What is the role of strategic marketing?Posted on: March 2, 2023
Strategic marketing is the intentional and comprehensive research and planning that informs an organisation’s overarching, long-term marketing strategy, and underpins all great marketing plans and campaigns.
Its role within a business or organisation is to ensure that all marketing activities share a common purpose, target the right audiences in the right markets, and utilise the right mediums and channels.
Strategic marketing requires:
- Thoroughly conducted market research.
- Agreed and established goals, targets, and objectives.
- Evidence-based decision making.
Essentially, if a marketing plan is what drives an organisation’s marketing, strategic marketing is what steers it.
Benefits of strategic marketing can include:
- Creating – and capitalising on – competitive advantages.
- Gaining a better understanding of markets, trends, and competitors.
- Increased sales, an enhanced reputation, and greater profitability and returns on investments.
The phases of strategic marketing
Phase one: planning
The first phase of strategic marketing focuses on planning. Before a strategy can start to take shape, marketing professionals need to thoroughly understand their:
- Organisation, including current, real-world business figures, products, and services, as well as the organisation’s purpose, needs, and goals.
- Customers, including existing clients as well as target audiences and demographics. This might require creating customer personas to get a better understanding of their consumer behaviour: what target consumers want and need, where they shop, which marketing channels they prefer, and so on.
- Markets, including industry standards and benchmarks, trends and challenges.
- Competitors, including knowledge about which marketing and business strategies competitors are using, their positions within the market, and any points of difference between competitors.
During this phase, it can be helpful to:
- Conduct a SWOT analysis to better understand an organisation’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.
- Complete a PESTLE analysis to examine political, economic, social, technological, legal, and environmental considerations.
- Set SMART goals to ensure that the strategy’s objectives are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound.
Once this strategic work is completed, documented, and developed into a marketing strategy, it’s time to move onto the next stage – implementation.
Phase two: implementation
The second phase of strategic marketing focuses on implementing actions based on the work completed in the planning phase.
This might include:
- Developing dedicated marketing plans to achieve specific strategic goals.
- Establishing new marketing channels.
- Creating content and content plans.
Phase three: evaluation
The third and final phase of strategic marketing focuses on evaluating the outcomes and overall effectiveness of the work that came before, both in the planning and the implementation phases.
Strategic marketing is flexible by design. It can – and should – adapt as consumers, products, and markets change and evolve.
The evaluation phase should include:
- Measurements of success against the marketing strategy’s SMART goals as well as key performance indicators (KPIs) for the business.
- An analysis of everything from product sales and customer feedback to website traffic and social media engagement.
- Adaptations to marketing activities based on the results of the evaluation work.
Tips for developing a marketing strategy
Remember the 7 Ps of marketing
The 7 Ps of Marketing – also known as the marketing mix – were originally known as the 4 Ps (product, price, placement, and promotion). They’ve since expanded and evolved, though, and now include:
- Product. What are the unique selling points or key points of difference for the product or service? What sets it apart from the competition?
- Price. Pricing models can reflect everything from production or manufacturing costs, to the impression the brand wants to make – for example, is it being pitched as a luxury item, or is it something that targets value-conscious consumers?
- Place. Where will the product or service be available for purchase – in shops, online, or both? Will it sell in exclusive retail outlets, or will it be available across a wider distribution channel?
- Promotion. Based on the research conducted during the strategy’s planning phase, which are the best channels to promote the product or service in order to reach the target market?
- People. Who are the people within the organisation who interact with customers, and do they have the relevant skills and training to do their jobs effectively? For example, if launching a new product, have all of the organisation’s sales staff and customer service representatives been trained about the new item?
- Packaging. Does the product or service’s outwardly packaging attract new customers, or ensure repeat customers? Does it accurately represent the brand and its values?
- Process. Can improvements be made to ensure the best possible customer experience? For example, if customer feedback indicates long shipping delays, can this be addressed and resolved?
It’s worth noting that the 7Ps vary slightly from one organisation or marketing professional to another. For example, one of the 7Ps according to the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) is physical evidence, which effectively aims to reduce buyer uncertainty by providing tangible evidence – whether it’s through a showroom or a website – to alleviate any concerns.
Know the different types of marketing strategies
There are a number of different types of marketing strategies that marketing management professionals can pick and choose from when developing their own marketing strategy.
Some examples include:
- Social media marketing strategies.
- Email marketing strategies.
- Content marketing strategies.
- SEO (search engine optimisation) strategies.
- Marketing communications strategies.
- Digital marketing strategies.
Tips for developing a strategic marketing plan
Marketing plans are largely influenced by their overarching marketing strategies, but they still have a lot of heavy lifting to do. They effectively form the frameworks for all marketing activity and initiatives within their organisations, and outline all of the tactical actions that aim to ultimately deliver on marketing strategies.
Remember that content is king
Distribution channels are important within marketing – but if the message doesn’t resonate with people, it doesn’t matter where it’s shared and who sees it. Make sure that all marketing messaging is appropriate for the audience, the channel, and overall brand management.
Conduct a cost benefit analysis
If unsure about whether a marketing programme, campaign, or activity is a good business decision, it can be helpful to run a cost benefit analysis as a form of problem solving. These analyses subtract the cost of the proposed action from the projected benefit of the action, and can help determine whether the action is worthwhile or not.
Develop marketing strategies that succeed
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One of the core modules on both postgraduate programmes is in marketing strategy, so you will develop your understanding of the challenges and opportunities that organisations must respond to through marketing decisions. Through the application of marketing theory, models, and tools, you will gain an understanding of the importance of the organisational environment and the impact this has for analysis, planning and control in a marketing management context.
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