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Marketing traditionally has been defined as informing people about the benefits of a product or service and then persuading them to pay for it. However, over the years, the process of marketing has become extensive with increased emphasis on developing relations with clients, building a strong brand image, and customer orientation (where products are designed and redesigned based on consumer demand). Not to mention, marketing is not simply the job of the creative department, but all sections of an organization need to come together to successfully execute a promotional campaign.
In this respect, the strategic marketing process plays a crucial role. This is the planning process that seeks to clarify the purpose of the business’s marketing endeavors so that all efforts of the marketing personnel are unified and there is no conflict. The conclusions of this planning process then become the basis of the marketing plan. But as mentioned above, both the strategic marketing process and the marketing plan need to be updated regularly in line with changes in market demand.
In the following paragraphs, we briefly summarize what the strategic marketing process is all about.
Mission Statement: Defining the Purpose of the Organization
When you want to devise a plan and process for marketing, you have to go back to the very beginning. The mission statement of your company comes into play here. This is the statement that lays out the very purpose of your business and what unique benefits that you seek to provide to your customers over the course of its existence. Hence, you describe both a present effort and long-term commitment towards a goal, such as providing low-cost tech solutions to startups.
Situation Analysis: Scrutinizing Internal/External Factors that Facilitate or Hinder Business Success
Once the company’s mission is laid out in detail, the next step of the strategic marketing process is situation analysis. This is where managers decipher factors that can help the business grow or curb its progress, both from within the organization and without. Several methods are involved in situation analysis, the most common one being SWOT.
This is the evaluation of a company’s strengths, opportunities, weaknesses and threats. Briefly, here is what SWOT analysis is all about:
- Strengths: The competitive advantage you have in the marketplace (e.g. customer service, better access to raw materials)
- Weakness: All things with which your competitors are able to grab your market share
- Opportunities: Unexplored market trends and untapped market niches that waiting to be taken advantage of
- Threats: Political, climatic, technological, and other external factors that can cause a problem for your business and get in the way of its long term goals
The reason why businesses conduct a SWOT analysis is that it offers you an all-round view of the environment in which they are operating in so they can better tackle projects and anticipate problems. But SWOT is not the only tool at the disposal of organizations when they are conducting situation analysis. There is also what is known as the PEST analysis, which can be summarized as:
- Political factors: Laws and regulations, both local and international, that can impact your business directly or indirectly at any given time
- Economic factors: These include consumer demand, fluctuations in the stock markets, taxes, inflation, and interest rates
- Social factors: These include buying trends, lifestyle of the populace (or the demographic you are targeting), media, and advertising
- Technological factors: These include the latest in manufacturing, product testing, packaging, communications and any other patents and licenses that can influence your line of business
Read more about the role of PEST Analysis in marketing.
Notice how unlike SWOT, PEST analysis is focused more on the external macro factors that impact the business.
Recommended read: SWOT Analysis & Strategic Planning – What’s the Difference?
Setting Objectives: Measurable Goals for your Marketing Campaign
Just like you have clear objectives for the business, you also need to set marketing objectives. These will not only guide marketing decisions, but also determine how the success or failure of the particular campaign. These can be an increase in revenue, sales, or market share. A business can also launch marketing campaigns to retain its customer base. Not only should there be goals by which the business will track its progress, but each goal should be given fixed-time period, e.g. reaching 10,000 subscribers by the end of the year.
In this stage of the strategic marketing process, you draw up a plan that includes:
- Determining your target market
- Developing products and services that this demographic would be willing to pay for
- Setting a price that that this demographic would be willing to pay
- Using adequate promotion to inform people about your products and services and persuade them to make purchase
- Using means of distribution that reach as many people in this demographic as possible and also make the purchase process easy
Controlling the Implementation
Once you have implemented the marketing strategy, you also have to decide on some means as to how these promotion tactics will be monitored and evaluated over time. We have learned that a strategic marketing process always remains dynamic and organic. In this respect, the purpose of evaluation is to determine if the tactics worked or not, such as the number of clicks on your website. This is when you reassess your strategy (and perhaps even your goals) to see where the flaw is at and what can be done to make it better. For example, did you fail to receive the number of clicks because:
- You didn’t promote the specific web page on social media enough
- The landing page wasn’t convincing enough to prompt a click by readers
- The loading time was too long
- The web page wasn’t optimized for mobile, and most of your target market are smartphone users
So on and so forth. Also remember that you not only gauge the success of the marketing strategy using your own metrics, you also have to take customer feedback into account. In fact, for the long-term success of the business, you need to tweak your product line in line customer demand.
This was an overview of a strategic marketing process.