Strategic marketing management is the process of implementing your business’ mission through specific and strategic processes in order to maximize your current marketing plan.
Each action step within a strategic marketing management process should be analyzed to improve before making the next step in this current plan.
Need to test how thorough and clear your process is? You should be able to hand the plan to anyone in your company and have them understand what the aims of the marketing plan are and how to get there.
Of course, there will be technical sections included but for the most part, it should be straightforward but detailed.
While there can be many stages to a strategic marketing management process, each of them comes under three sections: planning, implementation, and evaluation.
Just as with product management, planning is everything when it comes to strategic marketing. This requires a deep dive into not only your business but your customers and competitors.
The first step is a SWOT analysis. Analyze your business's strengths and weaknesses before looking at the opportunities and threats coming from elsewhere. Here, you can also include a competitive analysis, analyzing their strategies and markets.
Additionally, you can also include a PESTEL analysis, which looks at political, economic, social, technological, environmental, and legal factors.
Armed with this research, it’s time to look at your marketing mix. This involves defining your product out of the product mix, product, price, place, and promotion. The product part you’ll have nailed down already. But how should your product be priced? Where will it be available to buy or download? What types of promotion will work best?
Finally, it’s time to set some goals. Make sure they’re SMART goals so you know exactly what you want to achieve and by when. However, allow some leeway if you are a start-up business.
This is the action to all of that planning and analysis.
Budgeting for stock and resources, setting up distribution models and marketing channels, developing content plans and cash flow accounting are all introduced in this phase. It’s about making actionable steps towards achieving your commercial goals.
It’s important to note here that, while planning is essential, your process won’t be set in stone. Strategic marketing plans are designed to be adaptable so if the market changes (hello, Covid!) or you have trouble sourcing suppliers, it’s okay to rethink.
Many teams leave an evaluation for when a project is completed. However, within the strategic marketing management process, it’s important to evaluate each stage as it ends, so no insights get forgotten. By using analytical data, you can track any KPIs set as well as the progress of your goals. Track any changes made on the fly and use this information to see what would work better next time. You can use a wide range of data to evaluate too, from website traffic to customer feedback.
Now that you’ve got a handle on the basics let’s get a bit more tactical. Here’s how to create a strategic marketing plan in just nine steps.
Before thinking about what might work in the future, it’s important to look to the past. Go back as far as is practical and do a marketing audit, that is to compile a list of all marketing activations along with their results. This will help you fine-tune your strategic marketing plan.
The next step is to clearly understand where your business stands in the marketplace. This will help give you a sense of strategic direction, and it’s best discovered by conducting market research with your target users or customers.
Now that you have the results of your market research, your next step is to define exactly who you’ll be targeting with your strategic marketing plan. This may be a specific demographic, socioeconomic group, age, gender, and so on.
Marketing campaigns live and die on messaging. At this point in strategy development, clarify and document precisely what you want your brand position to be and how you want customers to see you in the market.
One of the primary goals of strategic marketing is to align your efforts with your overall company goals and objectives — and now’s the time to do it.
Money talks, especially when it comes to the reach of your marketing campaigns. Decide exactly what you want to spend now, and you won’t end up blowing your budget further down the road.
Next, it’s time to get practical. Begin to develop specific marketing campaigns based on the channels you’re most likely to reach your target customer.
Timing is everything, so set specific flight dates for your campaigns before they go live. This will also help when it comes to assessing outcomes.
The final step in developing a strategic marketing plan is to review the results of your campaigns to see what worked (or what didn’t) so that you can make changes next time.
The best way to learn is often to study those who’ve made the strides you want to make — so let’s look at some examples of strategic marketing.
In its early years, Apple made all of its decisions based on forecasting and strategy. For instance, the Apple logo is very simple in its design because they wanted it to be easy to remember. The same goes for the name “Apple.” They also (famously) looked at the cellphone market and saw a need for a product, then made the necessary decisions and implemented a strategy. Now, more than 1 billion people have an iPhone in their pockets.
Tesla's evolution over the past few years is another great example. Tesla came in when people thought electric cars were boring money-savers — and then they completely changed the industry. Thanks to strategic marketing management, Tesla is viewed as the world’s first luxury electric vehicle manufacturer.
The team at Spotify spotted a glaring strategic opportunity to make music more accessible. Rather than loading up iPods or spinning CDs, Spotify focused on the strategic opportunity offered by streaming — all your music, all the time, anywhere. This simple strategy has turned them into one of the world’s biggest brands.
The strategy Nike took in its earliest days was simple — to open up sports to everyone. Prior to the brand’s “Just do it” ethos (and iconic slogan), health and fitness could seem like a closed shop. With that one inspirational phrase, Nike’s strategy encouraged millions to go out and just do it.
The idea behind strategic marketing management is to adapt to your market as things change around you. The goal remains the same, but the path that leads you toward your goal can change.
The benefits of implementing strategic marketing management are fairly recognizable in the business world. Here are a few of the advantages of implementing a strategic marketing strategy:
The research involved in properly implementing strategic marketing management will inevitably end in a better understanding of your given market. Research regarding domestic and international markets, competition, and market trends will need to be conducted.
Strategic marketing management involves making better decisions that align your plan with the company’s goals.
If implemented correctly, strategic marketing management can yield some impressive results for a business. The result could be a better handle on budget, and an overall increase in the longevity of a business.
All in all, there are many advantages to this style of management. By implementing strategic marketing management, you’re making strategic decisions to better your business and your understanding of the market as a whole.
As helpful as strategic marketing management can be for a business, there are some drawbacks. Here are some disadvantages you should consider before implementing strategic marketing management:
As we’ve stated a few times before, strategic marketing management often involves making quick and game-changing decisions. Marketing campaigns are expensive, advertising is expensive, and simple analysis and research can end up costing money. At the end of the day, you could make a decision that can greatly affect the end cost of the campaign. If affected too much, the budget will be blown.
Strategic marketing management can take quite a long time to research and plan. The process should be very precise, which means that the initial planning should be, too.
Making these strategic decisions may not end up working out in the end. They are often risky, which means that you could end up with nothing to show for your efforts at the end of the period. As you may already know, marketing plans, strategic or not, can often take months to reach their end. That means you may end up wasting not only a lot of your own time, but everyone else on the marketing team may end up doing the same.
These are just some of the major issues that arise when practicing strategic marketing management. Just like any other methodology, marketing strategy, or business plan in general, there are things that can and will go wrong.
Now the impending question comes up: is strategic marketing management right for your team? The answer to that question is a simple one. If you and your team are willing to combat the negatives in pursuit of the positives, then yes, it could work.
But, as we explained above, there will be drawbacks no matter how you look at it. If you’re running a massive corporation with lots of money to spend in the budget, a wrong decision may not affect you so badly. However, for a small startup with just a few employees, a simple mistake could lead to a massive blow to the entire company.
The key is research. Precise decisions and calculated risks are all going to be based on market trends, competition, and the customer.
Below we’ve listed a handful of books that we recommended on strategic marketing.
These are great if you want to deeper delve into the subject before setting up yourself.
Strategic Marketing Management (9th edition) - Alexander Chernev
Strategic Marketing Management: Planning, implementation and control (3rd edition) - Richard M.S. Wilson and Colin Gillan
Strategic Marketing Management: a process-based approach - Luiz Moutinho and Geoff Southern