Operating a successful business requires ongoing assessments of how resources are allocated relative to meeting the company's financial goals. Strategic planning deals with the allocation of company resources in accordance with its financial goals. Marketing strategies translate financial goals into action steps to drive demand for a company's products or services.

The Strategic Plan

A strategic plan is primarily an internal document for key staff and stakeholders in ongoing businesses. The document prioritizes the allocation of the resources -- time, money and people -- required to meet your financial goals. Its main purpose is to articulate a company's strategic direction while ensuring that all operating departments use the same playbook in terms of clarity of purpose. It is a dynamic document, because it is a road map for moving your business from its current position to where you want it to be.

Strategic Planning Process

The strategic planning process assesses the internal and external environments in which your business operates. It focuses on identifying a business' strategic or core competency relative to market opportunities. SWOT analysis is a common method many companies use to identify their core competencies and market opportunities -- analyzing strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. Strengths and weaknesses refer to the internal environment of a business, while opportunities and threats refer to the external environment. The objective of this exercise is to determine the best ways to capitalize on the assets that favor your strategic goals, your strengths and market opportunities, while controlling the inhibiting factors, your weaknesses and competitive threats. In effect, your strategic plan tells you the best stadium in which to play the game.

Linking the Two

By using an analytical tool such as SWOT to work through a company assessment, you may discover gaps between your current position and where you want to be. This discovery process provides the clarity you need to develop a realistic marketing strategy to achieve your strategic goal and propel your business to greater profits and higher market share. Basically, your marketing strategy is a continuation of the strategic planning process and is, arguably, the heart of your strategic plan.

Marketing Strategy Components

An effective marketing strategy requires the deployment of several interconnected components, commonly referred to as the marketing mix or the marketing 4 Ps: product, place, price and promotion. Winning marketing strategies offer a clearly defined target market the right product or service at places easily available and at prices that signal value to the target market with promotions -- including advertising -- that provoke a desire to buy.