Marketing Strategy

Marketing Strategy

The concept of marketing is inherently simple having the basic principle that the success of the organization is through a process of understanding and meeting customer needs. Though this is a simple concept, organization still need something as complicated, and time consuming, as a marketing strategy. While basic marketing principles can be simple common sense, achievement involves several complex, inter-dependent, or even conflicting tasks. Increasingly, such tasks are undertaken against a back-drop of constant change, intense competition, and limited resources. For further improving the challenge, marketing personnel are frequently at the mercy of incomplete data and unexpected events, frequently being left to ‘second guess’ customer and competitor reactions. It is to this end that the marketing strategy has become a vital component of success.

In order to remain viable and competitive in the market and to earn and maximize profit, the organizational management is required to plan its marketing strategy by focusing on market study and product mix. Marketing strategies helorganizations to sort out such ways which keeps it connected to the customers by delivering them their messages continuously and to keep a perfect combination between sales and marketing activities.

A marketing strategy is a marketing plan designed to achieve marketing objectives. A marketing strategy is a process or model to allow the organization to focus the available limited resources on the best opportunities to increase sales and hence achieve a sustainable competitive advantage. Marketing strategy includes all basic and long-term activities in the field of marketing which deal with the analysis of the strategic initial situation of the organization and the formulation, evaluation, and selection of market-oriented strategies and hence contributes to the marketing goals and objectives of the organization.

A strategy denotes a process of figuring out the ways of achieving the objectives, and the marketing strategy refers to a set of procedures aimed at improving the organizational sales, profitability, and earning competitive advantage in the market. It can be called the base of any organizational plan. In order to remain viable and competitive in the market and for earning and maximizing the profit, the organization is required to plan its marketing strategy by focusing on market study and product mix. Marketing strategy helps the organization to sort out such ways which keep it connected to the customers by delivering them their messages continuously and to keep a perfect combination between sales and marketing activities.

Marketing strategy combines all the marketing goals of the organization into one comprehensive plan. A good marketing strategy is to be drawn from market study and focus on the right product mix in order to achieve maximum profit potential and to sustain in the organizational operations. It can be said that the marketing strategy is the foundation of a marketing plan. Marketing strategy is a small part of the organizational strategy since it also deals with operations, manufacturing, and procurement etc. Marketing strategy deals with marketing mix, organizational environment, distribution, and other marketing related areas. For the organization, both the organizational strategy as well as marketing strategy is important to move forward. Marketing strategy provides the organization an edge over its competitors. Strategy helps in developing products with best profit-making potential. It helps organization to make optimum utilization of its resources.

Definitions – Oxford dictionary defines strategy is a plan of action or policy designed to achieve a major or overall aim. David Aaker has defined marketing strategy as a process which can allow the organization to concentrate its resources on the optimal opportunities with the goals of increasing sales and achieving a sustainable competitive advantage. Marketing strategy is the organizational integrated pattern of decisions which specify its crucial choices concerning products, markets, marketing activities and marketing resources in the creation, communication and / or delivery of products which offer value to customers in exchanges with the organization and hence enables the organization to achieve specific objectives.

Marketing strategy is a construct which lies at the conceptual heart of the field of strategic marketing and is central to the practice of marketing. It is also the area within which several of the most pressing present challenges identified by marketing personnel arise. Marketing strategy indicates a significant element of success for the organization. Globally, marketing strategy has become a driver for customer value creation and competitiveness. Marketing strategy emphasizes how the organization can distinguish from its competitors, to benefit its customers which ultimately impacts competitiveness.

Marketing strategy is a forward-looking long-term approach to planning with the fundamental goal of achieving a sustainable competitive advantage. As per Philip Kotler and Kevin Keller, the marketing strategy lays out target markets and the value proposition which is offered based on an analysis of the best market opportunities. The difference between ‘strategic’ and ‘managerial’ marketing is used to differentiate two phases having different goals and based on different conceptual tools. Strategic marketing deals with policies aiming at improving the competitive position of the organization, taking into account the challenges and opportunities proposed by the organizational environment. On the other hand, managerial marketing deals with implementation of specific targets.

Marketing strategy is about ‘lofty visions translated into less lofty and practical goals (while marketing management) are where the management starts to get its hands dirty and make plans for things to happen’. Marketing strategy also called higher order planning since it sets out the broad direction and provides guidance and structure to the organizations for their marketing programme. Marketing strategy makes maps for organizational direction for the forthcoming planning periods. It takes a 360-degree review of the organization and its operating environment with a view to identifying new marketing opportunities which the organization can potentially leverage for competitive edge. Strategic planning opens the threats which the organization can need to consider for long-term sustainability.

Importance of marketing strategy – Marketing strategy provides competitive edge to the organization. Marketing strategy carries considerable significance for the organization. It is a result from the corporative strategy of the organization and assists its realization through specific methods, activities, and instruments, oriented towards provision of services for the target groups of the organization.

Nature of the marketing strategy – The definition of the market strategy’s nature is extremely important for its correspondent development, application, and efficiency. There are large number of different definitions for the scope of the marketing area. The analysis of these definitions shows that the strategy is defined as a combination of approaches and methods, means or a plan for action, description or ways of combination, formula for competitive organization. In short, the marketing strategy is a way towards the right direction. Undoubtedly, it has the nature of a plan, and in this sense, it can be viewed as a complex of purposeful activities.

The common in all definitions is that the desired result is the realization of the aims of the organization through the elements of the marketing mix, which is the formula for success. A pre-condition for effectiveness is the satisfaction of needs and preferences, the feeling for the products as the customer’s own. Since the product cannot satisfy all preferences, the knowledge for leading criteria and decision making while purchasing an item are crucial. In the contemporary marketing paradigm of relationships, the main differentiating approach is the spirituality.

Based on analysis on the leading contemporary theories, the definition frequently suggested is ‘the marketing strategy is a planned complex of purposeful activities, containing the elements of the marketing mix, as per the market possibilities and resources of the organization, assisting for the achievement of the differentiated competitive advantage, through which the marketing aim is achieved’.

Marketing strategy is a decisive factor in determining the ways to achieve the organizational marketing goals. Since it is a main stage of the marketing planning process, it aims to build its own marketing concept to determine the strategic market position, directions for development and maintenance of the organization competitiveness. The implementation of the set concept is unthinkable without the effective marketing of the organizational products and services. The development of a set of managerial decisions regarding the allocation of organizational resources aims to achieve a long-term competitive advantage in the target market. This in turn implies the use of a variety of tools to support the strategic marketing decision-making process.

Marketing strategy is a substantial driving force which differentiates the success of several organizations by conceptualizing and implementing a good marketing strategy with clear demarcation about how, when, and where the organization competes and by choosing the best marketing strategy decision options. A good marketing strategy ensures the use of limited resources to the point of optimum utilization in achieving the marketing objectives of the organization.

The marketing strategy can be divided into two basic activities namely (i) marketing strategy planning and choice of decisions, and (ii) marketing strategy decision implementation. Hence, it becomes necessary for the management to decide the nature of resources available and their usage before charting out a marketing plan. Priorities need to be set in order to understand the goals and objectives of the organization with clarity. Marketing strategies can be formal, and improvisational.

Marketing strategy sets out the broad principles by which the organization expects to achieve its marketing goals in the target market. It consists of basic solutions for total marketing costs, marketing mix, and distribution. It is frequently considered in terms of selection and analysis of target market, creation and maintaining of marketing mix which satisfies customers in the target market. It is no coincidence that the marketing strategy is defined as a powerful weapon with the help of which the present-day organization can resist the changing conditions. However, its main meaning is that it describes how the organization can use its resources or strengths to take advantage of the established market opportunities and achieve individual and lasting competitive advantages. Based on the this, it can be summarized that the marketing strategy is a set of solutions, principles, methods and ways to achieve the organizational goals in a certain period of time.

Although marketing strategies vary from organization-to-organization, they contain several key elements. These are the product market of the organization, investments, strategic assets, competencies, and functional areas of the organization. Since they are directly related to the achievement of organizational goals, they include defining marketing goals, environmental analysis, planning, organization and management of the marketing mix, providing a competitive advantage, defining the target market and satisfying consumer needs, allocation and use of resources to achieve marketing goals, and determining marketing costs.

A marketing strategy is needed to take major marketing related decisions before-hand so as to ensure proper implementation of marketing plans in future. Such decisions include the objectives, goals, and priorities of the organization, adapting these objectives into marketing-related goal criteria, and formulate and articulate the preferred achievement levels for each goal. Sometimes, these goals or objectives can overlap each other or can be incompatible to each other. For example, the organizational growth revenue and margin growth are difficult to achieve simultaneously.

A well-considered, effectively implemented, marketing strategy goes some way to lessening the afore-mentioned issues and reducing the complexity of organizational tasks. Marketing strategy is required to restore simplicity to the art of management. In essence, it is a series of tools and techniques which guide the organization to the marketing panacea, i.e., success through a process of understanding and meeting customer needs.

In a strategic role, marketing strategy aims to transform corporate objectives and the organizational strategy into a competitive market position. Essentially, the concern is to differentiate the organizational actives / products by meeting customer needs more effectively than competitors. Marketing strategy can by characterized by (i) analyzing the marketing environment of the organization and defining specific customer needs, (ii) matching actives / products to customers segments, and (iii) implementing programmes which achieve a competitive position, superior to competitors. Hence, marketing strategy addresses three elements namely customers, competitors and internal corporate issues. Fig 1a gives the basis for the marketing strategy.

Fig 1 Marketing strategy

For marketing strategy firstly, the customers are to be considered, then the market is defined, the existence of the segments is determined, and the targets are determined. Secondly, the organization is to best establish a competitive position. A precursor to this is a detailed understanding of the organizational competitors within targeted market segments. Finally, the need is to be determined for matching the internal organizational capabilities with customer need. The successful achievement of these factors enables the organization to develop, and maintain, a strong market position. Essentially, a marketing strategy aims to deliver the following.

Segmentation – This process breaks the market down into groups displaying common characteristics, behaviours and attitudes. Fundamentally, this process aims to understand need and forecast reaction and / or demand.

Targeting – This involves evaluating and selecting market segments. The organization aims to look for opportunities which are sustainable, where it can build long term relationships with customers.

Positioning – As previously stated, the organization establishes a distinctive superior position, relative to competitors. The competitive position adopted, is to be based on matching product attributes to the customer need.

It goes without saying that the three key constituents of marketing strategy, i.e., customers, competitors and internal organizational factors, are dynamic and constantly changing. Hence, the organization is to develop and deploy processes, procedures and techniques, which ensure that the market strategy is (i) relative to needs of the present / future organizational environment, (ii) sustainable, (iii) generating optimal benefits to both the organization and the customers and (iv) correctly implemented. This is also the process of strategic marketing management.

The marketing strategy development process has three distinct phases namely (i) strategic analysis, (ii) formulation of marketing strategy, and (iii) implementation of marketing strategy.

Strategic analysis – For moving forward, the organization is to know where it stands presently. This stage entails a detailed examination of the organizational environment, customers, and an internal review of the organization itself. Tools such as portfolio analysis and industry structure models help management to objectively assess the present position of the organization. Equally, it is important to develop some view regarding future trends. This is achieved through forecasting and defining assumptions about the future market trends.

Marketing strategy sometimes claims to provide an answer to one of the most difficult questions for the understanding of competitive markets, i.e., how to recognize and achieve an economic advantage which endures. In attempting to do so, marketing strategy, as with the field of strategy itself, has had to address the continual balance between strategy formulation and strategic implementation. At the same time, it has also to address a perhaps more fundamental issue that how far, at least from a demand or market perspective, the organization ever develops general rules for achieving enduring economic advantage.

Developing and executing marketing strategy is central to the practice of marketing. Recent studies regarding the top challenges facing marketing personnel reveal several issues within the area of marketing strategy which include (i) how to create organizational structure which enables better development of marketing strategy which helps to navigate and adapt to the changing customer and organizational needs, (ii) how to choose the optimal set of marketing strategy to drive outcomes given competing priorities and countless internal and external stake-holders, and (iii) how to lead organization-wide personnel in developing and implementing the marketing strategy which creates higher customer centricity and engagement. Since developing and executing marketing strategy is central to what marketing personnel do in practice, studies relevant to understanding these activities is key to establishing the relevance of the discipline of marketing. Better understanding the state of marketing strategy knowledge is also important for developing understanding in marketing.

It has been found that there is no consensus on the technology of forming a marketing strategy. Some marketing specialists consider the analysis of the environment as a first stage of the process in order to determine the present situation and to forecast the market trends. In order to formulate the marketing strategy, it is necessary to define clearly the goal, to specify the market / market segment, competitive advantages for the organization, main competitors, ways of strategy implementation and the desired results. The definition of primary (and secondary) target market, product, pricing, distribution, and integrated marketing communication strategy in the process. In this regard, it is noticed that each organization is required to develop at least as many marketing strategies as the elements of the marketing mix which are to be used to achieve the goals. The technology of the process includes three main stages namely preliminary, actual, and final. Fig 2 shows the three stages during the development of the marketing strategy.

Fig 2 Development of the marketing strategy

Formulation of marketing strategy – Developing a marketing strategy is not a unified process. It depends on the experience, the specifics of the activity, the capabilities of the organization, and the views of the management team etc. However, marketing strategy is to be clearly and precisely formulated, feasible within the set deadlines and with the necessary resources, subordinates and in consistent with the normal organizational goals, measurable, and consistent with market conditions.

Having analyzed the situation, the organization then determine a way forward. Formulation involves defining strategic intent i.e., the overall goals and objectives of the organization. Organization is required to formulate a marketing strategy which generates competitive advantage and positions the products of the organization effectively. To be successful, this is to be based on core competencies. During this stage, product development and innovation are strategic activities, offering the potential to improve competitive position and further develop the products and the brands. Additionally, formulation emphasizes the need to form relationships with customers and other organizations. Increasingly, the organization starts recognizing that it cannot do everything itself and looks to form joint ventures and partnerships. The formulation stage ends with the development of a strategic marketing plan.

Implementation of marketing strategy – During this phase, consideration needs to be given to the implementation of the marketing strategy. The organization undertakes programmes and carry out actions which deliver strategic objectives. Such actions frequently focus on individual elements of the marketing mix. Additionally, a process of monitoring and control needs to be put in place. This ensures compliance and aids decision making. Fig 1b provides an overview of the strategic marketing process. The three components form a planning cycle (analysis, formulation, and implementation) and are interactive in nature, with information being fed-back to enable objectives and strategy to be reviewed and amended. Ultimately, the process establishes the organizational marketing mix i.e., products, price, promotion, and place, which underpins and conveys the marketing strategy of the organization.

The marketing efforts of the organization impact its market-place and economic performance through the formulation and implementation of specific patterns of resource deployments designed to achieve marketing objectives in a target market. This formulation-implementation dichotomy perspective suggests that goal-setting and marketing strategy development system is used as future-oriented decision-making frame-work for defining desired goals and identifying and selecting marketing strategy options which can enable these goals to be accomplished, followed by a period of enactment in which the organization seeks to operationalize the intended marketing strategy decisions to achieve the desired goals.

Marketing strategy constitutes activities which create value and improve organizational competitiveness. From this perspective, marketing strategy formulation involves management making explicit ‘what’ decisions regarding goals and the broad means by which they are to be accomplished in terms of target market selection, required value offerings and desired positioning, and timing etc. On the other hand, marketing strategy implementation concerns ‘doing it’ in terms of translating these broad ‘what’ marketing strategy decisions into a set of detailed and integrated marketing tactics and accompanying these with appropriate actions and resource deployments to enact them.

Marketing strategy studies have consistently distinguished between strategy formulation and implementation, while both the marketing and strategic management studies also have suggested that they are inter-dependent, with implementation (what the organization is able to do) shaping and constraining marketing strategy content decisions over time. A second ’dichotomy’ shown widely in the strategic management studies, and to a lesser extent in the marketing studies, is between strategy content and strategy process. From this perspective, marketing strategy content concerns the specific strategic decisions (e.g., what and how many segments to target, and what the organization’s value proposition needs to be to achieve needed sales etc.), and integrated tactical marketing programme decisions (e.g., the needed sales-force incentive plan, channel selection, and merchandizing platform design, and marketing communication media selection etc.) made.

On the other hand, strategy process concerns the organizational mechanisms leading to the marketing strategy decisions (e.g., situation assessment, goal-setting, top-down versus bottom-up strategic planning process, and planning comprehensiveness etc.) and those used to make and realize decisions regarding how they are enacted (e.g., marketing mix planning, budgeting, internal communication, organization re-design, performance monitoring, and control systems etc.).

Two common dichotomies are used as a framework (Fig 3) for establishing the external boundaries of the area of marketing strategy and to identify important sub-domains within the marketing strategy concept. Identifying these sub-domains within the broad domain allows the organization to refine the original definition of marketing strategy. Hence, the marketing strategy is defined as encompassing the ‘what’ strategy decisions and actions and ‘how’ strategy-making and realization processes concerning the desired goals of the organization over a future time-period, and the means through which it intends to achieve them by selecting target markets and customers, identifying needed value propositions, and designing and enacting integrated marketing programmes to develop, deliver, and communicate the value offerings. This definition of marketing strategy and the sub-domains it encompasses in the conceptual framework developed as a lens through which to identify and to examine recent studies in marketing strategy (Fig 3).

Fig 3 Marketing strategy framework

The new definition of marketing strategy also allows the organization to identify and capture studies examining strategic marketing phenomena related to, but not directly encompassing, marketing strategy. As shown in Fig 3, the most important categories of these related phenomena deal with (i) inputs to marketing strategy including resources such as market knowledge, brand portfolios, financial resources, etc. and capabilities such as NPD (new product development), and CRM (customer relationship management) etc., (ii) outputs of marketing strategy including customer ‘mind-set’ and behaviour outcomes and market-place and economic performance, and (iii) environmental factors distinct from marketing strategy but which can impact marketing strategy phenomena and their relationships with other phenomena including internal factors such as organizational culture, and size etc. and external factors such as market characteristics, technology turbulence, and competitive intensity etc.

Classification of marketing strategies – Different classifications of marketing strategies are available as given in Tab 1. Choice of the type of marketing strategy can affect the evaluation process. Marketing strategies are classified as (i) the main marketing strategy, (ii) general competitive advantage in the acquisition strategy, (iii) strategies to compete under certain market share, (iv) marketing strategy for its intended market, (v) positioning strategy, and (vi) strategy of the complex marketing elements.

Tab 1 Classification of marketing strategies
Marketing strategyTypes of marketing strategiesDefinition
The main
Deep penetration strategy (an old product – an old market)This strategy is effective if the market is still unsaturated with products. When selling old products in the old market, the advantages can be achieved only by reducing costs of production and by selling goods at lower prices than competitors.
Market expansion strategy (an old product – a new market)Applying this strategy, the organization can increase sales of old products in new markets or available new market segments.
Trade creation (modification) strategy (new product – an old market)Essence of this strategy: new product development for the old market.
Diversification strategy (new product – a new market)The strategy is used to avoid the manufacturer’s dependence on one product or market.
General competitive advantage in the acquisition strategyExpenditure leadership
Through expenditure strategy, the organization bases its activities on resources, which guarantees the lowest cost in industry in which it operates. The ability to efficiently manage resources allows the organization to achieve the lowest operating costs in their field and at the same time to acquire the long-term competitive advantage.
Differentiation strategyApplying the differentiation strategy, the organization aims at uniqueness. In most cases it is intended to differentiate the organization’s offered product so that it would be perceived by customers as unique. The essence of differentiation is profiting entity is to receive, creation of customer value, which is different and higher than that proposed by competitors.
The concentration of the costs and the differentiationIn this case, the organization focuses its efforts on any aspect of a restricted area of competition within the industry: customer group, a specific product or specific geographic market. The objective is a market segment as well as serving it better than the competitors. Competitive advantage can be gained by reducing costs or increasing product differentiation. The organization has reached a competitive advantage when competitors cannot serve target market equally well.
Competing strategies by market shareMarket leader strategyNormally one organization is ahead of competitors and has taken the largest share of the market. This situation gives more freedom of choosing to compete against competitors in the targeted strategies. The market leader has more options than any other to increase market share etc. That is, it attracts new customers or encourages existing customers to buy more, or more frequently. The market leader in advertising and other marketing activities to encourage customers frequently choose just the goods.
Market strategy for the actorThe main aim for the actor is to become a leader as soon as circumstances permit. Market actor is strong enough and has sufficient resources and expertise to become a leader. It can also increase market share by directly attacking the selected competitor (normally a leader).
Market followers’ strategyFrequently, the market leader’s product or marketing action is copied by the market follower. The strategy is two-fold: some basic concepts and sequence of steps taken by market leader are copied, and everything related to the market leader in product and marketing activities is directly followed, trying to sell goods on behalf of the leadership. All market followers have one thing in common: they do not intend to occupy the leading position, but try to use the leader’s proven action in the market. Hence, over time they are always a little behind, and the same strategy is passive, dependent on actions of market leader.
Market niche strategyMarket niche strategy is suitable in almost all markets. The primary goal of competing is to adapt to specific market segments of small customers. Sales volume in the small target market normally is not large, but market niche filler frequently works very profitably. Market niche filler strategy is used by small organizations, since large organizations are not very interested in small segments of the market and not trying to meet their distinctive needs.
Marketing strategy for its intended marketNon-differentiated marketing strategyNon-differentiated marketing means that the enterprise markets as a homogeneous whole and expects the same reaction to marketing activities from all customers. It can be that: (i) a professional user will not notice the difference, (ii) such differences are insignificant in offering specific products, and (iii) the organization does not have the means or desire to adapt to different needs.
Differentiated marketing
In differentiated marketing, different market shares of the organization are offered different things. Normally more or less all the elements of marketing complex are different: a different (frequently with a different name) product has a different price when sold in different places and in different ways; it is not so well advertised and offered.
Concentrated marketing strategyConcentrated marketing has long been considered to be primarily the small organizational strategy, since they can ‘live’ with relatively small market segments. The organizational success depends on the ability to identify and properly meet the specific needs of that segment.
Positioning strategyAccording to product usePositioning is a creative activity hence it is difficult to express it in a structured way. Positioning can be by-product use, consumer goods, and on the basis of direct comparison etc. Positioning decisions cannot be made before the perspective, and in particular the strategy of competitors, is analyzed. Nor can those decisions be made before the selection of the target market, as provided for in the customer segment of the properties owned and positioning opportunities. On the other hand, positioning strategy is to be created before making decisions on specific elements of marketing complex.
According to consumer goods
On the basis of direct comparison, and others
Strategy of the complex marketing elementsProduct strategyIn marketing with the complex element of ‘product’, strategic decisions are made in product mix, quality, and product names in use.
Price strategyIn marketing with the complex element of ‘price’, strategic decisions are made on new trade price (‘penetration’ and ‘picking’ strategy), reduction of payment of the issues.
Distribution strategyIn marketing with the complex element of ‘distribution’, strategic decisions intensify distribution (exclusive, selective, intensive distribution strategy), distribution control system (system of ownership and control methods) issues.
Support strategyIn marketing with the complex element of ‘sponsorship’, strategic decisions are made in the choice of a common strategy in support (‘push’, ‘pull’ or mixed), budget allocation, the individual actions to promote the comparative values.

The success of the organization largely depends on the exact formulation of the organizational goals and the ensuing sub-goals. The marketing personnel are obliged to identify them, organize into a system, and determine their relative importance. Realizing this need, the ‘goal tree’ is used as a main method of goal setting. Hierarchical subordination of goals and levels of management support the strategic decision-making process by giving clarity on responsibilities, obligations, time period and degree of implementation.

A defined marketing strategy ensures that as the organization grows, everyone continues to work off the same page. A marketing strategy ensures direction and clearly sets out a definition of the organizational goals and objectives, and how exactly the organization reaches these goals and objectives. This allows the organization to map out and consider internal and external influences to the organization which affect the marketing activities. The organization is to identify its strengths and threats, and what it has to do about them. It is to identify its customers and guards against future competition / new entries to the market / developments to the market by fully understanding the different forces at play and how it can react to them. The organization is to ensure that the needs of its customers are being met effectively since it sets the foundations to create brand and customer loyalty

Concepts like the 4Ps (product, price, place, and promotion) / 7Ps (product, price, place, promotion, people, process, and physical evidence), the BCG (Boston Consulting Group) matrix, Ansoff matrix, Porter’s five forces, Porter’s value chain, AIDA (awareness, interest, desire, and action), SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) analysis, PESTLE (political, economic, sociological, technological, legal, and environmental) analysis, and SOSTAC (situation, objectives and strategy, tactics, action and control) analysis have been conceived before the Internet but can still be considered valuable references when building a marketing strategy. While these analyses all serve a purpose, as a starting point to the marketing strategy of the organization, a simple step-by-step marketing model is required which looks to answer the key, top-level questions required in the success of any strategy.

As the organizational knowledge progresses and it becomes more comfortable with implementing the strategy, the step-by-step marketing model evolves to include additional elements, platforms, and tactics. However, by using this initially the organization is to ensure that all of the marketing activity is aligned and that everyone who is involved is working towards the same goal.

Marketing personnel are always concerned with several issues such as price, quality, market expansion, and discounts etc. It is quite frequently that an effective strategy fails to do what it is supposed to do, and marketing personnel immediately assume that the strategy is at fault. More frequently than not, it is the implementation which goes awry. Implementation difficulties can result from a variety of organizational and structural issues as well as from inadequate personal skills. The organization is required to prepare guidelines for identifying the most common difficulties as well as suggestions for remedying them.

It is invariably easier to think up clever marketing strategies than it is to make them work under the constraints of organization, customers, and competitors. Marketing strategy and implementation affect each other. While strategy obviously affects actions, execution also affects the marketing strategy, especially over time. Despite the uncertain boundary between strategy and execution, it is not hard to diagnose marketing implementation issues and to distinguish them from strategy shortfalls.

Fig 4 shows how marketing strategy and implementation affect each other. An important rule about strategy and implementation is poor implementation can disguise good strategy. As the Fig 4 indicates, when both strategy and implementation are on target, the organization has done all it can to ensure success. Similarly, when strategy is inappropriate and implementation poor, implementation shortcomings can mask problems with the strategy, not only is failure the probable result, but such failures are especially intractable because of the difficulty in identifying the cause of the problem.

Fig 4 Marketing strategy and implementation problem diagnosis

When the marketing strategy is appropriate but implementation is poor or vice versa, diagnosis becomes tricky. Poor marketing execution can cause management to doubt even a sound marketing strategy since it is masked by implementation inadequacies (the lower left cell in the Fig 4). Management can hasten market-place failure if it then changes its marketing strategy. Such a situation is labeled as the ‘trouble’ cell on the matrix since poor execution hampers confirmation of the marketing strategy’s rightness and can provoke unnecessary change.

When the marketing strategy is inappropriate and execution is excellent (the upper right cell), management normally winds up with time to recognize and fix its strategic mistakes. Good branch office heads, for example, have been known to modify potentially disastrous headquarters directives. Indeed, some organizations are noted for excellent marketing execution. But at other times, good execution of bad marketing strategy acts as the engine on a plane in a nose-dive, it hastens the crash. Since it is hard to predict the result of inappropriate marketing strategy coupled with good execution, this cell is labeled in Fig 4 as ‘rescue or ruin’.

From this analysis, two points stand out to help management to diagnose marketing implementation issues. First, poor execution tends to mask both the appropriateness and the inappropriateness of the marketing strategy. Hence, when unsure of the causes of poor marketing performance, management is required to look to marketing practices before making strategic adjustments. A careful examination of the how questions, the implementation ones, frequently can identify an execution culprit responsible for the issues with are seemingly strategic.

Elements of the marketing strategy – The marketing strategy consists of several key elements, needed for its successful application. The correspondence and conditions between them play an important role during the efficient realization of the marketing aims. The marketing strategy is developed on the grounds of thorough analysis which characterizes its elements. It is important that the two-way effect and the reciprocal action to each other is taken into account. Reasonably, there is a model suggested, regarding the consistency of the different structural elements of the marketing strategy. These different elements are (i) analysis of the market and target groups, (ii) main aims, (iii) key competitive advantages and market challenges, (iv) marketing mix, (v) innovations, (vi) activities and tasks, and (vii) strategic marketing budget. The clear and correct definition of the marketing strategy and its elements is crucial for the efficiency and practicality of the organization.

Marketing strategy process – The steps involved in the process of planning and implementing a strong marketing strategy are given below.

Customer analysis – A good marketing strategy can only be charted out when the organization understands its customers. First the organization needs to know who it is targeting. It is neither logical nor wise to create a marketing campaign for all. One needs to have a specific target audience which can relate to the marketing message and are the most likely customers to the products and services offered. The behavioural patterns, culture, and segmentation of the target customers are to be understood in depth.

Market analysis – Analyzing the market helps in planning better strategies. It gives the organization marketing efforts an edge over its competitors. Such analysis also helps in understanding market trends, market growth, and untapped market opportunities.

Competitive analysis – Analyzing the competition helps to understand the pain points of the customers with respect to available product or services in the market. Competitors are to be studied thoroughly along with their unique selling propositions (USPs), marketing strategies, strengths and weaknesses in order to offering a value proposition which has not been offered in the market yet.

Deciding on unique selling proposition – Normally a marketing campaign revolves around a unique selling proposition which provides the customer with a unique feature which is not provided by any other brand or product in the market. A product can have several features but one such unique proposition is to be decided in order to market it properly.

Defining the marketing goals – Since strategy is formulated to meet certain goals, it is indeed important to make logical and achievable goals which are time bound. Majority of the common mistakes while defining goals is that management tends to go over board and decide goals which can look achievable on paper but practically can prove to be a long shot. Moreover, setting unachievable goals can demotivate the team working for them.

Identify the marketing strategy – To choose the best marketing strategy, a list of all the possible strategies is to be made along with their pros and cons. This helps in selecting the right mix of strategies for the brand or campaign.

Defining of marketing mix – Marketing mix include considerations like price offered, product or services provided, place or geographical areas to be covered along with the space where seller meets buyer and promotional techniques to be used. These considerations are to be set for a marketing strategy to be successful.

Prioritizing of marketing tactics – The next step in marketing strategy planning is to have a detailed analysis of the various possible marketing activities along with priorities which has been set while setting objectives. The criteria for a marketing activity are to be based on the differentiation achieved with respect to brand’s competition in the market, influence on the target customer base and the ability to help in achieving at least one of the key objectives. Apart from these three considerations, these marketing tactics are to be in the budget as well.

Analysis of the financials – Budget considerations play an important role in selecting marketing strategy as there is to be a clear idea about what quantity is to be spent in the set quantity of time along with each marketing activity.

Reviewing and revising – This step includes continuous evaluation of implemented marketing strategies in order to churn maximum advantage for the brand. The results of marketing activities can differ because of different reasons. In such cases, marketing personnel need to come up with a solution rather than keep following the strategy blindly.

Standardization versus customization – While choosing the best marketing strategy, marketing personnel frequently face a common dilemma as to whether opt for a standard strategy for all the markets or to adapt the marketing strategy as per the market. Both have their own pros and cons and selection is to be based upon by the potential to improve the performance of the organization or the brand in the market.

In the standardization approach of marketing, the organization approaches different markets with the same packaging, promotional mix, and presentations since changing them for every new market is expensive. All the cultures and marketing environment are common on some grounds which can be used for a standardized marketing strategy. Because of the lowering of trade barriers and with the help of technological advancements such standardization of strategy can prove useful for the organization. Also, such organization depicts a global feel in its marketing strategy which leads to a consistency in the brand in all the markets of presence. This helps in building a consistent image of the brand and product across the markets. Not only a standardized marketing strategy is manageable and easy to execute and control, it also enjoys economies of scale because of the lower costs of marketing. The supporters of the standardized marketing strategy also argue that it is easier to focus on what everyone wants rather than focusing on individual preferences which prove expensive and hard to achieve.

Adaptation or customization of the marketing strategies means adjusting the marketing strategies of the organization as per the needs of the market. Customization proves helpful in affirming the competitiveness of the brand which leads to better performance in terms of customer preferences and sales. Customization of marketing strategies includes customization of promotional mix, pricing strategies and packaging as per the market needs. In other words, adaptation of any element of the marketing strategy to suit the needs of the market to achieve a competitive advantage to attain organizational performance is called customization of marketing strategy. It does not necessarily mean to change the entire strategy but a small change in the packaging or one of the promotional mix elements can lead to the achievement of marketing objective.

Some organizations can go on and change the entire product offering to suit the needs of the markets involved. Advocates of the marketing adaptation approach lay emphasis on the importance of adaptation to meet diverse customer desires. The principal basis of the customization is that every market has different constraints and environmental factors such as climate, religion, race, language, education, occupations, taste, cultures, preferences and societies. A strategy successful in one market may not prove to be as efficient in another market because of these differences. In adaptation approach large organizations have to find out how they are to adjust an entire marketing strategy and, including how they sell, distribute it, in order to fit new market demands.

It is important for the organization to fine-tune the marketing strategy to meet such individual preferences. The process of implementing a successful adaptation strategy includes an assessment of objectives and resources as per the individualities of the market. This normally needs expert advice from people who understand the market. Hence, the entire process of choosing the marketing strategy is repeated with respect to the new market and hence a suitable customized strategy is adopted in order to achieve marketing objectives in the market in question.

Implementation of a marketing strategy – The implementation of the chosen marketing strategy includes determining the specifics intended decisions on target audience, marketing objectives, and marketing tactics involved and desired value proposition while deploying available resources for getting optimal utilization. Hence, an effective implementation of marketing strategy includes a detailed understanding of tactical issues with respect to resource allocation and the strategy of an appropriate marketing programme and capability issues in endorsing each of the particular marketing tactics selected.

Implementation is defined as controlling and monitoring of the marketing campaign by Wind and Robertson, while Kotler describes implementation as the process of turning plans into actions. Farjoun denotes implementation as ‘the execution of strategy’. Based on these definitions, implementation can be defined as the ability of the organization to plan, direct, and review its marketing strategy. There is a significant relationship between a successful implementation of the marketing strategy and the performance of the organization in the market. Today the world is constantly changing which adds a certain factor of volatility to the marketing environments.

Brands can advantageously exploit on the market prospects by either delivering superior customer value achieved by proper segmentation of the market and differentiated offerings or by offering lower relative costs by controlling and successfully implementing the marketing programme. This asserts the importance of implementation of the marketing strategy in a proper manner as it results in taking advantage of the market opportunities with planned moves at the right time.

Menon and co-workers have conducted a study regarding the three basic steps of marketing planning process namely formulation of strategy, implementation of marketing strategy, and evaluation of marketing strategy and they claimed implementation to be the deciding factor in the process. Noble and Mokwa have also suggested that implementation is ‘a critical link between the formulation of marketing strategies and the achievement of superior organizational performance’. A good strategy cannot take the brand anywhere if not implemented properly. A good example can be a brilliant advertisement losing its charm because of the selection of wrong time or media platform while executing the marketing plan.

Farjoun has stated that strategy formulation is not as significant as implementation as suggested in traditional marketing approaches since no matter the planning, the organization cannot perform without effective implementation. Bonoma has strongly asserted that implementation is directly related to the organizational performance and good implementation results in good results. For superior implementation, marketing plan is to be aligned properly, the timelines are required to meet and focus are to be on controlling the processes to keep them on the right track. This involves converting each marketing strategy into a specific action-oriented time bound processes with responsibility allotted to the concerned departments with clear instructions. However, aligning the marketing strategy into a set of processes is frequently not a single deed of conversion. It is a continuous process which translates a set of relatively abstract strategic decisions to detailed and concrete actions.

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