how to write a strategic marketing plan or business strategy, marketing and advertising tips, internet and website marketing tips
This is a simple guide to marketing, strategic business planning, advertising and promotion and sales lead generation, for small UK businesses especially. With tips and techniques for advertising and PR, for non-marketing managers, and for marketing and advertising professionals too; this is marketing and advertising made simple. Also some easy tips on website design, internet advertising and marketing.
While much of this marketing theory page was written a while ago generally the principles apply just the same, if fact many of these basic pointers are good reminders of some of the simple things that are easy to overlook in these modern distracting times.
Incidentally, where references are made to the UK there will commonly be equivalent methods and processes and suppliers that are applicable in other countries.
N.B. Spelling: mainly for search reasons, UK-English and US-English spellings of organisation/organization are used on this page. Aside from this, the preferred UK-English spellings are generally used. Change the spellings for your own situation if using these materials in teaching and training notes.
a fundamental aspect of modern marketing
First, here's something that is fast becoming the most fundamental aspects of marketing to get right, especially if you want to build a truly sustainable high quality organisation (of any size) in the modern age:
Ensure the ethics and philosophy of your organisation are good and sound. This might seem a bit tangential to marketing and business, and rather difficult to measure, nevertheless.
Price is no longer the king, if it ever was. Value no longer rules, if ever it did. Quality of service and product is not the deciding factor.
Today what truly matters is ethical and philosophical quality - from the bottom to the top - in every respect - across every dimension of the organisation.
Modern consumers, business buyers, staff and suppliers too, are today more interested than ever before in corporate integrity. which is defined by the organisation's ethics and philosophy.
Good sound ethics and philosophy enable and encourage people to make 'right and good ' decisions, and to do right and good things. It's about humanity and morality; care and compassion; being good and fair.
Profit is okay, but not greed; reward is fine, but not avarice; trade is obviously essential, but exploitation is not.
Psychological Contract theory is helpful towards understanding and developing fair balanced philosophy, especially in meeting the complex needs of staff, customers and the organization.
Nudge theory is a powerful change-management methodology which emerged in the 2000s. It's extremely useful in understanding, and to an extent managing, how people think and make decisions.
People naturally identify and align with ethical philosophical values. The best staff, suppliers, and customers naturally gravitate towards organisations with strong ethical qualities.
Putting a good clear ethical philosophy in place, and communicating it wide and far lets people know that your organisation always strives to do the the right thing. It's powerful because it appeals to people's deepest feelings. Corporate integrity, based on right and good ethical philosophy, transcends all else.
And so, strong ethics and good philosophy are the fundamentals on which all good organisations and businesses are now built.
People might not ask or talk about this much: the terminology is after all not fashionable 'marketing-speak', nor does it correlate obviously to financial performance, but be assured; everyone is becoming more aware of the deeper responsibilities of corporations and businesses in relation to humanity, and morality, the natural world, the weak and the poor, and the future of the planet.
Witness the antagonism growing towards certain multi-nationals. People don't rail against successful corporations - they rail against corporations which put profit ahead of people; growth ahead of of society and communities; technology and production ahead of the natural world; market domination ahead of compassion for humankind. None of this is right and good, and these organisations are on borrowed time.
People increasingly prefer to buy from, deal with, and work for, ethical. right-minded organisations. And whether an organisation is ethical and right-minded is becoming increasingly transparent for all to see.
So be one.
Aside from which - when you get your philosophy right, everything else naturally anchors to it. Strategies, processes, attitudes, relationships, trading arrangements, all sorts of difficult decisions - even directors salaries and share options dare we suggest.
And it need not be complicated. The ultimate corporate reference point is: "Is it right and good. How does this (idea, initiative, decision, etc) stack up against our ethical philosophy?"
Organisations are complex things, and they become more and more complicated every day. A good ethical philosophy provides everyone with a natural, reliable reference point, for the tiniest detail up to the biggest strategic decision.
So as you start to write your marketing plan, be it for a new start-up, a huge corporation, or a little department within one, make sure you put a 'right and good' ethical philosophy in place before you do anything else, and watch everything grow from there.
types of advertising media - different methods and their uses.
direct marketing, advertising, and the law - notably the UK Data Protection Act and Preference Services for telemarketing, fax, mail, etc.
advertising tips and 'tricks of the trade' - secrets of effective printed advertising and maximizing advertising response.
PR - make the most of public relations - use press releases for free advertising and publicity.
newsletters - for staff and customers.
website and internet marketing tips - simple tips for internet websites and online marketing.
See also (on other pages):
business planning - includes free strategic planning templates, samples and examples
sales and selling - methods, processes, theory, techniques - help for developing selling propositions and sales strategies
marketing vs advertising - differences and definitions
Marketing and advertising are commonly confused. This confusion is compounded because meanings of both continue to evolve.
Below are definitions of marketing, followed by definitions advertising, and the differences between marketing and advertising.
Firstly it's important to note that:
The increasingly broad nature of the marketing definitions reflects the increasing dimensions by which organizations engage with their markets. It is truly fascinating and highly significant to see how the definitions of marketing have changed over time.
Marketing was traditionally simply 'selling products' (as if at a traditional old-style farmer's market). The term derives from this meaning. This meaning developed so that marketing became an extension of selling - a means by which to identify, design, and communicate or 'target' offerings to customers.
Nowadays however, we know that customers make decisions to buy many products/services by referring to vastly more and wider factors than simply product/service features, quality, availability, and price.
Nowadays the meaning of marketing is extremely sophisticated. A good modern definition of marketing must acknowledge that we buy things in far more complex ways than we did fifty years ago, even ten years ago. The internet and social media are major factors in this. Above all, marketing is a reflection of 'the market', and how the market buys and behaves, which especially entails people and society - much broader considerations than purely product and price. As the market evolves in sophistication, so does the way in which we understand what marketing actually is and what it means to conduct marketing well.
Here are three examples of how the scope and definition of marketing reaches much farther than ever before:
- many customers will not buy from a supplier whose ownership is considered to be unethical, greedy, or overly profit-driven, whereas many customers positively seek out suppliers considered to have more ethical convictions and ethos, such as mutuals and cooperatives, or social enterprises. These issues are therefore now unavoidably part of marketing, and where marketing fails to consider or influence these matters, then marketing activity is potentially less able and effective.
Organizational probity - (probity means honesty, uprightness - it's from the Latin word probus, meaning good) - this includes issues such as environmental and social responsibility, and 'Fairtrade', etc. See the '4P Purpose-Probity model'. Where marketing fails to involve, address and influence these fundamentals of organizational values, then marketing is to an extent (dependent on the service/market sector) disabled.
The psychological contract - the relationship between organization and staff directly affects market image and customer service/relationships. Marketing has for decades extended its reach to staff (traditionally, for example 'internal marketing' via newsletters and staff briefings, etc) but nowadays this 'internal' facet is immensely more significant. Organizational integrity and related failings are now much more transparent. Employer/employee relationships are now seen very obviously to influence quality and ethics of conduct and service (for example, scandals featuring News International privacy criminality, insurance industry miss-selling, and banking/investment risk). As such it is difficult to exclude considerations such as the psychological contract from the marketing responsibility.
definitions of marketing
Here are some definitions of marketing, oldest first, starting with the 1922 OED (Oxford English Dictionary). The increasingly broad nature of these marketing definitions reflects the increasing dimensions by which organizations engage with their markets, and consequently how the meaning of marketing has grown.
"The action of selling, i.e. to bring or send to market. " and also, "Produce [verb meaning] to be sold in the market." (1922 OED - Oxford English Dictionary, paraphrased)
"The action or business of promoting and selling products and services, including market research and advertising". (1998-2005 revised, modern-day Oxford English Dictionary)
"Marketing is the management process responsible for identifying, anticipating and satisfying customer requirements profitably." (The UK Chartered Institute of Marketing, CIM, official definition 2012.)
"Marketing encompasses and includes all organizational activities which involve or affect the relationship between a supplier/provider organization and its audience and stakeholders." (Businessballs.com, A Chapman, 2012)
definition of advertising and advertisement
We now see more clearly that advertising is quite different to, and actually within, marketing:
"The activity or profession of producing advertisements for commercial products or services." (2005 Oxford English Dictionary)
Advertisement is defined as: "A notice or announcement in a public medium promoting a product, service or event, or publicizing a job vacancy." (2005 Oxford English Dictionary)
"Communicating by print or electronic or other media to a customer/audience/market about a product/service/organization so as to improve the desire for or view of the product/service/organization." (Businessballs.com, A Chapman, 2012)
(Extending usefully as:) ". Advertising seeks, in measurable, cost-effective, controllable ways, to generate enquiries or sales and/or to raise awareness/perceptions of a supplier/provider/organization, by presenting motivating communications to an appropriate audience." (Businessballs.com, A Chapman, 2012)
Marketing and advertising are different.
Marketing is an extremely broad area that includes advertising. not vice-versa.
Marketing also includes PR, online presence/activities, customer service, selling/sales admin (methods and structure/strategy), branding, exhibitions, sponsorship, new product development, merchandising, surveys and market research, political lobbying, and even extends to ethos, culture, training, and organizational constitutional issues, since all this affects the image and trading style of an organization or product/service provider.
Advertising is far more specific than marketing; advertising is a function of marketing. and basically encompasses methods of communication with audience designed to produce sales enquiries, and/or improve awareness/perceptions of product/brand/organization. Advertising refers to printed and electronic media that is presented one way or another to market or audience, including packaging, point of sale, brochures and sales literature. Advertising increasingly extends to 'advertorial' in traditional and online media, which combines provision of objective helpful information and more subjective advertising/endorsement. Advertising (when properly executed) is the statistically driven and measurable implementation of marketing strategy, via carefully selected communications methods, targeted at predetermined audiences.
Advertising is one of several instruments/means by which marketing operates.
We might also regard advertising as one means of tactical implementation of the strategic aims of marketing.
marketing and business planning - and fundamental organizational philosophy, purpose, values, and ethics
a modern planning framework for a business or organization
First it's helpful to revisit, check or define the foundations of your business or organization. What are your fundamental aims and values? What is your ultimate purpose?
Is your underpinning philosophy congruent (consistent) with your planned business activities, operations and aims? (See the leadership page for explanation of how underpinning purpose and philosophy are so important for leadership, as well as for strategy and marketing.)
Below is a simple template for checking that you have the foundations and building blocks in place. If not, then decide (as far as you can, because it's generally the CEO's call) what they should be, because all good marketing plans need to have solid foundations first.
As regards the fundamental philosophical aspects see the sections on ethical organizations and corporate responsibility and the Psychological Contract. These concepts are deeper than tools and processes and mission statements - having a sound philosophy and ethical position determines and protects the spirit and integrity of your organization.
When it comes to defining more detailed aspects of mission and strategy, of course there's degree of 'chicken and egg' here: How can you know your Mission until you validate it with your potential customers? How can you establish objectives and goals without consulting and involving your staff? These later stages obviously need to be put in place and refined when you are in position to do so without guessing or assuming, as the planning develops; even so, use the framework as a firm reminder to make sure you fill in the boxes when you are able - don't leave these issues floating undecided, or defaulting back to X-Theory autocracy (which they generally do where a vacuum exists). If in doubt, always err on the side of what is good and right and proper, which is another good reason for having a sound ethical position: it always provides a reliable reference point. In the absence of everything else - tools, processes, clarity of responsibility (who does what), etc - having a sound and well understood philosophy and ethical position will always help people to make good decisions.
Build from the bottom upwards. Consult and involve people affected and involved wherever relevant. You will see many different versions and interpretations of this framework. The principles are similar although the words might change. A business or an organisation is built on values and philosophy. Increasingly in the modern age, customers and staff are not prepared to sustain commitment to organisations whose philosophy and values are misaligned with their own personal ideals. Ten years ago organisational planning paid very little regard to values and philosophy. Customers were satisfied with quality at the right price. Staff were satisfied with a decent wage and working conditions. Today things are different. Organisations of all sorts must now cater for a more enlightened workforce and market-place.
When considering these planning stages start from the bottom upwards. This will help to reinforce the point that planning is about building from the foundations upwards, and that the stronger the foundations, then the stronger the organisation will be.
hierarchy of marketing and business planning stages
Start at the foundations (point 1 below) and work upwards.