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    What is Strategic Marketing Planning?

    Every CEO and marketing executive periodically faces urgent strategic marketing challenges that can affect the future of the company for many years. Frequently these decisions are made without having an opportunity to study the situation and make the best possible decision.

    Making spur of the moment strategic decisions reduces the likelihood that these decisions are the best.

    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:

    • What needs or problems cause customers to consider buying from our company?
    • What improvements in the customer's personal or business life can we enable or improve?
    • Which customer market segments are attracted to our company or products?
    • Which customer motivations or values lead people to decide to purchase our products?
    • What changes or trends in our customer base are affecting their general interest or attraction to products like ours?

    Strategic vs. Tactical Marketing Plans

    What makes a strategic marketing plan different from a more tactical marketing communications plan? The key difference is the focus on meshing overall customer situations with your overall company direction.

    For business-to-business marketers, this means combining industry sector segmentation and product use with other factors related to purchase decisions. These include the purchase criteria and decision motivations that affect large, enterprise size purchases.

    For example, the trend toward increased use of outsourcing to both domestic and global vendors creates markets for those suppliers. However, those vendors need to have a strategic marketing vision in order to see these new markets early enough to take advantage of the opportunity.

    For consumer marketers, this means using geographic and demographic segmentation, as well as psychographic segmentation (i.e., values, attitudes, lifestyles), and product usage motivations.

    For example, the aging population bubble creates a general increase in demand for a wide range of products. It also creates market niches that are large enough to make product development and marketing worthwhile.

    The same shifts can also reduce demand for other products. These long term shifts in markets are frequently misinterpreted as short-term competitive pressures or fluctuations in the economy. Instead of increasing advertising or sales efforts, it might be better to abandon a declining market.

    Without a strategic marketing plan a company could waste resources or miss an opportunity.

    What's the cost of missing an opportunity? Of course, it's impossible to know at the time the opportunity is missed, but years later it will become clear when a competitor opens a new factory or enters a new market -- and their revenue grows faster than their competitors.

    In other words, the annual cost of a strategic marketing plan review is miniscule compared to the revenue, market share, and profitability it can generate.

    Developing the Strategic Marketing Plan

    The strategic marketing plan process typically has three stages:

    1. Segment the market
      • Geographic
      • Demographic
      • Psychographic
      • Behavior
    2. Profile the market segments
      • Revenue potential
      • Market share potential
      • Profitability potential
    3. Develop a market segment marketing strategy
      • Market leader or product line extension
      • Mass marketing or targeted marketing
      • Direct or indirect sales
    After analyzing market segments, customer interests, and the purchase process, it's time to create the strategic marketing plan. The strategic marketing plan document usually includes:

    • Situational Analysis - Where is the company now?
      1. Market Characteristics
      2. Key Success Factors
      3. Competition and Product Comparisons
      4. Technology Considerations
      5. Legal Environment
      6. Social Environment
      7. Problems and Opportunities
    • Marketing Objectives - Where does management want the company to go?
      1. Product Profile
      2. Target Market
      3. Target Volume in Dollars and/or Units
    • Marketing Strategies - What should the company do to achieve its objectives?
      1. Product Strategy
      2. Pricing Strategy
      3. Promotion Strategy
      4. Distribution Strategy
      5. Marketing Strategy Projection

    How to Use a Strategic Marketing Plan

    Once a company's executive team has approved the strategic marketing plan it's time to take the next step -- create the tactical marketing programs and projects needed to implement the plan.

    These tactical programs usually include:

    • Product Development Plan
    • Marketing Communications Plan
    • Sales Development Plan
    • Customer Service Plan

    Benefiting from a Strategic Marketing Plan

    The top-down process of developing a strategic marketing plan helps insure that all tactical marketing programs support the company's goals and objectives, as well as convey a consistent message to customers.

    This approach improves company efficiency in all areas, which helps improve revenue and market share growth, and minimizes expenses -- all of which lead to higher profitability.

    How Cliff Allen can help develop your strategic marketing plan

    With over 25-years of strategic marketing experience, and helping companies implement both traditional and online marketing and sales programs, Cliff Allen brings a valuable perspective to developing strategic marketing plans and programs.

    Cliff can lead your strategic planning team, or assist senior management, throughout the entire strategic marketing plan process. He can help you:

    • Research customer attitudes toward your company, your product category, and your competition.
    • Evaluate the attractiveness of potential target markets
    • Determine the competitive strengths and weaknesses of your company and your competitors
    • Develop marketing communications and sales development strategies for each target market
    • Design the metrics to measure performance

    To learn more about the strategic marketing planning process, and how Cliff Allen can help you achieve market leadership, call Cliff today at (310) 650-3599.

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