Strategic Marketing Planning – Charting The Course

Every successful business must engage in strategic marketing planning. Your strategic plan will help chart the course and set the direction the organization intends for its brand while best utilizing its resources to engage with its customers.

“Many businesses make the comfortable and convenient assumption that their audience is logical and believe as they do, that knowing the facts about the brand’s offerings is both useful and worthwhile.  That’s rarely the case.” – David Aaker, Vice Chairman of Prophet, Author of Aaker on Branding and Member of the Marketing Hall of Fame.

A strategic marketing plan in and of itself is a creative process – it is an examination and discovery of your current and potential customers. Your strategic marketing plan should include the following:

Core Value Proposition

Having a Core Value Proposition is essential. It is the root of why your business exists; Your core value proposition identifies the solutions your business provides, who it’s providing them for, and most importantly, “what makes your business stand out?”

Target Market Definition

Who are you trying to reach? How and why does your product or service meet their needs? These are the consumers most likely to buy from you or utilize your service. As such, any effective strategic marketing plan needs to have a well-defined target market.

S.W.O.T. & P.E.S.T. Analyses

A S.W.O.T. analysis is an examination of the business’ Strengths, Weakness, Opportunities and Threats. Equally important albeit not utilized often enough is a P.E.S.T. analysis. P.E.S.T. is an examination of the external factors that affect the business – the Political, Economic, Social and Technological environment as it relates to your business landscape and the barriers and pathways to success.

Strategic Objectives and Integrated Tactics that are S.M.A.R.T.

What are your goals? How are they going to be reached? These strategic objectives must be clearly defined and they must be SMART – Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely.

For example, a strategic objective might be to improve your brand recognition. An integrated tactic identifies the most appropriate media mix and promotion methods to achieve the desired outcome.  You want reach your target at the right place, at the right time and at the best cost.

Marketing Budget

No strategic marketing plan is considered complete without a realistic marketing budget. Deloitte’s annual survey of CMOs reported that the average marketing spend is about 8% of company revenues.

Your plan should also outline an implementation period along with the establishment and assignment of specific roles and responsibilities.

Your Compass

While a strategic marketing plan is essential for your business, it does not need to be long or expensive. Strategic marketing plans are usually a sub-component of your overall business plan. Think of it as your compass – a tool to help chart the course with detailed directions on how to reach your marketing goals.

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