FOR EFFECTIVE STRATEGIC MARKETING PROCESS

A well thought out plan for offering value and solutions to your target market allows the company to discover the needs of the targeted customers and fulfill those needs in a cost effective and timely fashion. This in turn allows for the marketing team to be able to measure a company’s value based on your ideal customer’s response to your product and strategy. Some guidelines to ensure this strategy is effective are:

  • Set measurable, achievable goals by ensuring they are clear, structured and measurable it will be easier to accomplish your purpose.
  • Base plans on facts and validated assumptions through market research .
  • Use simple, clear and precise plans to detail what benefits you will offer your clients and how. Customers are driven by needs and desires so a clear plan will target those to gain customer loyalty.
  • Have a feasible plan by using research to decide the best way to connect with and engage your ideal customers and then implement a plan your company can afford and carry to fulfillment to do so.
  • Ensure control and flexibility by customizing your business plans and goals to match the needs of the customers, as they determine the success or failure of your company.

copyofjoboffer_1_original(2)(1)

PROBLEMS TO EXPECT IN THE STRATEGIC MARKETING PROCESS

While creating the perfect marketing plan for your company, there are certain issues that could arise to deter the process. Here are a few possible issues to be prepared to face:

  • Organizational Issues such as Poor Assumptions : – assuming customer needs without validation, lack of skilled workforce to implement the plans once they are arrived at, loss of sight of customer needs during the planning phase and changing demographic of consumers.
  • Issues in the Marketing Department such as : inflexibility, performance assessment problems, coordination problems, poor information management and human relations issues.
  • General problems such as : trouble obtaining marketing feedback, issues related to cost of marketing and problems integrating collected information into plans.

P.E.S.T: TRENDS TO CONSIDER WHEN IMPLEMENTING MARKETING STRATEGIES

According to Business news daily , while industry related factors could affect a company’s performance, outside factors can also play a major role in the outcome of a business’s plans. To determine the role of the external factors, it is recommended that companies perform a PEST analysis. Below is a break-down of what the four factors analyze.

  • Political – this analyzes how legal issues and government regulations affect profit and consumer behavior. The major considerations of the political aspect are tax guidelines, political stability, trade regulations and embargos, employment laws and safety regulations. An example of this analysis and how it works is looking at the effects of political instability in a foreign market and how it affects your company’s plans.
  • Economic – this factor looks at the outside economic issues that affect a firm’s success. Companies should pay attention to economic growth, inflation rates, exchange, interest rates and local business cycles. Changes in interest rate could improve or decrease the company’s bottom line.
  • Social – demographic and cultural aspects affect whether a company can compete in the market or not. The social factor helps businesses to examine why customers purchase and what exactly their needs are. Issues to consider include lifestyle changes, health consciousness, environmental responsibility awareness, and attitudes toward work, education levels, population growth rates and country demographics. A certain shift in educational requirements may result in career changes that could reflect in changing needs of the customers.
  • Technical – this aspect considers how technology impacts product placement and marketing. Technology can bring advantages and challenges that will increase or decrease production level. Specific areas to consider are new technological advancements, the use of technology in marketing, the role of the Internet and the impact of the information technology changes. The introduction of the Internet has created an expectation of instant gratification in today’s consumer; so social media marketing has to be considered an option.

STRATEGIC MARKETING PROCESS SIMPLIFIED

According to Center for Simplified Strategic Planning , “ Any strategic planning process involves digesting information and some fairly difficult analysis. Good strategic planning should be simplified, not simplistic. ” And it should also answer the questions: what are we selling, to whom and how do we beat the competition? The first two questions will determine the focus of your overall business while the third will help you specify your strategies to market. The following five steps are essential to accomplishing a simple, effective strategic plan.

  • Identify objectives and determine mission
  • Do business environmental scan-including trends and competition
  • Devise strategy including SWOT , budget, marketing, price and distribution
  • Implement strategy-put your plan into action
  • Evaluate and modify- measure how close or far you are from objectives, track what works and change what doesn’t.

WHY APPLE’S STRATEGIC MARKETING PROCESS IS GENIUS

Apple has a significant competitive advantage over it’s rival because of it’s strategic marketing process. This company was voted overall winner of the 2012 CMO Survey Award for Marketing Excellence and before that it was listed in the top marketers group for five years in a row, as reported in Forbes.com . This competitive advantage is due to a thirty-five year old, 3-point philosophy employed by the Apple brand. The three points that constitute this philosophy include

  • empathy -authentic understanding of customer need,
  • focus- eliminate all unimportant opportunities and
  • impute – ensuring creative, professional presentation of products.

Listed below are some of the main strategies used by Apple to ensure they beat the competition in marketing, placement and brand awareness and loyalty.

  • Identify and respond to trends – though an innovative visionary, (the Apple Tablets ignited a market and were an industry leader) Apple’s team saw the digital trend shifting and responded with the iPad mini, despite Steve Jobs showing his disdain for smaller tablets in the past.
  • Analyze competition and adjust – Though Apple and Microsoft have always been in competition, the two technology giants have not passed up opportunities to collaborate. And while Apple worked with Microsoft to accumulate a very big share of the market, the company went ahead and added Intel chips into their computers to ensure they were a step ahead of the competition including Microsoft.
  • Innovation – Apple is usually first to market with products and visions customers love, and though it does not strive to be an innovator, usually focusing on specific strategy and enthusiasm, Apple is usually a leader in the market segment they occupy.
  • Emotional branding – Companies like Apple tend to have very specific strategic aims and work hard to ensure they are met. One such strategy can be seen as forming an emotional attachment to the products sold to ideal customers. By effectively integrating emotions into the marketing strategy, the brand recognizes positive results, such as customers spending nights lined up to be the first to own the newest product.
  • Enhanced distribution systems – Apple opened international retail stores and improved sales drastically. Now Apple representatives can be found in local malls and plazas to help solve customers’ issues and offer upsells and upgrades. This accessibility helps to build customer trust and helps make the decision process much easier when choosing a brand.
  • Excellent customer service – Apple brand is synonymous with excellence customer service, friendly environments, and great customer experiences. The secret lies in the acronym APPLE, which, according to Social media today spells out:
“ A pproach customers with a personalized warm welcome P robe politely to understand all the customer’s needs P resent a solution for the customer to take home today L isten for and resolve any issues or concerns E nd with a fond farewell and an invitation to return ”
  • Product placement – The Apple App store and iTunes compliment and extend the customer experience and the personality and reputation of the brand lead to loyalty and evangelism.

By incorporating these practices into your company’s marketing program and ensuring to follow through consistently, your company will be rewarded and recognized for its efforts.

strategic marketing planning meaning

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What is a Marketing Plan & How to Write One [+Examples]

Clifford Chi

Published: December 27, 2023

For a while now, you've been spearheading your organization's content marketing efforts, and your team's performance has convinced management to adopt the content marketing strategies you’ve suggested.

marketing plan and how to write one

Now, your boss wants you to write and present a content marketing plan, but you‘ve never done something like that before. You don't even know where to start.

Download Now: Free Marketing Plan Template [Get Your Copy]

Fortunately, we've curated the best content marketing plans to help you write a concrete plan that's rooted in data and produces results. But first, we'll discuss what a marketing plan is and how some of the best marketing plans include strategies that serve their respective businesses.

What is a marketing plan?

A marketing plan is a strategic roadmap that businesses use to organize, execute, and track their marketing strategy over a given period. Marketing plans can include different marketing strategies for various marketing teams across the company, all working toward the same business goals.

The purpose of a marketing plan is to write down strategies in an organized manner. This will help keep you on track and measure the success of your campaigns.

Writing a marketing plan will help you think of each campaign‘s mission, buyer personas, budget, tactics, and deliverables. With all this information in one place, you’ll have an easier time staying on track with a campaign. You'll also discover what works and what doesn't. Thus, measuring the success of your strategy.

Featured Resource: Free Marketing Plan Template

HubSpot Mktg plan cover

Looking to develop a marketing plan for your business? Click here to download HubSpot's free Marketing Plan Template to get started .

To learn more about how to create your marketing plan, keep reading or jump to the section you’re looking for:

How to Write a Marketing Plan

Types of marketing plans, marketing plan examples, marketing plan faqs, sample marketing plan.

Marketing plan definition graphic

If you're pressed for time or resources, you might not be thinking about a marketing plan. However, a marketing plan is an important part of your business plan.

Marketing Plan vs. Business Plan

A marketing plan is a strategic document that outlines marketing objectives, strategies, and tactics.

A business plan is also a strategic document. But this plan covers all aspects of a company's operations, including finance, operations, and more. It can also help your business decide how to distribute resources and make decisions as your business grows.

I like to think of a marketing plan as a subset of a business plan; it shows how marketing strategies and objectives can support overall business goals.

Keep in mind that there's a difference between a marketing plan and a marketing strategy.

strategic marketing planning meaning

Free Marketing Plan Template

Outline your company's marketing strategy in one simple, coherent plan.

  • Pre-Sectioned Template
  • Completely Customizable
  • Example Prompts
  • Professionally Designed

You're all set!

Click this link to access this resource at any time.

Marketing Strategy vs. Marketing Plan

A marketing strategy describes how a business will accomplish a particular goal or mission. This includes which campaigns, content, channels, and marketing software they'll use to execute that mission and track its success.

For example, while a greater plan or department might handle social media marketing, you might consider your work on Facebook as an individual marketing strategy.

A marketing plan contains one or more marketing strategies. It's the framework from which all of your marketing strategies are created and helps you connect each strategy back to a larger marketing operation and business goal.

For example, suppose your company is launching a new software product, and it wants customers to sign up. The marketing department needs to develop a marketing plan that'll help introduce this product to the industry and drive the desired signups.

The department decides to launch a blog dedicated to this industry, a new YouTube video series to establish expertise, and an account on Twitter to join the conversation around this subject. All this serves to attract an audience and convert this audience into software users.

To summarize, the business's marketing plan is dedicated to introducing a new software product to the marketplace and driving signups for that product. The business will execute that plan with three marketing strategies : a new industry blog, a YouTube video series, and a Twitter account.

Of course, the business might consider these three things as one giant marketing strategy, each with its specific content strategies. How granular you want your marketing plan to get is up to you. Nonetheless, every marketing plan goes through a particular set of steps in its creation.

Learn what they are below.

  • State your business's mission.
  • Determine the KPIs for this mission.
  • Identify your buyer personas.
  • Describe your content initiatives and strategies.
  • Clearly define your plan's omissions.
  • Define your marketing budget.
  • Identify your competition.
  • Outline your plan's contributors and their responsibilities.

1. State your business's mission.

Your first step in writing a marketing plan is to state your mission. Although this mission is specific to your marketing department, it should serve your business‘s main mission statement.

From my experience, you want to be specific, but not too specific. You have plenty of space left in this marketing plan to elaborate on how you'll acquire new customers and accomplish this mission.

mission-statement-examples

Need help building your mission statement? Download this guide for examples and templates and write the ideal mission statement.

2. Determine the KPIs for this mission.

Every good marketing plan describes how the department will track its mission‘s progress. To do so, you need to decide on your key performance indicators (KPIs) .

KPIs are individual metrics that measure the various elements of a marketing campaign. These units help you establish short-term goals within your mission and communicate your progress to business leaders.

Let's take our example of a marketing mission from the above step. If part of our mission is “to attract an audience of travelers,” we might track website visits using organic page views. In this case, “organic page views” is one KPI, and we can see our number of page views grow over time.

Also, make sure to check whether your current reporting software facilitates the KPIs you need. Some reporting tools can only measure a set of pre-defined metrics, which can cause massive headaches in particular marketing campaigns.

However, other tools, like HubSpot’s analytics software , can offer full flexibility over the KPIs you wish to track. You can generate custom reports that reveal anything from average website engagement rates to page visits via organic, email, social media traffic, and more.   

These KPIs will come into the conversation again in step 4.

3. Identify your buyer personas.

A buyer persona is a description of who you want to attract. This can include age, sex, location, family size, and job title. Each buyer persona should directly reflect your business's current and potential customers. So, all business leaders must agree on your buyer personas.

buyer-persona-templates

Create your buyer personas with this free guide and set of buyer persona templates.

4. Describe your content initiatives and strategies.

Here's where you'll include the main points of your marketing and content strategy. Because there's a laundry list of content types and channels available to you today, you must choose wisely and explain how you'll use your content and channels in this section of your marketing plan.

When I write this section , I like to stipulate:

  • Which types of content I'll create. These might include blog posts, YouTube videos, infographics, and ebooks.
  • How much of it I'll create. I typically describe content volume in daily, weekly, monthly, or even quarterly intervals. It all depends on my workflow and the short-term goals for my content.
  • The goals (and KPIs) I'll use to track each type. KPIs can include organic traffic, social media traffic, email traffic, and referral traffic. Your goals should also include which pages you want to drive that traffic to, such as product pages, blog pages, or landing pages.
  • The channels on which I'll distribute my content. Popular channels include Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Pinterest, and Instagram.
  • Any paid advertising that will take place on these channels.

Build out your marketing plan with this free template.

Fill out this form to access the template., 5. clearly define your plan's omissions..

A marketing plan explains the marketing team's focus. It also explains what the marketing team will not focus on.

If there are other aspects of your business that you aren't serving in this particular plan, include them in this section. These omissions help to justify your mission, buyer personas, KPIs, and content. You can’t please everyone in a single marketing campaign, and if your team isn't on the hook for something, you need to make it known.

In my experience, this section is particularly important for stakeholders to help them understand why certain decisions were made.

6. Define your marketing budget.

Whether it's freelance fees, sponsorships, or a new full-time marketing hire, use these costs to develop a marketing budget and outline each expense in this section of your marketing plan.

marketing-budget-templates

You can establish your marketing budget with this kit of 8 free marketing budget templates .

7. Identify your competition.

Part of marketing is knowing whom you're marketing against. Research the key players in your industry and consider profiling each one.

Keep in mind not every competitor will pose the same challenges to your business. For example, while one competitor might be ranking highly on search engines for keywords you want your website to rank for, another competitor might have a heavy footprint on a social network where you plan to launch an account.

competitive-analysis-templates

Easily track and analyze your competitors with this collection of ten free competitive analysis templates .

8. Outline your plan's contributors and their responsibilities.

With your marketing plan fully fleshed out, it's time to explain who’s doing what. I don't like to delve too deeply into my employees’ day-to-day projects, but I know which teams and team leaders are in charge of specific content types, channels, KPIs, and more.

Now that you know why you need to build an effective marketing plan, it’s time to get to work. Starting a plan from scratch can be overwhelming if you haven't done it before. That’s why there are many helpful resources that can support your first steps. We’ll share some of the best guides and templates that can help you build effective results-driven plans for your marketing strategies.

Ready to make your own marketing plan? Get started using this free template.

Depending on the company you work with, you might want to create various marketing plans. We compiled different samples to suit your needs:

1. Quarterly or Annual Marketing Plans

These plans highlight the strategies or campaigns you'll take on in a certain period.

marketing plan examples: forbes

Forbes published a marketing plan template that has amassed almost 4 million views. To help you sculpt a marketing roadmap with true vision, their template will teach you how to fill out the 15 key sections of a marketing plan, which are:

  • Executive Summary
  • Target Customers
  • Unique Selling Proposition
  • Pricing & Positioning Strategy
  • Distribution Plan
  • Your Offers
  • Marketing Materials
  • Promotions Strategy
  • Online Marketing Strategy
  • Conversion Strategy
  • Joint Ventures & Partnerships
  • Referral Strategy
  • Strategy for Increasing Transaction Prices
  • Retention Strategy
  • Financial Projections

If you're truly lost on where to start with a marketing plan, I highly recommend using this guide to help you define your target audience, figure out how to reach them, and ensure that audience becomes loyal customers.

2. Social Media Marketing Plan

This type of plan highlights the channels, tactics, and campaigns you intend to accomplish specifically on social media. A specific subtype is a paid marketing plan, which highlights paid strategies, such as native advertising, PPC, or paid social media promotions.

Shane Snow's Marketing Plan for His Book Dream Team is a great example of a social media marketing plan:

Contently's content strategy waterfall.

When Shane Snow started promoting his new book, "Dream Team," he knew he had to leverage a data-driven content strategy framework. So, he chose his favorite one: the content strategy waterfall. The content strategy waterfall is defined by Economic Times as a model used to create a system with a linear and sequential approach.

Snow wrote a blog post about how the waterfall‘s content strategy helped him launch his new book successfully. After reading it, you can use his tactics to inform your own marketing plan. More specifically, you’ll learn how he:

  • Applied his business objectives to decide which marketing metrics to track.
  • Used his ultimate business goal of earning $200,000 in sales or 10,000 purchases to estimate the conversion rate of each stage of his funnel.
  • Created buyer personas to figure out which channels his audience would prefer to consume his content.
  • Used his average post view on each of his marketing channels to estimate how much content he had to create and how often he had to post on social media.
  • Calculated how much earned and paid media could cut down the amount of content he had to create and post.
  • Designed his process and workflow, built his team, and assigned members to tasks.
  • Analyzed content performance metrics to refine his overall content strategy.

I use Snow's marketing plan to think more creatively about my content promotion and distribution plan. I like that it's linear and builds on the step before it, creating an air-tight strategy that doesn't leave any details out.

→ Free Download: Social Media Calendar Template [Access Now]

3. Content Marketing Plan

This plan could highlight different strategies, tactics, and campaigns in which you'll use content to promote your business or product.

HubSpot's Comprehensive Guide for Content Marketing Strategy is a strong example of a content marketing plan:

marketing plan examples: hubspot content marketing plan

At HubSpot, we‘ve built our marketing team from two business school graduates working from a coffee table to a powerhouse of hundreds of employees. Along the way, we’ve learned countless lessons that shaped our current content marketing strategy. So, we decided to illustrate our insights in a blog post to teach marketers how to develop a successful content marketing strategy, regardless of their team's size.

Download Now: Free Content Marketing Planning Templates

In this comprehensive guide for modern marketers, you'll learn:

  • What exactly content marketing is.
  • Why your business needs a content marketing strategy.
  • Who should lead your content marketing efforts?
  • How to structure your content marketing team based on your company's size.
  • How to hire the right people for each role on your team.
  • What marketing tools and technology you'll need to succeed.
  • What type of content your team should create, and which employees should be responsible for creating them.
  • The importance of distributing your content through search engines, social media, email, and paid ads.
  • And finally, the recommended metrics each of your teams should measure and report to optimize your content marketing program.

This is a fantastic resource for content teams of any size — whether you're a team of one or 100. It includes how to hire and structure a content marketing team, what marketing tools you'll need, what type of content you should create, and even recommends what metrics to track for analyzing campaigns. If you're aiming to establish or boost your online presence, leveraging tools like HubSpot's drag-and-drop website builder can be extremely beneficial. It helps you create a captivating digital footprint that sets the foundation for your content marketing endeavors.

4. New Product Launch Marketing Plan

This will be a roadmap for the strategies and tactics you‘ll implement to promote a new product. And if you’re searching for an example, look no further than Chief Outsiders' Go-To-Market Plan for a New Product :

marketing plan examples: chief outsiders

After reading this plan, you'll learn how to:

  • Validate a product
  • Write strategic objectives
  • Identify your market
  • Compile a competitive landscape
  • Create a value proposition for a new product
  • Consider sales and service in your marketing plan

If you're looking for a marketing plan for a new product, the Chief Outsiders template is a great place to start. Marketing plans for a new product will be more specific because they target one product versus its entire marketing strategy.

5. Growth Marketing Plan

Growth marketing plans use experimentation and data to drive results, like we see in Venture Harbour’s Growth Marketing Plan Template :

marketing plan examples: venture harbour

Venture Harbour's growth marketing plan is a data-driven and experiment-led alternative to the more traditional marketing plan. Their template has five steps intended for refinement with every test-measure-learn cycle. The five steps are:

  • Experiments

Download Now: Free Growth Strategy Template

I recommend this plan if you want to experiment with different platforms and campaigns. Experimentation always feels risky and unfamiliar, but this plan creates a framework for accountability and strategy.

  • Louisville Tourism
  • University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
  • Visit Oxnard
  • Safe Haven Family Shelter
  • Wright County Economic Development
  • The Cultural Council of Palm Beach County
  • Cabarrus County Convention and Visitors Bureau
  • Visit Billings

1. Louisville Tourism

Louisville Tourism Marketing Plan

It also divides its target market into growth and seed categories to allow for more focused strategies. For example, the plan recognizes Millennials in Chicago, Atlanta, and Nashville as the core of it's growth market, whereas people in Boston, Austin, and New York represent seed markets where potential growth opportunities exist. Then, the plan outlines objectives and tactics for reaching each market.

Why This Marketing Plan Works

  • The plan starts with a letter from the President & CEO of the company, who sets the stage for the plan by providing a high-level preview of the incoming developments for Louisville's tourism industry
  • The focus on Louisville as "Bourbon City" effectively leverages its unique cultural and culinary attributes to present a strong brand
  • Incorporates a variety of data points from Google Analytics, Arrivalist, and visitor profiles to to define their target audience with a data-informed approach

2. University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

University Illinois

For example, students who become prospects as freshman and sophomore will receive emails that focus on getting the most out of high school and college prep classes. Once these students become juniors and seniors — thus entering the consideration stage — the emails will focus more on the college application process and other exploratory content.

  • The plan incorporates competitive analysis, evaluation surveys, and other research to determine the makeup of its target audience
  • The plan lists each marketing program (e.g., direct mail, social media, email etc.) and supplements it with examples on the next page
  • Each marketing program has its own objectives, tactics, and KPIs for measuring success

3. Visit Oxnard

This marketing plan by Visit Oxnard, a convention and visitors bureau, is packed with all the information one needs in a marketing plan: target markets, key performance indicators, selling points, personas, marketing tactics by channel, and much more.

It also articulates the organization’s strategic plans for the upcoming fiscal year, especially as it grapples with the aftereffects of the pandemic. Lastly, it has impeccable visual appeal, with color-coded sections and strong branding elements.

  • States clear and actionable goals for the coming year
  • Includes data and other research that shows how their team made their decisions
  • Outlines how the team will measure the success of their plan

4. Safe Haven Family Shelter

marketing plan examples: safe haven family shelter

This marketing plan by a nonprofit organization is an excellent example to follow if your plan will be presented to internal stakeholders at all levels of your organization. It includes SMART marketing goals , deadlines, action steps, long-term objectives, target audiences, core marketing messages , and metrics.

The plan is detailed, yet scannable. By the end of it, one can walk away with a strong understanding of the organization’s strategic direction for its upcoming marketing efforts.

  • Confirms ongoing marketing strategies and objectives while introducing new initiatives
  • Uses colors, fonts, and formatting to emphasize key parts of the plan
  • Closes with long-term goals, key themes, and other overarching topics to set the stage for the future

5. Wright County Economic Development

marketing plan examples: wright county

Wright County Economic Development’s plan drew our attention because of its simplicity, making it good inspiration for those who’d like to outline their plan in broad strokes without frills or filler.

It includes key information such as marketing partners, goals, initiatives, and costs. The sections are easy to scan and contain plenty of information for those who’d like to dig into the details. Most important, it includes a detailed breakdown of projected costs per marketing initiative — which is critical information to include for upper-level managers and other stakeholders.

  • Begins with a quick paragraph stating why the recommended changes are important
  • Uses clear graphics and bullet points to emphasize key points
  • Includes specific budget data to support decision-making

6. The Cultural Council of Palm Beach County

marketing plan examples: cultural council of palm beach county

This marketing plan presentation by a cultural council is a great example of how to effectively use data in your plan, address audiences who are new to the industry, and offer extensive detail into specific marketing strategies.

For instance, an entire slide is dedicated to the county’s cultural tourism trends, and at the beginning of the presentation, the organization explains what an arts and culture agency is in the first place.

That’s a critical piece of information to include for those who might not know. If you’re addressing audiences outside your industry, consider defining terms at the beginning, like this organization did.

  • Uses quality design and images to support the goals and priorities in the text
  • Separate pages for each big idea or new strategy
  • Includes sections for awards and accomplishments to show how the marketing plan supports wider business goals
  • Defines strategies and tactics for each channel for easy skimming

7. Cabarrus County Convention & Visitors Bureau

marketing plan examples: carrabus county

Cabarrus County’s convention and visitors bureau takes a slightly different approach with its marketing plan, formatting it like a magazine for stakeholders to flip through. It offers information on the county’s target audience, channels, goals, KPIs, and public relations strategies and initiatives.

We especially love that the plan includes contact information for the bureau’s staff members, so that it’s easy for stakeholders to contact the appropriate person for a specific query.

  • Uses infographics to expand on specific concepts, like how visitors benefit a community
  • Highlights the team members responsible for each initiative with a photo to emphasize accountability and community
  • Closes with an event calendar for transparency into key dates for events

8. Visit Billings

marketing plan examples: visit billings

Visit Billing’s comprehensive marketing plan is like Cabarrus County’s in that it follows a magazine format. With sections for each planned strategy, it offers a wealth of information and depth for internal stakeholders and potential investors.

We especially love its content strategy section, where it details the organization’s prior efforts and current objectives for each content platform.

At the end, it includes strategic goals and budgets — a good move to imitate if your primary audience would not need this information highlighted at the forefront.

  • Includes a section on the buyer journey, which offers clarity on the reasoning for marketing plan decisions
  • Design includes call-outs for special topics that could impact the marketing audience, such as safety concerns or "staycations"
  • Clear headings make it easy to scan this comprehensive report and make note of sections a reader may want to return to for more detail

What is a typical marketing plan?

In my experience, most marketing plans outline the following aspects of a business's marketing:

  • Target audience

Each marketing plan should include one or more goals, the path your team will take to meet those goals, and how you plan to measure success.

For example, if I were a tech startup that's launching a new mobile app, my marketing plan would include:

  • Target audience or buyer personas for the app
  • Outline of how app features meet audience needs
  • Competitive analysis
  • Goals for conversion funnel and user acquisition
  • Marketing strategies and tactics for user acquisition

Featured resource : Free Marketing Plan Template

What should a good marketing plan include?

A good marketing plan will create a clear roadmap for your unique marketing team. This means that the best marketing plan for your business will be distinct to your team and business needs.

That said, most marketing plans will include sections for one or more of the following:

  • Clear analysis of the target market
  • A detailed description of the product or service
  • Strategic marketing mix details (such as product, price, place, promotion)
  • Measurable goals with defined timelines

This can help you build the best marketing plan for your business.

A good marketing plan should also include a product or service's unique value proposition, a comprehensive marketing strategy including online and offline channels, and a defined budget.

Featured resource : Value Proposition Templates

What are the most important parts of a marketing plan?

When you‘re planning a road trip, you need a map to help define your route, step-by-step directions, and an estimate of the time it will take to get to your destination. It’s literally how you get there that matters.

Like a road map, a marketing plan is only useful if it helps you get to where you want to go. So, no one part is more than the other.

That said, you can use the list below to make sure that you've added or at least considered each of the following in your marketing plan:

  • Marketing goals
  • Executive summary
  • Target market analysis
  • Marketing strategies

What questions should I ask when making a marketing plan?

Questions are a useful tool for when you‘re stuck or want to make sure you’ve included important details.

Try using one or more of these questions as a starting point when you create your marketing plan:

  • Who is my target audience?
  • What are their needs, motivations, and pain points?
  • How does our product or service solve their problems?
  • How will I reach and engage them?
  • Who are my competitors? Are they direct or indirect competitors?
  • What are the unique selling points of my product or service?
  • What marketing channels are best for the brand?
  • What is our budget and timeline?
  • How will I measure the success of marketing efforts?

How much does a marketing plan cost?

Creating a marketing plan is mostly free. But the cost of executing a marketing plan will depend on your specific plan.

Marketing plan costs vary by business, industry, and plan scope. Whether your team handles marketing in-house or hires external consultants can also make a difference. Total costs can range from a few thousand dollars to tens of thousands. This is why most marketing plans will include a budget.

Featured resource : Free Marketing Budget Templates

What is a marketing plan template?

A marketing plan template is a pre-designed structure or framework that helps you outline your marketing plan.

It offers a starting point that you can customize for your specific business needs and goals. For example, our template includes easy-to-edit sections for:

  • Business summary
  • Business initiatives
  • Target market
  • Market strategy
  • Marketing channels
  • Marketing technology

Let’s create a sample plan together, step by step.

Follow along with HubSpot's free Marketing Plan Template .

HubSpot Mktg plan cover

1. Create an overview or primary objective.

Our business mission is to provide [service, product, solution] to help [audience] reach their [financial, educational, business related] goals without compromising their [your audience’s valuable asset: free time, mental health, budget, etc.]. We want to improve our social media presence while nurturing our relationships with collaborators and clients.

For example, if I wanted to focus on social media growth, my KPIs might look like this:

We want to achieve a minimum of [followers] with an engagement rate of [X] on [social media platform].

The goal is to achieve an increase of [Y] on recurring clients and new meaningful connections outside the platform by the end of the year.

Use the following categories to create a target audience for your campaign.

  • Profession:
  • Background:
  • Pain points:
  • Social media platforms that they use:
  • Streaming platforms that they prefer:

For more useful strategies, consider creating a buyer persona in our Make My Persona tool .

Our content pillars will be: [X, Y, Z].

Content pillars should be based on topics your audience needs to know. If your ideal clients are female entrepreneurs, then your content pillars can be: marketing, being a woman in business, remote working, and productivity hacks for entrepreneurs.

Then, determine any omissions.

This marketing plan won’t be focusing on the following areas of improvement: [A, B, C].

5. Define your marketing budget.

Our marketing strategy will use a total of [Y] monthly. This will include anything from freelance collaborations to advertising.

6. Identify your competitors.

I like to work through the following questions to clearly indicate who my competitors are:

  • Which platforms do they use the most?
  • How does their branding differentiate?
  • How do they talk to their audiences?
  • What valuable assets do customers talk about? And if they are receiving any negative feedback, what is it about?

7. Outline your plan's contributors and their responsibilities.

Create responsible parties for each portion of the plan.

Marketing will manage the content plan, implementation, and community interaction to reach the KPIs.

  • Social media manager: [hours per week dedicated to the project, responsibilities, team communication requirements, expectations]
  • Content strategist: [hours per week dedicated to the project, responsibilities, team communication requirements, expectations]
  • Community manager: [hours per week dedicated to the project, responsibilities, team communication requirements, expectations]

Sales will follow the line of the marketing work while creating and implementing an outreach strategy.

  • Sales strategists: [hours per week dedicated to the project, responsibilities, team communication requirements, expectations]
  • Sales executives: [hours per week dedicated to the project, responsibilities, team communication requirements, expectations]

Customer Service will nurture clients’ relationships to ensure that they have what they want. [Hours per week dedicated to the project, responsibilities, team communication requirements, expectations].

Project Managers will track the progress and team communication during the project. [Hours per week dedicated to the project, responsibilities, team communication requirements, expectations].

Get started on your marketing plan.

These marketing plans serve as initial resources to get your content marketing plan started. But, to truly deliver what your audience wants and needs, you'll likely need to test some different ideas out, measure their success, and then refine your goals as you go.

Editor's Note: This post was originally published in April 2019, but was updated for comprehensiveness. This article was written by a human, but our team uses AI in our editorial process. Check out our full disclosure t o learn more about how we use AI.

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What Is a Marketing Plan?

Understanding marketing plans, how to write a marketing plan, marketing plan vs. business plan.

  • Marketing Plan FAQs

The Bottom Line

  • Marketing Essentials

What Is a Marketing Plan? Types and How to Write One

James Chen, CMT is an expert trader, investment adviser, and global market strategist.

strategic marketing planning meaning

Pete Rathburn is a copy editor and fact-checker with expertise in economics and personal finance and over twenty years of experience in the classroom.

strategic marketing planning meaning

Investopedia / Zoe Hansen

A marketing plan is an operational document that outlines an advertising strategy that an organization will implement to generate leads and reach its target market . A marketing plan details the outreach and PR campaigns to be undertaken over a period, including how the company will measure the effect of these initiatives. The functions and components of a marketing plan include the following:

  • Market research to support pricing decisions and new market entries
  • Tailored messaging that targets certain demographics and geographic areas
  • Platform selection for product and service promotion: digital, radio, Internet, trade magazines, and the mix of those platforms for each campaign
  • Metrics that measure the results of marketing efforts and their reporting timelines

A marketing plan is based on a company’s overall marketing strategy.

Key Takeaways

  • The marketing plan details the strategy that a company will use to market its products to customers.
  • The plan identifies the target market, the value proposition of the brand or the product, the campaigns to be initiated, and the metrics to be used to assess the effectiveness of marketing initiatives.
  • The marketing plan should be adjusted on an ongoing basis based on the findings from the metrics that show which efforts are having an impact and which are not.
  • Digital marketing shows results in near real-time, whereas TV ads require rotation to realize any level of market penetration.
  • A marketing plan is part of a business plan, which describes all of the important aspects of a business, such as its goals, values, mission statement, budget, and strategies.

The terms marketing plan and marketing strategy are often used interchangeably because a marketing plan is developed based on an overarching strategic framework. In some cases, the strategy and the plan may be incorporated into one document, particularly for smaller companies that may only run one or two major campaigns in a year. The plan outlines marketing activities on a monthly, quarterly, or annual basis while the marketing strategy outlines the overall value proposition.

Types of Marketing Plans

There are a variety of different marketing plans that suit different businesses and different business needs.

New Product Launch: This is a marketing plan that outlines how a new product will enter the market, who it will target, and in what way advertising will be done.

Social Media: A social media marketing plan focuses on the advertising strategies on different social media platforms and how to engage with the users on these platforms.

Time-Based: Time-based marketing plans, such as those that are executed quarterly or annually, focus on the time of the year, the current condition of the business, and the best strategies in that period.

Mission and Value Proposition

A marketing plan considers the value proposition of a business. The value proposition is the overall promise of value to be delivered to the customer and is a statement that appears front and center of the company website or any branding materials.

The value proposition should state how a product or brand solves the customer's problem, the benefits of the product or brand, and why the customer should buy from this company and not another. The marketing plan is based on this value proposition to the customer.

Establishing your key performance indicators (KPIs) will allow you to measure the success of your marketing plan in relation to your company's value proposition . For example, if your goal is to engage with a certain demographic in a certain region, you can track social media and website visits.

The most effective digital marketing techniques in 2020 according to marketers are content marketing and marketing automation.

Identify Your Target Market

The marketing plan identifies the target market for a product or brand. Market research is often the basis for a target market and marketing channel decisions. For example, whether the company will advertise on the radio, on social media, through online ads, or on regional TV. 

Knowing who you want to sell to and why is an extremely critical component of any business plan. It allows you to focus your business and measure its success. Different demographics have different tastes and needs, knowing what your target market is will help you market to them.

Strategy and Execution

The marketing plan includes the rationale for these decisions. The plan should focus on the creation, timing, scheduling, and placement of specific campaigns. The plan will include the metrics that will measure the outcomes of your marketing efforts. For example, will you advertise on the radio or on social media? What time will you air advertisements if they are on the radio or TV? The strategy may include flighting scheduling , which includes the times when you can make the most of your advertising dollars.

Set Your Budget

A marketing plan costs money. Knowing your budget for a marketing plan will allow you to create a suitable plan within that context, stick to it, and prevent runaway costs. It will also help you allocate to different areas of your marketing plan.

Adjust Your Plan

A marketing plan can be adjusted at any point based on the results from the metrics. If digital ads are performing better than expected, for example, the budget for a campaign can be adjusted to fund a higher-performing platform or the company can initiate a new budget. The challenge for marketing leaders is to ensure that every platform has sufficient time to show results.

Without the correct metrics to assess the impact of outreach and marketing efforts, an organization will not know which campaigns to repeat and which ones to drop; maintaining ineffective initiatives will unnecessarily increase marketing costs.

Digital marketing shows results in near real-time, whereas TV ads require rotation to realize any level of market penetration. In the traditional marketing mix model, a marketing plan would fall under the category of "promotion," which is one of the four Ps , a term coined by Neil Borden to describe the marketing mix of product, price, promotion, and place.

A business plan details how a business will operate and function in its entirety. A business plan is a roadmap for a business. It will cover the goals, missions , values, financials, and strategies that the business will use in day-to-day operations and in the achievement of its objectives.

A business plan will include an executive summary, the products and services sold, a marketing analysis, a marketing strategy, financial planning, and a budget , to name but a few items.

As mentioned, a business plan will include a marketing plan, which focuses on creating a marketing strategy on how to bring awareness to the public of the company's product or service, how to reach the target market, and generate sales.

Example of a Marketing Plan

John came up with a new business idea that he believes is a niche offering in the market. He decides to start a business and his first step is creating a business plan that outlines all of the objectives, goals, values, pitfalls, and finances of his company.

John is able to raise enough capital from friends and family to get started, hires a few employees, and eventually creates his product. He now has to start selling his product and generate sales to keep his business operating.

To achieve this, John, with the help of a marketing company, creates a marketing plan. The marketing plan consists of market research that details the target market for John's product, which is recently retired men.

The marketing plan then comes up with the best methods of reaching this target market. The marketing plan stresses radio and television as opposed to social media as older, retired men use social media less than traditional forms of media, according to the market research that was conducted.

The ads are tailored to the target market, showing how John's product will benefit their lives, particularly when compared to market alternatives. Once the marketing plan has been executed, the marketing team analyzes how the efforts translate into sales.

What Is a Marketing Plan Template?

A marketing plan template is a document that an individual can use to create a marketing plan. The marketing plan template will contain all the important elements and the various needed language with blank sections. A user can insert their own information related to their business in the blank sections to ultimately create their own marketing plan.

What Is an Executive Summary in a Marketing Plan?

The executive summary of a marketing plan provides a brief overview of the entire marketing plan. The executive summary will contain the key findings of the market research, the company's objectives, marketing goals, an overview of the marketing trends, the description of the product or service being marketed, information on the target market, and how to financially plan for the marketing plan.

What Is a Top-Down Marketing Strategy?

A top-down marketing strategy is a traditional marketing strategy. This is where a business determines who it should sell to and how, and the customer base is largely passive and spurred to take action once they hear the advertisement. For example, a top-down marketing strategy would include ads on radio or television. Top-down marketing strategies are usually determined by the executives of a firm. It usually consists of what a firm desires to do and then determining a way to do it.

What Is a Bottom-Up Marketing Strategy?

A bottom-up marketing strategy focuses on discovering a workable strategy and then building on that strategy to create an impactful advertising campaign. Today's consumer wants to relate to a product or service in a meaningful way and a bottom-up marketing strategy is better suited to this. A bottom-up marketing strategy should focus on the target market and how better to create value for them.

How Much Does a Marketing Plan Cost?

The cost of a marketing plan will vary based on the company, the complexity, and the length of the overall strategy. The cost can range anywhere from $10,000 to $40,000.

A marketing plan is the advertising strategy that a business will implement to sell its product or service. The marketing plan will help determine who the target market is, how best to reach them, at what price point the product or service should be sold, and how the company will measure its efforts.

Constantly monitoring and adjusting a market plan is an important part of running a business as it shows what are the best and worst ways to generate sales. Without a successful marketing plan, a business may not be able to continue operating for very long.

Statista. " Most Effective Digital Marketing Techniques According to Marketers Worldwide in 2020 ."

Laire. " How Much Does a Marketing Plan Cost? "

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Strategic Marketing Planning: Everything You Need to Know

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  • 12th June 2023

Strategic Marketing Planning: Everything You Need to Know

Are you a marketing enthusiast looking to excel in the industry? Strategic marketing planning (SMP) can be the key to your success. 

Whether you are an aspiring entrepreneur or a marketing professional, understanding strategic marketing is crucial for achieving remarkable results. With the evolution of the digital age and almost every business becoming virtual, it is essential for brands to have strategic marketing planning to achieve their goals and reach their target audience.

This blog post will guide you through the essential steps of strategic marketing planning and discuss ways to create a winning marketing strategy for your business.

What is strategic marketing planning?

Strategic marketing planning is the alignment of marketing practices and strategy to achieve desired business outcomes. It is a part of market development strategy. This process is a structured approach to formulating and executing plans that drive businesses to success.

Market development strategy involves: 

  •   Market trends analysis
  •   Product pricing 
  •   Product distribution 
  •   Promotional activities

  These efforts maximise market impact and contribute to long-term business objectives.

What is the purpose of strategic marketing planning?

Strategic marketing planning provides organisations with a roadmap for achieving their marketing objectives. It ensures that marketing efforts are aligned with the overall business strategy, optimising resource utilisation. By creating a strategic marketing plan, organisations can identify opportunities, anticipate business challenges, and develop strategies to combat the odds. 

Here is a strategic marketing example: If a business wants to see a 15% growth in overall sales, they can assign a strategic marketing goal of a 50–60% increase in the generation of organic leads to their SEO teams. 

The figures mentioned here are only to paint a definitive example. Real-world businesses calculate these figures with the help of detailed data analytics and market research.  

Steps to create a strategic marketing plan

The following points are core concepts to keep in mind to streamline your strategic marketing planning initiatives. Strategic marketing planning is a continuous process that is subject to evolution according to the changing market dynamics. The steps mentioned here are basic guidelines to follow when creating a strategic marketing plan.

Step 1: Define your marketing goals

strategic marketing planning meaning

The first step in the strategic marketing process is to clearly define your marketing goals. These goals should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART). Marketing goals should be tailored to meet your overall business goals.

Step 2: Conduct market research

strategic marketing planning meaning

Market research is a vital component of the strategic marketing planning process. It involves gathering and analysing relevant data on the market, industry trends, customer preferences, and competitor activities. Through market research, you can gain valuable insight that helps shape strategic decisions such as product development and competitive pricing.

Step 3: Identify your target audience

strategic marketing planning meaning

Understanding your target audience is crucial in the strategic marketing planning process. By identifying your ideal customers, you can tailor your marketing messages and tactics to resonate with their pressing needs, preferences, and pain points. 

This practice helps yield better sales results and higher conversion rates. A master's in strategic marketing can help you learn the intricacies of conducting industry analysis to rightly approach your target audience. It can tune your abilities in identifying and consolidating an accurate communication strategy.

Step 4: Develop a unique value proposition

strategic marketing planning meaning

A unique value proposition (UVP) sets your product or service apart from competitors and communicates its authentic benefits to the target audience. It defines why customers should choose the product you advertise over others. 

By developing a compelling UVP, you can cause your brand to stand out in the market and attract customers who align with your unique value proposition.

An MA in strategic marketing (or a master of marketing with a specialisation in strategic marketing) is a great place to start if you wish to develop your skills in creating foolproof UVPs.

Step 5: Choose the right marketing channels and tactics

strategic marketing planning meaning

Selecting the appropriate marketing channels and tactics helps a business reach its target audience effectively. Social media, content marketing, email marketing, and traditional advertising are some examples of marketing channels.

Choose the marketing channel you need to use based on your analysis of what works best with your target audience. Then you can craft your marketing tactics to fit the chosen channels and align them with your overall business goals.

Step 6: Create a marketing budget

strategic marketing planning meaning

A thorough marketing budget helps businesses to effectively allocate resources. Consider the potential return on investment (ROI) when allocating resources for different marketing channels and endeavours.

Step 7: Develop your marketing messages

strategic marketing planning meaning

Marketing messages are what communicate a business’ unique value proposition to the customer in a way that resonates with the buyer. This creates the possibility for high conversion rates and customer retention. Base your marketing messages on your target consumers' pain points and validate their needs. This tactic helps your marketing message create a lasting impression.

Step 8: Implement the strategy

strategic marketing planning meaning

The implementation of a marketing strategy requires close monitoring to ensure all factors are employed correctly. Execution of marketing strategy is most effective once your plan is aligned with your resources and initiatives.

Step 9: Measure and analyse the results

strategic marketing planning meaning

Measuring the success of your marketing efforts is crucial for understanding what works for the business. Monitor key performance indicators (KPIs) such as website traffic, conversion rates, sales revenue, and customer feedback.

You can use this data to gain precise direction into the necessary steps to improve your marketing campaigns.

Step 10: Evaluate and optimise

strategic marketing planning meaning

Continuous improvement and optimisation are essential for the success of any strategic plan. You can ensure this by regularly assessing your performance. This practice helps identify areas that need improvement.

What are the three major problems of marketing strategy implementation?

Strategic marketing planning is an eagle eye’s view of the industry and a predictive model of the best practices and paths to follow. However, during the implementation of marketing strategies, organisations may encounter three major challenges:

  • Interdependence: The marketing plan determines how a strategy is implemented across various departments of a business. However, the inverse is also true, as raw data from business insights, such as profit sharing, employee training etc., can also shape the marketing strategy.   
  • Evolution: Environmental factors, such as supply and demand, are always subject to change. These variables can cause a significant shift in a marketing strategy and implementation. Hence businesses should be flexible when designing their marketing strategy and implementation practices, making enough room for inevitable changes. 
  • Separation: Strategic marketing planning can sometimes be misaligned with business goals when crafted with a desire to impress clients and board members. Professionals in this field can consider not going overboard with unrealistic marketing goals, strategy and implementation that could harm the business resources in the long run.

Why strategic marketing planning is essential in an organisation

strategic marketing planning meaning

Strategic marketing planning is essential for organisations as it provides a structured marketing approach, ensuring that efforts are aligned with overall business objectives. 

Secondly, it helps organisations identify and capitalise on market opportunities, stay ahead of competitors, and adapt to changing market dynamics. Lastly, strategic marketing planning streamlines resource allocation, helps in optimising marketing investments, and can give you better results. 

In conclusion , strategic marketing planning is a vital process for any organisation that aims to achieve its marketing objectives. You can learn strategic marketing planning as a core skill for your business development by studying certified courses offered by reputable institutions.

The London School of Business and Finance (LSBF UK) offers an online Master in Strategic Marketing that you can study from the comfort of your home. LSBF UK is ranked among the top B-schools in the world and remains a standard for business education in the present day.

You can continue to pursue your professional life without missing out on the opportunity to upskill no matter where you are in the world. Learn from industry experts and teachers who are well-established in the marketing industry and connect with established professionals.

Consider enrolling on the Strategic Marketing programme today!

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Designing a Strategic Marketing Plan: A Comprehensive Guide

Maggie Tully

Whether you’re a small business owner or part of a large corporation, a key component to achieving your organizational goals is to create a strategic marketing plan. 

A strategic marketing plan takes into account your overall business objectives and analyzes your resources and capabilities to guide you in creating a successful marketing strategy. 

In this guide, we’ll cover the fundamentals of strategic planning for marketing and explore 10 steps to create an effective plan to achieve your marketing goals.  

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What is strategic planning?

Strategic planning is a systematic process where top executives and key stakeholders define (or redefine) the organization’s future aspirations and mission, identifying and outlining the specific goals and objectives required to achieve them. 

The strategic planning process enables organizations to:

  • Set their long-term goals and objectives
  • Identify the resources available to execute goals
  • Establish the most effective approach to achieve the desired results
  • Make informed decisions using rich data
  • Achieve an edge over competitors
  • Ensure their sustainability in the ever-changing business landscape

By setting a clear vision and mission, employees become more engaged and committed to the organization's objectives. Not to mention, strategic planning allows companies to proactively identify potential challenges and craft contingency plans , thereby mitigating risks and enhancing resilience.

A successful strategic plan should include how goals can be achieved to maximize impact. These mid- to long-term goals should focus on transformational changes rather than short-term profits, helping to create a roadmap that delineates the direction an organization wants to move in and the milestones it aims to achieve.

That way, organizations can optimize their marketing budget, time, and human resources by identifying and prioritizing initiatives that generate the highest returns on investment.

Also read: A Complete Guide to Marketing Project Management

What is strategic marketing planning?

Repeating the same marketing strategy every quarter won't deliver the record-breaking results you want. Whether you're aiming for more social media engagement, to improve CTR in your email campaigns, or to boost conversions on your website, it's difficult to achieve lasting success in your marketing activities without the use of strategic planning.

In marketing, strategic planning encompasses a range of activities such as establishing goals and objectives, evaluating internal and external factors impacting the business, creating product plans, implementing those plans, and monitoring progress over time.

So, what is strategic planning in marketing? 

Structural support for goals

Much like an overall strategic business plan, strategic marketing planning is a systematic approach to crafting and executing marketing strategies designed to support an organization's marketing goals. 

It encompasses the analysis of internal and external environments, segmentation of target markets, identification of competitive advantages, and formulation of marketing objectives and plans.

Roadmap toward growth

In general, strategic marketing planning aims to deliver value to customers while driving the organization's growth and profitability. But other factors like brand awareness and domain authority may also be included in the tactical goals of this plan.

Related: Marketing Management Tasks to Prioritize for Successful Results

What’s included in a plan for strategic marketing?

A plan for strategic marketing typically contains several key components, including:

  • An overview of the organization's mission and vision
  • An analysis of its external environment (competitors, customers, and trends)
  • An assessment of its strengths and weaknesses
  • A definition of its target market

SMART Goal Setting

Based on this information, organizations can then set SMART goals, which are objectives that are: 

  • (M)easurable
  • (A)chievable
  • (T)ime-bound 

This empowers them to tailor their marketing mix (product, price, place, and promotion) to their target audience and allocate the necessary resources to execute the plan.

Action items and KPIs

In addition, a strategic plan should outline the marketing strategies and tactics that the organization will employ in its marketing operations to achieve its objectives, as well as the key performance indicators (KPIs) or Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) that will be used to measure success.

Continuous monitoring and evaluation 

Finally, the plan should also incorporate continuous monitoring and evaluation processes to ensure that it remains effective and up-to-date.

Thorough strategic marketing planning should be performed once or twice a year to ensure maximum success in marketing efforts. There’s no real requirement for how often your team should review and update your plan. The frequency depends on the nature of the business and the particular components of your marketing mix.

That said, there are generally two main times that your plan for strategic marketing should be reevaluated:

Quarterly: Most competitive organizations conduct quarterly reviews of their marketing plans. Integrating an evaluation of your strategic planning system into quarterly reviews is a great way to track progress and ensure that objectives are being achieved.

Annually: While quarterly reviews can provide insights into monthly progress, annual reviews let senior leadership, key stakeholders, and business leaders see the bigger picture. The combined metrics from all four quarters may reveal marketing trends and insights not visible in quarterly reviews.

The maturity of a business can also dictate the frequency of the strategic planning cycle. A small startup in a competitive industry may need to reevaluate its marketing plan on a monthly basis, while a more established business may only need to revisit marketing plans once every few years.

The importance of strategic marketing planning

Aside from playing a pivotal role in shaping an organization's success, profitability, and long-term sustainability, some of the key benefits of strategic marketing planning include the following:

Enhances market and customer understanding 

The strategic marketing process requires thorough research and analysis of the market and target customers. By gathering and analyzing valuable insights, businesses can uncover emerging trends, identify gaps in the market, and better understand their customers' needs, preferences, and behavior patterns. 

This enhanced understanding enables organizations to develop and deliver innovative products or services that cater to the evolving needs of their target audience, thereby increasing customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Drives decision-making and resource allocation 

Strategic marketing planning help organizations establish clear goals and objectives as benchmarks for marketing-related decisions. It provides a solid foundation for making informed decisions regarding key marketing activities like pricing, promotion, and distribution strategies. 

Plus, it facilitates efficient project resource allocation by prioritizing initiatives that align with the overall business objectives and deliver the optimal return on investment (ROI).

Promotes strategic thinking 

Illustration of strategic thinking

Developing a marketing plan that is strategic requires organizations to cast a critical eye on their own internal strengths and weaknesses and consider how those factors may impact their success in the market. 

This introspective process fosters a culture of strategic thinking and encourages businesses to proactively identify and overcome potential barriers to success. By evaluating the market in which your organization is currently operating, you can gain a better insight into your industry and can establish more robust marketing plans for your projects going forward.

Enhances competitiveness 

It enables businesses to identify their unique selling propositions (USPs) and leverage them to differentiate themselves from competitors. By carving out a distinctive market position, organizations can set themselves apart from the competition and enhance their overall competitiveness.

Facilitates measurement and evaluation 

Illustration of measurement

Lastly, strategic marketing plans help businesses establish a clear framework for measuring and evaluating their marketing performance. By setting SMART objectives and defining relevant KPIs, organizations can track their progress, analyze the effectiveness of their marketing efforts, and make data-driven adjustments as needed to optimize their marketing ROI.

Through the strategic marketing planning process, companies can develop targeted campaigns that resonate with their audience and bolster their brand identity, resulting in increased customer loyalty, improved profitability, and sustainable growth. 

Ultimately, strategic marketing planning is essential for any business that wants to achieve long-term success and maintain a competitive advantage in today's dynamic business environment.

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10 steps for successful strategic marketing planning

When it comes to ensuring your business's success and growth, having a strategic marketing plan in place is essential. If you're not quite sure where to start, don't worry. 

We're here to help you make sense of the process and give you the tools you need to create a marketing plan that will drive your company forward and adapt to changing market conditions. With that in mind, let's dive into the 10 steps for successful strategic marketing planning.

1. Define your vision and mission

A clear and concise vision and mission statement are at the heart of any marketing plan. These crucial elements help guide decision-making and keep your marketing objectives on track. 

Take the time to articulate what it is you hope to achieve and what your company stands for. Your vision should be a clear and concise statement outlining where you want your company to be. In other words, it’s an aspirational and inspirational statement that provides a direction for your organization and marketing operations.

For example, if your organization is a bank, perhaps your vision is ‘to be the leading provider of small business loans nationwide by 2035.’ This statement describes your ideal future trajectory, who your business aims to serve, and the service you provide. 

Your mission statement, on the other hand, is a statement outlining the purpose and values of your company. It should explain why you exist as a business and what you hope to achieve. 

Both your vision and mission statements should be customer-focused, concise, and easy to understand. By defining your vision and mission, you can align your entire organization behind your marketing goals and use them as a guide for all your strategic marketing initiatives.

2. Analyze your current market position

Before you can plot a course to success, you must know where you stand within your industry. For long-term marketing success, you'll need to collect and analyze data on your current market share, customer base, competitor activity, and industry trends. 

This process involves identifying your company's current position in the marketplace, including strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. It also involves researching the competition, assessing customer needs and preferences, and analyzing market trends. 

This information can then be used to develop a marketing plan to help your company achieve its goals and gain a competitive advantage. By understanding your market position, you can tailor your marketing efforts to effectively reach and engage with your target audience while also differentiating yourself from the competition. An effective marketing plan can help you increase sales, improve brand awareness and loyalty, and ultimately grow your business.

3. Identify your target audience

One of the key components of any successful marketing plan is identifying and understanding your target audience. Identifying your target audience allows you to tailor your messaging to specific groups who are most likely to be interested in your product or service. 

Knowing your target audience helps you understand their needs, preferences, and behaviors, which can inform your decisions on how to reach and engage them effectively. You can segment your target audience based on factors like demographics, psychographics, and behavior and create personas that depict the ideal customer for your brand.

For instance, if your target customer is a college-educated woman in her 30s living in a mid-sized metropolitan area, you’ll need to familiarize yourself with the needs and wants of someone with that background to market to them more effectively. 

Demographic information can guide your efforts all the way from product development and pricing to brand messaging and advertising. By identifying your target audience, you can maximize the impact of your marketing strategy and achieve better results for your business.

4. Set SMART goals

Work with your marketing team to establish Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Timely (SMART) goals for your marketing efforts. Setting SMART goals ensures that you clearly understand what you want to achieve, how you will measure your progress, and when you can expect to accomplish your objectives.

The goals you set should meet the following criteria for each SMART letter:

  • Specific: Goals should be narrow enough to monitor. 
  • Measurable: Goals must be able to be numerically tracked in order to determine whether you’ve been successful. 
  • Attainable: Goals should be challenging but within reach. 
  • Relevant: Goals should contribute to your overall business objectives. 
  • Timely: Goals should have a deadline. 

So, if you’re setting goals for a new marketing campaign, for instance, you should be specific on the channels you’re going to target, the metrics you’ll use for monitoring, and when the campaign will end. 

5. Develop your strategic marketing mix

The marketing mix is the combination of channels and tactics — the product, price, promotion, and place — your company will use to reach your target audience and achieve your goals. This may include a blend of traditional advertising, social media, content marketing, and other digital channels. 

Let’s say you’re marketing a new line of sunglasses. Your marketing mix will describe the styles you’re selling, the price, how you’ll get the word out, and where you’ll physically sell them. 

A successful marketing mix relies on understanding the needs and wants of the customer, analyzing the competition, and identifying the most effective channels for communication. Adjustments and monitoring of the marketing mix is key to ensure it continues to meet changing customer needs and shifts in the market.

6. Create a budget and allocate resources

To ensure the success of your marketing plan, you'll need to allocate your marketing budget and resources appropriately. Creating a budget for a strategic marketing plan requires understanding the company’s financial capabilities, marketing objectives, and target audience. The budget must be realistic while being able to allocate sufficient resources to achieve success.

It’s important to identify the most effective marketing channels for your target audience while also considering the cost of each channel. Allocating resources strategically within the marketing plan will ensure optimal ROI for the company. This may include investing in market research, content creation, social media advertising, email marketing, and search engine optimization. A well-planned marketing budget will help the company reach its desired outcomes efficiently and effectively.

Be sure to consider the size of your marketing team, the level of expertise required for implementing your strategy, and any additional investments in technology or tools you'll need to execute your marketing plan.

7. Develop your message and creative assets

Marketing team creating a plan

With your target audience in mind and a clear understanding of your marketing mix, it's time to develop compelling, eye-catching, and relevant messaging and creative assets. Messaging should be tailored to each target audience and clearly communicate the value proposition of the product or service.

This message should be conveyed through various creative assets such as videos, images, social media posts, and web content. A consistent brand identity should be maintained throughout all these assets to build brand recognition and trust. 

The creative assets should also be designed to promote engagement and elicit an emotional response, as this can lead to increased brand loyalty and customer retention. Developing a strong message and creative assets involves careful research, planning, and execution to ensure a successful marketing campaign .

8. Implement and execute your marketing plan

It's time to assemble all the pieces and begin executing your marketing strategy. This means creating, distributing, and promoting your marketing materials, managing your advertising campaigns, and monitoring their progress toward your goals. 

Regularly analyzing your strategy's effectiveness and making necessary modifications will help ensure a successful outcome. By committing to a strategic marketing plan, your business can build strong brand awareness and customer loyalty, ultimately driving revenue growth and long-term success.

9. Measure and track your progress

Regular monitoring and analysis of your marketing efforts will help you identify ways to improve your strategy, eliminate ineffective tactics, and optimize your marketing budget. Measuring and tracking progress allows you to evaluate the success of your marketing efforts, identify areas for improvement, and adjust your approach accordingly.

One way to measure and track progress is to establish key performance indicators (KPIs) that align with your marketing objectives. These KPIs could include metrics like website traffic, social media engagement, lead generation, and sales conversions. Regularly reviewing and analyzing these metrics will provide valuable insights into the effectiveness of your marketing tactics and help you make data-driven decisions.

It’s important to remember that measuring progress isn't a one-time task but an ongoing process and regular monitoring will enable you to adapt and optimize your marketing plan as goals and circumstances change. Luckily, a marketing project management software tool can help make this part of the process easier. 

10. Refine and adapt your marketing plan as needed

The marketplace is constantly evolving, and so should your marketing plan. A good marketing plan must be flexible enough to allow for changes as market conditions change. It is necessary to track each marketing initiative's effectiveness and assess what needs to be adapted to maximize success. This may involve refining the target audience, updating the messaging, exploring new channels, and reassessing the budget allocation.

A plan for strategic marketing must be based on insights, data-driven analysis, competitive analysis, and a customer-centric approach. Regularly review and update your plan to account for new opportunities, emerging trends, and changes within your industry. Keep learning, testing, and refining to ensure ongoing success and growth.

By following these steps to develop a successful strategic marketing plan, your organization can better understand your target audience, stay ahead of the competition and achieve your most ambitious business goals. With the help of a well-executed strategy, your marketing efforts are far more likely to yield successful results.

Manage your marketing campaigns with Rodeo Drive

Once you’ve compiled a strategic plan to guide your marketing campaigns, you’ll need to find a project management software tool to serve as a centralized place to help you see everything through to completion. 

Rodeo Drive is an all-in-one project management tool built with the needs of creatives in mind — including in-house marketing teams and creative agencies . The platform can streamline your project management workflows by helping you: 

  • Easily plan and assign tasks to your team members 
  • Track time spent on projects
  • Build in-depth budgets that update in real-time as your project progresses
  • Create custom invoices and estimates and send them to clients from Rodeo Drive or via QuickBooks
  • Access a rich set of reports on metrics like project profitability, employee productivity, time registration, and more

With all of these features in one user-friendly tool, Rodeo Drive gives you a truly comprehensive strategic marketing solution. No need to invest in additional third-party software to make your team more productive and your projects more profitable.

Come see for yourself and try out Rodeo Drive with no commitment. 

Start Rodeo Drive for free

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strategic marketing planning meaning

Strategic Marketing: Definition, Importance And Process

The channels and practices undertaken to ensure maximum sales while satisfying consumers sum up marketing as a concept. Marketing is…

Difference Between Strategic Marketing and Marketing Strategy

The channels and practices undertaken to ensure maximum sales while satisfying consumers sum up marketing as a concept. Marketing is an essential aspect of doing business—in fact, it’s often called the backbone of business. Removing marketing from the equation automatically eliminates trade, and without trade, there’s no business. 

Given that every consumer has a different set of needs and preferences, it’s important to research, identify and study the type of consumers who have better chances of reacting favorably to a product. This exercise allows for building a marketing strategy unique to that product. This is strategic marketing . 

What Is Strategic Marketing?

Strategic marketing objectives  , process of strategic marketing, difference between strategic marketing and marketing strategy, important pointers for strategic marketing, importance of strategic marketing.

A growing number of organizations are now employing strategic marketing . It’s only natural, as strategic marketing presents them with the opportunity to outperform their competitors. Yet, there isn’t enough clarity as to what strategic marketing is. 

Under strategic marketing , organizations evaluate their positives (both present and potential) over their competition through the lens of their targeted consumers’ perception of them. Building on this allows organizations to provide better service and value to their consumers while creating an image that differs from their competitors. Successful application of strategic marketing into the marketing plan first requires answering these three questions:

  • Where to compete: Determining markets suitable for competition
  • How to compete: Determining the core element of an organization’s competitive advantage
  • When to compete: Determining when and how to enter each suitable market

Understanding these tasks through research and analysis helps fulfill the role of strategic marketing. The role of strategic marketing is defined as determining what a business needs to be and become to consistently beat competitors by consistently delivering better value. After answering the questions mentioned above, you can advance to the next stage—the strategic marketing planning stage.

The strategic marketing objectives are fundamentals that give meaning to what the process of strategic marketing is known for. The strategic marketing objectives are as follows: 

  • Drawing attention to what an organization is best known for
  • Focused promotion for specific consumer groups
  • All-around marketing using all available channels 

With these objectives in mind, the process of strategic marketing can be executed with a more tactical edge. 

Though each phase seems to perform differently, all are interdependent. This makes the strategic marketing approach a full-circle process. The findings and results of each phase in the strategic marketing process meet the goals set by the previous one until the objective in the planning phase is achieved. Let’s break down the process of strategic marketing into its separate phases: 

1. Planning

Planning is the first phase of the strategic marketing process. This phase is the most important because it lays down the groundwork for the subsequent phases. Here, identification and assessment are key. Goals, merits and shortcomings are identified while assets and liabilities are assessed. It’s divided into three steps:

  • SWOT Analysis

SWOT stands for Strength, Weakness, Opportunity and Threat. Using a SWOT analysis brings out an organization’s strengths, uncovers its weaknesses, identifies possible opportunities and reveals threats that may hinder progress.

This analysis proves beneficial in identifying the direction in which an industry is moving, understanding prevailing trends and gaining an approximate assumption of how well an organization might perform against competitors. A proper SWOT analysis becomes a major factor in developing a strategic marketing proposal for an organization.

  • Marketing Mix

A marketing mix is a popular business model organizations use to formulate and pursue their marketing activities. It comprises four key factors, namely: product, price, place and promotion. These are also known as the 4Ps of marketing.

Here, it’s the next step in the planning phase. A marketing mix will help meet objectives brought to light in the strategic marketing proposal based on the SWOT analysis conducted. It aims to strengthen the organization on selling and brand fronts by focusing on its 4Ps.

Product will focus on what commodity or service is being planned for launch by the organization. It’ll involve research into the various aspects of the product, from its packaging to features and after-sales service, and work on developments on responses from focus groups.

Price focuses on the price point planned for the sale of the product. Based on research, factors such as flexibility, discount and anticipated value are to be taken into account.

Place focuses on the most advantageous channels of distribution (online, offline or telemarketing), key advertising locations for assuring maximum exposure and transit and storage.

Promotion is the process of identifying and implementing how the product will be advertised and introduced into the market.

  • Setting Goals

Establishing achievable and measurable goals for a product boosts teamwork and efficiency in having them met and, therefore, is one of the best ways to achieve success for the product.

This phase helps in presenting management with a clear vision of the product’s current standing and the organization’s image. It’s a critical phase that ensures smooth progression.    

2. Implementation

As the name implies, this phase is where the strategic marketing proposal and all the data generated from the planning phase are implemented. Based on the data collected, it places a product’s launch into the planned market at a carefully determined price.

3. Evaluation

This phase can be seen as a review of the entire process. Based on the statistical data gathered from the sales in the second phase, the figures are evaluated with a plan to see if they live up to expectations. If yes, then the strategic marketing process has been successfully implemented. If the result is dissatisfactory, the plan needs to be worked on again.

With evaluation, this process completes a cycle. Another cycle of strategic marketing begins right after, and it is built upon the results of the preceding cycle.

The difference between strategic marketing and marketing strategy will help shed light on what sets them apart, so as to better understand how to best make use of each of these processes:

  • Strategic marketing is aimed to have a lasting impact over a long time frame (three years), while a marketing strategy is effective over a shorter time frame (one year)
  • Strategic marketing is built with the idea to steer an organization in the right direction, while a marketing strategy focuses on branding and publicizing the organization
  • The strategic marketing process is concerned with personnel at a corporate level, while the marketing strategy process is concerned with personnel at the product manager level 

Strategic marketing, therefore, is very different from marketing strategy. While marketing strategy is formulated keeping the brand in focus, strategic marketing is a 360-degree approach to the organization’s entire marketing plan.

The following points must be kept in mind to ensure smooth execution of the strategic marketing process:

  • A strategic marketing proposal must be built only after a thorough market analysis
  • Avoid assumption of consumers’ needs and wants
  • Product goal and plan objectives must be in accordance with consumer expectations
  • SWOT analysis must be carefully cross-checked for any factual errors
  • Budgeting issues due to fluctuating marketing activities can arise, so room for adjustments must be kept in mind

In addition to understanding the process, these pointers serve as helpful suggestions for better understanding and implementing the activities involved in strategic marketing. 

  Importance Of Strategic Marketing

The importance of strategic marketing can be seen in marketing plans. Plans built incorporating strategic marketing have proven integral to organizations when aiming for good reception on factors concerning product and brand name as well as retaining and gaining a growing consumer base and more. The ability of this process to refine organizational objectives sheds light on the importance of strategic marketing , Following are the ways that illustrate the importance of strategic marketing :

  • By understanding where an organization stands in comparison to competitors and what trends prevail in the target market, strategic marketing smoothens the entry of an organization in a market. It ensures easy setting of its product’s sure-footing in the market.
  • Data from strategic marketing plans give clarity on the current status of an organization’s resources. This helps in planning resource utilization better.
  • Research and analysis conducted under strategic marketing provide important information on what updates are needed for a product to yield the highest profits with maximum customer satisfaction.
  • Using strategic marketing, it becomes easy to identify and study groups that will have the most positive feedback on a product. This aids organizations by drawing their attention from a wide and varied spectrum of consumers to understanding a more narrowed down and suitable group of customers. Thus, organizations can work more efficiently on consumer engagement options.
  • Strategic marketing maximizes sales targets by helping organizations determine and perform in areas they’re most suited to excel in. 

Put simply, the strategic marketing process has an equal impact on the outward performances of an organization as much as it affects its interior functioning. This makes strategic marketing plans an important factor for the marketing schemes of organizations.

Understanding and using a strategic marketing process is an advisable and highly sought-after approach, but doing so effectively can prove to be a challenge. Harappa’s Create New Solutions pathway is designed with the tools to aid this pursuit so that eager business minds are conditioned to formulate the best strategic marketing plans for maximizing chances of success. Sign up today! 

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Strategic Marketing Planning

strategic marketing planning meaning

Market-oriented strategic planning is the managerial process of developing and maintaining a viable fit between the organisation’s objectives, skills, and resources and its changing market opportunities.

The aim of strategic marketing planning (SMP) is to shape and reshape the company’s businesses and products so that they yield target profits and growth.”

Strategic planning takes place at four levels- Corporate, division business unit and product.

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1. Meaning of Strategic Marketing Planning 2. Characteristics of Strategic Marketing Planning  3. Importance 4. Need 5. Approaches 6. Steps7. Techniques 8. Levels 9. Models 10. Strengths 11. Pitfalls.

Strategic Marketing Planning: Meaning, Characteristics, Importance, Need, Approaches, Techniques and Other Details

Strategic marketing planning – meaning and objectives.

Strategic Marketing Planning – “Without a strategy, the organisation is like a ship without a rudder” – Joel Ross and Michael Kami

In a hyper competitive marketplace, companies can operate successfully by creating and delivering superior value to target customers and also learning how to adapt to a continuously changing market place. So to meet changing conditions in their industries, companies need to be farsighted and visionary, and must develop long-term strategies.

Strategic planning involves developing a strategy to meet competition and ensure long-term survival and growth. The marketing function plays an important role in this process and it provides information and other inputs to help in the preparation of the organisation’s strategic plan.

The overall objective of strategic planning is twofold:

(i) To guide the company successfully through all changes in the environment.

(ii) To create competitive advantage, so that the company can outperform the competitors in order to have dominance over the market.

Strategic planning consists of developing a company mission (to give it direction), objectives and goals (to give it means and methods for accomplishing its mission), business portfolio (to allow management to utilise all facets of the organisation), and functional plans (plans to carry out daily operations from the different functional disciplines).

No matter how well the strategic planning process has been designed and implemented, success depends on how well each department performs its customer-value-adding activities and how well the departments work together to serve the customer.

Value chains and value delivery networks have become popular with organizations that are sensitive to the wants and needs of consumers. The marketing department (because of its ability to stress the customer’s view) has become central in the implementation of most strategic plans.

Ultimately, the aim of strategic planning is to serve the company’s business products, services and communications so that they achieve targeted profits and growth.

Strategic Marketing Planning – Characteristics

Strategic planning provides a broad framework according to which all future organisational activities will be conducted. Thus, it is a very essential to do strategic planning for any organisation very prudently.

Strategic Marketing planning is said to have the following characteristics:

1. Top Management Involvement – Strategic planning or formulation of strategy is directly involved in building up the future of the company. Strategic decisions primarily involve development of long-term objectives and policy formulation of the organisation. Thus, it becomes imperative that these decisions are taken by the top level management of an organisation as it requires a lot of wisdom and insight on the part of decision-makers.

2. Involves Huge Allocation of Resources – Strategic decisions involve commitment of the firm for a long period of time and on major issues related to overall organisation. Thus, it requires deployment of resources in huge volumes in terms of men, material, money, machines and time.

3. Impact on Long-Term Survival and Success of the Firm – Strategic planning, having a long- term commitment in terms of organisational objectives, are usually said to have a strong impact on the success of the firm. A good strategy formulation may bring company to new heights whereas a weak strategy formulation may ruin the company.

4. Future-Oriented – Strategic planning is done for the purpose of implementation in future. It is shaping of the future today. Strategies are proactive plan of actions developed for future execution. Strategic planning aims at reducing the total uncertainty of the future by devising goals and objectives and methodologies to attain them.

5. Irreversible – Strategic planning due to its complexity, huge investment involvement and long-term commitment is generally said to be irreversible. Such decisions if required to be reversed or changed, requires a huge cost. That is the reason why strategic planning is to be done very carefully after detailed analysis of both internal and external factors.

6. Sensitive to the Environment – Strategic planning in order to be effective requires maintaining a balance between internal strengths and weaknesses of an organisation with the external opportunities and threats stemming from the environment. The main prerequisite of strategic planning is that it should be responsive to the environmental factors and be capable of adapting the changes.

Strategic Marketing Planning – Importance

Imagine starting college and just randomly taking classes because they are interest­ing, easy, or you have friends enrolled in a particular section. You could be a full-time student each semester, get good grades, and at the end of four years what would you have? Not much of anything except student loan debt.

Most of you have a check­list of courses you must complete to graduate in your selected field. Selecting your major as a freshman or sophomore and determining when you will take the required courses is a strategic plan you set for yourself.

Without the specific objec­tives of your degree program and a strategy for bal­ancing your classes with the personal and professional demands on your time, you likely will not succeed in achieving your desired result – a college diploma.

Whether you are marketing yourself or some other product, strategic planning can greatly increase the likelihood of success. Strategic planning is the process of thoughtfully defining a firm’s objectives and developing a method for achieving those objec­tives. Firms must continually undertake the task of strategic planning.

Shifting conditions, including changing customer needs and competitive threats, ensure that what worked in the past will not always work in the future, thus requiring firms to modify their strategy. Strategic planning helps to ensure that marketers will select and execute the right marketing mix strategies to maximize success. The primary stra­tegic planning tool for directing and coordinating the marketing effort is the marketing plan.

1. The Marketing Plan :

A marketing plan is part of an organization’s overall strategic plan, which typically captures other strate­gic areas such as – human resources, operations, equity structure, and a host of other non-marketing items. The marketing plan is an action- oriented document or playbook that guides the analysis, implementation, and con­trol of the firm’s marketing strategy.

Creating a marketing plan requires the input, guidance, and review of employees throughout the various departments of a firm, not just the marketing department, so it is important that every future business pro­fessional understand the plan’s components.

The specific format of the marketing plan differs from organization to organiza­tion, but most plans include an executive summary, situation analysis, marketing strategy, financials section, and controls section. These five components commu­nicate what the organization desires to accomplish and how it plans to achieve its goals.

Each of the components should be grounded in the firm’s overall mission, which is ideally defined in a clear and succinct mission statement. We’ll discuss the characteristics of an effective mission statement that follows before turning to a more in-depth discussion of each of the marketing plan components.

2. Mission Statement :

The first step in creating a quality marketing plan is to develop an effective mission statement. A mission statement is a concise affirmation of the firm’s long-term purpose. An effective mission statement provides employees with a shared sense of ambition, direction, and opportunity.

A firm should begin the process of devel­oping a mission statement by considering the following classic questions posed by Peter Drucker, who is considered the father of modern management –

i. What is our business?

ii. Who is our customer?

iii. What is our value to the customer?

iv. What will our business be?

v. What should our business be?

These basic questions are often the most challenging and important that a firm will ever have to answer.

From there, the firm should focus on instilling the three primary characteristics of a good mission statement:

i. The mission statement should focus on a limited number of goals:

Companies whose mission statements contain 10 or more goals are typically focusing too much on small, less meaningful objectives, rather than creating a broader statement that provides purpose and direction to the entire organization.

ii. The mission statement should be customer oriented and focused on satisfy­ing basic customer needs and wants:

Advanced technological products of just a generation ago, such as the VCR or Polaroid camera, are outdated technologies today. Still, consumers’ desire to watch movies in their home and to take and share pictures with friends and family is stronger than ever.

Apple has been one of the most successful companies of the past decade because it has designed innovative new products like the iPod, iPhone, and iPad. Since it is quite possible that consumers 20 years from now will think of these products the same way you think about VCRs and Atari game sys­tems today, Apple’s mission statement should reflect the firm’s customer orientation and focus on meeting customer needs.

iii. Mission statements should capture a shared purpose and provide motivation for the employees of the firm:

They should emphasize the firm’s strengths, as Google’s does – “Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”

The following mission statements of other leading companies illustrate these three characteristics:

i. Amazon – We seek to be Earth’s most customer-centric company for four pri­mary customer sets – consumers, sellers, enterprises, and content creators.

ii. Citigroup – Citi works tirelessly to serve individuals, communities, institu­tions and nations. With 200 years of experience meeting the world’s toughest challenges and seizing its greatest opportunities, we strive to create the best outcomes for our clients and customers with financial solutions that are simple, creative and responsible. An institution connecting over 1,000 cities, 160 countries and millions of people, we are your global bank; we are Citi.

iii. CarMax – To provide our customers great quality cars at great prices with exceptional customer service.

iv. Xerox – Through the world’s leading technology and services in business process and document management, we’re at the heart of enterprises small to large, giving our clients the freedom to focus on what matters most – their real business.

v. Microsoft – Microsoft’s mission is to help people and businesses throughout the world realize their full potential.

vi. Ford – An exciting viable Ford delivering profitable growth for all.

A firm’s mission statement drives many of the other decisions it makes, includ­ing how best to market its goods and services to consumers. A sound mission statement provides a basis for developing the marketing plan and, as the firm con­tinues to modify its marketing plan to fit changing times, the mission statement provides a standard to ensure that the business never strays too far from its core goals and values.

Once the firm has established its mission statement, it can begin to develop the five main components of its marketing plan.

3. Executive Summary :

Once you have graduated and begun your career, you will likely come into contact with senior level executives at your firm in casual places, such as – the break room or elevator. When they ask what you are working on, you won’t have 20 minutes to discuss yourself and your projects.

More likely, you will have time for only a short elevator pitch, which is a one- to two-minute opportunity to market yourself and share the main points of the work you are doing.

The executive summary serves as the elevator pitch for the marketing plan. It provides a one- to two-page synopsis of the marketing plan’s main points. In the same way that you should put great effort into making sure that every second of your elevator pitch counts, every line of an executive summary should convey the most valuable information of the marketing plan.

Depending on your organization’s size and objectives, the marketing plan you create may be viewed by dozens or even hundreds of people. Some will take the time to read each line, but most are looking for a way to quickly understand the basic ideas and strategies behind your plan. The executive sum­mary provides this resource. While the executive summary is listed first, firms should complete this part of the marketing plan last.

4. Situation Analysis :

The situation analysis section is often considered the foundation of a marketing plan because organizations must clearly understand their current situation to make strategic decisions about how to best move forward. A situation analysis is the systematic collection of data to identify the trends, conditions, and competi­tive forces that have the potential to influence the performance of the firm and the choice of appropriate strategies.

The situation analysis comprises three subsec­tions:

i. Market summary,

ii. SWOT analysis, and

iii. Competition.

i. Market Summary :

The market summary sets the stage for the situation analysis section by focusing on the market to which the firm will sell its products. A market is the group of consumers or organizations that is interested in and able to buy a particular prod­uct. The market summary describes the current state of the market.

For example, a market summary for McDonald’s might look at the size of the fast food market in the United States and how rapidly its numbers are growing or declining. A quality market summary should provide a perspective on important marketplace trends. For example, the residential home phone market is a multibillion-dollar-a- year industry.

However, a market summary for this service should also point out that the number of traditional landline customers for AT&T, Verizon, and other carriers shrinks every year as more people decide to use only a cell phone. Understanding where a market is and where it might be going gives organizations a much better view of what resources to invest where, and what a firm can achieve through a specific marketing plan.

The market summary would also consider the growth opportunities internationally and potential sales through international expansion.

BCG Matrix:

One of the most popular analysis tools to describe the current market is The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) matrix. The tool is a two-by-two matrix that graphically describes the strength and attractiveness of a market. The vertical axis mea­sures market growth while the horizontal axis mea­sures relative market share, which is defined as the sales volume of a product divided by the sales volume of the largest competitor.

The BCG matrix combines the two elements of market growth and relative market share to produce four unique product categories—stars, cash cows, question marks, and dogs—each of which requires a different marketing strategy.

Star products combine large market share with a high growth rate. Apple’s iPad falls under this category. Firms with star products generally have to invest heavily in marketing to communicate and deliver value as the indus­try continues to grow. Marketing efforts around star products focus on maintaining the product’s market position as a leader in a growing industry for as long as possible.

b. Cash Cows:

Cash cows are products that have a large market share in an industry with low growth rates. An example of a cash cow product is the Apple iPod. The market growth rate for MP3 type players has slowed in recent years, but the iPod still retains a large share of the market.

As a result, Apple market­ers may decide to allocate only enough marketing resources (e.g., televi­sion commercials, special pricing discounts) to keep sales strong without increasing costs or negatively affecting profits.

c. Question Marks:

Question marks have small market share in a high-growth industry. Prod­ucts in this quadrant are typically new to the market and require significant marketing investment in promotion, product management, and distribution. A new iPhone application would be a question mark product.

Marketers for the new app must move quickly and creatively to reach Apple product users before competitors develop comparable apps. Question marks have an uncer­tain future and marketers must monitor the product’s position in the matrix to determine whether or not they should continue allocating resources to it.

Dogs are products that have small market share in industries with low growth rates. Products that fall into this category typically should be discontinued so the firm can reallocate marketing resources to products with more profit potential. An example of a dog product might be compact discs, an industry in which no firm has large market share and the growth rate is declining.

As part of the market summary, The BCG matrix allows a company to deter­mine where its product will fall in the marketplace and serves as a starting point for developing marketing strategies to address that market position.

ii. SWOT Analysis :

The evaluation of a firm’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats is called a SWOT analysis. A SWOT analysis can be a valuable tool in the develop­ment of a marketing plan, but only if it’s executed well. Perhaps the most common mistake a firm makes when conducting a SWOT analysis is failing to separate internal issues from external issues. Consider how a firm like McDonald’s might conduct a SWOT analysis.

Internal Considerations:

The strengths and the weaknesses aspects of the analysis focus on McDonald’s internal characteristics. Strengths are internal capa­bilities that help the company achieve its objectives.

McDonald’s strengths include its strong brand recog­nition with consumers of all ages and backgrounds; a system that ties individual store owners’ profits to company profits; and the fact that it’s a profitable company, which gives it the financial strength to con­sistently develop new products, further promote its brand, and make strategic acquisitions when opportu­nities present themselves.

Weaknesses are internal limitations that may pre­vent or disrupt the firm’s ability to meet its stated objectives. One major weakness for a firm like McDonald’s is the challenge of finding and retaining quality employees.

Another weakness is the perception that McDonald’s drives profits by selling unhealthy foods to consumers, especially children. Marketers must be honest with themselves when identifying weak­nesses because developing strategies to overcome them begins with recognizing them as problems.

External Considerations:

The opportunities and threats aspects of the SWOT analysis focus on the external environment. Opportunities are external factors that the firm may be able to capitalize on to meet or exceed its stated objectives. Opportu­nities for McDonald’s in the years ahead include increased international expansion.

McDonald’s currently serves approximately 68 million customers each day in 119 countries. International growth, especially in Europe and Asia, has exceeded earn­ings growth at domestic McDonald’s restaurants in recent years.

Threats are current and potential external factors that may challenge the firm’s short- and long-term performance. McDonald’s faces a number of potential exter­nal threats, including a declining global economy and the domestic consumer trend of eating healthier and consuming less fast food.

External factors can be both opportunities and threats. For example, the slug­gish economy following the global recession that began in December 2007 has made it harder for many firms to expand their businesses, secure loans, and hire new employees. Restaurants as an industry have faced additional challenges as consum­ers attempt to reduce the amount of money they spend on luxuries like going out to eat.

This reality threatens McDonald’s as well. However, the slow economy has also prompted consumers to look for cheaper food alternatives, and, as the world’s lead­ing choice for discounted dining, McDonald’s has an opportunity to take advantage of this trend. Firms must understand and analyse environmental factors—both internal and external—to develop a quality marketing plan.

iii. Competition :

Many firms struggle to successfully compile the com­petition section of the market summary. The section should begin by clearly stating the organization’s direct competitors. Continuing with our McDonald’s example, direct competitors would include Burger King and Wendy’s. The section should briefly describe how Burger King and Wendy’s position their products relative to McDonald’s.

It should also indicate where McDonald’s is most vulnerable to Burger King and Wendy’s on important customer metrics such as – taste, value, pricing, convenience, and customer satisfaction.

While most marketing plans examine direct com­petitors thoroughly, indirect competitors typically receive far less attention or are overlooked entirely. Indirect competitors can take market share away from a firm as macro trends or consumer preferences change.

McDonald’s must worry not only about other burger chains but also about the consumer trend of eating healthier, which has translated into massive expan­sion for chains like Subway. In 2011, Subway surpassed McDonald’s as the largest restaurant chain in the world, with almost 34,000 stores worldwide compared to less than 33,000 for McDonald’s.

Consumers choosing to eat at home rather than purchase fast food in a slow economy also compete indi­rectly with McDonald’s. A good study of the competition provides a thoughtful analysis of both the direct and indirect competitors.

Strategic Marketing Planning – Need

In a changed setting described above, it is interesting to know how the companies compete in a global marketplace. Philip Kotler found that one part of the answer is 9 – commitment to creating and retaining satisfied customers. He added a second part to this answer- Successful Company and high-performance businesses know how to adapt to a continuously changing marketplace.

They practice the art of market-oriented strategic planning. According to Philip Kotler, “Market-oriented strategic planning is the managerial process of developing and maintaining a viable fit between the organisation’s objectives, skills, and resources and its changing market opportunities. The aim of strategic planning is to shape and reshape the company’s businesses and products so that they yield target profits and growth.” Strategic planning takes place at four levels- Corporate, division business unit and product.

Strategic marketing planning calls for action in three key areas:

1. The first-calls for managing a company’s businesses as an investment portfolio. Each business has a different profit potential, and the company’s resources should be allocated accordingly.

2. The second key area involves assessing accurately each business by considering the market’s growth rate and the company’s position and fit 111 that market. It is not sufficient to use current sales or profits as a guide. For example – if the Ford Motor Company had used current profits as a guide to investment in the 1970s, it would have continued to pour money into large cars, since that was where it made its money at that time.

But Ford’s analysis showed that the profits on large cars would dry up. Therefore, Ford needed to reallocate its funds to improving its compact cars, even though the company was losing money on compact cars at that time.

3. The third key area of strategic planning is strategy. For each of its businesses, the company must develop a game plan for achieving its long-run objectives. Because there is no one strategy that is optimal for all companies in that business, each company must determine what makes the most sense in the light of its industry position and its objectives, opportunities, skills and resources.

Strategic Linkages :

Marketing plays a critical role in the company’s strategic planning process. In the words of a strategic planning manager of General Electric, “The marketing manager is the most significant functional contributor to the strategic planning process, with leadership roles in defining the business mission – analysis of the environmental, competitive, and business situations; developing objectives, goals and strategies; and defining product, market, distribution, and quality plans to implement the business’ strategies. This involvement extends to the development of programmes and operating plans that are fully linked with the strategic plan.”

Thus, the chief marketing executive’s strategic planning responsibility includes:

1. Participating in corporate strategy formulation, and

2. Developing business unit marketing strategies in accordance with corporate priorities.

Since these two areas are closely interrelated, it is important to examine marketing’s role and functions in both areas to gain more insight into marketing’s responsibilities and contributions.

Peter Drucker describes this role, “Marketing is so basic that it cannot be considered a separate function (i.e., a separate skill or work) within the business, on a par with others such as – manufacturing or personnel. Marketing requires separate work, and distinct group activities. But it is, first, a central dimension of the entire business. It is whole business seen from the point of view of its final result, that is, from the customer’s point of view.”

Some more needs for Strategic Planning are as follows:

Many companies operate without formal plans.

However, formal planning can provide many benefits:

i. It encourages management to think ahead systematically.

ii. It forces managers to clarify objectives and policies.

iii. It leads to better coordination of company efforts.

iv. It provides clearer performance standards for control.

v. It is useful for a fast-changing environment since sound planning helps the company anticipates and respond quickly to environmental changes and sudden developments.

There are three different types of plans that companies might use:

i. Annual plans (deal with the company’s current businesses and determine how to keep them going).

ii. Long-range plans (also deal with company’s current businesses and determine how to keep them prosperous).

iii. Strategic plans involve adapting the firm to take advantage of opportunities in its constantly changing environment.

Strategic Marketing Planning – Practical Approach to Develop Strategic Marketing Plan

A Practical Approach to Developing a Strategic Marketing Plan:

Making spur of the moment strategic decisions reduces the likelihood that these decisions are the best marketing is an exciting process and one that lends itself to creativity, enthusiasm and innovation. Preparation of a marketing plan requires information that is available within the organization (e.g. sales data) and information that is external to the organization (e.g. demographic trends).

Development of a marketing plan can be approached in a variety of ways and, of course, is impacted by the size of the organization, the number of products and services offered and the number and size of the target market segments.

A better approach is to perform an annual comprehensive review of markets and opportunities, then make long-term strategic decisions without the distractions of day-to-day marketing and sales activities. Daily decisions then fit into the company’s overall strategic marketing goals.

It’s important for a strategic marketing planning process to look at the company from the customer’s point of view by asking questions that have a long time horizon, such as:

(i) What needs or problems cause customers to consider buying from our company?

(ii) What improvements in the customer’s personal or business life can we enable or improve?

(iii) Which customer market segments are attracted to our company or products?

(iv) Which customer motivations or values lead people to decide to purchase our products?

(v) What changes or trends in our customer base are affecting their general interest or attraction to products like ours?

Other Aspects:

Freewheeling Opportunism :

Under this approach, a business will not have any formal system of strategic planning, and will exploit the opportunities as and when they arise. The firm will not operate within the rigid structure of an overall corporate strategy. The opportunities are judged by their individual merits and not evaluated by preplanned strategy.

This approach is more appropriate in the following situations:

(a) Turbulent environment – where change is impossible to predict and the organization is in some respect vulnerable to change.

(b) Size of the firm – Small firms need to establish a market niche.

(c) Type of industry – Especially the industries in which the consumer tastes and habits change very frequently.

(d) Exploitation of synergies.

Advantages:

(a) It is flexible and adaptable.

(b) It encourages a more creative attitude among lower level managers.

(c) The environmental opportunities can be availed as and when they arise.

(d) Rigid planning framework is eliminated.

Disadvantages:

(a) It fails to provide a coordinating framework for the organization, as a whole.

(b) It cannot guarantee that all opportunities are identified and appraised.

(c) It emphasizes the profit motive to the exclusion of other considerations.

Milking Policy :

The management of some companies exploit their business by squeezing as much as possible from the operations of the firm and its profits. This is generally done through improper practices like by not transferring profits to reserves for expansion and modernization; declaration of liberal dividend; paying very high salaries than prevailed in the industry; insufficient provision of depreciation; improper methods of accounting; insufficient provisioning for estimated risks; losses and damages etc. Such financial practices will enrich the stakeholders at the expense of the company. The above situation is termed as ‘milking policy’. Such policy is adopted through management rather than mismanagement.

Position Audit :

It examines the current state of the entity in respect of resources of tangible and intangible assets and finance, products, brands and markets, operating systems such as production and distribution; internal organization; current results; return to stakeholders.

Miles and Snow’s Organization Typology :

Raymond Miles and Charles Snow have developed a typology of organizations that describes the relationship between an organization’s culture, strategy and mission. A firm’s culture shapes the internal strategies, policies and plans which guide the organization in its relationship to its environment.

Miles and Snow classify organizations as follows:

1. Defenders :

Defenders choose a position in the environment and attempt to maintain (or defend) that position. Defenders strive towards a stable form of organization in a stable market niche. Defenders focus on stability and maintaining their markets.

They defend their markets aggressively; compete through maintaining their internal efficiencies and produce reliable, high-quality products at low prices. Defenders are efficiency oriented, achieving high employee productivity and low direct costs through high capital intensity.

2. Prospectors :

These organizations are with fairly broad product lines, and they focus on product innovation and market opportunities. These are likely to adopt an offensive strategy by identifying weaknesses of the leader and attacking it.

Prospectors are organizations in a constant state of change and constantly seek new product and market opportunities, striving to pioneer in product-market development while avoiding becoming locking into any single product, market, technology or facility. These firms seek to innovate, take risks and aggressively seek new opportunities for growth. High product R&D expenses and marketing expenses deter the competitors from entering into the industry.

3. Analyzers :

These firms try to balance efficiency and innovation by maintaining core in established markets and look for expansion into new areas. Analyzers fall between the defenders and prospectors in their orientation toward efficiency, stability and product-market changes.

4. Reactors :

These firms do not have consistent strategy, but they are interested in Guerrilla warfare and consistently perform poorly. Reactors don’t have clear strategies and respond to whatever is happening in their environment.

They will not attempt to strategies and plans to meet the changing environment and to meet new opportunities. They maintain an existing strategy and structure when environmental changes require a major reorientation by the organization.

Sustainability :

The term ‘sustainability’ refers to a development process that improves economy, society and ecology, to meet the needs and wants of the current generation, while maintaining or increasing the resources and productive capacities that are passed along to future generations.

Sustainable Growth :

Sustainable growth is the term used to describe a view on growth which advocates that growth be limited to a relatively slow rate so that growth does not jeopardize the carrying capacity of the immediate physical environment. Organizations must recognize changes in the environment that will limit the organization’s growth. Specifically, population, resources, pollution and technology are important environment param­eters.

For e.g. the slower population growth in a country will lead to fewer people to consume products and a smaller workforce and limited growth opportunities for some organizations in such countries. Another environmental constraint on growth is resources availability. Technology is another factor in the environment that may limit the growth of some firms. The control of pollution is another constraint limiting growth prospects of some firms.

Sustainable Competitive Advantage :

A business strategy is powerful if it is capable of producing sustainable competitive advantage. Normally, a firm can sustain a competitive advantage for only a certain period due to rival firms imitating and undermining that advantage.

A firm must strive to achieve sustained competitive advantage by:

(a) Continually adapting the changes in external trends and events and internal capabilities, competen­cies and resources; and

(b) Effectively formulating, implementing and evaluating strategies that capitalize on those factors.

The organization has to develop its resources so that they reflect the uniqueness of the organization and they continue to remain within the organization. For a business unit’s competitive advantage to be sustainable, its resources must be valuable, scarce and difficult to imitate or substitute.

The advantage that results from generating core competencies can be sustained due to the lack of substitution and imitation capacities by the organization’s competitors. The generic building blocks of competitive advantage help the firm in charging premium price thereby it can improve sustainable competitive advantage.

Normally, imbalance between various dimensions of competitive advantage such as efficiency, quality, innovation and customer responsiveness are to be considered to be the basic causes for failure of a business firm. The new organizational structure, appropriate leadership style, proper control systems in response to the changed environment will help in maintaining competitive advantage.

Situation Audit :

In relation to strategic planning, the concept of situation audit is to break the business into its component parts and functions and then to evaluate them separately in relation to each other, in relation to the whole, and in relation to the environment that affects them. The concept tries to break the business into its component parts and functions, and then evaluates those parts and functions in relation to the environment that affects them.

The basic purposes of situation audit are:

(a) To identify and analyze the key trends and forces that has a political impact on strategy formulation.

(b) To emphasize on the systematic assessment of environment impacts.

(c) To analyze divergent views about relevant environmental changes.

(d) All such information collected provide a base for the strategic planning process – from evaluating missions to strategy formulation or implementation.

(e) A critical assessment of key market forces and its impact.

The situation audit refers to the analysis and appraisal of basic planning premises and covers some of the following issues:

(a) Expectations of major inside and outside interests in relation to customers, competitors, business community, managerial staff.

(b) Data base with respect to past performance, current conditions.

(c) Evaluation of the key forces of the market environment.

With these data, strategists will be in a position to define the basic mission of the organization, purpose, strategies and the various policies.

Strategic Marketing Planning – Process

Strategic marketing planning process consists of following steps:

1. Conduct a situation analysis

2. Determine marketing objectives

3. Select target markets and measure the market demand

4. Design a strategic marketing mix

5. Prepare an annual marketing plan.

Process # 1. Situation Analysis:

It is review of company’s marketing programme. By analysis where the programme has been and where it is now, management can determine where the programme should go in the future. A situation analysis normally includes an analysis of the external environmental forces and the non-marketing resources that surrounds the organization’s marketing programme.

A situation analysis also includes a detailed review of the company’s present marketing mix – its product and pricing situation, its distribution system and its promotional programme.

Process # 2. Determine the Marketing Objectives:

The next step in the marketing planning process is to determine the marketing objectives. As with organizational objectives, the marketing goals should be realistic, specific, measurable and mutually consistent. And they should be clearly stated in writing.

The goals at the marketing level are closely related to the company wide goals and strategies. In fact a company strategy often translates into a marketing goal.

Process # 3. Selection of Target Markets:

Selections of target markets is obviously the key step in marketing planning. Management should analyse existing markets in detail and identify potential markets. At this point, management also should decide to what extent and in what manner, it want to segment its markets. As part of this step in the planning process, management also should forecast its sales in its various markets.

Process # 4. Designing a Strategic Marketing Mix:

Management next must design a strategic marketing mix that enables the company to satisfy the wants of its target markets and to achieve its marketing goals. The design and later the operation of the marketing mix components, constitute the bulk of a company’s marketing effort.

Process # 5. Preparing Annual Marketing Plan:

Periodically, the ongoing strategic marketing planning process in an organization culminates with the preparation of a series of short term marketing plans. These plans usually cover a period of a year. In some industries, it is necessary to prepare these plans for even shorter time periods because of the nature of the product or market. A separate annual plan should be prepared for each product line, major product, brand or market.

An annual marketing plan is the master guide covering a year’s marketing activity for the given business unit or product. The plan then becomes, the how-to do it document that guides executives in each phase of their marketing operations.

The plan includes:

(i) A statement of objectives

(ii) The identification of target markets

(iii) The strategies and tactics pertaining to the marketing mix and

(iv) Information regarding the budgetary support for the marketing activity.

Strategic Marketing Planning – Techniques

SWOT Analysis is a simple framework generating strategic alternatives from a situation analysis. A scan of the internal and external environment is an important part of the strategic planning process. Environmental factors internal to the firm usually can be classified as Strengths (S) or Weaknesses (W), and those external to the firm can be classified as Opportunities (O) or Threats (T), such an analysis of the strategic environment is referred to as a SWOT Analysis.

SWOT Analysis is applicable to either the corporate level or the business unit level and frequently appears in Marketing Plans. SWOT (sometimes referred to as TOWS) stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. The SWOT framework was described in the late 1960’s by Edmund P. Learned, (Ronald Christiansen, Kenneth Andrews, and William).

The SWOT Analysis is useful when a very limited amount of time is available to address a complex strategic situation. It provides information that is helpful in matching the firm’s resources and capabilities to the competitive environment in which it operates. As such, it is instrumental in strategy formulation and selection.

SWOT Analysis Framework :

By understanding these four aspects (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) of its situations, a firm can better leverage its strengths, correct its weaknesses, capitalize on golden opportunities, and deter potentially devastating threats.

Technique # 1. Internal Analysis :

The internal analysis is a comprehensive evaluation of the internal environment’s potential strengths and weaknesses.

i. Strengths:

A firm’s strengths are its resources and capabilities that can be used as a basis for developing a competitive advantage.

Example of such strengths include:

a. Your specialist marketing expertise

b. A new, innovative product or service

c. Location of your business

d. Quality processes and procedures.

f. Strong brand names

g. Goodwill among customers etc.

ii. Weaknesses:

The absence of certain strengths may be viewed as a weakness for example.

Weakness could be:

a. Lack of marketing expertise

b. ii. Undifferentiated products or services

c. Damaged reputation

d. Lack of patent protection

e. Weak brand name

f. Poor reputation among customers.

Technique #   2. External Analysis :

External Analysis refers to analysis of various opportunities and threats prevailing in the external environment i.e., outside the company.

i. Opportunities:

The external environmental analysis may reveal certain new opportunities for profit and growth.

Some examples of such opportunities include:

a. A developing market such as the internet.

b. ii. Mergers, joint ventures or strategic alliances.

c. Moving into new market segments that offer improved profits.

d. A new international market.

e. A market vacated by an ineffective competitors.

f. Arrival of new technologies

g. Loosening of regulations etc.

ii. Threats:

Changes in the external environmental also may present threats to the firm.

For example, a threat could be:

a. A new competitor in your home market.

b. Price wars with competitors.

c. A competitor with new, innovative product or service.

d. Competitors have superior access to channels of distribution.

e. Shifts in consumer tastes.

f. Emergency of substitute products.

g. New regulations.

h. Increased trade barriers etc.

The SWOT Matrix :

A firm should not necessarily pursue the more lucrative opportunities. Rather, it may have a better chance at developing a competitive advantage by identifying a fit between the firm’s strengths and upcoming opportunities. In some cases, the firm can overcome a weakness in order to prepare itself to pursue a compelling opportunity. Once the analysis has been complete, a SWOT profile can be generated and used as the basis of goal setting, strategy formulation and implementation.

The completed SWOT profile are sometimes arranged as follows:

When formulating strategy, the interaction of the quadrants in the SWOT profile- To develop strategies that take into account the SWOT profile, a matrix of these factors can be constructed.

i. S – O Strategies pursue opportunities that are a good fit to the company’s strengths.

ii. W – O Strategies overcome weaknesses to pursue opportunities.

iii. S – T Strategies identify ways that the firm can use its strengths to reduce its vulnerability to external threats.

iv. W – T Strategies establish a defensive plan to prevent the firm’s weaknesses from making it highly susceptible to external threats.

Rules for Successful SWOT Analysis:

i. Be realistic about the strengths and weaknesses of your organization when conducting SWOT analysis.

ii. SWOT analysis should distinction between where your organization is today and where it could be in the future.

iii. SWOT should always be specific. Avoid grey areas.

iv. Always apply SWOT in relation to your competition i.e., better than or worse than your competition.

v. Keep your SWOT short and simple. Avoid complexity.

vi. SWOT is subjective.

SWOT Analysis Limitations :

While useful for reducing a large quantity of situational factors into a more manageable profile, the SWOT frame work has a tendency to oversimplify the situation by classifying the firm’s environmental factors into categories in which they may not always fit the classification of some factors as strengths or weaknesses, or as opportunities or threats is some that arbitrary.

For example, a particular company culture can be either a strength or a weakness. A technological change can be a either a threat or an opportunity. Perhaps what is more important that the superficial classification of these factors is the firm’s awareness of them and its development of a strategic plan to use them to its advantage.

Strategic Marketing Planning – 3 Main Levels

A business plan should always have a strategic face. Strategy gives a specific focus to the plan. It throws light on how the plan gets into action. This is the reason why an organization dwells on strategic planning. Without strategic planning, the organization cannot cope with the vagaries of the market situation, insulate it from competitive thrust and attain targeted sales and profits. It aims to equilibrate corporate objectives and resources in perfect synchronization.

Kotler (1988) defined strategic planning as the managerial process of devel­oping and maintaining a viable fit between the objectives and resources of an organization. The aim of strategic planning is to shape and reshape the businesses and products of a company so that they combine to produce satisfactory profits and growth.

Strategic marketing planning finds development at three levels.

These are as follows:

1. Corporate level.

2. Business level.

3. Product/Functional level.

1. Corporate Level Strategic Plans :

These strategic plans are the ones that are chalked out at the helm of the organi­zational ladder where the top brass of management is entitled to decide about –

i. Corporate mission,

ii. Strategic business units (SBUs),

iii. Allocating resources to SBUs, and

iv. Filling up strategic planning gaps for existing and new businesses.

These issues are discussed briefly as follows:

i. A mission is a stated sense of purpose for an organization.

It answers the following questions:

a. Who are the organization’s stakeholders?

b. Why and how does the organization serve them?

c. Where does the organization intend to reach by serving its stake holders?

Through mission statements, a workforce can understand the shared sense of purpose, scope, values, direction, opportunity, and achievements of the business. Both sales managers and salespeople operate within the framework of corporate mission statements. Moreover, these statements are the bases of corporate guidelines that are observed by sales management.

ii. Most organizations are multi-business centres, manufacturing more than one product or service. Each of these businesses deals with at least one product or service and serves a definite customer group. So each business unit has a specific product/service-market combination with a definite strategic purpose. Each unit is called SBU.

Each SBU has its own objectives, strategies, profit motives, budgetary allocation because each unit is an independent business centre having its own target markets, customer groups, competitors, modalities of serving customer needs, and capacity to contribute profits to the organization.

So, the principle underlying the business-level planning is that all related products or services are grouped under one SBU. For example, the BPL group with more than one hundred products in its portfolio constituted six SBUs. These are entertainment electronics and appliances, components, telecom, power, soft energy, and financial services.

iii. The third activity of allocating resources to various SBUs is based on the business potentials and market demands. Resources add strength to the unit to become equal to or to surpass the competitors. Resources are needed to make further development (Build), maintain current position (Hold), reap short-term benefits regardless of long-term effects (Harvest), as well as, sell or liquidate the business because of no attractiveness (Divest).

Sales managers under the ‘Build’ strategy advise their subordinates to increase their efforts to increase sales volume and distribution network. The objective here is to increase market share of SBU and consolidate the business on financial fundamentals. ‘Hold’ makes sense when sales managers want to maintain their sales volume by securing the present sales force and distribution network.

The objective is to concentrate on the present target market(s). Maintenance of a steady cash flow is the smart way to stay uncluttered in the ‘Hold’ strategy. ‘Harvest’ involves the efforts of the sales managers to target profitable accounts and reduce selling costs. So, limiting ties with customers where business prospect is dim and shift attention to profit-making customers under the ‘Harvest’ approach is the strategy used by managers.

Fourthly, when an SBU finds no hope, both in short- or long-term business accruals, the company decide to sell it off or terminate the operation. Sales managers in the ‘Divest’ strategy suggest stopping all the selling activities except making desperate bids to clear off inventories. The ‘Divest Strategy’ also recommends expansion of present business in new geographical areas, if possible or establishment of new businesses to fill the strategic planning gap.

iv. In selling parlance, sales managers call for greater market expansion, penetration or development (intensive growth) or suggest ways to strengthen the supply chain by forward integration (e.g., pursuing exclusive distribution network to firm up customer service), backward integration (e.g., acquiring one or more businesses of the suppliers) or horizontal integration (e.g., acquiring one or more competitors).

The company, as an alternative move can also choose the diversification strategy that entails where and how it should venture out to explore other business opportunities not akin to the existing businesses. Sales managers need to bother more about intensive growth because they are to operate under varied product-market situations. Each situation evolves an opportunity for improving the performance of the organization.

2. Business Level Strategic Plans :

An organization consists of a number of SBUs. Each SBU develops its own missions, objectives, and strategies to achieve. Each SBU explores its marketing opportunities separately and analyses its external threats as well. It lays down its own strategic plans which must not contradict the overall corporate plan.

The components of the SBU’s strategic plan, in general, are:

i. Defining the business mission.

ii. Analysing the external environment for identifying opportunities and threats.

iii. Analysing the internal environment for introspecting strengths and weak­nesses.

iv. Developing business objectives and goals.

v. Developing business strategies.

vi. Preparing programmes or action plans.

vii. Implementing action plans.

viii. Monitoring feedbacks and take corrective actions.

These are discussed briefly in the following paragraphs.

Each business unit within the organization has its own mission to develop. The mission statements for the business covers up the market segment and the target market for a company that they will serve. For example, mission for a pharma­ceutical business that manufactures paediatric medicines is to spread goodwill amongst parents by taking care of their children’s health.

How better an organization can fulfil its mission depends on how better it can manage its resources and control its impediments in its way to success. This means the ability of the organization to capitalize on strengths by keeping weaknesses at bay and exploit business opportunities by thwarting threats convincingly. SWOT (strength, weakness, opportunity, and threat) analysis is an important strategic planning tool that helps the organization to do a critical review and compare its strengths and weaknesses with opportunities and threats.

SWOT analysis can be separately undertaken by the sales managers to review and identify the strategic advantages that they can use as promotional weapons. At the same time, the analysis will signal cautions on disadvantaged areas of the organization that the sales managers should take care of in the strategic planning process.

After the business mission is defined and the SWOT analysis is over, the sales manager decides on the objectives of the business dealing with specific product(s) or product line. Multiple objectives are set to cover up the major points of des­tination. Kotler (1988) viewed that most business units should pursue a mix of objectives including profitability, sales growth, market share improvement, risk containment, innovativeness, reputation, and so on.

Strategies lay down the activities and distribute resources with a long-term plan of how to compete with the designated products and markets zeroing in on busi­ness objectives and goals. A business strategy, in the same lines, suggests the plan of action which should be pursued by a business unit to accomplish objectives in a cost-effective manner.

In this regard, Porter’s strategic thinking is worthy of discussion because, according to him all strategic routes are condensed into three generic strategies. According to Porter, these generics provide food for strategic thoughts for managers to steer businesses towards accomplishment of objectives.

3. Product/Functional Level Strategic Plan :

A strategic plan provides the framework for preparing marketing strategies for a specific product or service. These product/functional level strategies should be consistent with the business strategies.

Marketing Mix Decision:

Marketing mix development is the central part of a marketing programme. A marketing programme should be designed in a man­ner that always surpasses that of competitors, which is termed as the competitive advantage. The development of marketing mix takes place basically in its four components, namely product, price, place, and promotion. Information on market potential, market size, growth, level of competitor’s activity, level of tastes and preferences of the customers, economic behaviour of customers, key buying influencers, cost factors for market entry, etc., are other factors to be studied before taking entry decisions.

Marketing mix decision is geared towards developing the marketing mix ele­ments product, price, place, and promotion in a way that meets the needs and preferences of specific target market. Kumar and Meenakshi (2006) advocated that competitive advantage can be built in the marketing programme by the following –

i. Being better – Superior quality or service.

ii. Being faster – Anticipate and respond to customer needs faster than the competitors.

iii. Being closer – Establishing close long-term relationships with the customers.

The objective is to create a clear competitive advantage over rivals. A higher fit amongst the dimensions of the marketing programme, as compared to other competitors, can bring competitive advantage to the organization.

Levels of Strategic Management:

Before we could discuss the various levels of strategy, we need to understand two terms:

1. Enterprise Strategy:

Enterprise Strategy seeks to answer the question “what do we stand for?” Enterprise strategy is the organization’s plan for establishing the desired relationship with other social institutions and stock holder group by maintaining the overall character of the organization.

2. Strategic Business Unit (SBU):

“A strategic business unit (SBU) is an operative division of a firm which serves a distinct product/market segment or a well-defined set of customers or a geographic area. The SBU is given authority to make its own strategic decisions within corporate guidelines as long as it meets corporate objectives.”

In a multi-business enterprise having several SBUs there would be three levels of strategy, viz:

i. Corporate strategy,

ii. SBU strategy and

iii. Functional strategy.

i. Corporate Strategy:

Corporate strategy is the long term strategy encompassing the entire organization. Corporate strategy addresses fundamental questions such as –

a. What is the purpose of the enterprise?

b. What business it wants to be in?

c. How to expand? etc.

Corporate strategy is formulated by the top-level corporate management. Corporate level strategic planning is the planning of activities, which define the overall character, and mission of the organization, the product/service segments it will enter and leave, and allocation of resources and management of synergy among its SBUs.

ii. SBU Strategy:

SBU level strategy, sometimes called business strategy or competitive strategy is concerned with decisions pertaining to the product mix, market segments and measuring competitive advantages for the SBU.

The responsibility for SBU strategy is with the top executives of SBU who are normally 2 nd tier executives in the corporate hierarchy. In single SBU organization, senior executives have both corporate and SBU level responsibility.

iii. Functional Strategy:

Functional level strategies are strategies for different functional areas like production, finance, personnel, marketing etc. Functional level strategy is the responsibility of functional area head.

Strategic Marketing Planning – Top 3 Models of SMP

Over the past few decades, a number of frameworks or tools – known as models have been designed to assist the strategic planning exercise. Most of these models can be used with both strategic company planning and strategic marketing planning.

A few other models are being discussed below:

1. Life-Cycle Portfolio Matrix:

The Arthur D Little model which is illustrated below uses two dimensions – the firm’s competitive position and the stages of industry maturity.

a. Dominant – This is a comparatively rare position and in many cases is attributable either to a monopoly or a strong and protected technological leadership.

b. Strong – By virtue of this position, the firm has a considerable degree of freedom over its choice of strategies and is often able to act without its market position being unduly threatened by the competition.

c. Favourable – This position, which generally comes about when the industry is fragmented and no one competitor stands out clearly, results in the giving market leaders a reasonable degree of freedom.

d. Tenable – Although the firms within this category are able to perform satisfactorily and can justify staying in the industry, they are generally vulnerable in the face of increased competition from stronger and more proactive companies in the market.

e. Weak – the performance of firms in this category is generally unsatisfactory although opportunities for improvement do exist.

2. The General Electric Model:

The General Electric Model (developed by GE with the assistance of the consulting firm McKinsey & Company) is similar to the BCG growth-share matrix. This also uses two factors in a matrix/grid situation.

The criteria used to rate market attractiveness and business position are assigned in different ways because some criteria are more important than others. Then each SBU is rated with respect to all criteria. Finally overall ratings for both factors are calculated for each SBU. Based on these ratings, each SBU is labelled as high, medium or low with respect to (a) market attractiveness, and (b) business position.

Every organisation has to make decisions about how to use its limited resources most effectively. That’s where these planning models can help in determining which SBU should be stimulated for growth, which ones maintained in their present market position and which one eliminated.

3. Porter’s Generic Strategic Model:

Michel Porter, a Harvard business professor proposed the following generic strategic models based on product market scope and competitive advantages.

Three generic strategies proposed by Michel Porter are:

a. Overall cost leadership – A company or an SBU, typically large, seeks to satisfy a broad market by producing a standard product at a low cost and then under-pricing competitors. The battle among Deccan Airways with other Airlines, and Maruti Udyog with other automobile companies revolves around cost leadership at the present time.

b. Differentiation – An organisation creates a distinctive, perhaps even a unique, product through its unsurpassed quality, innovative design, or some other feature and as a result, can charge a higher than average price. This strategy may be used to pursue either a broad or narrow target market.

c. Focus – A firm or an SBU concentrates on part of a market and tries to satisfy it with either a very low-priced or highly distinctive product. The target market ordinarily is set apart by some factor such as geography or specialized needs. For example, a small company in the auto parts business might target owners of cars that are no longer produced.

A low-cost leader’s basis for competitive advantage is lower overall cost than competitors. Successful low-cost leaders are exceptionally good at finding ways to drive cost out of their business. Outperforming rivals in controlling the factors that drive costs is a very demanding managerial exercise.

In markets where rivals compete mainly on price, low cost relative to competitor is the only competitive advantage that matters. A low-cost leader is in the strongest position to win the business of the price sensitive buyers and still earn a profit.

A successful differentiation strategy will provide customers with perceived and actual value that is difficult for competitors to copy. The essence of a differentiation strategy is to be unique in ways that are valuable to the customers and that can be sustained.

Focused (or Market Niche) strategy is based on competitive advantages either on- (a) lower cost than competitors in serving the market niche or (b) an ability to offer niche members something they perceive better suited to their own unique taste and preferences. Even though a focuser may be small, it may still have substantial competitive strength because of the attractiveness of the product offering and its strong expertise and capabilities in meeting the needs and expectations of niche members.

Best-cost provider strategies aim at giving customers more value for their money. The most successful best-cost producers have competencies and capabilities to simultaneously manage unit costs down and product caliber up. The most powerful competitive strategy of all is relentlessly striving to become a lower-and-lower cost provider of a higher-and-higher caliber product. The closer a firm can get to the ultimate of being the industry’s absolute lowest-cost provider and, simultaneously, the provider of the industry’s overall best product, the less vulnerable it becomes to rivals’ actions.

Strategic Marketing Planning – Strengths

Some benefits of strategic marketing planning are as follows:

(a) The increase in size of companies will increase its risk.

(b) It improves the quality of management’s decision making by encouraging creativity and initiative by tapping the ideas of the management team.

(c) The economic environment of business is fast changing.

(d) The reduction in entry barriers has intensified the competitive spirit.

(e) The long-run survival and growth of a business firm requires a well-planned decision making, evaluation and control systems.

(f) The long-term, medium-term and short-term objectives, plans and controls can be made consistent with one another.

Strategic Marketing Planning – Common Pitfalls

The common pitfalls in strategic marketing planning are as follows:

(a) Non-availability of correct and accurate data.

(b) Doing strategic planning only to satisfy accreditation or regulatory requirements.

(c) Failing to communicate the plan to the people who execute the plan.

(d) Top management making intuitive decisions that conflict with formal plan.

(e) Failing to use plans as a standard for measuring performance.

(f) Delegating tasks to a few persons rather than involving all managers.

(g) Failing to involve key employees in all phases of planning.

(h) Failing to create an environment conducive of change.

(i) Lack of flexibility and creativity.

(j) Strategic planning is a costly exercise, as well as, time consuming.

(k) Strategic planning usually restricted to hard business concerns, leaving without proper attention for soft issues like customer, quality, labour productivity, social concerns etc.

(l) Strategy planning sometimes becomes a routine exercise, without having proper attention to strategic issues.

(m) The planning process is isolated from the external groups that critically affect the company like labour unions, consumer advocates, social service organizations etc.

Related Articles:

  • Strategic Planning Process: 4 Stages | Business Marketing
  • Strategic Planning Process for Industrial Marketing
  • Strategic Planning, Alternatives and Implementation | Business Marketing
  • Process of Strategic Planning: 5 Stages | Management

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Global expansion strategies: how to take your business to new markets successfully.

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Jason Miller helps influential brands and celebrities create generational wealth with their businesses | CEO, Strategic Advisor Board .

If you’re an entrepreneur who’s ready to take your business ventures from domestic to global, read on to learn about how to research, create financial and strategic plans, and use marketing to get to global success. These are some of the steps I used when breaking into markets with my company, Strategic Advisor Board.

The obvious reason to go global is with access to more people, you will most likely experience revenue growth. But one of the biggest reasons I recommend doing this is due to risk diversification by not relying solely on one market for your business revenue; this is important because of ongoing changes to the economy. According to research, "shareholders do, in fact, reward companies who grow faster outside of the U.S ."

Expanding to new markets can lead to economies of scale and lower production costs due to bulk purchasing and more streamlined production. Your business could also have access to new talent and resources which could lead to more innovation and creativity as well as tapping into local raw materials. Here is how to do it:

Research & Adaptation

I would argue that this is the most important part of the process and maybe the most in-depth of expanding globally because so much of what you find out determines if it’s a smart company decision to make the move. Research your new market to determine whether your product/service will perform well there but also find out tax and regulatory info. You may be exempt from certain taxes if you open your business to new borders.

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Find out if you have a target market in the new area you’re looking at, and if they’d be receptive to your products/services. Make sure you take into account the different cultural aspects that could affect the marketability of your product. Do research on any competitors in the area and figure out what your unique selling proposition is. All this information you’ve gathered will help with making your decision.

Financial Planning

Before you can decide to expand, you need to see if you can afford it. Before creating any sort of budget, find out all the costs associated with expanding. Start with looking at the operational expenses such as infrastructure for office or warehouse spaces and supply chain costs. Supply chain costs can include storage of inventory, or transportation costs of your products to and from manufacturing centers to stores or directly to clients.

Find out if any tariffs or customs fees would affect the profitability of your product. You may want to insure your goods, so look into the costs of doing that as well as how much you should put aside for contingency funds to have on hand for any unforeseen expansion costs.

Strategic Planning

In this part of the process, you will create a roadmap starting with defining clear objectives for your expansion. Then developing a strategy that consists of how to enter the market, including looking into joint ventures, mergers, franchising or partnerships.

Your strategic plan also needs to include adaptive planning. This means you’re flexible in your plan so you can accommodate any unforeseen changes, difficulties or challenges that may occur in the marketplace. Since markets are dynamic and continuously shift, it’s important your strategies adjust as well to include any changing political, economic or cultural conditions. Include these factors in the risk management portion of the plan. Also, include a timeline with realistic expectations of short-term and long-term goals.

Marketing & Talent Management

The marketing strategy you’ve been using domestically may not work globally. It’s a skill to be able to build a consistent brand image while making sure you’re connecting with and being respectful of local market preferences.

One of the best things about having a business operating on a global scale is access to top talent. Hiring the correct talent that goes with your brand’s values and mission is important across all your business locations. That being said, HR policies may be different from domestic HR laws in the workplace. Look into getting work visa support if you need employees to work on international projects.

Global expansion isn’t easy and there’s a lot to consider, but if you’re willing to accept the challenge, there are certain strategies to help you achieve success. Extensive research is the most important to start with. Understand what the new market potential will be like, and find out what the taxes and culture look like. Evaluate how receptive your product will be to locals and what makes it unique. Financial planning is crucial in the early stages and you should assess everything from operational and supply chain costs to insuring your goods. Strategic planning is the roadmap to follow and should include clear objectives, a comprehensive entry strategy, timelines, and adaptive planning. The last steps include using marketing that sits well with locals and hiring top talent to help with the transition. Expanding your company isn’t easy, but if you do your research and plan accordingly, you’ll be on the right track to global success.

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Evaluate and Plan Your Strategy

Welcome to the "Evaluate and Plan Your Strategy" milestone of the Twilio SendGrid Onboarding Guide. In this section, you will see Twilio SendGrid's recommended program architecture. By the end of the milestone, you will understand why we recommend this architecture, and you will have a high level understanding of the Twilio SendGrid features that comprise it.

In this Onboarding Guide section, your team will:

  • Understand Twilio SendGrid features and how to combine them into a program architecture.
  • Gather the information needed to build your program in the next milestone.
  • Select a Twilio SendGrid package.

Step 1: Recommended architecture | recommended

Twilio SendGrid recommends that direct brands — brands that send email directly to their own customers — divide their marketing and transactional mailstreams between Subusers .

Our best practice is to set up your account with the architecture outlined in the following diagram. We'll break down each piece of this diagram in the remaining sections of this milestone, so don't worry if you're unfamiliar with mailstreams, Subusers, or any other vocabulary you see here.

The Twilio SendGrid parent account sits at the top of this architecture. The parent account then has two Subusers, each of which have their own resources and settings.

Email Direct Brand Architecture.

Mailstreams: transactional vs marketing email

Transactional and marketing emails function differently and may require different approaches to set up. Transactional email completes a transaction initiated by the recipient. Classic examples are order confirmations, password resets, or shipping notifications. Marketing email aims to prompt a behavior by the recipient such as signing up for an event, making a purchase, or reading an article.

For the purposes of planning, it's more helpful to think of how transactional, and marketing emails differ in their operation. Transactional emails are automated, event-driven responses to recipient activities. Marketing emails are campaigns designed by a marketing team to a select audience at a select time.

With that in mind, transactional messages should always be handled by automated API calls, while marketing messages can either be built and sent from our Marketing Campaigns (link takes you to an external page) product or by calling the API directly with code.

In our architecture diagram, we assign a Subuser to each mailstream.

Subusers are available on Pro and Premier plans, and you can think of them as subaccounts. Each Subuser can have its own sending domains, IP addresses, and reporting. Even if you don't plan on sending both transactional and marketing mail right away, setting up an initial Subuser is a helpful way to plan for the future.

Sending domains

You will complete domain authentication, link branding, and reverse DNS set up in the next milestone. For now, it's important to decide which domains you plan to use for each mailstream.

Email volume

Do your best to estimate the amount of email you will send. If you are migrating an existing program to Twilio SendGrid, you may have numbers already available. However, if you are creating a new program, volume can be difficult to anticipate. We recommend considering the size of your customer base and targeting a high send mark for the customer growth you expect in the next 3 months.

With an estimate of your sending volume, you will have an early idea about how many IP addresses you may require.

Free Twilio SendGrid accounts send email through our shared IP addresses. We monitor our shared IPs for suspicious sending activity and protect our customers' sending reputations. However, the best way to take full control of your sending reputation is by sending from dedicated IP addresses . Download our IP Warmup Schedule (link takes you to an external page) to see how we recommend allocating IP addresses by volume. IP Warmup is discussed in detail in the next milestone.

Step 2: Package selection | required

Selecting the right Twilio SendGrid package can reduce friction early on; however, it's always possible to adjust your package selection as needed. Twilio SendGrid provides packages based on email volume, contact count, and feature availability.

Now that you've estimated how many emails you are likely to send and decided if you will divide your mailstreams among Subusers, you can use the Twilio SendGrid pricing page (link takes you to an external page) to select a package.

Note that some of the features that allow you to fully configure your program architecture are available with Pro and Premier plans only. You can still get started for free, and keeping these architecture steps in mind will help you plan for eventual scaling.

Definition of Done

  • Understanding of mailstreams.
  • Understanding of Subusers.
  • Estimated sending volume.
  • Identified domains.
  • Twilio SendGrid package selected.

Next, Build and Test Your Application

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  17. Strategic Marketing Planning: Everything You Need to Know

    Step 1: Define your marketing goals. The first step in the strategic marketing process is to clearly define your marketing goals. These goals should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART). Marketing goals should be tailored to meet your overall business goals.

  18. Strategic Marketing Plan in 10 Steps: A Comprehensive Guide

    A plan for strategic marketing typically contains several key components, including: An overview of the organization's mission and vision. An analysis of its external environment (competitors, customers, and trends) An assessment of its strengths and weaknesses. A definition of its target market. SMART Goal Setting.

  19. Marketing Strategy: What It Is and How to Create One

    A marketing strategy is an overview of how a business or organization will articulate its value proposition to its customers. Generally, a marketing strategy outlines business goals, target market, buyer personas, competitors, and value for customers. It provides a long-term vision for overall marketing efforts, often looking many years ahead.

  20. What Is a Marketing Plan? And How to Create One

    A marketing plan is a business document used to execute a marketing strategy. It is tactical, and, as later sections of this article explore, it typically includes campaign objectives, buyer personas, competitive analysis, key performance indicators, an action plan, and a method for analysing campaign results.

  21. Strategic Marketing: Definition, Importance And Process

    1. Planning. Planning is the first phase of the strategic marketing process. This phase is the most important because it lays down the groundwork for the subsequent phases. Here, identification and assessment are key. Goals, merits and shortcomings are identified while assets and liabilities are assessed.

  22. What Is a Marketing Plan? And How to Create One

    A marketing plan is a document that a business uses to execute a marketing strategy. It is tactical in nature, and, as later sections of this article explore, it typically includes campaign objectives, buyer personas, competitive analysis, key performance indicators, an action plan, and a method for analyzing campaign results.

  23. Strategic Planning

    Strategic planning is the art of creating specific business strategies, implementing them, and evaluating the results of executing the plan, in regard to a company's overall long-term goals or desires. It is a concept that focuses on integrating various departments (such as accounting and finance, marketing, and human resources) within a ...

  24. Strategic Marketing Planning: Meaning, Characteristics and Importance

    Strategic Marketing Planning - Meaning and Objectives Strategic Marketing Planning - "Without a strategy, the organisation is like a ship without a rudder" - Joel Ross and Michael Kami In a hyper competitive marketplace, companies can operate successfully by creating and delivering superior value to target customers and also learning ...

  25. Global Expansion: Take Your Business To New Markets Successfully

    Strategic Planning. In this part of the process, you will create a roadmap starting with defining clear objectives for your expansion. ... The marketing strategy you've been using domestically ...

  26. The 7 Key Marketing Principles and How to Apply Them

    While most people recognize the 4 Ps model, some use a version of these marketing principles geared more toward consumers: Consumer, Cost, Convenience and Communication. 20 years later, researchers revisited these marketing principles and lengthened the list, creating 7 Ps in total. People, Process (or Positioning) and Physical Evidence (or ...

  27. Evaluate and Plan Your Strategy

    Step 1: Recommended architecture | recommended. Twilio SendGrid recommends that direct brands — brands that send email directly to their own customers — divide their marketing and transactional mailstreams between Subusers. Our best practice is to set up your account with the architecture outlined in the following diagram.