Marketing plays a critical role in any business. You can’t attract and keep customers without marketing. And you can’t make a genuine difference in your business without a solid plan. Marketing doesn’t simply happen after you’ve started your business or developed a new product. In today’s market, you need a comprehensive marketing plan, and that starts with the planning process.
Whether you’re working on a high-level marketing plan or the details of a particular marketing campaign, there are four steps that you need to follow if you want the marketing process to be successful.
Of course, the real starting point of the marketing process is always your overall business goals, since your marketing program will be designed to help you accomplish these. Once your business goals are defined, here are the four steps of a successful marketing process:
- Discovery. What’s going on in your marketplace? What are the best target markets for your product or service? Where are your current customers located? What is your competition doing? Discovery is all about doing your research and performing a detailed market, customer and competitive analysis. Taking the time to do this will ensure that your plans are based on metrics and reality rather than on gut feelings and wishful thinking.
- Strategy. All of the information you gather in step #1 is then used to help make your decisions as you create your marketing plans – your roadmap to success. How will you go to market? What is your overall marketing strategy and what are your individual campaign strategies? Before you move forward you’ll need to clearly define goals and objectives, determine the appropriate marketing channels, develop your messaging, plan your timing, etc.
- Implementation. This, of course, is the “meat” of the marketing process. Implementation is where you put your targeted, cost-effective marketing campaigns into action. Before you implement, though, you need to be sure that you have all of the pieces in place. Do you have the resources to complete the implementation in-house, or do you need to bring in third-party vendors to get the job done? Have you thought of all of the information you need to collect from responders in order to allow for back-end campaign metrics, and put systems in place to ensure this data is captured? Is everyone in the company aware of the campaign? Have you double-checked that the campaign phone numbers work? And so forth.
- Measurement. The measurement phase of the marketing process is where you take a close look at the results of the campaign in order to refine your strategies before moving forward. Measuring results enables you to make intelligent decisions regarding how to allocate resources for the next go-round.Did the campaign achieve its stated goals? If your goal was sales, for example, how many sales did you get? How much did each person spend? Which products did they buy? Which elements of your marketing program did they respond to? If you were running a test of some element of your marketing campaign , which version got the best results?
I am always shocked by the number of companies that act as though the marketing process has only one step – implementation – and completely disregard all of the research, planning and back-end measurement that really drives success. Companies that do this risk losing money, reputation and customers.
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.
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
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 Internet Marketing Process
You may have invested a considerable amount building a professional looking web site, but that investment won’t pay off unless you use the Internet to effectively market your business. Building a web site and doing Internet marketing are two completely different things. You’ve probably visited a few web sites that were completely useless. Maybe they looked good, but you couldn’t find the information you needed, or worse you had trouble finding the site in the first place. Don’t let this happen to your web site!
We’re about to show you how to use the Internet to effectively market your business. What does the process look like? Some elements are the same no matter what kind of business you have. We’ve extracted the common themes from more than 30 successful Internet marketing campaigns to develop this six step process for Internet marketing. Create an Internet marketing plan read more...