The Definitive Guide to Strategic Marketing Planning
When it comes to marketing, the last thing any company wants to do is jump blindly into their specific market.
Rarely do they land on their feet.
Having a solid strategic marketing plan is the foundation for which successful campaigns are built. Strategic plans are actionable and require keen attention to detail. We like to think of it like water: without a glass, it has no shape and can spill in any direction.
Giving your plan structure means providing a guiding light to your company’s marketing activities during a designated period of time. But as a tool, strategic planning doesn’t stop at marketing campaigns. It’s a great way to control your budgets and provide flexibility to your campaign such that dynamic market variables can be reached.
Where to Start?
It all begins with what you want to accomplish. In business, we have to have goals, but we also need to know how to reach those goals objectively and how many leads are required to get there.
Some important hotspots to invest time in are your conversion rates and the sales pipeline, where results are intended to go up rather than down, which is what could happen without an internal examination of those areas.
Strategic planning is critical for any marketing effort and requires razor-sharp planning, as proven by Spotify. After all, it aids in wrangling control of costs and budgeting, including where funds are allocated.
No one wants the job of meeting with board members to tell them a mass sum of money has gone unaccounted for. Moreover, it’s just good form to have a marketing strategy.
Relying on vanity alone is never as attractive.
What Is a Strategic Marketing Plan?
So what is a strategic marketing plan, you ask? It’s as tangible as it is an ideal representation of your creative thoughts. In short, a spreadsheet. We consider the spreadsheet approach to be the most effective, but some choose to work with other forms of written narrative.
It’s the cumulative process of developing a plan that facilitates a common understanding among all members of the organization.
The strategic marketing plan is how you keep management informed of the goings-on of your company, and it also tracks employee behaviors regarding company goals.
More importantly, it provides direction for the marketing team where strategy is created. You’ll find that a marketing plan is a culmination of hard data and creative thinking.
Otherwise, technology is helpful. Most companies opt to use a marketing strategy planner.
Additionally, your strategic marketing plan eliminates last-minute emergencies by providing a timeline for both daily operations and long-term projects. The timeline is a point of contact for how and when to execute projects.
In terms of fortune-telling, the timeline can also foreshadow the trajectory of upcoming operations. Think of it as a crystal ball for activities to prepare for down the road.
For example, it can help you determine where a specific paid ad should be positioned.
Three Main Phases
The Planning Phase
This is a period of scheduling marketing projects based on the company’s marketing program over a specific time period.
During a SWOT analysis, you analyze strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats by conducting a thorough assessment of external strengths and weaknesses. This includes attention to cultural shifts within the industry to determine your possession in the market against a competitor.
The results of your SWOT Analysis will be the basis of your newly devised marketing plan with attainable and measurable goals.
The Marketing Mix
The mix answers how your goals are going to be executed within the marketing programs. These are based on customer demand, which you can focus on a unique selling point that separates your brand from the competition.
When your plan is structured, it can be put into effect by way of sales forecast and budget using monetary resources to market new products and planning schedules to allot time for particular tasks for your marketing team.
They are then able to monitor plans throughout the process and execute the plan with attention to detail during the plan’s trajectory.
Evaluation Control Phase
- At this point, you ensure your results are on par with the plan and set goals.
- At any point, there are discrepancies in the plan. Fix them right away.
- Measure your achieved goals using tactics that helped reach those goals, a controlled environment, and articulate marketing.
In planning and execution, there is a difference between the two that should be addressed. The plan itself is simply the tool meant to help you meet business objectives. Planning alone will not help you reach your goals, but it is the life force behind the execution.
Planning is not a substitute for marketing execution because, at any time, a plan may have to be pivoted in response to unexpected sales direction, a competitor’s new product launch, or an economic event.
Five Steps Toward Actionable Strategic Marketing
Simply a brief summary of goals to start your spreadsheet, detailing the blueprints of your plan for management and board of directors
Strategic Situation Summary
This is where you’re going to define your segmented markets, including their characteristics and your growth projections.
Here, you will include the SWOT Analysis described earlier and continue to update this analysis as the strategy progresses.
You will define the market target, including its size and growth rate and positioning strategy guidelines, etc. Doing this will keep resources accounted for.
Define Target Market Objectives
This area can be subjective, as some objectives are long-term compared to quarterly or yearly, etc., and are preceded by successfully accomplished results in the marketing mix.
Examples of these objectives are financial, market share and sales, and customer satisfaction, which are also included in the positioning portion of the plan.
At this point, you will define how the company wants to be perceived by the target audiences. Strategies are segmented and broken down into plans for product, distribution, price, and promotion, followed by courses of action, responsibilities, and time schedules.
Ideally, sales will reflect the plan, but should the latter information prove otherwise, a different path should be taken.
Positioning takes time and should be nurtured.
The marketing plan is a monetary investment, which is why forecasting revenue and profits is an imperative step to the plan. Forecasting the budget involves a holistic view of the prior year’s sales data, profits, and expenses. Based on this data, you should have an idea of what leads to follow in order to reach your sales goals.
A successful strategic marketing plan is going to be a culmination of fresh ideas like the ones itemized above. Converting them into an actionable marketing plan is next. Following this is going to an analysis of your new position in the market.
Previously identified sales and analytics from the past year are a great way to project your progress in the future. Concrete numbers need to be visible to make an informed decision, especially when it comes to protecting the business’s success.
It’s one of the best ways to determine your strengths and, most importantly, your weaknesses.
Success is a process, and there will be areas that need to be worked on, and we recommend preempting those issues before they become cancerous.
Don’t waste monetary value where it isn’t needed. The wrong leads will result in a poor return on investment. Your marketing team should be on top of new market opportunities.
Again, research is the keyword here. Knowing what buyers want before your product goes to market is a game-changer. You want audiences to feel like you’ve read their minds. This entails channeling different energies into their respective cohorts, demonstrating that you know them and have their best interests in mind—before they even know who you are.
At the end of the day, you’ve produced insight and awareness, which strengthens your grasp on the buying process. But you could use some extra support.
How Harper+Scott Can Help
Harper+Scott helps brands establish their voice in an increasingly saturated marketplace, and give them unique identities that accentuate their strengths and values. We can support strategic marketing goals with a host of private label capabilities, including product design, branded merchandise, custom manufacturing, and unique digital products.
The future is bright, and Harper+Scott is ready to help you get there.