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.
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.
- SWOTAnalysis – Defines the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of your business and reveal your company’s position in respect to the market. To maximizes strengths and minimize weaknesses an organization must perform the following:
- 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 4Psand the budget needed for each element of the mix.
- Set marketing and product goals
- 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.
- Market-Product focus and Goal Setting – Once the questions of where the company stands and what it wants to achieve are answered, the next step in the planning process is determining where the resources will be allocated, and how to turn plans into focused action. To do this, customers should be divided into segments to determine what specific marketing technique will reach each targeted group and what each group needs. Next measurable goals should be set to get the needed products to the various groups, thus fulfilling the marketing objectives. For example, if customers are divided into groups of common needs it’s easier to market them and provide what they have proven to need at the time. And as well, if customers are grouped by their common response to marketing, then the cooperation will know the right decisions to make to reach that specific market segment.
- 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 com: “A strategic goal should be achievable through the tactics that support it, rather than dependent upon uncontrollable outside forces.”
- Marketing strategyshould 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.