A strategic marketing plan is key to the success of any business.
What is strategic marketing? Broadly speaking, strategic marketing involves using informed strategies to enhance your marketing plan. Employing an effective strategy requires shrewd decision-making based on crucial components of your business. This is revealed in a SWOT analysis and key target demographic information. It takes into account a company’s vision and mission, and aids marketing efforts to reach these goals.
Strategic marketing is an important piece of business planning, but it is only one piece. A strategy without a vision is aimless. Action without strategy is wasted. Taking action is essential, or nothing happens. With the right tools and priorities, you can pull together vision, strategy, and action to give your company the forward movement it needs.
Using SWOT for Strategic Planning
One useful tool for creating any great business strategy is the classic SWOT analysis.
If you haven’t completed one before, take the time now to evaluate (or re-evaluate) these four important factors in your organization:
A typical SWOT analysis is basically a simple grid of four squares, where each is titled with one of the categories above. The squares are filled in by you and your team, giving you an overall assessment of how your business is currently operating and sets you up to prioritize your list of items to accomplish.
Start with Your Vision in Mind
Before you start a SWOT, you should have a broad vision and goals established for your business. This way, as you determine your company’s strengths, you can list them in light of what will aid you in reaching your vision.
Once this is established, your SWOT analysis can help you develop a high-level strategy to reach your marketing goals. It identifies the tools you have and environmental factors at play, so your plan will make sense.
Comprehensive SWOT Analysis
Clarifying this information on paper will give you the insight you need to develop strategies in each area of your business, and it will certainly inform your strategic plan.
This helps you create your strategy in several ways. For example, including aspects of your business’s strengths in advertising efforts, such as super-fast shipping, can help promote growth in a desired department or product line.
Considering certain weaknesses can also affect the plan. If you have trouble responding to social media inquiries, for instance, this should be addressed before integrating Facebook ad campaigns.
Threats and opportunities have more to do with environmental factors, like market behaviors and competition. You could use seasonal opportunities to help determine when to ramp up your efforts, and mitigate threats like over-saturation with differentiation in brand presentation, or by targeting a new demographic.
Marketing Plan SWOT
The SWOT is normally completed in regards to the business as a whole and is very useful for determining strategy. But it can also be applied to the marketing plan itself.
When utilizing a SWOT for this purpose, ask yourself these questions:
- What are the Strengths and Weaknesses of the current plan, in light of your goals?
- What are some potential market Opportunities?
- What might Threaten this plan?
It’s best to complete a SWOT analysis for both your marketing plan and your business as a whole, as each can provide different insights to help build your strategy.
Get Feedback Through Market Research
A commonly overlooked aspect of any strategy is actually asking your customers what they want. Too often, business owners believe they know everything the client needs. Putting those blinders on is dangerous and can lead to sterile thinking that is unimaginative and never results in real growth.
Simple ideas to gain market insights include:
- Sending out a questionnaire
- Offering a giveaway when a survey is completed
- Making a few calls or sending a few emails to clients you trust
- Talking with other business owners or people familiar with your market
None of these cost a lot or take a lot of time, but performing these tasks as part of your strategic marketing development may yield really great results. Uncovering ideas and turning on light bulbs is the goal with any great market research project. Once you have the data, use it in your strategic plan.
Implementing the Plan
Once you have a well-documented plan in place, it’s important to gain buy-in from others within your organization. Get the people in your business involved that will carry out the tasks and make sure everyone is on the same page with what you are going to do and why.
Each piece of this larger plan can be broken into smaller parts, and eventually into specific tactics to carry it out. Make specific assignments and ensure you have measurable outcomes defined. See our in-depth article on Tactical Marketing for more details on how to execute a great strategic marketing plan.
Summing it up
Developing a strong strategic plan is vitally important to the success of any marketing endeavor. Utilizing tools such as SWOT analysis, demographic information, market research, and overarching business goals will ensure you have a broad enough lens to capture the most valuable things to work towards. When you develop a solid strategy with smart tactics in line with your business goals, your marketing will be unstoppable!
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