The strategic marketing process involves three crucial phases. These phases include: planning, implementation and control. Although the planning phase is often referred to as the most important, each of the steps is equally responsible for the success of a firm's marketing strategy.
The planning phase is the most crucial stage in a firm's strategic planning process. The first step is to perform a thorough SWOT analysis. It will help the organization determine its own situation in relation to the market. This analysis is key in fully understanding the internal and external factors that are favorable or unfavorable to the organization's activities. This is done through analyzing a firm's strengths, weaknesses, threats and opportunities. The results from this analysis should directly help in the formation of a firm's strategy which will aim to minimize threats while maximizing on opportunities as well as reveal new product and market opportunities. This information will also be the basis for setting a firm's marketing mix or plan as well as setting realistic and attainable goals and objectives.
The second step in the planning phase takes a market-product approach and involves goal and objective setting (Kerin-Hartley-Rudelius, 2007). This begins with understanding the consumer's wants and needs and involves conducting market research. From a strategic marketing perspective it is important to identify critical issues and attitudes related to the product amongst other things. The specific information to be gathered in the research process must reflect the individual needs of the product, and the external and internal competencies of the organization (article). This will include and analysis of the organizations special capabilities, points of difference, skills and technologies that set it apart from its competitors (Kerin et al, 2007). Once collected, this data can also be used to set measurable objectives and goals for the marketing plan which can later be used as benchmarks for comparison in the control phase and will help in the development of goals and objectives. A business portfolio analysis would be a good tool to use in order to determine whether a new product or SBU would be advantageous or not, and also to evaluate market share and growth potential. The results yielded will provide performance measures and growth targets for an SBU.
This data is invaluable when an organization is trying how to allocate its resources. Also during the planning phase you must identify the target market of the product or service. This involves identifying the segment of consumers who will potentially purchase your product, or those who the strategic marketing process will be aimed at. Another good tool that would be useful would be a market product analysis which would yield results with regards to the attractiveness of the potential product and the market in which it would exist. This would tell a firm which direction is has to go as in such areas as market and product development as well as market penetration and diversification. This will also help to decide on the positioning of your product or service. This is the process of deciding how to position your product in the minds of your primary and secondary audience (how they will perceive it). This will take careful analysis of how the public views your product or idea.
(McFarland, 2001). The planning phase is crucial for gathering data to set benchmarks which can later be measured against in the following stages.
The third and final phase of planning would be to decide on the marketing process. In this step the marketing mix will also have to be set. This step involves deciding on strategies the product, price, place and promotion (4 p's). The end result of the planning phase is to set measurable and attainable goals which can be measured in the control phase. The market research completed earlier in the planning phase will provide the necessary data to organize the marketing mix. Strategies need to be analyzed and combines to properly set the marketing mix. The product is very important and must be desirable to the market segment specified during the planning stage. Price, promotion and placement must also be worked out bases on the data supplied through the planning phase.
The next step would be the implementation phase in which all the planning begins to turn into action. Here the firm obtains resources and designs the market organization which is then put into action. Schedules are developed and the marketing programs are executed (strategy and tactics). The product or service will now be available to the public, at the places and prices decided upon in the planning stage. The implementation phase also requires close monitoring to make sure necessary changes occur if internal or external contingencies are affected (McFarland, 2001).
The control phase involves comparing results against the goals and benchmarks set in the planning phase. This is where the organization evaluates its process, outcomes and consumer satisfaction (McFarland, 2001). This will allow the firm to view the planning gap to see where the results deviated from the plan. The organization can then act on the data to exploit positive deviations while correcting the negative. This analysis and is necessary for a firm to ensure that their marketing plan is moving in the directions set out in the planning phase and critical for success in measuring whether objectives were met.
Kerin, R., Hartley,S., Rudelius, W. (2007). Marketing: The Core, 2nd ed., New York: McGraw Hill-Irwin.
McFarland, Allison (2001). Developing A Strategic Marketing Plan For Physical
Education. Physical Educator. Early Winter 2001, Vol. 58 Issue 4, p191-198.