Strategic marketing is a deliberative, studied and long-term approach to a company’s marketing goals. This approach provides an important intersection where past marketing performance can shape future marketing choices, and where elements external to the company, as well as internal company factors, can be incorporated into a marketing plan.
Daily marketing and sales tasks can distract from long-term marketing goals, forcing hasty, spur-of-the-moment decisions that aren’t grounded in solid market research. Strategic marketing requires looking into previous campaigns and past market developments in an effort to uncover insights that will inform future marketing decisions.
The strategic marketing process also takes into account external information like target-market demographic data, industry trends and competitor strategies. This should be integrated with internal information like the size of the company, sales data and brand analysis so that the company can identify potential opportunities and risks.
By using a strategic planning process, marketing executives are able to decide:
- Which markets to compete in. A strategic marketing plan ought to provide a background in its current market, but the primary focus should be on markets the company has not yet targeted.
- What the basis of the company’s competitive advantage will be. The company must decide how it is going to compete in these new markets.
- When and how the firm will enter each market. The strategic marketing plan should include the time and manner in which the company will enter its new markets.
Principles of Strategic Marketing Planning
As a company begins to gather data to find answers to the questions above, its marketing decision-makers should understand these bedrock strategic-marketing principles:
- Have clear business objectives. With so many developments in marketing, there is extraordinary pressure to adopt every advancement and marketing trend. Before looking at anything new, however, companies should define their business objectives. Once their intent is apparent, then it’s easier to evaluate whether a trend would be truly beneficial.
- Focus on strategy before tactics. Allow your strategy to identify the what and why aspects of your marketing plan before you decide on the how. Make sure you have a clear understanding of your target market, client profiles and business objectives prior to laying out what methods are necessary to reach them. Determine how best to communicate the value of your product in the context of how it will help your clients with their biggest business problems.
- Identify emerging opportunities. With your objectives and marketing strategy in place, it’s time to start monitoring the latest trends and innovations to see which of them might best serve your aims. It is important to recognize that many innovations don’t pan out and some trends are just passing fads. Take the time necessary to properly vet new developments, but once you’ve settled on one that will be beneficial to your marketing strategic plan, move quickly to implement it.
- Create an online platform. As buyers become savvier at avoiding traditional advertising campaigns, it has become necessary for businesses to change their approach and turn to Internet marketing plans. Internet searches are swiftly replacing all other methods of product research, especially as Internet connectivity has become more commonplace. At the beginning of 2012, 27% of TVs shipped worldwide were capable of connecting to the Internet, and in 2013, emails opened on smartphones and tablets increased 80%. In order to reach an increasingly Internet-focused marketplace, companies must turn their brands into successful online platforms that publish content designed to attract their target audience.
- Educate potential clients. For purchasing decisions, buyers are also turning away from more traditional advertising methods and appealing to Internet resources. According to recent reports, blogs were 63% more likely to influence purchase decisions than magazines. Rather than being bogged down by advertisements, potential clients want to be educated about a company’s products before they make any buying decisions. The businesses that provide helpful and informative content are more liable to attract new leads than those that only rely on traditional advertising.
How to Develop a Strategic Marketing Plan?
Each organization must tailor their strategic planning marketing to suit their needs and the needs of their clients. There are, however, certain common components shared by most strategic marketing approaches. These are:
- Gather market information. Marketers should cast a wide net as they research historical trends, audience demographics, market forces and growth, and competitor strengths and weaknesses.
- Analyze information. After amassing information, it’s important to categorize and prioritize it and then to identify possible opportunities and risks.
- Establish goals. Determine specific goals with a measurable end point. Goals need to be simple, reasonable and quantifiable. Along with this end goal, you should also identify mid-way markers and metrics that will help measure your progress.
- Determine marketing mix to reach potential leads. The term “marketing mix” has come to mean many things since it was first coined, but it most commonly refers to four crucial elements called the four P’s of marketing: price, product, place and promotion. Once your research and analysis is complete and your objectives are set, you’re ready to configure your marketing mix and allocate company resources to attaining those goals using the four P’s.
- Test campaigns and adapt as needed. Strategic marketing plans are never set in stone. Updating the plan is essential, but all updates and revisions should be based on hard data gathered during the course of the marketing campaign.
Strategic Marketing Tactics
Strategic marketing also includes selecting and implementing marketing tactics that suit your company’s needs and help you achieve your business objectives. Here are a few strategic marketing tactics your company could employ:
- Website marketing. Website marketing leverages your website and its content to attract and convert leads, using your website as a central platform for your online marketing activities.
- Search engine optimization marketing. SEO marketing identifies and targets industry-specific keywords that potential clients are using in their online searches.
- Content marketing. Content marketing is the production of custom content intended to appeal to potential clients, usually by answering a question or educating the prospect about complex industry topics in general, non-specialized terms.
- Social media marketing. Social marketing entails interacting with clients via social networks, in addition to using those networks to publish links to content, or to broadcast news, offers and other promotional activities.
- Email marketing. Companies that engage in email marketing draw from their contact database to reach leads with targeted emails that focus on offers or content that will interest potential clients.
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