Developing a marketing strategy. The process usually begins with a scan of the business environment, both internal and external, which includes understanding strategic constraints.It is generally necessary to try to grasp many aspects of the external environment, including technological, economic, cultural, political and legal aspects. Goals are chosen. Then, a marketing strategy or marketing plan is an explanation of what specific actions will be taken over time to achieve the objectives. Plans can be extended to cover many years, with sub-plans for each year, although as the speed of change in the merchandising environment quickens, time horizons are becoming shorter. Ideally, strategies are both dynamic and interactive, partially planned and partially unplanned, to enable a firm to react to unforeseen developments while trying to keep focused on a specific pathway; generally, a longer time frame is preferred. There are simulations such as customer lifetime value models which can help marketers conduct “what-if” analyses to forecast what might happen based on possible actions, and gauge how specific actions might affect such variables as the revenue-per-customer and the churn rate. Strategies often specify how to adjust the marketing mix; firms can use tools such as Marketing Mix Modeling to help them decide how to allocate scarce resources for different media, as well as how to allocate funds across a portfolio of brands. In addition, firms can conduct analyses of performance, customer analysis, competitor analysis, and target market analysis. A key aspect of marketing strategy is often to keep marketing consistent with a company’s overarching mission statement.
Marketing strategy should not be confused with a marketing objective or mission. For example, a goal may be to become the market leader, perhaps in a specific niche; a mission may be something along the lines of “to serve customers with honor and dignity”; in contrast, a marketing strategy describes how a firm will achieve the stated goal in a way which is consistent with the mission, perhaps by detailed plans for how it might build a referral network, for example. Strategy varies by type of market. A well-established firm in a mature market will likely have a different strategy than a start-up. Plans usually involve monitoring, to assess progress, and prepare for contingencies if problems arise.