This article examines marketing strategy from the perspective of its definition, objectives, and components. The author explores the intellectual history of the notion of marketing strategy, including the disciplines that have influenced the concept’s development

Marketing strategy is a long-term, forward looking approach to planning with the fundamental goal achieving a sustainable competitive advantage. Strategic planning involves an analysis of the company’s strategic initial situation prior to the formulation, evaluation and selection of market oriented competitive position that contributes to the company’s goals and marketing objectives. Marketing time, consumers have path to access product as well as marketer have opportunity direct/indirect contact with their customers. Then marketing .

Journal description

Journal of Strategic Marketing publishes papers on key aspects of the interface between marketing and strategic management. It is a vehicle for discussing long-range activities where marketing has a role to play in managing the long-term objectives and strategies of companies. The objectives of the Journal are as follows: To bridge the disciplines of marketing and strategic management, and to address the development of knowledge concerning the role that marketing has to play in the management of strategy. To provide a vehicle for the advancement of knowledge in the field of strategic marketing and to stimulate research in this area. To consider the role of marketing as an orientation of management at the strategic level of organizations. Explore the overall management of the marketing function within total corporate management, with particular focus on issues of concern to marketing managers, directors and vice presidents. To publish state of the art papers, empirical research results, practical aspects of theory, case studies, new methodological developments, conceptual developments, and to encourage published discussion on articles. Issues that the Journal covers include: Marketing philosophy in corporate management. The role of marketing in strategic planning. Marketing information systems in relation to company wide needs. Market and industry stakeholder needs. International strategies. SBU analysis and decision making. Marketing related synergies. Integrating marketing planning with strategic planning. The management of marketing-led change. The development and utilization of marketing plans. Resource allocation in strategic and marketing plans. HRM related to marketing personnel. The implementation of strategic and marketing plans. Marketing effectiveness at the operational and strategic levels. The utilization and development of control systems.

Marketing Strategies – Definitions Provided by Michael E.Porter, Cundiff, Still, Govoni and Philip Kotler

Stated in simple terms, marketing strategy of a firm is the complete and unbeatable plan or instrument designed specifically for attaining the marketing objectives of the firm. The marketing objectives will tell us where the firm wants to go; the marketing strategy will provide the design for getting there.

According to Michael E. Porter, “Marketing strategy has mainly one aim to cope with competition …. There are five major and vital forces that decide the nature and intensity of competition the threat of new entrants, bargaining power of customers, and bargaining power of suppliers, threat of substitute products and the jockeying among the existing contestants…. The collective strength of these forces determines the ultimate profit potential of an industry. And the strategist’s goal is to find a position in the industry where his company can best defend itself against these forces or can influence them in his company’s favour…. Strategy can be viewed as building defence against the competitive forces.”

The marketing of goods and services goes all over the world round the clock. Millions of marketing activities takes place every day involving individuals, groups, business and government. These activities are parts of the marketing processes. Marketing management’s job is to ensure that these activities are co-ordinated into an integrated system. This requires an overall marketing strategy, a plan that optimizes marketing inputs to achieve maximum business surplus.

Marketing strategy means the game plan’ that the market will use in attaining the objectives of the business.

“Basically, a company’s overall marketing strategy is its competitive posture in the market place. Formulating an overall marketing strategy requires integration of all dimensions of the marketing effort”. — Cundiff, Still and Govoni

Again, Prof. Philip Kotler of the North-Western University defines marketing strategy as follows:

“Marketing strategy is the basic approach that the business unit will use to attain its goals and which comprises of elaborate decisions (strategies) on largest markets, market positioning and mix and marketing expenditure allocation. Moreover, the marketer should take care of the other two strategic aspects, viz., expected environment and competitive conditions while determining the marketing strategy”. — Prof. Philip Kotler

Once deciding over the game plan, the next task of the marketer is to develop or elaborate each element of the marketing strategy. The marketer’s first task is to choose a potential market and identify its needs and patterns, after which it formulates strategies for each controllable (product, place, price and promotion).

And, it is the management which manipulates the controllable in terms of the non-controllable in such a way which can meet both the target market’s needs and wants and helps to attain the company’s overall objectives. Now to perform these tasks managements streamlined product market, distribution, promotion and pricing strategies into an overall marketing strategy.

The marketing department (or, the marketer) while establishing and implementing an overall marketing strategy mainly take care in identifying opportunities to serve the target markets in such a way which frustrates (Thwarts) other competitors efforts to take the business away on a profitable basis.

Finally, the need and importance of an overall marketing strategy varies, with the competitive setting. A small change with respect to any controllable or non-controllable calls for the re-evaluation of the entire marketing strategy.

Strategic Marketing Examples

To help you understand how strategic marketing works, let’s take a look at an example of non-strategic marketing then compare it to a well-executed example.

Strategic marketing gone bad. Imagine a mid-sized accounting firm. They are eager to grow but have no real plan for how to accomplish it.

Their “marketing plan” is little more than a list of activities and their associated costs. There is no overall strategy that ties these activities to their growth objectives. They have tried a variety of marketing ideas drawn from conversations with peers and trendy techniques they have read about. There is no systematic strategy or process that guides their use of marketing resources.

The firm offers the services their clients routinely ask for, and they look to competitors to gauge the effectiveness of their pricing and marketing materials. They believe that superior client service is why clients choose them, but they have never done any systematic research to verify this assumption.

This follow-the-herd marketing mentality, of course, does nothing to differentiate the firm from all the other mid-sized firms out there. Sadly, this way of thinking is all too common.

Now, let’s contrast this approach against a similarly sized firm that has taken a strategic approach to their marketing.

Strategic marketing done right. Now image another mid-sized accounting firm. They also want to grow organically. But they have decided to do that by differentiating themselves from other accounting firms to gain a sustainable competitive advantage.

They start by conducting systematic research into their best clients. This knowledge allows them to identify existing strengths they can build upon. Based on this business analysis, they decide to specialize in the hospitality sector — an industry where they have a solid track record of success and a handful of high-profile clients.

As their understanding of the sector grows, they begin to offer specialized bundled service/ software packages to complement their full suite of traditional audit, tax and consulting. Their fastest growing segment is their new, high-value operational consulting practice for hospitality businesses.

The firm identifies topics of intense interest to their target clients, and they write and speak on these issues regularly at industry events. Their superior knowledge of the industry and specialized services gives them a distinct advantage when they speak with prospects.

Today, the firm offers regular industry-focused webinars and has clients all over the country. They command premium fees and are growing at about 5X the industry average.

As these two examples show, strategic marketing can affect many aspects of a firm’s policies, priorities and operations. These changes can transform a firm’s fortunes.

New Marketing Strategies for Higher Growth

Professional services buyers are changing. As consumers, we have grown accustomed to searching online to educate ourselves and find products and services. We expect transparency online, and we are used to finding exactly what we are looking for. Many of us also rely on social media and peer reviews to validate our choices.

It’s no surprise, then, that these changing expectations are transforming B2B sales. Potential clients are looking to solve their problems and determine who has specific expertise they need. To get answers, they search online, attend webinars, talk with peers and attend conferences. Because online research is quicker and easier than soliciting advice and referrals the traditional way, it is becoming increasingly popular.

So what do these changes mean for professional services marketers? Simply put, our marketing strategies need to reflect the new realties of buyer behavior.

Let’s look at ten of the most promising new marketing strategies to consider for your marketing plan. Some involve new technology, while others are a fresh take on an evergreen idea. Each of them addresses some part of the new normal and is worth considering.

  1. INCREASING THE VISIBILITY OF YOUR EXPERTISE

Expertise is the fundamental product that your clients buy. It is the top selection criterion and drives the final firm selection in three out of four new firm searches. But expertise is invisible. You can’t see it, touch it, or measure it directly. A potential client must experience it.

While some experts have become highly visible in their fields, their rise to prominence is often a gradual process over the course of their career. In our research, we have learned how prospects come to encounter and judge expertise — and we uncovered specific strategies and tactics that dramatically accelerate the visibility of true expertise. Many firms use strategic marketing to build the visibility of their experts.

  1. NICHE SPECIALIZATION

Professional services have always had specialists and generalists. But practical limitations such as geographic location and marketing reach have limited specialists’ advantages in the past.

That is changing. New communications technology (such as free video) and the widespread adoption of remote working have changed the playing field. Niche specialization has gained the clear upper hand.

  1. 360˚ MARKETING

“Be everywhere potential clients look for help” is more than a slogan. It’s the foundation of most marketing strategies. But where clients look is changing. Increasingly, they are looking online — so the obvious conclusion is that you need to be online, too.

Our research has shown that firms that use a balance of both traditional offline and online digital marketing techniques grow the fastest and are more profitable than those who employ only traditional marketing strategies. So while face-to-face marketing should be part of your marketing equation, an uninformed belief that “our clients don’t go online” can be dangerous to the health of your firm.

  1. PRODUCT/SERVICE BUNDLING

Clients need to find solutions to their challenges. Sometimes that solution takes the form of a software and services combination. Increasingly, professional services firms recognize that by pre-packaging a product/service combo they can create a lot of value for their clients.

Of course, you don’t have to bundle software with a service. It could be hardware or training, just as easily. The key is to come up with an integrated solution that saves the client time and money or produces another important benefit.

  1. SUB-BRANDING

Perhaps you’ve noticed another market segment that you could serve easily and profitably. But there is a problem. Serving that market would dilute your brand positioning. What do you do?

For an increasing number of firms the answer is to develop a separate brand devoted to the new market segment. Often, these new brands have some relationship to the parent brand, hence the sub-brand label. While common in other industries, this marketing strategy is now gaining more traction in professional services.

  1. NEW BUSINESS MODELS

Advances in technology have created the opportunity for new business models. In fact, technology has reshaped entire industries. From music to retailing to transportation, the Ubers, Airbnbs and Amazons of the world are redefining how business is configured.

Professional services are ripe for similar innovations. Artificial intelligence offers the possibility of dramatic changes in the cost and availability of services. Alternative pricing structures are obvious areas for experimentation, though there are many other avenues for creative exploration. The key is to think in terms of value to the client.

  1. MARKETING AUTOMATION

This is another area where technology has dramatically altered the marketing playing field. Firms now have access to a rapidly growing set of tools that can automate big chunks of the marketing process. The big challenge in professional services marketing has been to balance the need to remain billable with the need for personal attention to business development.

Marketing automation is addressing that challenge. With proper planning and preparation, the lead generation and nurturing process can be largely automated. This changes everything, including the individual professional’s role in the business development process. Marketing is evolving from an individual event to a team sport.

  1. OUTSOURCED MARKETING

Stick with your core. Concentrate on what you really do well. For many firms, that area of competence does not include marketing. While many industries have already been deeply involved in outsourcing, professional services have lagged behind. Some firms are still warming up to the whole concept of marketing.

This makes outsourcing an interesting alternative. Firms that lack a well-established marketing function can adopt outsourced marketing with relative ease. And because modern marketing demands a wide range of specialized skills, outsourcing to a sophisticated marketing agency can deliver a strategic advantage.

  1. HYPER-TARGETED ADVERTISING

Historically, advertising has not worked well for most professional services firms. Many B2B markets are difficult to target, and traditional ads have not been good at conveying expertise. But all of that is changing.

Today, online advertising can target specific companies or positions within well-defined niches. And, of course, you can easily link to downloadable content that demonstrates your expertise. This means that you can hyper-target a message that communicates your firm’s expertise. New strategies are emerging that would have been impractical even a few years ago.

  1. SIGNATURE CONTENT

Signature content refers to content that is unique to your firm and of high value to potential clients. Examples include annual industry surveys or a ranking of companies in your target industries. Many firms have also been built around a best selling book. A few firms have even published their own print magazines or journals.

More recently, we have seen the emergence of specialized series, such as podcasts or webinar series, as another route to signature content. And while blogs have become quite common, some firms have gone above and beyond to make their blogs “must reads” for their prime targets.

The key to using signature content as part of your marketing strategy is to make sure that it is truly valuable to your target audience.

Next, let’s turn our attention to how you turn these new ideas and insights into a coherent strategic marketing plan.

Conclusion

Marketing strategy are the result of a meticulous market analysis. A thorough analysis of the competitive advantages allow a company to create a competitive marketing strategy. The idea behind a competitive marketing strategy is that if you do what your competitors are doing, you will not be able to outperform them.

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