In this chapter we would like to discuss both general features of a strategy and special characteristics of marketing strategy. The aim is to assess the common opinion of researchers and practicioners on the process of creating marketing strategy, its individual parts and to establish the tools a company should use when building its own strategy.
Strategy is originally a Greek word coming from the military origins. Nowadays this word is usually defined on two levels. First as general description: „a careful plan or method or an adaption that serves or appears to serve an important function in achieving evolutionary success“ and second as its realisation: „the art of devising or employing plans or stratagems towards a goal, or a variety of or instance of the use of strategy“12 or „a plan of action resulting from strategy or intended to accomplish a specific goal“13.
Most authors in marketing (e.g. Kotler in Principles of Marketing, Grant in Contemporary Strategy Analysis14) offer a definition not much different from the one formed by Mintzberg, Quinn and Ghoshal: „A strategy is a pattern or plan that integrates an organization's major goals, policies and action sequences into a cohesive whole.“15 On the fact that marketing strategy planning must be effected in steps, all three authors agree. Kotler suggests using his 8-steps planning proces (for detailed description see TAB. 3 below), while others define it more narrowly (as e.g. El-kadi16). A certain parallel could be seen between El-Kadi´s layout and the one coming also from Kotler and mostly being used in marketing school books as segmenting, targeting and positioning. Both are showing the most important part of the strategy planning process and are accepted by other scholars as well, even slightly differently.17 This division is partly mirrored in his previously mentioned eight-step procedure as outcomes from segmenting represent part of the current marketing situtation, results from targeting feed both into objectives and issues and into marketing strategy and action programmes consist of a description of marketing mix.
TAB. 3 Eight-step Strategy Planning Process
Presents a quick overview of the plan for quick management review.
The marketing audit that presents background data on the market, product, competition and distribution.
Identifies the company´ s main strenghts and weaknesses and the main opportunities and threats facing the product.
Objectives and issues
Defines the company´s objectives in the areas of sales, market share and profits, and the issues that will affect these objectives.
Presents the broad marketing apporach that will be used to achieve the plan´s objectives.
Specifies what will be done, who will do it, when it will be done and what it will cost.
A projected profit-and-loss statement that forecasts the expected financial outcomes from the plan.
Indicates how the progress of the plan will be monitored.
Resource: addapted from Kotler, P. Principles of Marketing, p. 68 To make it more understandable and easily comparable to both Kotler´s descriptions of the processes of strategic planning in marketing, we introduce his third concept, where he completes the process with stage of realization.18 Kumar also divided the process of strategic planning into four stages in order to point out the equal level of importance of analysis present situation, creating a clear view of objectives as a whole as well as the ways of achieving them, and last but not least of implementation (see FIG. 4).
Resource: Kumar, V., Aaker, D. A. and Day, G. S. Essentials of marketing research., p.7 To sum up, marketing strategy belongs to one of the seven key processes of marketing as a survey of 1995 applied by the Chartered Institute of Marketing´s claims.19 In most organisations „strategic planning“ is an annual process while books on strategic planning do suggest this to cover at least three years in order to keep it as an ongoing, continuous process. Marketing strategy is a formal document, generally in written form, describing the overall objectives of the company and the way of achieving them. Many scholars argue about whether or not the strategy should really outline also the basic steps of individual action plans (or marketing programmes). Grant claims the strategy not to be a detailed plan of instructions or programme20, Kotler on the contrary includes the level of programmes in each of his three schemes.
For the purpose of this work it is important to include situation analysis as a whole (and segmentation therefore as one of its parts), further continue with describing aspects strategy development in the sense of targeting and attach also positioning as marketing programme development on a strategic not an operational level.