STRATEGIC MARKETING PLAN

How to write a strategic Marketing Plan?

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Your strategic marketing plan in 7 steps

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Want to know how to write a marketing plan? In 7 steps I show you how to create a strategic marketing plan. Developing a marketing strategy can be tricky. Important components are easily overlooked.
It also may happen that marketing analyses are not performed properly. This makes it difficult to draw the right conclusions. Make sure you have a good roadmap to create your marketing plan. The SMP-method consists of 7 convenient steps to write your strategic marketing plan. The result is a clear marketing strategy for your organization and a plan of activities to implement this strategy.

Marketing plan content table

Use the links below to navigate through the seven steps to make a proper marketing plan. Check the marketing strategy roadmap and you’ll also find out how to work with different decision levels within you marketing plan. And you get introduced to the SMP-method to build your perfect marketing strategy.

The Strategic Marketing Framework

Step 1

Purpose

Determining the starting position.

Step 2

Market

Locating opportunities, threats in the market.

Step 3

Organization

Identifying strengths and weaknesses.

Step 4

Confrontation

Confronting internal and external factors.

Step 5

Marketing Strategy

Provide a solution to problem areas.

Step 6

Marketing Mix

Determining marketing tools.

Step 7

Operational Marketing Plan

Operational marketing plan and audit.

Marketing Strategy Roadmap

Marketing strategy roadmap

The SMP-method includes the following seven steps:

  1. Purpose (determine the end goal)
  2. Market (identify opportunities and threats)
  3. Organization (reveal strengths and weaknesses)
  4. Confrontation (confront your SWOT)
  5. Strategy (design your marketing strategy)
  6. Marketing Mix (draft your marketing mix)
  7. Operational Marketing Plan (operational implementation and auditing)

Step 4 through 7 are a logical consequence of another. The conclusions from the preceding steps provide input for the following steps. Your marketing plan gets build step by step where the underlying step provides the foundation for the next. The end result being an operational marketing plan to roll out your marketing strategy with planned moments to audit.

Translation to marketing practice

The SMP-method is a pragmatic translation of an academic methodology. The Dutch Prof. dr. R.T. Frambach and prof. Dr. E. J. Nijssen describe in their book “marketing strategy” (Marketing strategie in Dutch) on academic manner, the process to develop marketing strategy. The SMP-method provides a pragmatic and directly deployable translation of this methodology. The essential during the development of the SMP-method is the following key question:

The Five fases of a marketing plan

Creating a marketing plan can be distinguished roughly in three phases. The first phase is research. You’re primarily engaged in analyzing the market and organization to determine facts. This phase is also called the SWOT analysis. SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. You will search for opportunities and threats in the external environment (the market) and strengths and weaknesses within the organization (internal environment).
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Marketing Research

Determine your strategy is the next phase after you’ve finished your phase of research. The research provides input to develop a strategy. This is done through a SWOT matrix (also called a confrontation matrix). This SWOT matrix shows the connection between market and organization in a clear image. This image gives you an insight in problem areas. These problem areas or strategic issues as they are called, need to be answered with a marketing strategy.

Marketing Development

Determine your strategy is the next phase after you’ve finished your phase of research. The research provides input to develop a strategy. This is done through a SWOT matrix (also called a confrontation matrix). This SWOT matrix shows the connection between market and organization in a clear image. This image gives you an insight in problem areas. These problem areas or strategic issues as they are called, need to be answered with a marketing strategy.

Marketing decision levels

A marketing plan consists of three levels of decision, these include; strategic level, tactical level and operational level. When you work with a proper coherence between these levels of decision making, every operational action or marketing effort will contribute to a greater and overall marketing strategy. An organization that understands the importance of these three levels of decision making and work accordingly to it, do work consistently to a solid organization focused on the long term. The picture to the right shows the rule of thumb for the division between strategy, tactics and operations. How the decision levels exactly work, can be seen in step 6 – Marketing Mix.

Marketing Strategy

Determine your strategy is the next phase after you’ve finished your phase of research. The research provides input to develop a strategy. This is done through a SWOT matrix (also called a confrontation matrix). This SWOT matrix shows the connection between market and organization in a clear image. This image gives you an insight in problem areas. These problem areas or strategic issues as they are called, need to be answered with a marketing strategy.

Marketing Tactics

Determine your strategy is the next phase after you’ve finished your phase of research. The research provides input to develop a strategy. This is done through a SWOT matrix (also called a confrontation matrix). This SWOT matrix shows the connection between market and organization in a clear image. This image gives you an insight in problem areas. These problem areas or strategic issues as they are called, need to be answered with a marketing strategy.

Marketing Operations

Now that you have developed a marketing strategy, you can determine the tactical implementation and operational details. Your marketing mix is part of the tactical implementation and your final operational marketing plan is part of an operational decision level.

Why marketing strategy

Research shows that successful organizations often continuously and consistently work on their marketing strategy. it is a dynamic process to develop marketing strategy. Markets change continuously and marketing planning learns the organization how to deal with those changes. General you can speak of marketing strategy when the organization is in the search of an appropriate strategy to find a connection or to improve the connection with their market on the long term. Marketing analyzes and marketing models help in this proces. This also applies to research after the market and organization.

“Planning is what you do before you do something, so that when you do it, it is not all mixed up” A.A Milne

Author

Marketing planning is a complicated activity and can be time-consuming. Often there is a lot of information to work with and analytical skills are required. To create a marketing plan, you need to perform various marketing analyzes and develop marketing models. When you run these analyzes in the correct order you’ll create a complete image of the cohesion between the market and your organization. This gives you the correct input to create a marketing strategy. Eventually the marketing strategy gives you the input to work on your marketing mix (tactical implementation) and operational marketing plan (operational details).

Create a marketing plan with the SMP-method

Run through these 7 steps carefully to create a strategic marketing plan for your organization.
The following components determine the structure of your marketing plan. Today, there are several methods for creating a marketing plan. The quality of these methods are different. The SMP-method distinguishes itself by its academic foundation. This foundation is tested and checked for completeness. The SMP-method offers the translation from the academic methodology to a practical method to deploy in your business.

Determine the purpose of your marketing plan

The SMP-method can be used for various marketing issues. Whether you want to tap into new markets or drafting an online marketing plan. In the first step, you are able to focus your marketing research on the field you want. For example you determine if you want to improve the connection with your markets online or to explore markets abroad. The SMP-method can be applied to subfields of your market or organization, or can be used for drawing up a marketing strategy for the entire organization.

Strategic marketing policy

SMP-method stands for Strategic Marketing Plan-method. The word “strategy” applies to long-term planning (typically 5 years or more) to find the most appropriate way to create a cohesion between market and organization. How you can arrange your organization, to make the perfect match with your market. The word “organization” can apply to the organization as a whole or to parts of the organization. An example is the Dutch organization or the online organization. These two examples are about the part of the organization which are involved to the Dutch or online market. The SMP-method is applicable as long as the marketing study is strategic in nature. From this strategy (long-term) you can draw up a tactical and operational approach (medium and short term).

Purpose

Step 1: Purpose

Determining the starting position. What do you want to accomplish with your marketing plan? Determine the starting position or in other words the purpose of your marketing plan. The purpose of your marketing plan in step 1 directs the market analysis and the organization analysis. The first step includes two substeps; 1.1 Quick scan and 1.2 Problem scan

Introduction and motivation

Introduce the reader to your marketing plan. You make the reader familiar with the organization, the marketing problem and the design of the study.

External analysis vs. internal analysis

External factors are outside the organization. Internal factors are obviously the factors within the organization. Both the external and internal environment are examined in order to arrive at the most appropriate marketing strategy. This is done in the second (external analysis) and third step (internal analysis).

Problem analysis

You need to know what the problem is where to go to do your research. It lets you set up a provisional problem and formulate your assignment. Use an organization scan. The problem does not have to equal 100% correct. After all, you begin your research. Therefore we call this preliminary problem, a presumption of the problem.

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Market

Step 2: Market

Locating opportunities and threats in the market. What opportunities and threats are at play in the market? The purpose of the external analysis is to locate potential to create value. The results of the market analysis are the input for the external Opportunities and Threats in the SWOT analysis.

Macro analysis and meso analysis

The market is divided into the macro environment (uncontrollable) and meso environment (partially controllable). Macro factors are not affected by your organization. Meso factors play in the industry and are partly influenceable. As your organization is part of that industry.

Opportunities and threats

During external analysis you go looking for opportunities and threats in the market. You analyze and describe facts play in the market. Think of trends, market segments and market changes. Look for opportunities for value outside the organization.

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Organization

Step 3: Organization

Identifying strengths and weaknesses in the organization. What are the strengths and weaknesses of the organization? Find out where the organization excels and where the organization can improve or is required to compensate. This internal analysis shows Strengths and Weaknesses which are input for the SWOT analysis.

Micro analysis

Meso and macro environment belong to the external analysis (step 2 – Market). The microenvironment is another name for the organization and is thus analyzed in the internal analysis. The attached picture makes this internal / external distribution clear at a glance.

Strengths and weaknesses

You examine the possibilities to create value within the organization with the internal analysis. The aim is to locate the strengths and weaknesses of the organization. Study organizational policies, marketing policies and financial resources. The internal analysis is performed by the following three sub-steps:

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Confrontation

Step 4: Confrontation

Confronting internal and external factors. What is the connection between the organization and its market? The confrontation is a very important step in the proces of marketing strategy. In this step, the findings from your external and internal analysis get confronted with each other. It is important to follow this step precisely because a misinterpretation can provide very different results and incorrect conclusions. The confrontation can be done by the SWOT matrix and provides the input to determine a strategy in step 5.

SWOT analysis

The strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats from your external and internal analysis are gathered in the SWOT analysis and ranked by importance. Actually, the SWOT analysis, is nothing more than a clear overview of the outcomes of the Market and Organizational Analysis. By sorting the different factors by importance you create an overview to look back at during the determination of your marketing strategy.

SWOT matrix

You can consider the SWOT matrix as the heart of your strategic marketing plan. Indeed, it is the turning point in your marketing research. Where you previously was mainly concerned with the analysis and description of facts, you now interpret information to make decisions. How performs this confrontation analysis described as the confrontation matrix.

Problem areas

The confrontation reveals problem areas. Those problem areas involves mismatches between the market and your organization. These problem areas are called strategic issues as they form a fundamental problem. An answer to these strategic issues is given in your marketing strategy. Although it should be given in your marketing strategy. Strategic issues can be positive or negative issues.

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Marketing Strategy

Step 5: Marketing Strategy

Provide a solution to problem areas. How can you mitigate negative issues and develop positive issues? Now you have insight into your strategic issues, you can develop a marketing strategy whereby negative issues are mitigated and positive issues will get more developed. The chosen marketing strategy provides the input to the marketing mix.

Strategic options

See which possible marketing strategies address positive issues and / or problem areas. The Ansoff matrix and value strategies according to Treacy and Wiersema provide a framework to design your marketing strategy. It is important to discus different alternatives with employees with knowledge of the market and organization.

Test and select marketing strategy

The most appropriate marketing strategy can be tested and selected by the SFA model and FOETSJE model. These models assesses the suitability, feasibility and acceptability of the marketing strategies that qualify. It is very important to discus the decisions in this part of the proces to design your marketing strategy.

Strategic, tactical and operational level

A strategic marketing plan includes three different levels of decision making within the organization. The first level of decision making is strategic, following by tactical level and finally operational level. The larger the organization, the more important it is to involve the right people at the right time to involve the whole organization in the proces of marketing planning. The image below shows the differences between strategic, tactical and operational level clearly.

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Marketing Mix

Step 6: Marketing Mix

Determining marketing tools and marketing mix. Which marketing tools to use? Marketing strategy is designed for the long-term (typically 5 years or more). The determination of the marketing mix is a decision on tactical level. The tactics to work the market are set on medium term which is usually 2 to 5 years. The marketing mix is a balanced composition of the different marketing tools that you have available as organization.

Marketing tools

The marketing mix is a balanced composition of the various marketing tools. The most well-known composition is, of course, according to the principle of the 4 P’s; Product, Price, Place and Promotion. Criticism of said composition is that this model is not sufficiently customer-oriented and excesses from the organizations vision instead of the targeted audience. Kotler introduced the 4 C’s; Core Benefits, Cost for customer, Convenience and Communication as an alternative to the 4 P’s. The 4 C’s are compiled from the viewpoint of the targeted audience.

Annual marketing plan

The annual marketing plan includes a plan in which the direction of the organization will be tested within the chosen marketing strategy and tactical implementation. Also in the marketing year plan drawn up a business plan for the new year. The marketing year plan is a audit moment to look back on the strategy and tactics, and where necessary to adjust. However, it is not intended that every year the marketing strategy is completely revised, after all this is drawn up for the long term.

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Operational Marketing Plan

Step 7: Operational Marketing Plan

Operational marketing plan and audit. How to implement and realize the chosen marketing strategy and tactical marketing mix. Without this final step, all the previous work of your marketing plan would be completely unnecessary. Your operational marketing plan concerns the implementation and evaluation of the marketing strategy and its marketing mix. Usually the operational marketing plan is plotted for the coming year, and can be incorporated into an annual marketing plan.

Gantt chart

To create a schedule to implement your marketing mix and various marketing activities the Gantt chart lends itself extremely well. This model shows a diagrammatic timeline on which various marketing activities are planned. Even when certain marketing activities get delayed, the Gantt chart makes it easy to reschedule successive operations.

Key performance indicators

Key performance indicators are an important way to gain insight into the implementation of your marketing strategy. Set pre-defined key performance indicators which reflect whether the organization is still on the right track when executing your marketing plan. Use these KPIs (key performance indicators) at the level of marketing strategy, marketing tactics and marketing operations. The latter include budgets and planning.

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