Strategic marketing plan vs. marketing plan. There is an important difference between a plan and a strategy. A strategic marketing plan always keeps the business objectives in mind and focuses on them.
A strategic marketing plan is not simply an implementation plan but a strategic approach to marketing initiatives. A marketing plan maps out the steps in detail and the path to implementing the various initiatives and campaigns. A strategic marketing plan always keeps the bigger goal of the business in mind.
Strategy is action-driven. It connects the dots between business development, sales, and marketing to achieve the highest return. Marketing strategy then crystallizes the path forward and indicates the best way to achieve the goal.
Ideally, the strategic marketing team becomes part of the executive team. It understands the overall business direction, motivation, and strategic goals.
The benefits of a strategic marketing plan are simple:
- It offers answers to how to get from where the business is today to where it should be.
- It clarifies challenges and weaknesses. It leverages strengths. And it considers what has worked and what has not.
- It asks what has changed and what were the lessons along the way.
- It forges the best way forward and knows how to gain momentum.
A marketing strategy would not be complete without including SMART goals. It is crucial to interweave SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, timely) goals into a robust marketing strategy.
These goals give clarity, organization, and direction to the marketing efforts. And they give clarity to the business as a whole. It is the foundation that ensures all initiatives happen cohesively and with momentum to meet those goals.
A marketing SWOT offers clarity
A SWOT analysis is a strategic tool used to determine and analyze a company’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Most businesses already have an overall business SWOT analysis.
A strategic marketing plan should consider the business SWOT. It is a must to conduct a marketing-oriented SWOT analysis for the strategic marketing plan. The marketing SWOT will focus on the puzzle pieces that affect marketing. It also assures that it is aligned with the business as a whole.
Only full transparency makes for a successful marketing SWOT analysis. Now is the time to take an honest look at the business and the state of the organization. This information provides insight and informs how to market the business and meet specific goals.
The strengths and weaknesses are the internal factors that can be controlled. It includes the talent, skill, resources, and limitations of the business. Ideally, a strategic marketing team helps turn many weaknesses into strengths through its strategic marketing approach.
The opportunities and threats are external factors that cannot be controlled. The marketing efforts should be geared to benefiting from opportunities. Many opportunities can be leveraged by the marketing team. The team can also help prepare against threats with a solid marketing foundation and strategy.
A buyer persona informs the target market
A buyer persona is a research-based example of the target market. It examines what type of person is the ideal customer or client. It specifies the problems they face, their goals and motivations, and how they make decisions. The buyer persona describes where they get their information, if they are the decision-makers, and who else they consult.
When creating a buyer persona, specificity is required. There are multiple ways to approach a buyer persona. Focusing on the aspects of the target market will help understand the ideal customer.
This genuine understanding will help the strategic marketing team create content that will build trust with the target audience. Consumers support businesses that they trust and that understand their needs. It will inform what messaging they will respond to and how to nurture them.
The buyer persona and the brand voice and values should absolutely align. It helps develop the organization’s brand voice and specify who they are as a brand.
Analytics help measure success
Measuring success starts with defining what makes the marketing efforts successful. A strategic marketing plan clarifies which key performance indicators (KPIs) should be tracked based on this definition. These key performance indicators measure the progress of marketing activities leading towards the business goals.
The KPIs should always tie back to the SMART goals and be measured against industry benchmarks. Industry benchmarks are an important indicator to measure against standards. Ideally, this strategy will help surpass benchmarks consistently.
A strategic marketing plan is also data-driven. Measuring and analyzing the data of marketing initiatives and consequent campaigns show what is working and what is not.
The strategic marketing team connects KPIs with the appropriate analytics to measure what progress looks like for the business. The KPIs measure whether the activities are meeting the marketing goals.
Analytics are only as good as the dots they connect to create the whole picture. A strategic approach is essential to understand how the different data is connected. The analytics inform how to improve the strategic marketing approach and level up month after month. Marketing optimization is a continuous effort.
Initiatives determine how to achieve results
The marketing strategy should define how results are achieved. Here is where strategy meets planning. The plan will be focused on buyer persona and SMART goals. The strategic marketing plan, compared to a stand-alone plan, will outline the best path forward.
The overall marketing initiatives are marketing efforts that create a road map. They determine which channels and approaches will reach the target audience. The initiatives create a priority of activities that outline the next steps for strategy implementation. The overall approach will inform the subsequent campaigns.
Based on the initiatives, the strategic marketing plan outlines specific marketing campaigns. Each initiative might have multiple campaigns. Campaigns get into the details about how to execute the initiatives strategically. This is where strategy meets brainstorming.
It is imperative to present forward-thinking ideas and think outside the box. This is especially important when it comes to digital marketing. A successful marketing campaign will help meet SMART goals while also staying true to the business brand.
Here is where marketing needs consistency again. Revisiting the strategic marketing plan at regular intervals is necessary. Besides an annual full review, campaigns should be reviewed on a quarterly basis. A reality check is necessary to assure that both the initiatives and the campaigns line up with the overall objectives and goals. This is imperative for a successful campaign.
Are you ready for your marketing strategy? Contact us today to learn more about marketing your business. Schedule a call with our CEO, Veronika Monell, here.