Last Updated: June 26, 2018
Written by Maria Jollie
A strategic marketing planning process is extremely important for companies who want to reach current and potential customers in a meaningful way. There is an ever-expanding number of digital channels and marketing technologies available. This omnichannel opportunity calls for processes that can be monitored and adjusted to keep up as customer preferences change and evolve.
When your processes are strategic, organized, and flexible, you can monitor and react to the needs of consumers. This type of responsiveness will delight customers and improve the strength of your brand.
Follow these 5 steps to help improve your strategic marketing planning process and understand how to better engage with your audience.
Conduct market research to help you understand your target audience and what is important to them. Break down your market segments to understand the different personas and the channels where they are most likely to use and engage with your brand.
While you may already have an internal viewpoint on what you think your customers want and what channels they are actively using, it is typically biased and may not capture the full story. You can send out surveys, conduct phone calls, host research groups, or determine other ways to get feedback and information about your target audience.
It is best if you can gather information from both current customers and consumers you are trying to reach who are in your target market.
After you have researched your target audience, it’s time to set focused, achievable goals. To understand if you have the right marketing process in place, you’ll need to have clearly defined goals that can be measured.
Marketing technologies that help support your goals will have analytics that explain how your marketing processes are working and if your campaigns are effective.
For example, if you use a digital workflow tool, it should have the capability for you to monitor the steps in the workflows to identify and adjust bottlenecks and improve processes.
If you have a digital asset management (DAM) system, you should be able to monetize the value of your images based on distribution numbers and tracking how many times assets are repurposed across the company.
After you have thoroughly researched your target market and focused in on measurable goals, you should examine your omnichannel presence.
Your omnichannel presence determines how well your brand is perceived across different channels and through the stages of the buyer’s journey, including interactions before and after a purchase has been made. The way you execute an omnichannel marketing strategy will help make your product or service attractive to potential buyers and make sure they are exposed to the right content at the right time.
Based on the findings from your target audience research, there may be new channels to start using to promote your brand. Part of your marketing strategy can include testing new channels to see if they are an effective way to reach your audience. To analyze your omnichannel marketing presence, there are several things to consider.
Who are your target personas? You should have a good grasp on this if you followed step 1 and your findings should include information for the rest of the omnichannel marketing insights.
Always keep your goal top of mind. What are you trying to accomplish as you discover the important aspects of your omnichannel presence? What is the message you want to share with your target personas?
Where are people interacting with your brand, looking for more information, or ready to make a purchase? This can often be many channels simultaneously, such as an app, a physical store shelf, a review site, etc. You’ll also want to understand where they go after they make a purchase and how it influences their next purchase.
Map out the crucial points of the buyer’s journey to understand when people are first exposed to your brand, when people make their purchasing decision, when they buy, and when they buy again.
Research why people chose your brand over alternatives. Use this insight to help define the messaging of your omnichannel marketing campaign.
After you have strategized the plan based on the audience and your goals, the next step is to document your marketing process. There are a few specific reasons you should have your processes documented.
The point of a documented plan is not so that every step is followed perfectly, it’s so that you understand the purpose of each step and can adjust as necessary based on performance and conditions.
With a documented and shared process, each person involved understands the goal, their role, and the impact they have on the marketing process.
Through central documentation, your cross-functional departments will be on the same page about who your target audience, how you’re going to reach them, and how to measure success. Because everyone is aligned, content and campaigns are more likely to be consistent.
A planned-out strategic marketing process helps you understand how to develop your plan and determine the resources needed to carry out your plan. Once you have created a marketing plan, you have a benchmark for adjusting the plan based on trends, performance, goal changes, or marketing budgets.
As you establish a strategic marketing planning process, you’ll start to develop a digital ecosystem comprised of marketing technologies, otherwise known as a marketing technology stack. As you develop this collection of technologies to help manage, improve, and advance your marketing efforts, consider your current and desired level of digital maturity.
The digital maturity model is based on a five-level approach to digital maturity. In each level, there are specific business challenges and competencies that companies are likely to experience. After reviewing these levels, you should be able to identify your current digital maturity status.
The digital systems that you incorporate into your marketing technology stack should be designed to work with your strategic marketing process and fit in with the growth plan of your company. As you determine vendors for each system, be sure to ask questions based on how the software or hardware can scale and grow with your company while connecting to other key technologies in your stack.
To learn more about how to identify the location of your company on the digital maturity model and what it looks like for marketing processes, download the Digital Maturity Model for Marketing Processes white paper.