When we try to analyze the current marketing activities of any organization, we will get to understand that there is a major priority for the creation of marketing plans and adjacent activities – the main purpose is to attract customers, increase the business, and create more revenues. Although marketing planning is vital, it should be a component of a vision relating to marketing and not just business – which is about making revenues.
If we tried to understand the purpose of a company and why any company in the world is operating, we would know that regardless of any other reason it is all about profit – the more the business the more the profit the company will be making.
The only component of marketing which is associated with that concept is sales, as the more the sales the more the business and the more the profit. Marketing on the other hand is more about understanding the market, understanding the customers, the creation of products and services based on that, and then comes sales.
The Difference between Marketing Strategy and Plan:
The creation of a marketing strategy is much more complicated than the marketing plan, as it provides direction to how the business wants to be represented in the market place, which caters to a specific segment of the customers, who would appreciate doing business with the company, which is as well congruent with the business strategy and direction of the organization.
Later comes the market plan, which discusses the competitors, the market place, the prices, the products and services which will be introduced/or are available, the channels which will be used to get the market messages to the audience (depending on the type of the audience and their frequently used channels), and then sales will gradually increase.
Challenges for Marketers:
There are many challenges that marketers face, the first is that usually the focus is on market planning and not the strategy itself – that’s why marketing plans don’t have any objectives and thus there is no return on investment (ROI) other than brand awareness.
The second challenge is that usually what is expected from marketing is the same as what is from sales – is to increase the sales of the company’s products and services with the marketing activities performed, even when the marketing activities should only reflect the marketing strategy which is the direction of a company (that will lead to more sales but will not create sales).
The third challenge is that there are many concepts that were introduced in the marketing world, but uninformed marketers fail to apply in the real world. For example, content marketing and the added value that can be created to the marketing plan – usually the content strategy is provided by the external agencies the company deals with (if requested) and not included in the marketing strategy the company should focusing on.
The other unapplied marketing planning is social media; the creation of a social media channel doesn’t mean this part of marketing has been fulfilled. A marketing channel which has been created without a marketing strategy is a redundant resource that might have communication with audience, but not the right audience the company targets and will not ultimately lead to more sales as it is not congruent with the marketing strategy that should be in place.
Finally, there is the marketing-competitor strategy that most of the companies don’t have in place. Marketing activities (part of the marketing plan) again only support the direction of the organization, but in that direction there are many competitors who have their own marketing activities as well. The marketing-competitor strategy describes how the competitors would react (after classifying the competitors) against the marketing activities performed by the organization and should the organization counter these activities.
Creating the Marketing Strategy:
The main questions to ask are: who you are, what makes you different in the market, why customers should buy from you and not the competitors – your unique selling proposition (USP).
Based on your unique selling proposition, which customers in the market would be attracted by your brand, their demographics, their budgets and price ranges, the current competitors they are dealing with?
What are the products/services that the customers who were attracted by your brand buy, what are the benefits of those services, would the prices be reasonable?
What is the message(s) that you will create to position your products/services in the market, are they luxurious, cheap and affordable, convenient…
What are the methods that you will depend on to get your marketing messages out; advertising, online marketing, direct marketing, public relations…?