There should be clear steps to follow when developing a marketing strategy.
Guidance from the strategic plan
If the strategy is being developed for large organization, then they should be a corporate strategy document – known as a strategic plan – that should be the starting point for the development of marketing strategy and subsequent documentation in a marketing plan.
Where there is no strategic plan
In smaller companies, new businesses, or other organizations that do not have an established strategic plan, then it will be necessary to follow these key steps:
1. Analysis of the resources, skills, competitive position and capabilities of the firm
This requires an internal and external analysis of what the firm has to work with, and how it is placed and positioned with consumers, and how it compares to its competition, as well as some evaluation of current key trends in the marketplace.
At the conclusion of this analytical exercise, a summary SWOT analysis can be prepared. This SWOT analysis should be based upon detailed analysis, rather than being brainstormed. This is because the SWOT is designed as a summary document.
2. Identify strengths and opportunities in alignment
Using the SWOT analysis, identify the strengths that can be leveraged into the opportunities for the firm. This needs to be the foundation of any strategic marketing plan. This is because the firm is utilizing its strengths/advantages and targeting them directly at perceived market opportunities.
This approach is more likely to generate positive and successful results, as opposed to chasing market opportunities where the firm does not have any apparent competitive advantage (that is, no real strengths to leverage).
3. Clarify financial and marketing goals
Most organizations will tend to have financial and marketing goals that they want to achieve. These need to be clearly articulated and structured correctly. Usually you would expect to have financial goals of profitability levels and probably some form of growth target as well. It would be unusual – except for a non-profit organization – NOT to have a profit objective included in their plan.
Marketing focus goals should also be included and clarified – these typically relate to market share, brand awareness levels, retailer penetration, product quality, product range – as you can see, typically structured around the various marketing mix elements.
4. Connect goals and strengths/opportunities
At this stage of your strategic marketing planning process, you should have two key pieces of information:
- A list of opportunities that can be leveraged by your existing corporate strengths and
- A list of financial and marketing goals
Obviously the ideal approach would be to work out which strengths/opportunities combinations are needed to achieve the desired financial and marketing objectives. Sometimes this requires a considerable amount of consideration, as often goals are quite challenging and there are sometimes no obvious strengths/opportunities combinations that easily achieve these goals. Therefore, considerable thought needs to be given to how to best get to the desired financial and marketing position.
5. Marketing strategy statement
It is a good idea to develop a straightforward strategy statement that clearly articulates how the firm or brand is going to be successful in achieving its goals. This is somewhat similar to the “30 second elevator speech”, where individual would describe their skills and talents.
In much the same way, it is necessary for a firm to them to quickly describe its overall strategy. This creates significant consistency in the organization and makes it easy to remember and easy to communicate throughout the organization to all staff.
6. Identify appropriate marketing tactics
At this stage of the strategic marketing planning process we have clearly defined the firm’s/brand’s strategy and we have simplified it down to one or two paragraphs.
Therefore, the selection of marketing tactics – the various marketing mix elements to be utilized – should become more apparent and obvious. Obviously we need to be considerate of the overall budget, available resources, and time to execute and implement the various marketing mix elements required to deliver on the plan’s goals and strategy.
7. Development and documentation of the marketing plan
At this stage we’re now ready to document the marketing plan – we should not attempt this task until we have completed the above steps. It is usually a mistake to rush into documentation prior to significant analysis, evaluation, and review of strategic options.
The only additional components of the marketing plan we require in this step is the identification of the timetable for the implementation and the selection of key targets that would be used for control objectives in the marketing plan.