Learning Objectives Covered
1. Identify and discuss the three tiers in the strategic planning process
Strategic planning is the process by which businesses or organizations within businesses define direction and make decisions on how to use resources to pursue this direction. Watch the video below to summarize the strategic planning process:
Overview of the Strategic Planning Process (4:30 minutes)
There are several levels of plans that are involved in the strategic planning process: The business plan, the marketing plan, the brand communication plan or integrated marketing communication (IMC) campaigns. Before IMC became more mainstream, the business plan, the marketing plan, and the advertising plan were the most commonly used plans. They were sometimes referred to as the three tiers in the strategic planning process. This was because each plan worked in conjunction with the one before to provide a comprehensive overview of the planning process.
Strategic planning that makes use of IMC or brand communication plans includes another level of plans for specific areas of marketing communication such as advertising or public relations (Moriarty, Mitchell, & Wells, 2014, p. 179).
Business plans are used to direct operations of an entire business or in the case of large companies it may be used to direct specific divisions. Business plans give a picture of the company and the environment that the company works within. Creating a business plan has several steps or parts. The part that make up a business plan are similar to the parts that make up other plans in the strategic planning process.
The firsts part of the business plan is the vision and mission statements. These statements differ in that the vision statement defines what the organization wants to be, and the mission statement defines what the organization will do. In the video below, Bruce Johnson helps to clarify the difference between a vision and a mission statement:
What’s the Difference Between Mission and Vision? (5:08)What’s the Difference Between Mission and Vision? (Links to an external site.)
Internal and external research comes in the business plan after the vision and mission statement. One way to approach this research is to do a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) analysis. SWOT is used in many planning processes that help organizations look at both interior and exterior strengths and weaknesses. Watch the video below for an overview of the SWOT process:
How to SWOT Analysis (5:23 minutes)
Goals and objectives are the next part of the business plan. Goals are long range and general in scope and define the financial aspects of a business. A goal could include developing a low-priced brand for a specific market. Objectives on the other hand are specific and measurable, and in business plans they usually focus on return on investment (ROI). “ROI is a measurement that shows whether, in general, the costs of conducting the business—the investment—are more than matched by the revenue produced in return” (Moriarty et al., 2014, p. 181).
Goals, Objectives, Strategies & Tactics: What’s the difference? (2:32 minutes)
The remaining parts of a business plan include: strategies, tactics, implementation, and controls. Strategies are the plans that will achieve the goals and objectives set up earlier in the business plan. Tactics are specific activities that carry out the strategies. Implementation is the actual decisions that must be made to carry out the tactics including things like budgeting, scheduling, and personnel. Controls are management tools like “budgets, audits, time sheets, and quality control procedures… that keep programs on strategy and that track the effectiveness of strategic decisions and implementation programs. This information feeds back into the planning process and is used to adjust future plans” (Moriarty et al., 2014, p. 181).
Marketing plans are similar to business plans except that instead of focusing on the business as a whole, marketing plans are developed for specific brands or product lines. A restaurant might have an overall marketing plan but it could also have a separate marketing plan for a breakfast menu. There are six steps to creating a marketing plan (Moriarty et al., 2014, pp. 181–184).
Step 1 is a situational analysis done through SWOT analysis (see SWOT video above).
Step 2 is to set objectives.
Step 3 is customer analysis.
Step 4 is developing a brand strategy.
Step 5 is to develop the marketing mix strategy including “product design and performance criteria, pricing, distribution, and marketing communication” (Moriarty et al., 2014, p. 184).
Finally, Step 6 is implementation of tactical decisions that carry through on the marketing mix strategy.
How to Write a Strategic Marketing Plan (5:38 minutes)
Brand Communication or Integrated Marketing Communication (IMC) Plan
Communication plans also use objectives, strategies, and tactics similar to the processes used for business and marketing plans. Just as a general goal in the business plan may become more specific objectives in the marketing plan, general goals in the marketing plan are converted into more specific objectives in the communication plan.
The major goals in a communication plan are to figure out who the audience is, what message you would like to get to them, and what tools will you use to reach them. An outline of an IMC plan is quoted below (Moriarty et al., 2014, p. 535).
- Situation Analysis
- Background research
- SWOTs: strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats
- Key communication problem(s) to be solved
- Key Strategic Campaign Decisions
- Targeting and engaging stakeholders
- Brand positioning strategy
- Platforms and objectives
- Message Strategy
- Key consumer and brand relationship insights
- Message direction
- Strategic consistency
- IMC Media and Contact Points
- Multimedia and multichannel
- Contact points, touch points, and critical touch points
- Management and Campaign Controls
- Evaluation of effectiveness
Other Marketing Communication Plans
The IMC outline can also be used for specific marketing communication functions like advertising plans and public relation plans. The creation of these types of plans allows for insights into the specific audience, the creation of a message strategy, and the creation of a media strategy. These plans design activities using key media to accomplish objectives developed in the plan. They will provide the detail needed to carry out the activities in a given time frame.
Moriarty, S., Mitchell, N., & Wells, W. D. (2014). Advertising & IMC: Principles and Practice (10th ed.). Pearson Higher Ed.
For this week’s discussion spend some time researching advertisements. By looking at the advertisements and information you can find about them, what do you think the advertising plan or IMC plan would look like? Questions that might help get this type of information: Who is the target audience? What is the overall message strategy? What strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, or threats can you deduce from the advertisement and other information you were able to find about the ad?
An example of this type of deconstruction is given in this Ad Age article (Links to an external site.) (539 words) that discusses a Planet Fitness advertisement that ran on New Year’s Eve and in January of 2016. The ad showed humorous clips of people being rejected in different situations and carried the message “The world judges, we don’t. Be free.” This is an attempt to appeal to people who want to make New Year’s resolution but are intimidated by the idea of going to a gym where they might be judged. The timing of the ad is important because the majority of health club memberships are sold in January of each year.
In your initial discussion post, share the advertisement you have selected and your insights into what the advertising plan might look like.
Per the Due Dates and Participation Requirements for this course, you must submit your main post of 150+ words with at least two IWG citations and references. Two 50+ word peer responses are required as your follow up posts. Responses can be addressed to both your initial thread and other threads but must be your own words (no copy and paste), each reply unique (no repeating something you already said), and substantial in nature. Remember that part of the discussion grade is submitting on time (20%) and using proper grammar, spelling, etc. (20% per post).
Remember that part of the discussion grade is submitting on time and using proper grammar, spelling, etc. You’re training to be a professional—write like it.