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How to Create a Strategic Plan

Looking for a way to take your company in a new and profitable direction? It starts with strategic planning. Keep reading to learn what a strategic plan is, why you need it and how you can strategically create one.

What Is a Strategic Plan?

When it comes to business and finance, strategic planning will help you allocate your resources, energy and assets. When implemented, a strategic plan will begin to move your operations in a more profitable direction. The primary goal of the plan is to ensure you and any other stakeholders are on the same page and striving to reach the same goal.

Creating a strategic plan requires a disciplined effort. Once you put the plan into action, it will influence the segment of customers that you target, how you serve those customers and the experience those customers have.

Assess the Current Infrastructure and Operations

The first step in creating a strategic plan is to carefully assess your existing infrastructure and operations. You can do this through a SWOT analysis, which is an analysis of the company’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. The goal here is to pinpoint the resources that you use to carry out your day-to-day operations, to look at your monthly revenue patterns, to list any company challenges related to the customer experience and, most importantly, to look at your marketing methods and ways to improve the overall customer experience.

Creation of Mission Statement and Objectives

The next step is to create a mission statement. You may already have one, but it’s important to note your mission at the top of the strategic plan document you create. This ensures everyone is focused on the same goal. Your mission statement should cover why you started the company and what you intend to accomplish through the products and services that you offer.

In addition to the mission statement, make sure to outline both short- and long-term objectives. List the objectives according to their priority and designate certain managers or employees to be responsible for each one. Also, jot down the resources that will be used to achieve each objective.

Measure Performance

Now that you know what you’re trying to achieve and who is responsible for each goal, it’s time to deploy the plan and measure its progress. A weekly meeting is extremely important for all managers and stakeholders provide feedback. Your goal is to determine if the company is headed in the right direction. If not, you’ll need to revise the strategic plan accordingly.

Strategic Plans Are Ongoing

Once your strategic plan helps you achieve several objectives, it’s smart to regroup and set new objectives. As your company grows, you can set new goals to ensure the company keeps moving forward. You can share the success of your strategic plan with potential investors as a way to tap into new capital funding.


the first step in developing a strategic marketing plan is

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Here’s how to make sure both you and your patients know what makes your practice special .


Fam Pract Manag. 2001;8(10):39-43

the first step in developing a strategic marketing plan is

For many physicians, marketing is simply a matter of putting an advertisement in the local newspaper, redecorating the waiting room or conducting a direct mailing to people in the community. But this is a haphazard approach that will accomplish little more for your practice than draining its marketing budget.

The key to successfully marketing your practice begins with developing a strategic marketing plan in which each activity is based on solid research and specific goals, and is implemented and carefully evaluated in a timely manner. The plan serves as a road map to help you achieve your marketing goals.

Why should you market your practice?

Some physicians still feel that marketing is at best unprofessional and at worst unethical. In fact, good marketing is no more than educating your patients and your community about your expertise and services, and there are a wide range of reasons for doing it, not all of which have a purely financial basis. However, if you do want to determine the value of each new patient to your practice, calculate the average of the revenue that 10 new patients generated during their first 12 months with you.

You might consider marketing your practice for any or all of the following reasons: to increase your income, expand your patient base, discourage competition, improve your practice image, promote current and new services, introduce new providers, enter a new marketplace or gain or retain market share. Whatever your motivation, make sure to get your staff involved right from the start. Share your reasons for marketing with them, and ask them for their ideas. If your staff is not involved early, it will be difficult to convince them to support the marketing plan and take on any additional work that comes with it.

The elements of a plan

There are nine major steps required to develop a well-crafted, strategic marketing plan: set your marketing goals, conduct a marketing audit, conduct market research, analyze the research, identify your target audience, determine a budget, develop specific marketing strategies, develop an implementation schedule for the strategies and create an evaluation process.

1. Set your marketing goals. Once you’ve decided to market your practice, you need to set realistic and measurable goals to achieve over the next 18 to 24 months. This time span allows you to plan activities around community events that are in line with your marketing goals. For example, you might help sponsor an annual walkathon for breast cancer or speak at your community’s annual health fair. Because of the rapid changes occurring in the health care environment, we don’t recommend planning specific activities more than two years in advance. One way to define your goals is to separate them into the following three categories: immediate, one to six months; short-term, six to 12 months; and long-term, 12 to 24 months. Here are some examples of measurable goals:

Increase the number of new patients seen in the practice by 5 percent within the first six months and 10 percent by the end of the first year.

Shift your patient mix by expanding the pediatric and adolescent patient base from 15 percent to 25 percent of total patient visits within 18 months.

Increase your gross revenue by 30 percent within 24 months.

Improve your practice’s image, which may be measured by “before” and “after” scores on a community survey or by reviews from focus group participants.

It’s important to share these goals with your staff members. They can tell you from their perspectives whether they believe the goals are reasonable. If you want your marketing plan to be successful, your staff needs to support your efforts to achieve the marketing goals.

Marketing can increase your income, introduce new providers or improve your practice image, among other things.

A strategic marketing plan requires you to define your practice in terms of what it does for patients.

Every goal, strategy and action in your marketing plan is subject to change as you evaluate your progress.

2. Conduct a marketing audit. A marketing audit is a review of all marketing activities that have occurred in your practice over the past three years. Be as thorough as possible, making sure to review every announcement, advertisement, phonebook ad, open house, brochure and seminar and evaluate whether it was successful.

3. Conduct market research. The purpose of market research is to draw a realistic picture of your practice, the community you practice in and your current position in that community. With this research, you can make fairly accurate projections about future growth in the community, identify competitive factors and explore nontraditional opportunities (such as offering patients nutritional counseling, smoking-cessation programs or massage therapy). Your research may even bring to light some problem areas in your practice as well as solutions you can implement right away. (See “ A guide to market research ” to find out what kind of information you need to gather and where to find it.)

Conducting market research is often the most time-consuming step in this process. However, it’s also one of the most important steps. It’s from this research that you’re able to find out what your practice does best and what you need to work on, what the needs of your community are, who your practice should be targeting and how you should go about it.

4. Analyze the research. Next, you need to analyze the raw data you collect and summarize it into meaningful findings that will be the foundation for determining which marketing strategies make the most sense and will get the best results for your practice The research will identify the wants and needs of your current and potential patients and will help you to define your target audience (for more on target audiences, see step 5, below). This is also a good time to look back at the goals you’ve chosen. Based on your research findings, you may need to modify some of your goals.

A strategic marketing plan requires that your practice be defined in terms of what it does for patients. The research analysis will reveal your practice’s strategic advantages. After looking closely at your own practice as well as your competitors’, you can ask yourself some key questions: What are the similarities and differences between your practice and your competitors’? What sets your practice apart from your competition? Is your location more desirable than your competitors’? Do you offer a broader scope of services than the competition? Is there a service you provide that no one else in the community currently offers? Your competitive edge may lie in your style of practice, the range of services you offer, the ease of making an appointment or the way you and your staff communicate with patients.


To gather the kind of information you need to develop a strategic marketing plan for your practice, you need to conduct market research on your practice, your competition and your community. You can’t rely on intuition, judgment and experience; your practice needs hard data. Although it will take some time to gather this information, a number of resources are available that can make the process easier for you.

Your practice

Much of the information you need about your own practice can be found through discussions with staff members and other physicians, or by reviewing your patient records. You can also find out about your practice and whether it’s meeting the needs of your current patients by asking them to fill out a patient survey about the practice. Here are some of the questions you need answered about your practice:

What is the background and history of your practice? Has it been in the current community for a long time?

What are your practice’s strengths and weaknesses? Are there problems with scheduling, cancellations, staff turnover or reimbursement management?

Who are your current patients in terms of their age, sex, ethnic origin, type of insurance coverage, chief complaints and where they live?

What are the services provided by your practice? Who needs these services? Are these needs changing?

How is your practice perceived by your patients?

Your competition

You need to find out who your competitors are and what they have to offer. Check with your county or state medical society and your local hospital to find out how many other family physicians, nurse practitioners and general internists are in your service area, how long they’ve practiced in that location and how many have moved into your area over the past five years.

Once you’ve determined who your competitors are, you need to assess them. This information may be a little harder to come by, but you can try to gather as much information as you can by simply asking other physicians, listening to your patients, friends and neighbors when they talk about their physicians and keeping your eye out for competitors’ advertisements. To assess your competition, you need to ask the following questions:

What are your competitors’ target audiences and niche markets?

Why do certain patients or groups of patients particularly like or dislike your competitors?

How are your competitors viewed within the community?

What marketing activities have your competitors tried?

Your community

In addition to gathering information about your practice and your competitors’ practices, you need to learn as much as you can about the people in your community. You can find answers to the following questions by contacting your local Chamber of Commerce, your state vital statistics department or the U.S. Census Bureau ( ). Census data is available for every state, county, city, ZIP code, neighborhood, etc.:

How many people live in your service area? Is the population expected to grow or shrink? What are the demographic characteristics of the population in your area?

How is your practice perceived in the community? Are you known in the community?

Who are your potential patients? Are their wants and needs being met elsewhere in the community? If not, how can your practice meet those needs?

5. Identify a target audience. With the help of your market research analysis, you should be able to identify your practice’s “target audience,” which is the specific group of patients to which you’d like to direct your marketing efforts. Your target audience might include patients of a certain age, gender, location, payer type or language/ethnicity and patients with certain clinical needs. Keep in mind that your target audience should not only be the patients you want to attract but also the people who can influence and provide exposure to that segment of the population. For example, if you wish to treat patients with arthritis, you might want to get involved in the local and regional Arthritis Foundation and explore senior organizations in the community. If you want to treat young athletes, you might consider giving talks on sports safety and first-aid tips to coaches and athletes at the local high schools, colleges and YMCAs. The key to marketing lies in targeting the audience that your practice can serve better than your competition – and communicating this to that group.

6. Determine a budget. Before you can decide what specific marketing strategies you want to implement to achieve your goals, you need to examine your financial information and come up with a marketing budget. Marketing budgets vary by the type of market a practice is in, the age of a practice and whether the practice has marketed before. There’s no standard for how much a practice should spend. However, in our experience, practices in open markets have spent 3 percent to 5 percent of their annual gross incomes on marketing. If your practice is new, in a highly competitive market or has never been marketed before, or if you intend to roll out an ambitious new program or service, you can expect to spend 10 percent or more of your annual gross income the first year you implement the plan.

Some of the initial marketing activities can be expensive. For example, it can cost more than $5,000 to have a corporate image package (i.e., logo, stationery and collateral pieces) developed by a professional and as much as $10,000 if you add a brochure. On the other hand, some of the best marketing activities cost practically nothing. For example, to build your referral network, you might try meeting with new physicians in your community and sending follow-up/thankyou notes to referring physicians. Big or small, these are all worthwhile investments that will give the community a positive image of your practice.

7. Develop marketing strategies. With your budget in place, you can begin to define specific marketing strategies that will address your goals, reach your target audience and build your patient base. Remember to focus your strategies on the elements of your practice that can be used to create a special value in the minds of patients and referral sources. Each strategy should be related to a specific goal and should be made up of numerous actions. For example, one strategy related to the goal of increasing patient satisfaction might be to make the office more patient friendly. The actions required for that strategy might include the following:

Provide patient satisfaction training sessions to staff;

Develop a patient self-scheduling system within the practice Web site to eliminate the need to telephone the office for an appointment;

Improve the reception-room decor;

Provide name tags for staff;

Require staff to introduce themselves to each new patient;

Conduct post-encounter telephone interviews with new patients within three days of their appointments.

[Watch for an upcoming article in FPM about specific, cost-effective marketing actions you can try in your practice.]

8. Develop an implementation schedule. An implementation schedule is a time-line that shows which marketing actions will be done when and by whom. The schedule should also include the cost of each marketing action and how it fits into the budget estimates for the 24-month period. When creating the schedule, carefully consider how the activities will affect the current practice operations and whether there are sufficient resources (such as staff, time and money) to accomplish the necessary tasks. In some cases, it may be necessary to whittle down the list or postpone some activities. In other cases, it might be best to go ahead with full implementation of your plan. If you want to fully implement the plan but don’t quite have the staffing resources, you might consider bringing in a consultant to coordinate the marketing activities and/or adding a part-time staff member to handle the majority of the marketing tasks. The implementation schedule will also give you a basis on which to monitor the progress of your marketing plan.

9. Create an evaluation process. The value of a marketing plan is its effectiveness, which requires deliberate and timely implementation and monitoring and evaluation of results. It’s important to measure your results against the standards you set in establishing your goals. Review your plan periodically (we recommend quarterly) by comparing your progress with the implementation schedule. There are several ways you can measure the results of your progress: patient survey scores, referral sources, increased income, increased new patients and decreased complaints.

If at any time you find your progress does not measure up to your expectations, you need to determine why. Perhaps the advertisement about a new service you are marketing has not attracted new patients. If the ad campaign has been carried out as directed without results, dump the campaign and try other actions. Perhaps you’ll want to try giving a series of seminars specifically targeted to the group you want to attract or developing a new segment on your Web site for patients that describes the benefits of the new service. You may even find that if each physician in the practice talks about the new service with his or her patients as merely informational conversation, favorable results will follow. In other words, the actions – and even the strategies and goals – in the marketing plan are not written in stone. By regularly monitoring and evaluating each action, you can always change and try new approaches.

As good as you make it

A good marketing plan outlines realistic marketing goals, strategies and actions based on sound information and research about your practice and your community. But the plan is only as good as your commitment to implementing it, dedicating sufficient resources to the endeavor, involving your staff and communicating openly with them. The marketing plan should not merely be written, reviewed and put away on a shelf. Instead, your practice marketing plan should be an evolving blueprint that guides your efforts and monitors your success. Marketing works when the dedication is there. It’s up to you!

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First Steps to a Marketing Strategy

Image: Unsplash/campaign-creators

Image: Unsplash/campaign-creators

Marketing is how you meet the needs of identified consumers or consumer groups. It is the foundation of a successful business.

Set Objectives

Start with setting marketing objectives. What do you want to achieve through your marketing? What will drive you toward achieving the business goals that you outlined (hopefully) in your business plan? Perhaps you want to achieve 40% customer retention during the coming year or increase wholesale sales by 30% over the next 12 months. Don't stretch yourself thin with too many marketing objectives. Decide on a few high priority objectives that will allow you to focus in on them.

Do Your Research

The market research you do will drive the decisions you make when deciding upon your marketing strategy. Who are your customers? Will you be marketing to individuals or businesses? Direct or wholesale? How does your product fill their needs and wants? You'll need to know their wants, needs, what they think, believe, how they like to communicate, their price comfort, and how your product “checks the boxes" for them.

It's important also to research other similar businesses who you will be competing with for your customers' business. How do you and your product(s) compare? What comparative advantages can you highlight and use to your benefit?

Make Decisions

Once you have an understanding of the market (target audience) for your product, you can begin making decisions regarding your marketing mix, which is a combination of the 4 Ps – product, price, place, and promotion. You may see references to 5, 7, or even 9 Ps, but the American Marketing Association still defines marketing mix as the 4 Ps, and this is a solid foundation as you start and grow your business.

What are the attributes of your product(s) that your customer market values? You need to be able to identify, describe, and effectively communicate these attributes to your customers.

At the very least, your prices need to cover your cost of production. Beyond that, the price can be used to influence customers' perception of your product as well as to achieve the specific marketing objectives that you have set for yourself. See the publications Product Pricing: What Do I Charge? and Understanding Pricing Objectives and Strategies for the Value-Added Ag Producer for more on pricing.

Place, or placement, has to do with where and when your customers can get your product. Will customers have to come to your farm or a farmers' market to purchase? If you will sell via a CSA (community supports agriculture) model, will you have drop off locations, delivery, pick-up at your farm? How accessible, convenient, and when are those locations open?

How will you communicate, interact, and engage with both your customers and non-customers? Promotion is so much more than traditional advertising, and it extends beyond the sale of your product; as in customer service. A social media presence, event sponsorship, or speaking invitation are all examples of promotional activities. Any form of communication with an individual or group when you (or an employee) can be linked to your business should be considered promotion.

Write It Down

Throughout your research and decision-making process, write down what you've learned and the decisions you're making. What you'll end up with will be your marketing plan, a document that describes your product, consumer groups, and how you will implement your marketing strategy to achieve your objectives. Why is a marketing plan so important? A well-constructed marketing plan can help you achieve your business goals. Just like a business plan, the process of developing your marketing plan will provide you with the opportunity to thoughtfully consider numerous questions:

Additionally, a written marketing plan will keep you grounded when presented with opportunities. You'll have a framework to use when deciding whether or not to pursue those opportunities.

How you use the 4 Ps in response to your marketing research to achieve the marketing goals you've set for yourself is the essence of a marketing strategy. Remember, the key is to know your customer(s). If you can stay on top of this, you can adjust the other aspects of your strategy as your business grows and matures.

Sarah Cornelisse

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10 First Steps of the Marketing Strategy Process: Your Path to Success

What should be the first step in your marketing strategy?

Well, there’s no universal answer in the industry.

But, you can follow the lead of more experienced marketers willing to lend a hand. We made this guide to be your go-to resource for ideal marketing strategy steps.

These steps address the two main forces affecting a marketing strategy:

You’ll develop a rock-solid marketing strategy by directing the factors you can control and adapting to those you can’t.

Step 1: Research Your Ideal Customer/Audience

In your first step to building a marketing strategy , you’ll identify an external factor — the ideal people for your business to market to.

Start by researching your target audience . Look for patterns in your current or intended customers’ demographics and interests. Identify the needs they have that you can address.

The traits that you define your target audience with don’t always have to fall into traditional categories like age or a favorite hobby. They can get a little more niche, like Sproos’s  target audience of apartment renters:

Sproos showers website showing images of new colorful shower installation

After you get a good idea of your typical customers, create marketing personas  to represent them. Marketing personas are fictional customers representing the main groups your customers fall into. For example, if you sell a computer headset, one of yours might be a gaming enthusiast, while another could be a remote worker.

Step 2: Analyze Your Market & Competition

Now, you’ll examine two external factors — current market sentiment and competing businesses. You’ll need to know what’s going on in your market to succeed.

Analyze social media, other businesses’ case studies, and your customer surveys to perform some fundamental market research . Find out what companies, products, features, and ideas are trending in your space. Then, think about how you can leverage those trends or subvert them.

Thorough Market Research Helps You Find:

Using our framework, you can run a competitive analysis  as you evaluate your market. Build a list of similar-sized companies with products or services that compete with yours. After that, take note of their business practices, marketing tactics, and target audience.

For example, if you ran Little Beast , a direct-to-consumer (DTC) dog clothing store, you’d focus on other DTC dog goods brands. You might do a quick overview of more prominent brands like Chewy, but most of your research should cover other indie dog shops.

Little beast webpage showing dogs wearing vests

Step 3: Audit Your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, & Threats (SWOT)

A SWOT analysis  overviews the internal and external factors deciding your business’s position in the market. Your strengths and weaknesses (internal) will reveal what you can embrace and change at your company. Meanwhile, your opportunities and threats (external) will help you execute your marketing strategy against external factors.

Each element of a SWOT analysis:

Step 4: Research Your Distribution & Promotion Tactics

During this marketing strategy step, you’ll uncover the external factor of where your audience is so you can find the best avenues to get in front of them.

Begin researching your distribution and promotion strategy with a classic marketing mix , also known as the four P’s:

The four P’s

Keep expanding on that last P, Promotion, by building a list of marketing channels. A marketing channel  is a method or platform used to market something to customers, such as social media or your website. Grab the audience research you performed in the first step and think where your personas and customers would most likely look for marketing content.

Once you get together a list of at least 10 channels, develop marketing tactics  to get your brand onto those channels. Some examples of marketing tactics include testimonials and referral marketing.

How can you apply these concepts to an existing brand? Check out Triviso. They sell a watermelon hair mask  (product) for $22 (price) and sell online to customers internationally (place).

triviso watermelon hair mask product page

Scroll down to the site’s footer, and you’ll find their promotion strategy — both channels and tactics. They promote their product on four social media channels, their blog, and their website. You’ll also see they use affiliate marketing as a tactic.

screenshot of triviso website footer with affiliate marketing as one of the menu options

Step 5: Know Your Financials

Before you dive into any more specific goals and actions, you’ll need to set a marketing budget . Money is one of the most critical internal factors in building a marketing strategy because it determines your scope.

At CoSchedule, we recommend setting a goal-driven marketing budget. To calculate this budget, multiply the cost of getting a conversion toward your goal by the number of conversions you want to get. Then, add your operational marketing costs.

Monthly marketing budget formula

Monthly marketing budget = (marketing goal acquisition cost × marketing marketing goal #) + [marketing operational costs]

Of course, this formula begs the question of how to calculate the cost of a conversion — your customer acquisition cost. Try dividing the cost of a piece of content by the number of conversions it got or; dividing your overall monthly marketing costs by your monthly conversions.

Step 6: Set Marketing Objectives & Goals

Your marketing objectives and goals are the internal factors that serve as the foundation for your marketing strategy. Every marketing strategy boils down to goals and the tactics you’ll take to accomplish them.

You can approach marketing goals and objectives in two different ways. You can set broad marketing goals such as “raise brand awareness” and break them into more specific, measurable objectives  like “increase share of voice by 10% by the end of August.” Or, you can create SMART (specific, measurable, aspirational, realistic, and timely) marketing goals  that check both boxes.

Whichever route you decide, make sure you have measurable and specific goals or objectives to follow. Metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs)  help you measure your success and set the pace for your marketing. What do these terms mean?

Whenever you set a marketing goal, add some associated KPIs. Those KPIs will give you specific metrics to watch as you monitor your success.

How to choose your KPIs, ask these questions:

Step 7: Define Your Brand

What impression do you want to make on your customers? Branding controls the internal factor of how you present your business and products.

If your company and product were a human, your brand identity  would be their looks and personality. A brand establishes the messages and aesthetics you use to represent yourself. It also includes the promise you make to your customers.

Your brand also determines your brand positioning strategy  — your plan for connecting your brand to your audience. Once you develop an initial brand, define what makes it stand out from other brands. Then, embrace those differentiators across your organization, not just in your marketing.

After establishing your brand and its positioning, infuse it into your communications by creating your brand voice and tone . What’s the difference between voice and tone?

Think about the words, phrases, and ideas that will express the brand “personality” you created earlier. Then, add your voice and tone to your style guides  so everyone in your organization can follow them.

Wrap up your branding with an impactful visual identity . A brand’s visual identity includes elements like:

Trader Joe’s  is an example of a business with a strong brand. From their flyers to their in-store experience, they stand out from the rest with vintage artwork and laid-back vibes:

Trader Joe's web page. Image of vegan buffalo style dip

Step 8: Document Your Marketing Strategy

Now that you’ve completed the smaller elements that make up a marketing strategy, it’s time to bring it all together in a document. Start with a high-level marketing strategy, then narrow it into an actionable marketing plan.

Your marketing strategy document will guide the what, why, and how behind your marketing activities. Grab our handy template  and fill it out with all the hard work you’ve done so far. It includes sections for your:

Great job! You now have a reference for your marketing strategy. Look it over whenever you want to launch a new campaign or make any marketing decisions.

Let’s dig deeper with a marketing plan that’ll become your roadmap for executing your strategy. We have a template for that , too. In this document, you’ll establish your:

It’ll take a little more work to adapt your strategy to this template. You’ll take the information you’ve collected so far and turn it into a plan of action. Don’t be afraid to look at our marketing plan template for inspiration.

Step 9: Build A Content Strategy That Will Reach Prospective Buyers

Content needs a dedicated strategy built from your overall marketing strategy. At CoSchedule, we share blog posts , guides like this one, and podcasts as part of our content strategy. How should you decide what to do with yours?

Begin with a content marketing funnel . Customers go through different stages of awareness as they get to know your product. The marketing funnel represents that process through three stages:

The funnel stage a customer comes from will determine what content they’ll search for. List each funnel stage and brainstorm content formats to create for each one. You’ll have fewer potential readers but higher potential value as you move down the funnel.

illustration depicting the marketing funnel showing top of funnel, middle of funnel, and bottom of funnel

With your content marketing funnel set up, you can move on to a content map . This document will cover your content strategy and the factors influencing it. It’ll help you establish:

Step 10: Execute Your Marketing Strategy

Time for the last step of the marketing strategy process  — putting your strategy into action.

Brainstorm projects that match your marketing goals and strategy. For example, if you want to increase your social following, you’d plan a social media campaign. Break those projects into tasks, and plot them out on a marketing calendar like our template  or the CoSchedule marketing calendar app .

Whenever you start a new project, create a marketing strategy execution  plan that includes:

After you wrap up that project and give it time for your audience to react, evaluate its performance. These resources can help you evaluate your return on investment (ROI) and analytics:

Pat yourself on the back — you finished the final step!

What Is The 7-Step Marketing Strategy?

The 7-Step Marketing Strategy framework  was developed by Joanna Lees at Seven Steps Marketing and consists of these stages:

The CoSchedule 10-step framework you just learned uses similar tactics, but it adds more detail.

What’s Missing In The 7-Step Marketing Strategy?

The 7-Step Marketing Strategy gives a very high-level overview that lacks actionable details. Compared to our 10 steps, it’s missing:

FAQs About Marketing Strategy Steps

What are the 5 must-have steps in the marketing strategy process.

At its core, the process behind creating and executing a marketing strategy consists of five steps:

5 Must-Have Steps In The Marketing Strategy Process

What Is The First Step To Market And Promote A Product?

Your first step in marketing a product should be to research your audience. We always recommend starting with this step because it’ll help you understand the wants and needs of prospective buyers. You’ll then be able to design the rest of your strategy around your audience.

Related:   Best of Season] AMP 081: How To Do Remarkable Customer Research With Rand Fishkin From SparkToro – CoSchedule Blog

What Are The 4 Steps To Designing A Customer-Driven Marketing Strategy?

If you want to pursue a customer-driven marketing strategy, follow these four steps:

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7 Steps to Create a Complete Marketing Strategy in 2023

Kayla Carmicheal

Published: December 08, 2022

Creating a marketing strategy is essential to effectively nurture your customers, improve the bottom line at your business, and increase the ROI of your efforts.

Marketers planning their 2023 marketing strategy.

A marketing strategy is especially critical if you want to leverage the highest-ROI trends for 2023 : short video, influencer marketing, and branded social media. To get powerful results, you must carefully weave both emerging trends and proven strategies into your plan.

Let's dive into the critical components of a complete marketing strategy in 2023, followed by some examples for inspiration.

Marketing Strategy

A marketing strategy is a detailed, structured plan of a company’s promotional efforts across a wide range of platforms and channels. A marketing strategy typically includes objectives, target audience profiles, content creation steps, key performance indicators, and other components.

A marketing strategy will:

The last one is especially important for this upcoming year. Keeping up with marketing trends is important for your strategy, but could be a full-time job.

Why? Because in one year alone, we've seen a major shift to short-form video content ; the rise and fall of new platforms (looking at you, Meta); and the continuing impact of the global pandemic. In short, what worked for your marketing strategy in the past might not fly today.

To succeed in the fast-paced marketing world — and maintain a sense of relevance with your audience — it's vital to stay ahead of the curve.

To help ease some of that uncertainty, we've going to show you step-by-step how to create a marketing strategy that leaves no stone unturned. But first, let’s go over the individual components that make up a strong marketing strategy.

Free Marketing Strategy Template

Fill out the form to access your free strategy doc., marketing strategy components.

1. Marketing Mix

marketing strategy components: marketing mix

Image Source

The marketing mix, also known as the 4 Ps of marketing, is the preliminary document you must create to understand what you will be marketing, where you’ll be marketing it, and how you’ll be marketing it. The following P’s make up this framework:

You can then extrapolate this information into a full-fledged marketing plan for each promotional channel. It’s important to lay out the information in broad strokes so that you understand the overall direction of your marketing strategy.

2. Marketing Objectives

marketing strategy components: marketing objectives

You can set your marketing objectives in conjunction with your 4 Ps, or right after. Either way, you should outline your marketing goals before building upon your strategy. Why? Because your goals will inform other components of the plan, including the budget and content creation process.

With every objective, you should aim to be as specific as possible. Try to create SMART marketing goals divided by channel or promotional tactic, and don’t forget that you can always come back and revise your goals as your priorities change.

3. Marketing Budget

marketing strategy components: marketing budget

A marketing budget is an essential element of your strategy. Without allotting funds to hiring the right talent, using the right software, advertising on the right channels, and creating the right content, your marketing strategy won’t have a powerful impact. To get a high return on investment, you must first invest.

Remember that you can always start small — hyper-focusing your budget on one or two efforts — and build upon them once you generate an ROI.

4. Competitive Analysis

Knowing your competition is key when creating a marketing strategy. Otherwise, you risk “yelling into the void” without measurable results. Worse, you won’t know whether you’re differentiating yourself enough from the competition and effectively drawing the attention of your intended audience.

You might already have an idea of whom your competitors are, but it’s still essential to sit down and identify them. You might end up uncovering a surprise competitor who’s vying for your target buyer’s attention and engagement.

5. Segmentation, Targeting, and Positioning

marketing strategy components: audience segmentation, targeting, and positioning

Segmentation, targeting, and positioning (STP) refers to the process of delivering “more relevant, personalized messages to target audiences.” In other words, rather than publishing posts and advertisements on a whim, you’ll go through a methodical process for creating content that resonates with your target buyer.

During the segmentation, targeting, and positioning process, you’ll take three steps:

6. Content Creation

marketing strategy components: content creation

Once you have your budget, competitive outlook, and STP information, it’s now time to take the most critical step: Creating your marketing content . But it’s essential to undertake this effort strategically. For one, you don’t want to publish random content that doesn’t solve for the customer, and for two, you must aim to capitalize on emerging trends so that your brand enjoys high visibility in the marketplace.

The competition is fierce across all formats. According to HubSpot Research , "half of marketers are using videos, with 47% leveraging images, followed by 33% posting blogs articles, infographics (30%) and podcasts or other audio content (28%)." Of these, video has the highest ROI.

marketing strategy components: content strategy data

It’s even more essential to invest in trends that have a high ROI, such as short-form video, influencer marketing, and social media DMs.

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t invest in blogging , one of the most proven content marketing techniques. It’s simply important to know where to allot the most resources, especially if you have a limited budget.

7. Metrics & Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

marketing strategy components: metrics and kpis

Last, but certainly not least, your marketing strategy must include metrics and key performance indicators to understand how well your strategies are working. The KPIs you choose will vary depending on your business type and preferred customer acquisition channels . Examples of KPIs include:

Now, let’s dive into why it’s important to follow the steps of a marketing strategy.

The Importance of Customer-Driven Marketing Strategy Steps

A robust marketing strategy will reach your target audience — this includes those who have never heard of your brand all the way to repeat customers.

Without a defined strategy, you’ll essentially be throwing things to the wall to see what sticks. And it’s costing you cost, time, and resources.

There are seven key steps to crafting a successful marketing strategy: Build your marketing plan, create your buyer personas, identify your goals, select the tools, review your existing resources, audit and plan media campaigns, and lastly, execute your strategy.

Let’s get into the details of each step in the next section. Or you can jump to the section you're most interested in.

Examples of Successful Marketing Strategies

7 Steps of a Marketing Strategy Process

1. Build a marketing plan.

Wait, I have to make a plan for my strategy? What's the difference?

Your marketing strategy provides an overview of the reasons why your marketing team will need certain resources, take certain actions, and set certain goals over the year. Your marketing plan is the specific actions you'll take to achieve that strategy.

Not sure where to start? This free marketing plan template can help.


Download for Free

The right template can help you build a marketing plan that identifies your budget for the year, the initiatives your marketing organization needs to tackle, and the marketing channels you'll use to implement those initiatives.

Plus, it’ll tie everything back to a business summary, to keep you aligned with overarching company goals.

2. Create buyer personas.

If you can't define who your audience is in one sentence, now's your chance to do it. A buyer persona is a snapshot of your ideal customer.

For example, a store like Macy's could define a buyer persona as Budgeting Belinda, a stylish working-class woman in her 30s living in a suburb, looking to fill her closet with designer deals at low prices.

With this description, Macy's Marketing department can picture Budgeting Belinda and work with a clear definition in mind.

Buyer personas have critical demographic and psychographic information, including age, job title, income, location, interests, and challenges. Notice how Belinda has all of those attributes in her description.

You don't have to create your buyer persona with a pen and paper. In fact, HubSpot offers a free template you can use to make your own (and it's really fun).

You can also use a platform like Versium , which helps you identify, understand and reach your target audience through data and artificial intelligence.

Buyer personas should be at the core of building your strategy.

3. Identify your goals.

Your marketing strategy goals should reflect your business goals.

For example, if one of your business goals is to have 300 people attend your annual conference in three months, your goal as a marketer should be along the lines of boosting online registration by 10% at the end of the month to stay on track.

Other marketing goals might be to increase brand awareness or generate high-quality leads. You might also want to grow or maintain thought leadership in your industry or increase customer value.

Whatever your goals, identify what they are and how your marketing organization can work to achieve them over the next year.

4. Select the appropriate tools.

Once you have your goals identified, make sure you have the right tools to measure the success of those goals.

Online software like social media schedulers gives you analytics to help you keep track of what your audience likes and doesn't. Alternatively, you might consider Google Analytics to measure blog and web page performance.

Additionally, make your goals SMART – to do so, take a look at How to Write a SMART Goal [+ Free SMART Goal Template ].

Here are a few tools that can help you track and measure the success of your marketing goals:

HubSpot Marketing Hub

The Marketing Hub allows you to consolidate all of your marketing tools into one centralized platform.

hubspot marketing hub dashboard

You can also transform data pulled from timeline and Gantt views to track your projects on and ensure deadlines have been met. Plus, with more than 40 integrations — from SurveyMonkey to Mailchimp and, of course, HubSpot — you can visualize your data and ensure your whole company is collaborating.

Pricing : Basic, $8/month/seat; Standard, $10/month/seat; Pro, $16/month/seat; Enterprise, contact for pricing.

semrush dashboard

Crazy Egg also offers recordings, A/B testing, and more to help ensure your website is offering the best user experience.

Pricing : Basic, $24/month; Standard, $49/month; Plus, $99/month; Pro, $249/month; Enterprise, contact for pricing.

5. Review your media.

Decide what you already have in your arsenal that can help you create your strategy. To streamline this process, think of your assets in three categories – paid, owned, and earned media.

  • Paid media means any channel you spend money on to attract your target audience. This includes offline channels like television, direct mail, and billboard to online channels like social media, search engines, and websites.
  • Owned Media refers to any of the media your marketing team has to create: pictures, videos, podcasts, ebooks, infographics, etc.
  • Earned media is another way to say user-generated content . Shares on social media, tweets about your business, and photos posted on Instagram mentioning your brand are all examples of earned media.

Gather your materials in each media type and consolidate them in one location to have a clear vision of what you have and how you can integrate them to maximize your strategy.

For example, if you already have a blog that's rolling out weekly content in your niche (owned media), you might consider promoting your blog posts on Twitter (paid media), which customers might then reTweet (earned media). Ultimately, that will help you create a better, more well-rounded marketing strategy.

If you have resources that don't fit into your goals, nix them. This is a great time to clean house and identify gaps in your materials.

6. Audit and plan media campaigns.

Cleaning house segues straight into this step. Now, you must decide which content is going to help you.

Focus on your owned media and marketing goals. For instance, will updating the CTAs at the end of your blog posts help you increase RSVPs to your event?

Next, look at your buyer personas. Let's say you work for a video editing software company. If one of your persona's challenges is adding clean sound effects to their videos but you don't have any content that reflects that, make a 15-second demo video for Instagram to show how great your product is at solving that challenge.

Finally, create a content creation plan. The plan should include topic clusters, goals, format, and channel for each piece of content. Be sure to include which challenge it's solving for your buyer persona.

For ideas on content creation or a more in-depth look at how to create a content plan, check out our post, The Ultimate Guide to Content Creation .

7. Bring it to fruition.

At this point, your market research and planning should help you visualize how your strategy will be executed – and by which teams.

The final step is to bring that all together and assign actions to your plans.

Create a document that maps out the steps you need to take to execute your campaign. In other words, define your strategy.

Think long-term when creating this document. A standard strategy document is 12 months. This structured timeline should be the home base for your strategic marketing efforts.

To paint an example, let's go back to the video software company.

Maybe in January, you will launch a software update that improves the exportation process for users. In April, you want to publish an ebook that explains editing terms to your buyer personas, and in September, you plan to launch an integration with other software.

Remember, your digital strategy is unique to your business, so the document should be as well. As long as the strategy includes the pertinent details outlined in previous sections, you'll be set.

Now that we've explored the critical steps of a complete marketing strategy, let's look at some "Why didn't I think of that?" strategies to inspire your own.

1. Regal Movies

Digital strategy: owned media.

Regal Movies took the Halloween spirit to a new level, even renaming its Twitter account to reflect the spirit of the season. This "Monster Madness" poll is a fun, interactive way to get followers invested in Regal's content:

regal movies' owned media

In this case, the consumer is praising the brand’s product. Doesn’t get better than a fantastic review like that.

3. Small Girls PR

Digital strategy: event marketing.

Wait, is that Keke Palmer?


Small Girls PR is a boutique PR company based in New York, and one of the company's talents is throwing amazing events for their clients, like Olay. This event recap carousel on Instagram is an effective event marketing example, as it boosts awareness for your brand and offers social proof by featuring a public figure.

4. Superside

Digital strategy: paid media.

Design agency Superside launched an Instagram ad to promote a lead magnet: Their digital ad design guide. While the brand may have created the guide specifically for paid promotions, it’s also possible that they repurposed a high-performing blog post into a downloadable ebook.

marketing strategy paid media example

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5 Critical Steps to Developing an Engineering Marketing Plan

By: Lee Chapman 1/31/23 10:01 AM

Marketers have a saying: “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there.”

Without planning and a sound strategy, how can you know where you are going or what you need to do to get there?

Here are five steps to develop your engineering marketing plan from the ground up.

5 Critical Steps to Develop an Engineering Marketing Plan

Step 1: Document Your Business Goals and Budget

Before jumping into the tactics and execution, your marketing team should ask the leadership team to define their business goals for the next 1-3 years. Your goals can be externally focused, internally focused, or perhaps a mix of both.

Business Goals and Budget

When developing goals (at the business level or otherwise), write them in the SMART format that ensures accountability. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-bound .

SMART goals can propel business goals such as:

  • Increase product line revenue by 30 percent to $2 million in the next 12 months
  • Double revenue through distributors in the next two years
  • Increase profitability from 25 to 30 percent by the end of the year

While you are setting business goals, be sure to also set a marketing budget for your engineering company for the year. A good rule of thumb for setting a marketing budget is 6-to-12% of gross revenue with higher spending in the early phases as you establish your marketing foundation. 

To learn more about how business strategy and marketing go hand in hand for engineering companies, click here . 

Step 2: Conduct A SWOT Analysis

Ultimately, you want marketing that provides a consistent flow of high-quality leads to help fuel new sales opportunities and drive growth for your engineering company. You want your technical engineering target audiences and customers to be happy to hear from you and not dread it. 

The way to achieve all of this is to use a smart marketing approach that builds a marketing strategy and execution plan aligned with your business goals. This starts with a SWOT of your current marketing program.

SWOT stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats in terms of your competitive position, target markets, target audiences, current positioning/messaging, the maturity of your offerings, channel partners, etc.

SWOT Analysis

Step 3: Identify Your Target Buyer Personas

You may already know the profile of your most valuable engineering prospects and the sales process your company uses to convert them from leads to opportunities to customers. However, as your company grows, you won’t know each prospect’s unique situation, and one message won’t work for all. You’ll need to customize your approach to marketing for your engineering company by creating buyer personas.

Buyer personas are fictional representations of your ideal customers based on demographic data, online behavior, and your educated speculation about personal histories, motivations, and concerns.

For example, you may define your engineering customer personas as: 

  • VP of Engineering Vince, a business executive who cares most about cost and long-term support.
  • Engineer Elliot, an engineering manager or senior staff engineer who is an expert in your technology area and wants to do a deep dive into the technical capabilities of your product or how you deliver a service.

Elliot greatly influences Vince, but Vince makes the final decisions. Vince and Elliot have very different concerns.

Here's a simple guide on how to develop a buyer persona :

  • The first step is to brainstorm who they could be and create a list.
  • Once you have your full list, identify the ones who have similar needs or roles and consider merging them.
  • From here, prioritize your list of personas by considering their impact on the final purchase decision, their relationship to your company, and the size of the audience persona group.
  • Once you’ve finished brainstorming, create your actual personas.

Step 4: Develop Your Marketing Goals

Armed with your business strategy, areas of greatest opportunity, and defined persons, you are now ready to create marketing goals. Goal setting is critical to aligning your marketing organization, narrowing your focus, and setting your overall marketing strategy.

Marketing Goals

Documenting your goals ensures your team is aligned with your top marketing priorities and what you expect to achieve through your marketing efforts. Your goals can be externally focused, internally focused, or perhaps a mix of both.

Write your goals in the SMART format that helps ensures accountability for your marketing team.

For example, your SMART marketing goal could be to “15% increase in the number of qualified leads passed to sales in the military market by Q4”. Develop at least three, and no more than five, SMART marketing goals.

Step 5: Build Your Activity Plan

Now that you’ve created your marketing goals and have a budget, you are ready to develop your activity plan. The most effective way to approach turning your marketing strategy into an execution plan is by using a campaign structure. You can think of campaigns as buckets of activities focused on a common theme or goal.

With limited time and budget, a campaign approach gives you the big picture before you get into the weeds of which new video you will produce, which white paper you will write and promote, and which of your engineering client personas you will target.

Build Activity Plan

Campaigns can run the gamut in scope. They can be anything from a major product launch to building thought leadership in a particular segment to increasing web traffic and leads. Here are two examples of marketing campaigns and their stated goals and KPIs your engineering company can utilize.

Campaign 1: Lead Generation and Conversion

  • Description — Through content and partner co-marketing, attract quality leads that convert to opportunities
  • KPI — Increase leads by 35 percent to 210 per month
  • KPI — Increase lead opportunity conversion from 6 to 8 percent

Campaign 2: Partner Marketing

  • Description — Develop and implement a channel co-marketing program
  • KPI — Publish at least one lead-generating piece of co-branded content per quarter
  • KPI — Generate 100 net new leads through co-marketing activities

Strategy is an evolution, and something that takes a great deal of time to develop. However, mapping out a clear, strategic direction will ensure a cohesive marketing plan that maps to your personas through campaigns and is time bound and budget driven.

Learn More

Technology Marketing Plan in Practice: A Case Study for Knowles Precision Devices

Back in 2018, Knowles Precision Devices was under new marketing leadership and faced the opportunity to grab market share in a few key markets as they evolved. To meet these business goals, Knowles decided to implement an inbound marketing approach. Content was the heart of their approach, and they looked to TREW to plan, develop and execute their content marketing strategy from the ground up.

We started with a full marketing plan, establishing buyer personas, marketing goals, specific campaigns, and overall marketing strategy that the content plan would roll up and support. We then developed a detailed content plan that focused on four primary content themes targeted to the established personas at various stages of their buyer’s journey. 

Read Case Study

Looking for additional marketing planning insights for your engineering company?

For more information on Marketing Planning for Engineering, download our B2B Marketing Planning Guidebook to dive deeper into the marketing planning process. 

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TREW is a marketing agency dedicated to reaching engineering and technical audiences through a range of marketing initiatives. Contact us today to learn more about the services we offer. 

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Lee chapman.

the first step in developing a strategic marketing plan is

About TREW Marketing

TREW Marketing is a strategy-first content marketing agency serving B2B companies that target highly technical buyers. With deep experience in the design, embedded, measurement and automation, and software industries, TREW Marketing provides branding, marketing strategy, content development, and digital marketing services to help customers efficiently and effectively achieve business goals.

10 Steps to Developing a Strategic Marketing Plan

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  • Reading time: 5 mins
  • Marketing Strategy

The success of your business depends on your marketing plan. This plan establishes your marketing strategy, and depending on the needs of your business, this plan will change over time. We’ve created a brief guide to get you started on a strategic marketing plan or to update an existing one.

Here are 10 steps to developing a strategic marketing plan:

1. Set goals and objectives. Before you create a marketing plan, you must have a purpose for it. This purpose is based on the long-term goals that guide all of your efforts. Once these long-term goals are established, break them down into specific objectives. Your objectives should be measurable over a period of time. For example, your goal may be to establish a social media marketing strategy. Meanwhile, an objective related to this goal could be to gain 100 followers on social media during the first month on the platform.

2. Analyze your situation. A Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats (SWOT) analysis can give you a snapshot of the situations you face as you market your business. Your strengths are what make your business unique, while your weaknesses are what you can improve on. The economy, your competitors, technology, and other external factors contribute to your opportunities and threats. By analyzing your situation this way, you can improve your marketing strategies, while overcoming challenges that may or may not be in your control. Create customer personas to help figure out who your ideal customers. This will help with your analysis.

3. Map your messages. Your messaging is part of your marketing strategy and your brand. To create a message map, start by writing an XYZ statement or boilerplate that contains basic information about your business. Then, center other messaging related to your products, clients, and services around the XYZ statement. These messages can then be incorporated into your mission statement, press releases, and other marketing materials.

4. Live out your mission. Your business has a set of values that guides it. Creating a mission statement outlines these values and ensures that the people who interact with your business are aware of them. Just be sure that this message reflects your brand honestly so you can actively demonstrate the values outlined in the mission statement through your interactions with clients. This statement and how it is carried out can make or break your clients’ trust.

Pulse takes pride in being your local, friendly marketing team, which is why it is our tagline. We demonstrate those values by being involved in our community.

5. Outline your tactics. A successful marketing strategy is made up of many different tactics, including both online and offline options. Your goals, target audience, and industry factor into this decision. For example, if your target audience is young, focusing on social media is more beneficial as this is primarily where this group consumes content. If your industry is product-based (for example, if you design jewelry), then using a more visual platform would better showcase your products. To be most effective, you have to choose which methods are right for your business. Once you’ve selected your tactics, list them in your marketing plan and determine how they’ll help you reach your goals.

6. Make a timeline. Your time is precious, especially when it comes to your marketing strategies. Based on the goals and objectives you’ve set for your business, create a timeline that will determine what will be completed and when. Remember to allow extra time for unexpected events that may delay some of your goals.

Using project management software can help you to create a timeline. At Pulse, we use Wrike , a program that enables us to schedule projects on a timeline.

7. Mind your budget. Creating a budget for your marketing strategies can inform your efforts by determining what you can and can’t afford. Choosing the most cost-effective options for your business ensures the success of your overall marketing plan. This doesn’t have to limit your options. Paid advertising on social media and search engines allows you to choose the amount you can afford to pay, making them accessible to even the smallest of budgets.

8. Divide and conquer. Once you’ve created a timeline for the creation and distribution of your marketing materials, assign these tasks to members of your staff. If your business is small and doesn’t have the staff required to carry out your plan, you may need to consider hiring another person or a marketing agency. Ultimately, your staff’s size and qualifications will determine this for you.

9. Measure up. Measuring the effectiveness of your marketing strategies will inform your current plan and your future efforts. Your website, social media, and other marketing materials are sources of this information. To help you track this , there are many free online analytics tools available. Just be sure to only track data relevant to your business so these measurements are effective.

10. Stay current. Your marketing goals and needs will change over time. Ideally, you should revisit your marketing plan once a year and make adjustments as necessary. You should write your marketing plan with this growth in mind so you can measure it. In the meantime, follow industry news and trends that you can add to your own strategies.

Establishing a marketing plan keeps your business goals organized and focused, saving valuable time and money. Even if you already have a marketing plan, you can still reap these benefits by keeping it up-to-date.

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