Many people think that in a Digital Era positioning statements and McCarthy’s 4P’s became outdated and obsolete. They say that there’s a “new dawn” of marketing no the rise, which requires marketers to introduce new techniques that will help them target consumers through social media, SEO and SEM. They couldn’t be more wrong. The truth is that the strategic marketing plans are more relevant than ever. Additionally, the Digital Age introduced improved analytics and new marketing channels, which drastically simplified the implementation of good old marketing plans.
What is a strategic marketing plan?
A strategic marketing plan is a blueprint that summarizes marketplace knowledge and defines strategies that need to be used in future campaigns. Its purpose is to help marketers achieve their objectives for the given period. Contrary to popular belief, a marketing plan is not a simple spreadsheet that contains a list of marketing activities. It’s also not a budget or campaign list and therefore it can’t be easily remembered. Every marketing department should have at least one strategic marketing plan, which needs to define their future work.
What can we find in the strategic marketing plan?
Every marketing plan needs to cover these four essential topics:
1. Analysis of the current situation
When analysing the current situation, marketers need to focus on both market trends and their company’s resources. They need to determine the market space that can be used for launching a product, and all types of external threats and risks that can possibly undermine its promotion. A good marketing plan provides realistic assessments of the macro environment and its social, political and economic dimensions. These assessments are done in order to determine all the opportunities and challenges that the market may offer at a given time period. Marketers also need to conduct an elaborate competition analysis and follow their rivals’ work during the period of the plan’s implementation.
2. Marketing strategy development
In order to complete their marketing plan, marketers need to develop a strategy, which will define:
- Business mission – defines the concept of doing business, and company’s purpose;
- Business objectives – are the statements of purpose; they define where the company wants to go in the future;
- Marketing objectives – smaller objectives, which determine the way towards long-term marketing and job destinations;
- Target market and audience – define the group of consumers the company is targeting with its campaigns;
- Positioning statement – explains how a company’s product or service meets a particular customer need;
- Unique value proposition – a statement that defines the benefits of company’s products and services;
3. Defining marketing activities
In order to determine which methods and practices will be used to achieve their campaign’s objectives marketers first need to outline:
- Product messaging – the process of defining promotional messages that the company will use for advertising purposes;
- Pricing strategy – takes into account market conditions and segments, trade margins, production costs, consumers’ ability to pay, etc.;
- Communication channels – a list of channels you’ll use for promoting your message;
- Promotional plan – defines each step you’ll take in order to reach your plan’s objectives. The promotional plan is one of the most complex elements of a good strategic marketing plan. Even though many people are now focusing more on digital channels, traditional marketing techniques can also be very effective in reaching your campaign goals. These include various guerrilla marketing tactics and the vast use of promotional merchandise. For example, manufacturers can improve their sales by selling their products in branded calico bags.
4. Determining the analytics criteria
Detailed analytics is one of the key elements of a successful marketing campaign. Today, it is much easier to measure the impact of your marketing activities, because you can use advanced analytic platforms that can track each lead and deliver insights in an easily-understandable graphical form. In order to properly analyse your campaign’s results and ROI, you need to determine your controls, benchmarks, and measurement processes. These include:
- Defining your budget and resources;
- Defining critical success factors;
- Setting the key performance indicators;
- Choosing the right software solutions for campaign analytics;
Creating a strategic marketing plan is not a one-time thing. This is a dynamic document that needs to be updated on a regular basis, depending on the market conditions. Strategic marketing plan brings many different benefits to companies and their marketing departments. It drives collaboration among all stakeholders in the process of product promotion, and helps align various functions and activities.
Since marketing departments are an essential part of every business, strategic marketing plan helps entrepreneurs position them as the legitimate business partners. Marketing departments should have their own long-term goals and they should use complex strategies to achieve them. Strategic marketing plan defines marketing department’s work, and gives it the relevance it deserves.