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The strategic marketing plan generally defines the main intentions and plans of the company. It is the result of a strategic marketing planning process. Each plan has a purpose and structure to cover the key issues. What? You will find out from the article.
Strategic management are process aimed at formulating and implementing a strategy that allows an enterprise to achieve its strategic goals. Strategic management is therefore a way of forecasting the future as well as planning and implementing activities enabling the stable functioning of the organization, which will enable its development in the long term. The basic tool for its implementation is a strategic marketing plan showing where the organization is now, where it wants to go and how it intends to do so.
Strategic management includes universal methods of solving problems related to the functioning of enterprises, regardless of their type and size. It is a multi-stage approach that includes: identification of goals, analysis of the current situation, development and implementation of a strategy, monitoring of results.
The goal of strategic management in the enterprise is to plan the way of achieving the planned goals. Strategic management presents the actions and decisions that allow each company to achieve its goals. Strategic marketing planning is a formalized process. It includes research and analysis of the current situation (markets and customers), development of goals, strategies and marketing plans, implementation, evaluation and control of activities aimed at achieving goals. It allows you to optimize the allocation of the company’s resources as well as achieve the planned marketing goals thanks to the competitive advantage.
What is a Strategic Marketing Plan?
The output of the Strategic Marketing Planning process is a document referred to as a Strategic Marketing Plan or Marketing Plan.“(…) each marketing plan should explain the intended marketing strategies, present the actions that employees will take to achieve goals, show mechanisms for measuring progress and allow for adjustments if the results turn out to be inconsistent with expectations” (Burk Wood 2007: 15-16) . Other authors, on the other hand, point out that the strategic marketing plan should be a clear and simple list of the main market trends, the most important target market segments and their requirements in terms of the value delivered, and the intended ways to add more value to the company’s offer than proposed by competitors. It must clearly indicate priorities in terms of goals and marketing strategy and present the financial consequences of actions.
The marketing plan allows the business manager to answer the question of how to find and take advantage of the opportunities on the market.
So companies use marketing plans to achieve their goals. They show them the way to success, no matter how it is defined. It is worth noting that the preparation of a marketing plan is not easy, as it requires the combination of various types of data both from inside the company and from its external environment.
It should be noted that there are strategic and tactical marketing plans in running a business. The main difference here lies in the level of detail. The strategic marketing plan speaks in a general way about the main intentions and plans of the company. Tactical plans specify actions taken in a given area, they are much more detailed.
You could say that the marketing plan is a return to the basics. It is a roadmap for introducing
and delivering a product or service to potential customers. It is a document outlining the company’s marketing activities in the coming period, which is usually a year. Therefore, it defines a specific marketing strategy of the company and includes specific actions to be taken and expected results. Marketing plans serve as roadmaps for companies to implement and measure resultsmarketing activities within a specified period.
Purpose of the marketing plan
The goal of the marketing plan is to clearly define the company’s marketing goals that align with the company’s mission and vision. Marketing goals indicate where the organization wants to be at a specific time in the future. A marketing plan usually helps your business grow by identifying appropriate marketing strategies.
A marketing plan may include a strategy for increasing market share, entering new niche markets and raising brand awareness, etc .. The marketing plan must define a detailed budget and resources necessary to implement the activities indicated in the marketing plan. The assignment of tasks and responsibilities for marketing activities must be clearly defined in the marketing plan.
The marketing plan is conducive to the review and analysis of the marketing environment, which includes market research, customer needs assessment, competitor analysis, PEST analysis, researching new business trends and continuous scanning of the environment. The marketing plan integrates business functions to ensure consistency – especially sales, manufacturing, finance, human resources, and marketing.
How does the marketing plan work?
An effective marketing plan helps your business understand your target market and competition, the impact and outcomes of your marketing decisions, and guides your future initiatives. The development of a marketing plan must be preceded by thorough and in-depth analytical work. The key stage is dedicated to market research, which provides important information about potential customers (target market) and competing products and services.
Market research should include:
- Monitoring industry and economic trends;
- Investigating competition to determine how a competitive advantage can be obtained, such as in terms of pricing and customer service;
- Identifying the best ways to reach your target market through traditional advertising, social media and other channels.
Marketing plans may vary depending on the industry, type of products or services, and goals planned to be achieved. However, there are some basic elements that most plans cover. Belong to them:
- Abstract and business description
- Situation analysis
- Marketing goals and business goals
- Target market and delivery plan
- Unique Selling Proposition (USP) and Selling Tactics
- Special offer
- Monitoring and evaluation
The executive summary is a general overview of your marketing plan. This section should provide a brief summary of the plan for those who may not read the entire document. The business description is what the business is all about – including location, business owners, market position, vision, company mission and core values, as well as external factors that are currently influencing or may ultimately affect the business.
The situation analysis describes in detail the context of your marketing activities. In this section, you should take a closer look at the internal and external factors that influence your company’s marketing strategy. Many companies conduct a SWOT analysis that combines external and internal analysis to summarize the company’s strengths and weaknesses with the opportunities and threats of the external environment. The SWOT analysis should also identify areas where business will need to improve in order to compete more effectively.
Marketing goals will be related to your overall business goals, but will only focus on the parts of the business that can be influenced by marketing. For example, if the overall goal of a business is to increase revenue from recurring transactions by a certain percentage in the next year, then a related marketing goal might be to get a certain number of customers to sign up for a monthly loyalty program.
The concept of target markets is one of the most important aspects of marketing. It is unrealistic to think that a product or service can attract anyone. As such, identifying the ideal customers is crucial, then finding out what they like and where to find them. The distribution and delivery plan defines how the company will sell and deliver its products / services to customers. Sales and delivery methods include retail, wholesale, direct to homes or businesses, or online.
Identifying a specific target market and dividing it into even smaller groups according to specific forms of promotion can help you effectively identify where to allocate resources and what tactics and messages to use.
Unique Selling Proposition is not a new concept. It was created by the US advertising director Rosser Reeves. It is what sets your products and / or services apart from your competitors. Expressed as one sentence that sums up the essence of the company’s operation, USP is the common denominator of all marketing activities. The question that the USP answers is: “Why should a potential customer buy your products / services and not from competitors”. It is essential for a USP to provide potential customers with specific benefits that they find attractive. It is not enough to say that a product or service is “better” or has “greater value”. Therefore, developing a USP before a product or service is marketed is a good way to check the value in advance and confirm that it will sell. If there is nothing that sets a product or service apart from the competition, why would anyone want to buy it? And even if there is something that sets a product or service apart, is it something that consumers will perceive as having value? If both of these conditions are not met, why spend time or money developing a product that will not be commercially viable? Unique Selling Proposition is a particularly critical marketing tool for small businesses that are forced to compete with both other small businesses and larger retail chains. why would anyone want to buy them? And even if there is something that sets a product or service apart, is it something that consumers will perceive as having value? If both of these conditions are not met, why spend time or money developing a product that will not be commercially viable? Unique Selling Proposition is a particularly critical marketing tool for small businesses that are forced to compete with both other small businesses and larger retail chains. why would anyone want to buy them? And even if there is something that sets a product or service apart, is it something that consumers will perceive as having value? If both of these conditions are not met, why spend time or money developing a product that will not be commercially viable? Unique Selling Proposition is a particularly critical marketing tool for small businesses that are forced to compete with both other small businesses and larger retail chains.
The USP describes how a company will gain a competitive advantage in the marketplace by providing customers with one or more of the following benefits:
- Delivering a unique or perfect product
- Providing lower prices
- Providing better customer service
- Providing a unique experience
The sales tactic, in turn, is the approach that must be followed to achieve these goals. For example, if the goal is to encourage a certain number of people to sign up for a customer rewards program each month, then your strategy might be to introduce new customers to the loyalty program with personalized invitations that will highlight valuable rewards that potential customers may be interested in. A tactic is therefore specific actions that will be taken to implement established strategies.
The structure of the marketing plan
The structure of the marketing plan should include key sections:
Marketing plan goals
This section presents the expected result of the marketing plan along with clear, concise, realistic and achievable goals, in line with the SMART approach (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound goals). It also includes a specific time frame. The most frequently used metrics are Target Market Share, Relative Market Share, Target Acquisitions, Customer Retention / Retention Rate, Market Penetration Rate, and Target Sales Volume, etc. There are four potential options, known as the Ansoff matrix:
- Market penetration – Which segments of your current customer base can you target to increase sales?
- Market development – What new segments or markets can you target?
- Product Development – Are there any new products you can offer in your current market?
- Diversification – Can you offer new products in new markets?
The key to this will be segmentation, as well as the segment of customers for whom the product offer is most appropriate. The plan must present a diversified offer to the market segment and prove that targeting this area will be worth the company’s investment.
Current marketing positioning of the business
Analysis of the current state of the organization in terms of its marketing positioning.
Market research – market analysis
Market analysis covers areas such as market definition, market size, industry structure, market share and trends, as well as competition analysis taking into account their strategies, ways to fight it and gain market share.
Market research – consumer analysis
Consumer analysis covers the demographics of the target market and what influences their purchasing decisions – e.g. loyalty, motivation and expectations, needs etc. It defines target customers based on their demographic profile, such as gender, race, age and psychographic profile, as well as their interests, values and lifestyle.
For the purposes of analyzing external factors that may affect business, it is also worth using the PEST tool for market analysis. While PEST only considers external factors, it offers a key input to your marketing efforts. Here is a summary of the main factors:
- Politics – Employment policies, tax laws, trade restrictions can directly or indirectly affect your business, as can political stability and the way foreign markets operate.
- Economic – Macro and micro economic factors such as interest rates, exchange rates, inflation and disposable income influence the management of any business now and in the long run.
- Social – Population trends, dietary trends, ethics, media, and spending habits are some of the factors that fall within the scope of the social issues to be observed in business.
- Technological – All companies operating on the market have to deal with changes in production, distribution and communication imposed by new technology in order to stay on the surface of a competitive economy.
SWOT will cover the internal strengths and weaknesses of the organization as well as external opportunities and threats. Strengths are a competitive advantage of an organization that cannot be easily duplicated. These can be, for example: the skills, expertise and performance that the organization has in relation to its competitors. Weaknesses are obstacles to the functioning of the organization and inhibit its development. These can be outdated machinery, insufficient working capital and inefficient production methods. Opportunities are the prospects for developing a business by adopting ways to seize opportunities. They can include entering new markets, adopting digital marketing strategies, or following new trends. Threats are external factors that may negatively affect your business, such as a powerful new competitor, legislative changes,
A combination of factors that can influence how customers buy your products. It should be relevant to the organization and largely focus on the four points of marketing – i.e. product, price, promotion and place.
It contains a description of target segments, i.e. groups of customers and their needs that will be satisfied by the products and services offered by the enterprise. It defines the position of the company’s product and service lines on the market. These strategies will include promotional strategies, advertising and other marketing tools at the disposal of the organization. The Marketing Strategy section covers the actual strategies that need to be considered according to the marketing mix concept (8P or 4P). The right marketing mix is determined by the target market. The most expensive options are advertising, sales promotions and PR campaigns. Networking and referrals are less costly. Marketers need to pay attention to digital marketing strategies that use technology to reach the wider market and have also proven to be profitable. Digital marketing covers popular methods such as the use of social media in business. Other strategies within the marketing strategy include pricing and positioning strategy, distribution strategy, conversion strategy and retention strategy.
It tells you what actions will be taken, who will do them and when and how much they will cost. In other words, it is a list of any activities related to your marketing goals that are scheduled for a given period of time and an indicated timeframe and key performance indicators (KPIs) that should be constantly monitored.
A marketing budget or forecast shows the budgeted expenses for marketing activities documented in a marketing plan. A marketing budget consists of the revenues and costs specified in the marketing plan in one document. It balances out expenses for marketing activities and what the organization can afford. It is a financial plan for the marketing activities to be carried out – eg promotional activities, costs of marketing materials and advertising, etc. Other considerations include the expected size and price of the product, production and delivery costs, and operating and financial costs. The cost of marketing should be able to make the business profitable and profitable.
Control measures and performance analysis
This section describes how to check the progress of the plan implementation. This allows you to analyze the results for individual periods and, if necessary, to take the necessary corrective (remedial) actions.
Performance analysis looks at discrepancies in indicators or components documented in a marketing plan. They include:
- Revenue variance analysis: analysis of the positive or negative variance of revenue. Negative variance is worrying and reasons should be available to explain the cause of the variances.
- Market share analysis: Analyze whether the organization has achieved its target market share. Sales may increase while an organization’s market share decreases; therefore, keeping track of this metric is extremely important.
- Expense analysis: Analysis of the cost of marketing to sales ratio. This ratio needs to be checked against industry standards to make informed comparisons. The indicator enables an organization to track actual expenses against budget. It is also compared with other data such as revenue analysis and market share analysis. It can be broken down into individual selling expenses for a clearer picture.
Marketing plan execution
The marketing plan should be periodically updated and adjusted to changes in the environment. The use of metrics, budgets, and schedules to measure progress against the goals set in your marketing plan is an ongoing process to be accomplished by your marketing staff. Ongoing evaluation should be conducted to verify that the goals of the marketing plan are being achieved. The marketing manager should be able to verify that the documented strategies are effective, taking into account the operating environment. Changes in the environment may require a review of plans, forecasts, strategies, and goals. Therefore, you may need to conduct a formal periodic review – for example, monthly or quarterly. This may mean preparing an annual marketing plan, but its quarterly verification, that goals, and plans are closely aligned with environmental / setting changes. It goes without saying that the plans are only as good as their feasibility in a given environment.
Implement the plan to determine if the marketing tools used are bearing fruit or need to be reviewed based on the past, present, and expected future state of the organization, industry and general business environment. The marketing plan should follow the 80:20 rule – i.e. to get the maximum effect, it should focus on 20% of products and services which account for 80% of the volumes and 20% of the customers which generate 80% of the revenues.
Controlling the implementation of the marketing plan allows you to compare the set goals with the results that have been achieved. The result of such a comparison are conclusions that lead to taking appropriate corrective actions. The same is true of all other marketing activities undertaken by the company. The task of the company’s management is to compare the results of the prepared marketing program with the goals set at the beginning. If non-compliance is noticed, it is necessary to introduce actions to correct it.
How to develop a marketing plan?
Even though each business will have a different goal and marketing plan, the structure of the marketing plan is the same. The first step should always be to check compliance with the overall mission of the company. The next step is to define the so-called Key Performance Indicators.
KPIs are the most important indicators thanks to which the organization can constantly monitor the progress in achieving the previously set goal.
Each KPI should be assigned a numerical value that allows to determine the current status of the strategy implementation process. Additionally, it should be embedded in a specific time frame. The performance indicators will be different for each organization. Determining KPIs depends on the industry, the size of the company, its specific characteristics and the established strategy. KPIs are important in any project, and creating a marketing plan is no exception. Identifying KPIs will help you stay focused. The next activity should focus on defining the target group given that each company attracts specific buyers. Knowing these people, their motivations, needs and desires is a very important step in any marketing plan.
The actions taken must also include knowledge about the competition. In every situation, it is worth knowing what the competition is doing, how it is doing it and how it works for them. The next step is to define a budget and assign a role. Each stakeholder should have a specific role in the marketing plan. To avoid chaos, assigning roles and sticking to those roles will help keep order and the plan will go much smoother.
The biggest challenges in working on a marketing plan
When developing a marketing plan, it is also worth knowing what are the typical challenges when creating it. Overall, there are 5 main challenges to highlight when creating a marketing plan.
- Customer Identification – The reason why this can prove to be a challenge is because it can take a lot of work. You may need to come up with a user profile for many different types of customers. When building a marketing plan, you should first of all answer the question to which customer segments you target your offer. At this stage, it is worth asking yourself, first of all, the question in which segments the company has the lowest entry barrier and is able to build sales the fastest.
- Offer for segments – at this stage, you need to define what product you are selling to meet the needs of the selected target segments. If you have a product range, choose the one that helps you achieve your business goals as quickly as possible. Also, answer the question whether your products are adequate to the needs of customers and what they are better at than what your competition offers. Shouldn’t you refresh your value or product offering? How much should you sell it for?
- Defining a Budget – As this is an essential part of creating a marketing plan, it’s a challenge that everyone will have to go through. Not everyone has a huge budget, so
depending on the final numbers, your budget could make or break your entire plan.
- Goal Setting – The marketing plan should involve all members of the marketing team. Agreeing on goals and determining what is realistic and what is not can be a challenge. The plan will absolutely not work smoothly if not everyone is on the same side of the proverbial barricade.
- Building conversion for sale – Promotional activities should build awareness of the offer and build interest in it. However, in order to exist, a company needs to sell. Therefore, you should always remember to build mechanisms for converting interest into sale right away.
At the end. Remember that there is one golden rule in marketing – be flexible in your plan. There will be external factors that you will not be able to control, there will be parts that will not work that well. So be prepared to change them if necessary.
- The strategic marketing plan defines the company’s goals, plans and management strategy.
- In order to prepare a marketing plan, you should learn from both internal and external data.
- A strategic marketing plan is more general, while a tactical marketing plan focuses on specific activities in a given area.
- The purpose of the marketing plan is to define the company’s marketing goals and define a strategy to achieve them.
- Market research is a key part of creating a plan.
- Unique Selling Proposition determines what distinguishes a given product or service from the competition.
- The structure of the marketing plan includes, among others: plan goals, current marketing positioning of the business or market research.
- KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) allow you to constantly monitor the company’s progress in achieving the previously set goal.
- There are five main challenges that arise when creating a marketing plan.
Developing a strategic marketing plan makes it easier to take action to manage your business. As you know, planned steps, supported by analysis and strategy, lead to the goal with a less winding and shorter path. An organization that sets itself clearly defined goals is more mobilized and focused on achieving them. Success is a door that has many locks, and the key to one of them is definitely your marketing plan. However, this does not mean that such a plan will always be perfect. Errors or problems may appear, but in the case of planned actions, any error can be easily caught and thus – fixed. In addition, a properly prepared plan will help us set brand priorities, see opportunities for development and show how to use them. So running a business without a plan is like going on a new route without a map.
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