Best Practices

The Ultimate Guide to the Strategic Marketing Planning Process

Jonathan Friedman
July 24, 2021
The Ultimate Guide to the Strategic Marketing Planning Process

Do you ever wish you had a roadmap you could follow to reach your marketing goals? If so, then you need a strategic marketing planning process.


Don't worry if you don't know how to create your plan; we've got you covered. So, keep reading to learn how to follow a step-by-step strategic marketing planning process that will show you the way every time.

Below is everything we will cover. Feel free to skip ahead.

 

What is the strategic marketing planning process? 


The marketing planning process can be intense and challenging to implement correctly. To start, we need to set a baseline of definitions to ensure we're on the same page. 


First, your marketing strategy is the gameplan for how you'll promote and sell your product or service. Your strategy includes your business' value proposition, branding, and how you'll turn your leads into paying customers. This is the high-level framework for your marketing plan. 


Second, your marketing plan is the written documentation that outlines how you'll reach your target market and generate new leads. Your documentation must outline your market research, your outreach campaigns, as well as what metrics you'll track. 


With that in mind, your strategic marketing planning process is the system you'll follow to write, plan for, and implement your marketing blueprint. We have created the ultimate guide detailing how you can make this system so you can track it each time. 


A good strategy is often revisited and revised regularly as you gather more data and see what works and what doesn't. While your overall mission and values won't change, an annual analysis of your plan and strategy is crucial to staying competitive in your industry.  


5-Step strategic marketing planning process


Creating this necessary documentation can be intimidating if you don't know where to start. That's why we outlined a simple five-step process you can follow each time you schedule your strategic marketing planning process.


Follow these steps every time, and you'll quickly see the gaps in the market. You'll also know what your customers need. And finally, you'll see how you can reach them and turn them into paying clients. 


1. Determine your mission and vision


Before you can begin to plan a single piece of marketing, you must know where you're headed. Without the final goal, you risk creating marketing campaigns that don't serve your company's overall business goals or vision.


If your company already has a clear mission statement, you will complete this step quickly and easily. However, if you're not crystal clear on what your company stands for or why you're in business, you must start here. 


Gather your stakeholders and executives to discuss why you're in business and how you help your clients or customers. Once you have a clear written statement, share this mission with everyone on your team. Everyone who works for your company should be able to briefly and concisely convey your mission statement to anyone who asks. 


Once you know why you're in business, you need to outline your overall vision or goals for your company. These are quantifiable goals that you can track, so you know whether you've hit them or not. Once you have a clear objective and key results written down, you can start to create a strategic plan that will help you reach these goals.  


2. Analyze the market


Before you begin creating your next marketing campaign or even prototyping your following product, you must start with a market analysis. This can be tempting to skip as it's tedious and not sexy. However, by completing this step, you'll minimize your risks and optimize your advantages within the market. 


Identify opportunities


First, you must identify what opportunities are available in your industry. What are the current and coming trends within your industry? It would be best if you stayed immersed in what's coming ahead, so you don't find yourself getting left behind.


Look at your competition and see where there are gaps or untapped potential in the market. What does your product or service offer that is lacking in others? Where is there a potential to find new business? 


When you find that segment within the market where your features and benefits fill the need left in other products' gaps, you'll find success for your business. But you must continually analyze the trends and the market so you can be ready when the opportunity presents itself. 


There are several different ways to analyze the market. Many have heard of the SWOT analysis, but your options don't stop there. Let's look at the top three market analysis options. 


SWOT analysis


The SWOT analysis is probably the most recognizable method for analyzing the market. This simple four-part template allows companies to scan their business to see where they can improve quickly. 


First, look at your company's strengths. What do you do well? What unique resources do you have that others don't? 


It's essential to start here when doing your analysis because this shows you what is going well or what's positive about your current situation. Also, this is looking at internal factors, which means you have control over them. When creating your proactive plan, you need to know what is internal and external that you don't have control over. 


Second, what are your weaknesses? Again, looking at internal factors, where can you improve? What factors appear to be weaker than other areas within your organization? 


These questions can be tough to answer, but they're vital to staying competitive in the market. You don't want to rest on your laurels and only focus on your strengths. Instead, look at what processes could be improved to increase efficiency or decrease costs. 


Third, look for any opportunities available to you. These are external factors you can take advantage of, such as changes in the market or trends. It also can include changes in regulations for which you're already meeting or exceeding. 


Lastly, what threats exist within the market? Again, these are external threats such as new competitors to the marketplace you need to consider and stay ahead of. Or it could include a current supplier, which might be going out of business or merging with another company. 


Watch for these external opportunities and threats to ensure that you're prepared with adequate contingency plans. While the SWOT method is popular, it isn't your only option. Let's look at some alternatives. 


5C Analysis


The 5C analysis method is similar to SWOT in that it looks at both internal and external factors. However, it dives more in-depth into the external market and trends. 


The first step is to look at your company. Where have you been successful? And where could you be more effective? 


Look at your company goals and see if you're reaching them or not. Then determine what steps you can take to align your company and culture better to reach your goals. 


The second is to analyze your customer base. Who is purchasing your product, and is your customer base growing or stagnant? How are your current customers finding your company and product, and what is their typical customer journey?


Third, look at competitors, and don't stop at your current direct competitors. Who is your indirect competition, and who are the newcomers to the industry? It would help if you kept a pulse on the competition, or you risk being left behind.  


Fourth is to look at everyone you work with or collaborators. This includes everyone from vendors and suppliers of raw materials to distribution channels. Do you have competitive contracts with them, and is their supply chain dependable and trustworthy? 


And finally, what is the current climate for your industry overall? Has the government recently created new regulations that affect you and your business? Is there new technology that could give you an advantage over your competition? 


These are the questions you must ask yourself to stay ahead of the competition and succeed in your business. An excellent framework for analyzing the climate is to use the PEST analysis. 


PEST Analysis


The PEST analysis looks at political, economic, social, and technological. Let's break each one down. 


Political looks at any legal or governmental regulations you need to be aware of. Additionally, international companies need to be mindful of any changes or unrest within any government where they do business. 


Economic looks at the state of the economy in your country and in any countries where you do business. Is there any problem with inflation or exchange rates? Look at the overall growth and stability of the market to ensure you're in a position to capitalize on any opportunities. 


The social aspect looks at the demographics and attitudes of your customers. What do they value, and how can you provide that value through your product or service. Many millennials prefer to work with brands with a message that aligns with their own, which is critical to know if they're your target market. 


Lastly, look at any technological advances that might affect your industry or productivity. What new patents have evolved that could affect your company? And are there better IT options to track and manage your supply chain or customer management. 


3. Create your marketing strategy


Now that you know where you stand within the market, it's time to create your strategy. Many talented marketers confuse strategy with tactics, but we aren't there yet. Your strategy is the roadmap your team will follow as they implement the tactics later on. 


Your strategy will define your goals and provide the path which your team will follow. At the same time, your tactics are the exact steps your team will take to reach your goals. Your strategy, therefore, is the foundation you'll build upon, upon which your tactics will be based. 


To build a great relationship with customers and increase sales, you need to have a branded and cohesive marketing strategy. This step alone could use its book. But we'll break it down into steps you can complete today. 


What is your value proposition?


Your value proposition is a simple statement showing why someone would want to do business with you. But while it's a short sentence, it's not so simple to create. You need to show how you stand out from the crowded market and what makes you different that potential customers should choose you over the competition. 


If you've done your due diligence in the previous section, this can help with your value proposition. YOu already know where your competition stands and how you're different. You see where the gaps in the market are and how you can fill those gaps. 


Additionally, you'll want to identify all the benefits your product or service offers to your customers. As you begin to create your marketing material, having these benefits already outlined will save time and give your message uniformity across all your platforms. 


Be concise; this is a short statement, not a full-page dissertation. Everyone on your team should be able to convey your value proposition to anyone who asks. This is your promise to your customers about how you're different and how you'll solve their problem or pain point. 


Who is your target audience?


There are over seven billion people on the planet today. You can't target your marketing campaigns to everybody. In order to effectively target an audience, you need to know exactly who they are and everything about them. 


For your marketing campaigns to reach maximum effectiveness, your audience needs to understand them and their needs. They need to believe that your product or service is precisely what they need to succeed or solve their problem. 


You will begin with the surface information such as demographics, but a valuable target audience profile will go deeper. If at all possible, you need to speak with people who fit your target avatar profile so you can better understand them. 


If you already have a solid customer base, reach out to them. Ask to speak with them personally, or ask them to fill out a survey.


The key is to get as much information as possible, so this isn't a short three-question survey. But you also want to encourage as many people as you can to fill it out, so, unfortunately, with this method, you can't ask as many in-depth questions as you would if you were speaking to them. 


Take the time to really dive into this step. This can be the key between a home-run marketing campaign and one that is entirely off the mark. 


How much is your budget?


The next step is to determine your resources. This includes your financial help, but it also includes other resources. Do you already have an in-house full-time marketing team, or will you need to outsource to freelancers?


If you need to hire more talent, include this in your budget, so you don't find yourself doing the extra work required to fulfill your marketing plan once you've created it. 


Additionally, do you have a budget for advertising, or will you need more focus on organic traffic? 


Knowing this ahead of time will help you choose which tactics will move you towards reaching your goals. It won't do you any good to create an entire marketing strategy that revolves around paid traffic if you don't have the budget. 


Depending on the answer for this section, you might need to make some tough choices. But it's better to know this in advance, so you don't have to come back to the drawing board months down the road. Also, if you know that you will have the budget at a later time, you can make some of your decisions based on the goals and priorities established earlier. 


There are always more affordable alternatives, and they might take longer to implement or see results. Knowing your budget will allow you to create the right timeline for your goals to know what to expect going forward. 


Where will you reach your audience?


Lastly, you need to take the time to determine how and where you'll reach your target market. Again, to answer this question could fill several books, and there are plenty out there to check out. But here we'll outline different options you could choose from. 


Going back to your target market profile, where does your avatar spend their time online? If you're in the B2B sector, you'll target a different platform than a business targeting parents or boomers. Each of these profiles spends time on other online platforms, and you need to focus your efforts where you'll see the highest return on investment. 


When you were completing the previous step of interviewing your target audience, you can ask them where they spend their time online. Or, if you don't yet have an audience, spend some time analyzing those similar to your target market and determine this for yourself. 


You can have several different avenues to reach your audience, and each platform will have several other tactics you'll need to implement. This is why it's crucial to plan how you'll communicate with your prospects to turn them into leads and eventually buy customers. 


For example, if you're targeting millennial fur-parents, you'll want to focus a large majority of your time on Instagram. And if you've determined you have room in your budget, you'll want to create and nurture relationships with key influencers your audience follows.


This is an excellent example of how knowing your target audience and your budget can direct your marketing tactics to reach your final goals. And, if you're targeting CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, you know that you can cross this tactic off your strategic marketing planning process and focus on white papers or LinkedIn instead.


4. Determine your marketing mix


The marketing mix is often synonymous with the four Ps of marketing. And no company is too large or too small to skip this step. Outlining these four key concepts now will result in higher sales and increased conversions. 


Here we break down the four Ps of marketing and how they can help you create the perfect marketing mix for your organization. 


Price


The top qualifier you need to nail is to get the right price. This is the ultimate Goldilocks decision and could mean the difference between reaching our goals or missing them altogether.


You don't want to price your product or service too high to alienate the majority of your audience. But you also don't want to undercut the price too low that you don't realize a large enough profit margin for continued success in the long term. Too many sales and discounts can also give the wrong impression that you're not a premium brand worth your premium price tag. 


So be sure to take the time to determine where you stand in the market and what your best price is before you launch. Because you've already analyzed the market and understand your supply costs, you can make an educated decision as you choose your product price. 


Product


If you want to have lasting success, you must create quality products. You already know your target audience, hopefully even better than they know themselves. You know their most significant pain points, so now you can create the perfect product line or service that will fill their needs. 


Don't guess what you should create, or choose your next product based on what you want to create. Instead, use the information gathered in previous sections to ensure lasting success. You already know your valuable assets, and you know where the gaps in the market lie. Use this information to create a product that capitalizes on both of these pieces of information. 


What do you already do well that isn't provided by anybody else that solves your target audience's biggest pain points? When you can answer these questions, you will create a great product that practically flies off the shelves.


Promotion


Promotion and marketing drive sales. Without sales, your marketing department isn't doing its job of driving qualified leads to your sales department. Promotion is about both sales and marketing


When marketing your product, it's more than branding and positioning, and this is determining the best channels to reach your audience. And it's about creating the best content that will speak to your audience about your product or service's benefits. 


You need to know which channels drive the most traffic to your site. And you need to know which content converts into the most sales. This information will allow you to create more promotional material in the places that realize the highest ROI. 


The temptation when marketing brands online is that you want to be everywhere all at once, but to see the best value in your marketing budget, you must focus your positioning in the right locations. It won't do you any good to reach millions of people with advertising on TikTok if your target audience has no clue what that is. 


From display advertising to content marketing and networking events, you must know where to prioritize your time and money so you can increase your sales and bottom line. 


Place


You need to reach your customers where they are. Don't expect them to come to you; you must go to them. Until you're Bruce Springstein filling arenas, you need to know where your customers are and position yourself accordingly. 


Again, ask yourself who your target audience is and where they spend their time online? Will you sell online, or will you work with retailers? If you sell digital products, will you only offer your products on your website, or will you work with joint venture partnerships? 


You need to know where you're selling your products and ensure that you're placing your products where your customers can conveniently purchase them. The customer must be at the center of all your answers and the decisions you make. This will ensure that you're positioning yourself for success. 


Distribution


Along the lines of place and where you'll position yourself in the market, you also need to determine where and how you'll distribute your product. How will you make it easy for your potential customers to purchase and receive your product or service once they've found you? 


You need to know where you'll sell your product and how your customers will purchase it. Additionally, you need to determine now where you'll store and warehouse your physical products. And, finally, how you'll get your products from the warehouse to the retail marketplace. 


This information is vital to know ahead of time. By taking the time to determine this now, your strategic marketing planning process will ensure success during the implementation process.


5. Implement and monitor


Now that you've created your plan, you need to start implementing it. Many companies make grandiose plans they never carry out.


To avoid this common pitfall, you need the right tools to ensure you'll complete the plan you spent so much time creating. And a great tool for any plan is PM software such as TrueNxus. With the right tool, your team can better plan, track, and collaborate while implementing your strategic initiatives. 


Even the best plans can fall apart once your team starts to implement them. To better track your strategies and ensure success, you need a program that provides robust reports and real-time communication. 


Everything you've worked hard to create in your strategic marketing planning process can be monitored and tracked using TrueNxus. Additionally, you can see where any bottlenecks might be happening that can cause your next campaign to go over budget or beyond the original timeline.


Everyone hates that lengthy email threads that continually clog up your inbox. Cut out internal emails completely by collaborating in TrueNxus instead. You can assign tasks to your team, and they can communicate any problems or questions they might have about their assignments through TrueNxus as well. 


Finally, as you work through the implementation of your strategy, you need to monitor your results. You need to know which marketing campaigns were successful and which weren't. As you learn this information, you can adapt to those results ensuring long-term success for your company. 


The right tools will give you the competitive edge you need to take your marketing to the next level. This will increase sales and lead to more conversions with each new campaign you run. 


And, with more of your team likely telecommuting these days, real-time collaboration is invaluable. Effortless project planning and improved communication are crucial to accomplishing your marketing goals. 


What are the benefits of following this strategic marketing planning process? 


Unfortunately, many leaders think they don't have time to sit and plan for the future. They're too busy putting out fires and reacting to what's happening around them. 


But quality executives know that they need to schedule time regularly to map out the blueprint for their team to follow. And, every successful company knows that strategic planning is the key to its success.


By taking the time to create a written plan, everyone on your team knows what is expected of them and why they're doing what they're doing. You will see your marketing plans come together much more cohesively when you've taken the time to create your marketing plan and strategy.


This sense of direction is imperative to ensure that everyone stays on task. Without a roadmap to follow, you will find that decisions will be unclear and hard to make. You will also find that everyone comes to you for direction because their not sure what is expected of them. 


By aligning your activities with your goals in this way, you will increase your productivity and efficiency. Your team will see the benefits of a good marketing plan immediately as they will know what they should be doing and when. Additionally, they will know how their tasks align with your overall goals and company mission. 


Strategic planning also looks at the market trends and competitor gaps, giving you the information you need to be proactive instead of reactive. Stop reacting to every change in the market or new regulation that crept up on you. With forward-thinking planning, you can anticipate these changes and have a plan ready to go. 


Planning and tracking your goals will give you the competitive advantage you need to succeed in the long run.

 

Build your audience and your brand with the right plan


A quality marketing strategy can give you an advantage over your competitors. Successful businesses know they need to spend the time necessary giving their undivided attention to the strategic marketing planning process. And, as you can see, this process can be intense and takes much planning.


As you're creating your strategic marketing plan, you need a central location to store all the market research and industry analysis you're doing. You need a robust platform where everyone on your team can see the process in real-time. With TrueNxus, you can do just that.


You can document and organize your entire strategy. And everyone on your team, internal and external, can collaborate and successfully implement your strategy.


If you're ready to see the fantastic benefits of TrueNxus for yourself, give us a try for free for two weeks. We're sure that you and your team will see improved productivity and collaboration in every project you plan and implement with TrueNxus.