Three Phases of a Strategic Marketing Plan
Businesses make money by serving their customers. The marketing function looks at what market segments the company can access at low cost, studies the needs of the members of these target markets and evaluates how the company can satisfy the needs. A strategic marketing plan draws on the marketing function to support overall corporate goals. If the company wants to grow, it orients the marketing strategy toward increasing sales. If it wants to increase profits, the marketing strategy aims to achieve higher sales margins. A strategic marketing plan is a tool that allows a company to work more effectively toward reaching its goals.
A strategic marketing plan includes details on the target markets, the products the company plans to offer, the ways in which the products will reach the target markets and the means by which the company will inform potential customers of the availability of the products. The strategic orientation of the company directly affects how the marketing department carries out the work under each of these components. For example, if the company wants to create an image of environmental responsibility and sell green products to young professionals, this orientation impacts all the components of marketing. Each phase of the strategic marketing plan has to support the overall company orientation.
During the first phase of a strategic marketing plan, the marketing department analyzes the accessible markets and decides on the orientation of each component. It may use techniques such as a SWOT analysis -- which measures strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats -- to help structure the investigation. It consults with other departments, such as production, to determine what initiatives are feasible and in keeping with the strategic direction of the company. The analysis determines the contents of the strategic marketing plan and how it supports company goals. It specifies the products, the pricing, the promotions and the channels that the company will use to bring its products to market.
Once it is clear what marketing initiatives the company plans to carry out, the marketing department has to execute the strategic plan. In this phase, the theoretical framework of the first phase is put into practice. Company resources identified during the planning stage are assigned to the campaign. The company ships products from the factory to the proposed retail outlets. The marketing department implements its pricing strategy, creates and runs ads, and issues promotional material according to the overall plan.
During the final phase of a strategic marketing plan the company evaluates how effectively the plan performed. The evaluation focuses on the specific aspects of the plan and on the overall goals. The company has to determine how well staff implemented the plan and make corresponding changes in its structure and tasks. It has to examine to what extent the plan supported and promoted the company's strategic goals and make corresponding changes in the orientation of the plan. Corrective action during this phase helps ensure that the strategic marketing plan meets expectations.