A Discussion on the Similarities & Differences Between Strategic Marketing Planning and Evaluation
A strategic marketing plan is a blueprint for how a business will present its products or services to its target market. A strategic marketing evaluation is an analysis of the current marketing situation to determine if a previous strategy has been successful or to help the leaders of the business select a marketing strategy.
Before formulating a strategy, the company will analyze every known factor in the business environment, including factors such as labor and transportation costs, the regulatory and political climate, and competitors. The company will also analyze the target market to determine whether the current range of products and services being offered is a good match for what the customers need and want. From this evaluation the company will prepare a SWOT analysis listing the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats in the current situation. This type of strategic marketing evaluation is part of the process of creating a marketing plan.
A qualitative evaluation can help business leaders choose between different strategic approaches. To conduct this type of evaluation, the company will examine each strategy under consideration to determine whether it is consistent with the company's broader goals for the future, whether it is based on solid data, whether it is likely to achieve the intended goals, and whether it is realistic to implement it. For instance, a policy of rapid expansion may not be a good fit for a company with a reputation for personalized service. A marketing plan based on a sales manager's impressions about customer needs is not as reliable as one based on detailed analysis of customer behaviors. A marketing plan requiring a major advertising campaign may not work for a company with a small budget. Qualitative evaluation makes it easier to pick a strategy that is realistic, affordable and likely to succeed.
Strategic evaluation is not just the first step in the process of strategic marketing; it is also the final step. After the company selects and implements its chosen strategy, it conducts another evaluation to decide whether or not the strategy is achieving its intended goals. Every strategic marketing plan should include benchmarks, such as projected sales figures and projected market share, to help in this evaluation. By checking the figures as the campaign unfolds, the company can determine whether to continue along the same lines, make minor adjustments to the strategy, or change course entirely.
Both plans and evaluations are concerned with marketing strategy, but strategic marketing evaluations analyze the present situation while strategic marketing plans prepare for the future. Another way to understand the difference between strategic marketing evaluation and a strategic marketing plan is to think of the plan as a machine and evaluation as a diagnostic tool. The tool is used to check how the machine is running, tune it up, and get it ready for operation, but the tool is not the same thing as the machine.