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What is the role of marketing strategy and planning in a business?
As a number of literature and empirical research underline the importance of marketing strategy and planning (Cannon 1978; Drechsler et al. 2013; Bearden 2001), this paper aims to demonstrate the importance of strategic marketing planning and to discuss their roles in the business. It will be divided into three parts. First, related literature will be reviewed to define marketing strategy and planning. Then, the paper discusses marketing strategy and planning’s functions. And in the final part of the paper, example from venture project will be illustrated to display how these functions apply.
Marketing strategy and planning’s definition
Strategy provides direction and exhibits long-term objective, in which all organizational approaches and resource allocation need to relate to (Jain et al. 2012; Porter 2002). The strategy refers to three levels, corporate, business and marketing (Bearden, 2011), which need to be coherent and consistent to one other (Jain et al. 2012). Corporate strategy provides overall organizational guideline, such as corporate vision and establishment of key business objectives, whereas, strategy in business level relates to overall market, for instance, a market scope (Bearden, 2001). In marketing level, strategy will specifically deal with the marketing mix, target market and marketing execution (Bearden, 2001), for example, unique selling point (USP) proposition, pricing strategy, finance and operations (Lavinsky 2013; Githens 2011).
While strategy frames direction, planning deals with detailed implementation and determines a mean in terms of timing and sequence (Jain et al. 2012). It displays what and how to execute strategies in detail (Bearden, 2001), and includes contingency plans to cope with unexpected situations (Schilit, 1987). There is a slightly difference between marketing strategy and planning terms, nevertheless, they are, somehow, relevant.
Strategic marketing planning’s roles
While marketing strategy functions as a guideline or ‘what-to-do’, marketing planning associates with ‘how-to’ implement those strategies (Jain et al. 2012; Lake n.d.). As
these two concepts show a mutual supported process (Lake, n.d.), a combination between two areas, strategic marketing planning (SMP) is emerged. SMP is a term to describe a strategic guideline that all organizational staff undertakes to yield expected outcomes (Baker 2007; Lorette n.d.). So, the following section will focus on SMP by describing factors that shape marketing strategy and SMP’s functions in a business.
Supported by Cannon (1978), Jain et al. (2012) proposed that marketing strategy concerns with external assessment, which are customer’s needs and competitor analysis, and internal evaluation, which is company’s capability. The interplay among these three pillars, or 3Cs’ analysis, shapes marketing strategy (Hernandez, 2013). Consequently, strategic marketing reflects customer’s needs, creates product differentiations and corresponds to company’s capabilities properly (Nyström 1986; Hernandez 2013; Drechsler et al. 2013).
Based on aforementioned planning characteristics and three strategy’s factors, strategic marketing planning yields four main beneficial functions (Blythe and Megicks 2010; Lorette n.d.). First of all, (1) SMP minimises potential risks related to inconsistency between marketing plan and customers’ needs (Cannon, 1978). As a well-conducted research reflects true customers’ needs, marketers could launch desirable product that match to the market. Secondly, (2) a well-organized SMP generates sustainable competitive advantages, such as distinct unique selling point. Thirdly, (3) SMP is a guideline for marketers to pursue business goals regards to certain aspects, for example, it shows financial forecast and clear-cut role allocation, leading to effective financial management and operational efficiency. Lastly, (4) as SMP includes 3C’s model analysis, potential opportunities in the future are identified (Schilit, 1987).
Overall, SMP plays important roles, which relates to customer (a desirable product that serves market’s needs), competitors (the marketing mix differentiation), and company (an effective resource allocation). It also allows marketers to recognize future opportunity if SMP has been developed properly (Schilit, 1987).
Example: Foodmates, a student cooking community application
To demonstrating SMP functions, this following example, a venture project, will be illustrated. Foodmates is a cooking community application for Manchester-based students. To initiate this idea, marketing strategy was established according to three pillars, which are customer, competitor and company.
With respect to customer, we reviewed secondary data and conduct primary research to identify opportunities that we could tap into. Students in Manchester represent potential market with specific needs and problems. Three vital student-related implications were raised, which are the lack of cooking skills, high mobile application penetration rate, and active social network interaction. We also included questions to test Foodmates’ conceptual idea. This will ensure that Foodmates will not be rejected from the market. Consequently, our business will bear less of potential risks that might be posed.
As cooking application is in a highly competitive market, we analyse competitors’ strategies and their marketing mix, to create differentiation. According to these analyses, we hold on to our 3S’s USP, which are student-focused, simple recipes and sharing community, as our distinct attributes. Foodmates is the online cooking space, where Manchester-based students can contribute their simple recipes to others by posting food pictures with described recipes. This mechanic encourages sharing simple menus, which makes us different from other cooking applications.
In company’s assessment aspect, we did financial forecast to estimate start-up budget and considered who should take responsible for particular jobs. Even though they were hypothetically estimated, it allows us to get a picture of what aspects marketing plan should include, and how marketing plan plays a role as a roadmap to achieve business goals.
In conclusion, marketing strategy determines direction, while planning relates to mean and implementation. The integration between these two aspects triggers strategic
marketing planning (SMP) process. The roles of SMP are primarily based on three essential dimensions, which are customer, competitor and company. An effective SMP will reflect customers’ needs so it lowers product’s failure rate in particular market. Moreover, it creates not only product differentiation, but also effective resource allocation within the company. By consider customer, competitor and company aspects, the ultimate goal of SMP is a company’s sustainable success over other competitors in the market.
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