Strategic marketing: what it is and how to do it in 5 steps

What is strategic marketing and what is it for? Strategic marketing is the discipline that allows you to gather the information and data that you will then use to design an effective marketing plan for your company.

Thanks to it you will have the opportunity to decide in which context to compete your business and which will be your optimal target audience. Above all, you will be able to create targeted and aware promotional campaigns through which you can acquire not only new customers but also a leadership position in the market in which you operate.

To do this you will need to get to know the communication channels and tools available, especially the digital ones. This ability can be developed with a specific training course, such as Digital Marketing Course. If you want to learn more right now, I invite you to take a look.

Do you have a small or medium-sized business or are you a freelancer and want to give your business a better chance of success? Then, read on. I will explain:

  • what does strategic marketing mean;
  • what is strategic marketing for and what advantages does it bring;
  • what is the difference between strategic marketing and operational marketing;
  • what are the phases of a strategic marketing plan;
  • an example of an effective marketing strategy;
  • how to create a strategic marketing plan with the help of online tools.

What is strategic marketing?

But what does strategic marketing mean in practice? It means programming a series of useful actions for:

  • reach the target audience;
  • achieve business objectives;
  • position yourself competitively concerning the competition.

The ultimate goal of strategic marketing, therefore, is the definition of guidelines to follow to grow the business over time.

If you think that a marketing strategy can only be used by large companies, which have more than one hundred employees and aim at international markets, you are wrong. Strategic planning is important for any business, especially smaller ones. They are the ones who benefit most from the advantages of strategic marketing. Thanks to this they can, for example:

  • precisely identify the target audience, without wasting economic resources and time to intercept people who are not interested in their products/services;
  • differentiate yourself on the market so as not to offer a trivial product/service or in any case for which competitors are better positioned;
  • test various products and understand which ones may be the most suitable.

Before the digital age, determining how to make a strategic marketing plan could be very complex. Today, however, it has become easier because much of the information you need to make decisions can be found online (find out how to plan your strategy now through the Digital Strategy Course).

Strategic Marketing Vs Operational Marketing

What is the difference between strategic marketing and operational marketing? Often the two terms are confused, in reality, although closely connected, they are two distinct processes.

The first is related to strategic planning, and the second to its practical implementation. Operational and strategic marketing is part of the “battle plan” that you will have to prepare. Both are necessary to achieve market objectives, but they come into play at two different times: first, the strategy is defined and immediately afterward it is implemented.

Operational marketing allows the implementation of the strategic marketing plan through the use of marketing mix tools, defined by Philip Kotler through the “4P Model”.

An effective marketing strategy doesn’t have to fixate on just one message. By touching various areas it is possible to involve more people. Based on the “4Ps” means focusing on the most important aspects, namely:

  • Product/service: which must be designed to meet customer needs, differentiating it from competing products or services;
  • Price: must reflect how much people are willing to pay for a given product or service, so that it can compete in the market;
  • Point of sale (positioning): also in this case, the choice of the type of distribution (physical store, online, through intermediaries, direct, etc.) will depend on the type of product or service;
  • Promotion: concerns the type of activity necessary for the promotion of the product or service. Through which instruments and with which budget?

The careful selection of elements of the marketing mix is essential to fully and effectively implement the strategy.

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The 5 phases of strategic marketing

To define the marketing plan strategically, you must first study the market and the competition well. Furthermore, through the SWOT analysis, you must find strengths and weaknesses, opportunities and threats related to your business or freelance reality.

This preliminary analysis activity is typical of analytical marketing and allows you to have all the information and data necessary to develop your strategy.

strategic marketing management

Once the analysis is done, you can move on to planning the action plan.

How is strategic marketing done? Strategic marketing is a multi-step process, which can be summarized as follows:

  1. Identification of the reference target;
  2. Definition of priorities starting from the needs of the public;
  3. Market and competition analysis;
  4. Definition of own differentiating elements;
  5. Strategy planning.

Let’s see them in detail.

1. Identify the Buyer Personas

To do good strategic planning, it is first of all necessary to understand who the Buyer Personas are. By defining them, you will better understand what you have to do to reach them, what type of product/service to offer, and finally which channels to use.

The information to be collected on your reference target is age, gender, the geographical area in which they reside, work performed, income, needs, and solutions sought.

importance of strategic marketing

Subsequently, you can segment the audience based on specific parameters (demographic, social, behavioral, etc.) to be able to develop targeted actions on the various segments.

Segmentation is essential for doing strategic marketing; allows you to better understand the characteristics of consumers and to search for new sales opportunities. However, since this second activity is quite expensive if you have a small or medium-sized business I suggest you focus more on the more “safe” segments. That is, the people you already know will positively evaluate your offer.

2. Set goals

Once you have defined the people you want to address, you need to understand which needs of theirs you can satisfy. In strategic marketing, needs are necessities, such as food, water, or a home.

In addition to these primary needs, there are also psychological ones such as self-esteem, social acceptance, and security.

role of strategic marketing

When designing your offer you will have to ask yourself what your potential customers are looking for and what needs you can satisfy with your products/services. Based on the offer, therefore, you can define the business objectives to be achieved and the metrics to be considered to measure performance (KPI, Key Performance Indicator).

Specifically, your goals should be:

  • realistic;
  • measurable;
  • attainable;
  • clear.

Only in this way will you be able to make the best use of the resources at your disposal and develop effectively feasible marketing strategies.

3. Analyze the market and competition

The third phase of the strategic marketing process concerns the study of the market and the competition. In particular, in this phase it is necessary :

  • Study the existing market and the new market where the company can enter thanks to the web component. It is essential to evaluate the niche to which they belong (if it belongs to a niche) and consequently the demographic and psychographic characteristics of consumers. In this way it will be possible to choose whether to direct one’s communication to the entire online public or only to specific segments;
  • Benchmarking, i.e. evaluating competitors analysis. Of these it is necessary to analyze all the online channels on which they are present, the type of clientele they address, the strategies they adopt, and the results they obtain. It will thus be possible to replicate its effectiveness while defining one or more elements that can distinguish the company from the competition to increase its competitive advantage. Then replicate what already works for others and innovate where necessary.

4. Find your differentiating value

The stage of strategic marketing is the positioning of the offer, i.e. for which product or service you want to be unique to your target audience.

To do this, you must find a differentiating factor that can relate to one of the many aspects that your product or service. These can concern the technical characteristics, performance, shape, duration, reliability, and why not, customization.

stage of strategic marketing

To make your differentiator more impactful, it should be:

  • relevant and add features that bring primary benefits to your customers;
  • distinctive, therefore clear and immediate;
  • perceptible and understandable ;
  • sustainable over time.

5. Define the marketing strategy

The last phase consists in drafting the marketing plan or in defining the actions to be taken to achieve the pre-established market objectives.

When planning your marketing strategy you must take into account all the information, evaluations, and choices made during the previous phases. In particular, you need to consider current and future market trends and seek to deliver value and innovation to your audience.

drafting the strategic marketing plan

Furthermore, you must try to better address the communication plan by optimizing the use of the resources at your disposal, especially the economic ones.

Once this is done, you can move on to the operational part. By its nature, strategic marketing activity brings results in the medium to long term. Therefore, it takes three to five years to start seeing interesting results.

4 indispensable tools for strategic marketing

Digital has made it easier to create a strategic marketing plan. Social networks or websites, for example, are very useful for studying the target audience, interests, and preferences. In addition, they allow you to test different products and services to see which perform better.

To do this, however, you must resort to tools that allow you to collect and process the “raw” information deriving from these digital communication channels. So let’s see, specifically, some online tools for strategic marketing.

1. Google Analytics

Google Analytics allows you to analyze user behavior on your website. Fundamental for strategic marketing because it allows you to understand what kind of people visit your site, which pages they view most frequently, and what type of products they buy. Furthermore, it allows you to have detailed information such as age, gender, and geographical area. Not bad, right?

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2. Audience Insights

An excellent potential customer analysis tool, useful for achieving your marketing goals, is offered by Facebook. Audience Insights helps you learn more about your audience’s interests and the content they enjoy. The information collected can be useful for you to define the offer and to decide how and with which language you bring to the public.

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3. A/B testing and Landing Pages

A Landing Page is a “landing page” with which you can attract the attention of a user and convert him into a customer. By creating different Landing Pages, you can test various product proposals and understand which ones work best and which ones you can focus on.

4. Advertising

Advertising can also play an important role in strategic marketing. Whether they are paid campaigns with Facebook or Google Ads, you will be able to understand which product, service, and tone of voice works with your audience.

Example of strategic marketing

To better understand how strategic marketing works and how it is done in practice, I will now give you an example of a marketing plan from a strategic perspective.

Suppose you have decided to start your own business as a personal shopper, or as a consultant who takes care of people’s image and looks to find the identity that best represents them. Your strategic marketing goal is therefore to analyze the situation to best prepare your market positioning.

how strategic marketing works

In the first phase, therefore, you will have to ask yourself who your ideal customers are: how old they are, where they live, and what work they do. Let’s assume that your Buyer Personas are women aged between thirty and forty, who live in Milan and hold managerial roles. Basically, they are very busy people who are investing in their careers and need to dress well-groomed and comfortably at the same time.

In the planning phase, to identify opportunities, the construction of a positioning map is essential. You have to find market niches not yet covered by your competitors and find your ideal positioning, based on the characteristics chosen by your potential customers for their clothing.

In the second stage of developing your marketing strategy, you must decide what customer needs you intend to satisfy. Do you want to offer image consultancy only or would you also like to accompany them in the purchase of clothing and accessories? Let’s say you decide to do both.

At this point you have to find a way to differentiate yourself from other personal shoppers, identifying some unique and distinctive aspect of your offer. Only in this way will you be able to make yourself special in the eyes of your ideal client. What can you do? For example, you can offer a service for the creation and production of original, unique, and distinctive accessories for your customers. This is the so-called “differentiation advantage” that you can offer to your customers.

All these choices put in sequence define your strategic positioning. In planning, defining positioning can help you better build the offer and tailor it as much as possible to your buyer. But, above all, it helps you avoid launching yet another trivial product aimed at everyone and therefore, in reality, not aimed at anyone.

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Conclusions and free advice

As you will have understood, to do marketing in a strategic way you have to work step by step and define a precise, detailed, and sustainable action plan over time. Digital marketing, and more specifically digital tools and channels, can be of great help to you in this regard. You can use them in analytical, strategic, and operational marketing by simplifying preliminary analysis, strategic planning, and strategy implementation.

By understanding and using the online tools I have told you about, therefore, you will be able to make a difference in your professional future and give your business real opportunities for success.

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