No matter your goal, it’s always better to have a solid plan with defined steps in place than to try and haphazardly complete tasks. With strategic marketing planning, you can ensure that every step your business takes, regardless of which team contributes, will all coherently move towards promoting your brand and attracting new customers.
For guidance on how to identify problems before they become serious issues, Kissmetrics outlines the strategic marketing planning processes.
What is the Strategic Marketing Planning Process?
The strategic marketing planning process allows you to outline your company goals for reaching your audience and the steps of how to reach them. Each step of the process defines your business objectives, your customers’ needs, and how your products can meet those needs. As your goals are defined, the steps of the process also track your implementation and progress toward your objectives.
The first step for strategic marketing planning is to outline your mission statement. We describe in the section below what a mission statement is and how to write it to effectively describe your business objectives.
What is a Mission Statement?
The mission statement is a short description of your long-term plans. These are your plans for your business as a whole, detailing things like growth plans, expansion ideas, and where you want to go. With each goal, you’ll need to add one or two objectives that build up to your overall success.
How to Write a Mission Statement
A mission statement should be no more than three or four short sentences and should contain your long-term goals as a business. Your mission statement should be concise and inline with your North Star metric. Outline your objectives and ensure they can be measured. Then, break them out into examples so that your mission is clear.
The second step is to evaluate the situation and analyze any internal or external factors that affect your business. Depending on your industry, these factors can incorporate a large number of possible aspects. Some examples of factors include:
- Industry competitors
- Available resources
- Current sales revenue
- Customer desire
There are many methods to analyze your business’s health, but the three most common ones are the SWOT, 5C, and PEST analyses. We cover each one in-depth in the sections below.
SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. To break these down further, strengths and weaknesses refer to internal aspects which your company controls, whereas opportunities and threats are external. These assess what your business does well and areas where you could use some improvement. This part of the situation analysis requires you to be self-aware and use product analytics tools to gather data about your services.
Strengths might include competitive advantages, how your products stand out in the market, what you hope to improve or do with your services, or how your employees work together. Weaknesses might include limited resources, issues your business is facing internally, or areas where you aren’t reaching your goals.
Opportunities are external and therefore not under your control. It’s important to be aware of the socio-political climate to monitor your customers’ changing needs. For example, a company that produces cleaning products likely saw the COVID-19 pandemic as an external opportunity to take advantage of by producing more and increasing their advertising. Threats are the opposite of opportunities and present unpredictable problems that your company must notice and address immediately.
The five Cs in the title refers to Company, Customers, Competitors, Collaborators, and Climate. These Cs include both internal and external factors to accurately analyze the entire situation for your business.
- Customers – Who are the people buying your products?
- Climate – What kinds of external factors affect your business?
- Competitors – Which other companies are producing similar products?
- Company – Do people know your brand name? What do they think of you?
- Collaborators – Do you work with distributors, suppliers, or other affiliated companies, and how do they affect your business?
A PEST Analysis measures the Political, Economic, Social, and Technological factors that affect your business. Unlike the previous analyses, the PEST Analysis only measures external factors, so we recommend using it in addition to another type of analysis that measures your internal factors, so you can have the complete picture of your business.
The political aspect looks at the laws and regulations that influence your customers and their purchasing habits—economics shows how the stock market, taxes, and exchange rates affect your services. Social demonstrates the attitudes and lifestyle demographics that define your customers. Technical examines any patents, technologies, or production trends that might influence your product.
With the data you collected in the prior steps, you can start brainstorming which metrics you want to collect and leverage. Depending on your industry, some metrics may be more valuable than others.
How Does a Plan Help
With a marketing plan, you can identify the audience you want to appeal to and define the best ways to reach them. You’ll also be able to estimate how your marketing efforts will affect your business by predicting the rough costs and benefits.
What to Include in Your Plan
Ideally, your marketing plan should include overall cost, how you’ll place your product or brand among your competitors, and what your predictions for customer reactions are.
As every company knows, not every product or service will appeal to every buyer. Buyers have specific wants and needs based on demographics like age, locale, gender, pet ownership, family size, the presence of children, and similar factors. Understanding which aspects make your product essential means that you can target your advertisements for your specific audience.
Using Kissmetrics, you can create a report documenting certain factors about your customers to see who is buying your product. You can also offer surveys and accept feedback from your customers to monitor their changing desires. Another option is to monitor social media interactions with your brand by your existing customers.
In order to see if your plan is working, you need measurable goals. The best goals are tangible, realistic, and have milestones for you to monitor during the timeline you choose. Your goals depend on what you want to achieve with your marketing plan. Do you want to grow your sales revenue? Brand awareness? Are you looking to increase the number of users on your website?
Be careful not to set any goals that are outside of your control. If you have a goal to increase the number of social media engagements on Twitter and a large number of people stop using that platform, you won’t be able to achieve the goal through no fault of your own.
Likely the first part of your marketing plan outlines the estimated budget. As with all plans, you should budget an extra amount for emergency funds, but you should be able to give a rough estimate of how much it will cost to create, implement, and monitor your plan.
Now that you’ve established what you want to achieve, who you are as a company, and what is happening inside and out of your business, it’s time to begin planning how you’ll actually accomplish your goals.
The first part is knowing what your company offers. What kind of product or service does your brand offer to your customers? How do you want them to interact with your offerings? The answers will dictate your metrics and how you measure your plan’s success.
Knowing your customers also means knowing how much they’re willing to pay for what you have to offer.
Promotion includes the platforms you plan on using to appeal to new and existing customers. Incorporating social media postings, a contact email, reviews, a phone number to call for support, and other communication methods are all essential for promoting your brand and spreading awareness.
This aspect is more important for physical products because you’ll want to plan how you’ll get them to the customer. Are you planning to ship them from online orders? Will the customers need to come to your store to pick up their purchases?
Implementation and Control
The final step means it’s time to put your plan into action. This means measuring your metrics over time and comparing them to your established objectives. As time goes on, you’ll likely need to come back to your marketing strategies to update them or change them in accordance with your company’s needs.
With this knowledge about strategic marketing planning, you and your company can build the right plan to fit your business’s individual needs. Understanding the five steps and how they synchronize to provide valuable insights about your products and customers is the best way to spend your marketing dollars wisely.