Strategic Marketing Planning Process

Ah, spontaneity.
While it is always the way to go when it comes to a road trip, it will not serve you well when it comes to marketing strategies.

Ask anyone who has attempted to launch a brand on the fly, and they will tell you a marketing planning process is crucial. Understanding all steps of the strategic marketing planning process makes executing it that much easier. As you will see, these three steps require time and dedication to result in the marketing mix success.

Consider this: You want to spend at least as much time  on the marketing plan for your launch as you spent bringing your big idea to life through strategic marketing planning.

Crafting your marketing plan ahead of time ensures you fly high instead of flop. We’ll break down each necessary step in this article, providing you with the ultimate strategic marketing planning process to apply to any product or service.

Ready to breathe new life into your marketing efforts?

Let’s go!

3 Strategic Marketing Planning Process Steps

Step 1:
Perform Data Collection and Analysis In Your Market Research

Before you can even attempt to create marketing plan, campaign, and associated materials, you need to understand who you will be marketing towards.
Your target audience determines every aspect of your marketing planning messaging and approach.

Data collection and analysis can sometimes be underrated. But trust me, it’s an extremely important part of your overall marketing plan. You may think it is not always necessary to go through all the steps in the marketing planning process. However, data collection and analysis is THE number one step that starts the whole process. The reason is: the information you gather here is the foundation for everything to come, from your high-level marketing plan to minutiae like who you target on social media.

Data Collection

Start by performing your market research on other products or services. Review the marketing mix of efforts made by companies similar to yours.

(Pro tip: You might consider using a spreadsheet to easily compare your findings and bring more organization to your eventual marketing plan.  This will help ensure your marketing efforts don’t go to waste.)

When collecting data for your marketing plan, look at things like:

Market Audience

  • What kinds of buyer personas are they attracting?
  • Can you determine demographics such as age, gender and location, if applicable?
  • What things do people mention most in Google or Facebook reviews?
  • What seem to be their interests?

Marketing Messaging

  • Is the “brand voice” your competitors use for their marketing plan and assets professional, casual, educational, conversational, or a mix?
  • What about their  marketing plan messaging makes them seem trustworthy and approachable?
  • What about their marketing plan messaging could be viewed as off putting? Note positives and negatives so you know what works and what doesn’t.

Marketing Communication Frequency

  • How often are they marketing to their target audience? For example, if they have social media as part of their marketing plan, how frequently do they post?
  • If they place social media ads or utilize ads on TV, Radio or in the paper as part of their marketing plan, try to determine the extent of their efforts.
  • Do they do any in-person marketing mix of networking, trade shows, or event sponsorships? How often?


Determine how other brands use their marketing plan to reach their audiences most effectively. Where are they spreading the marketing message?

From here, the next step in a marketing planning process is to conduct focus groups through market research. Maybe your company is on the smaller side, so focus groups are more difficult to implement.

Not a problem! You can hold informal sessions with friends, neighbors, and people around your community to glean crucial information for your market plan research.

For companies ready to dive right in, the type and number of focus groups you will conduct will vary based on your product or service. One marketing plan might include a single focus group at the beginning while others use regularly scheduled focus groups as a way to gauge progress and ensure marketing plan materials are striking the right chord.

Let’s use a private golf community as an example.

Say you’re developing a marketing plan for an exclusive private gold community (very cool, right?).  To determine the brand and subsequent marketing strategies for this new community, the following groups should be interviewed:

  • Realtors in the Area
  • Golfers
  • Nearby Business Owners
  • Locals Who Live in the Surrounding Communities with Similar Amenities

Each group would be given a tour of the new development, then asked the following questions:

  • What’s your general impression of the community?
  • What things really stand out in a positive light?
  • What would you change?
  • How might living here enhance your life?
  • Would you consider living here?
  • Would you recommend it to a friend?

You’ll be amazed at how the answers to those questions will help inform multiple aspect of your eventual marketing plan.

Now that you have completed the market research data collection phase of your strategic marketing plan process, you are ready to move into the analysis phase.

Data Analysis

The information you gathered during the early stages of your marketing strategy planning essentially becomes your GPS, pointing you in the direction of marketing planning success.

To gain a thorough understanding of the competitive marketplace, identify the trends among the businesses you found in your market research.

Where is there overlap?

This step in your marketing planning process shines a light on the practices you want to emulate.

Of course, no one likes a copycat, rather draw inspiration from existing marketing plans. Your business is unique, your marketing plan should reflect those key differentiators.

Once you’ve identified the most common successful marketing strategy, put your own spin on them to create a marketing plan that makes them most sense for your unique business and audience.

The focus groups will most certainly open your eyes to some new ideas. As someone with a vested interest in your product or service, you can often be “too close” to see the big picture and need to rely on a third party to identify the right marketing opportunities for your brand.

Whether you conducted two or ten, the focus groups should help you effectively accomplish the following parts of your marketing plan:

  • What are the 5 promotional strategies that would work for your audience?
  • Define the unique value your product/service brings to the marketplace.
  • Identify your primary and secondary target markets.
  • Understand the areas for improvement.

To further customize your marketing plan, work with your marketing team to determine three words that exemplify your brand.

  1. ___________________
  2. ___________________
  3. ___________________

These will be words that came up time and time again in your market research focus groups. They should evoke a feeling and an ability to envision your product or service in use.

For the private golf community, the three words might be “warmth, balance and camaraderie”.

These words become the cornerstones of your brand. Once you have them, you have officially uncovered your Brand DNA.

Step 2:
Determine Strategic Marketing Planning Budget and Allocation

Marketing Budget

Now that you completed the foundation for your brand, it is time to dig into the execution details. The budget and allocation step of the marketing planning process is a big one.

Your market mix budget covers the costs for the entire spectrum of marketing strategy tools and channels incorporated into your marketing plan, including:

  • marketing,
  • advertising,
  • public relations
  • and digital efforts including social media.

Even if you have no “real” marketing budget, the time you spend utilizing free marketing avenues still costs something. It is time you are taking away from enhancing your products or providing your services.

The fact is, getting your message out there requires a budget. The saying, “You have to spend money to make money” is popular for a reason, and it’s absolutely true when creating a marketing plan!

The general rule of thumb is this: your strategic marketing budget should equal at least 5% of your revenue.

If that number feels high, consider this survey on strategic marketing spending from McKinsey, the American Marketing Association and Duke University that says the industry average is 8.3%.

Marketing Budget Allocation

Once you have a budget on paper, the fun begins. When it comes to your marketing plan, there are seemingly endless ways to spend your time and money:

  • TV
  • Radio
  • Print
  • Public Relations
  • Search Engine Marketing
  • Social Media Marketing
  • Local Outreach (Events)
  • Inbound Marketing

Figuring out where to put the money set aside for executing your marketing strategy, will hinge on your KPIs (Key Performance Indicators).

What are key performance indicators?

  • Quantifiable and actionable
  • Measure factors that are critical to the success of an organization
  • Tied to business goals and targets
  • Limited to 5-8 key metrics
  • Applied consistently throughout an effort

Some specific, common KPIs used to create, track and measure the success of a marketing plan are:

  • Grow revenue by X percent in X months.
  • Increase web traffic X percent each month.
  • Generate leads from X to X in X months.

It is crucial that your KPIs include measurable goals. I’ll tell you why. Simply saying “increase revenue” will not help you allocate a budget for your marketing planning process. With KPIs, you are trying to identify the success factors most important to generating business. Distinct KPIs will help you determine the marketing strategy avenues that make the most sense for your business.

Examples of Key Performance Indicators

Let’s say the private golf community had a marketing strategy planning budget of $100,000. Approximately half of the budget for this theoretical marketing plan is spent on a full-time Marketing Manager.

The manager’s KPIs are:

  • Sell at least 90% of fair market share in first 12 months.
  • Increase leads by 25 month over month.
  • Build non-resident golf memberships to 100 in 12 months.

The community’s target market includes a variety of incomes and ages, meaning they could benefit from every form of marketing.

(Note that in some cases, your target market might eliminate certain areas for you. If you’re selling items to people over age 75, your end customer may not be in the digital marketing/ social media arena but the families of those 75 year olds are using inbound channels to communicate.  In this case, the messaging would be different on each platform you are marketing, adding more layers to you marketing plan.)

After extensive research, the community determined that competitors are earning the bulk of their business from realtor referrals, online searches, social media and in some cases, at events like Community Trade Shows. With this information, allocation of the budget for your strategic marketing planning process becomes easy!

Here is an example of how this information can further clarify the KPIs you decide to use for your marketing plan:

  • Sell at least 90% of fair market share in first 12 months via realtor education including but not limited to on-site events, realtor office events, closing incentives and partnership opportunities.
  • Increase non-realtor leads by 25 month-over-month via content marketing on the blog, social media, and PR.
  • Build non-resident golf memberships to 100 in 12 months via digital advertising on golf websites.

Now you’re starting to see how a marketing planning process can help your brand succeed.

Investing the time up front ensures that nothing you want to or should include in your marketing plan falls through the cracks. It also helps you from creating assets that might:

  • Be off brand
  • Need lots of revisions
  • Or worse, go unused

Speaking of that, let’s get to the final step of the strategic marketing planning process: creating the marketing assets your marketing plan will utilize.

Step 3:
Create Strategic Marketing Assets

While some might consider creation something that happens after the planning portion of your marketing strategy is in place, the marketing planning process includes everything prior to execution.

What does this mean?

It’s simple: you and your marketing team need to create your marketing materials so you are fully prepared to execute a campaign that makes the most of your marketing plan and all the strategizing you’ve already done.

Let’s walk through the assets you need for every major marketing mix avenue:

  • Television and radio
  • Print advertising
  • Public relations
  • Search engine and social media marketing
  • Local outreach (events)
  • Inbound marketing

Television and Radio

The fact that TV ads no longer require companies to run them nationwide is huge. It opened up this medium for many small and medium sized companies looking to use TV-based advertising as part of their marketing strategy.  Like TV, radio has become increasingly more affordable over the years, making it easier and more budget-friendly to incorporate into existing or future marketing strategies.

TV and radio advertising options for your future marketing plan include:

  • National
  • Regional
  • Local
  • Cable (TV) / Satellite (Radio)

Creating a great ad that ticks all the boxes for your specific marketing plan comes down to a few key things.

  1. Make sure your brand is conveyed clearly and creatively.
  2. Tell a story but remember to keep it simple!
  3. Utilize something consistently to ensure your marketing efforts build recognition- this could be a logo, brand representative or jingle.
  4. Finally, make sure you don’t cut corners.

Quality is everything! Once your commercial(s) are edited and ready for the world, you’re ready to execute a marketing plan utilizing these assets. Check out our commercial for the BBB.

Print Advertising

Some people think marketing plans no longer include print media because it’s outdated, but that’s simply not true.

Print ads can be found in a wide variety of publications. From the local newspaper to a nationally circulated magazine, the options for how you can include print ads in your marketing strategy are nearly endless.

An eye-catching print ad requires a series of coordinating design elements, all of which should be in line with the rest of the collateral from your brand’s marketing plan::

  • A great logo
  • An inviting color scheme
  • Good use of space
  • Easy-to-read fonts
  • On-brand graphics or photos that are print-friendly
  • Relatable content
  • A call-to-action

Because the success of print is difficult to measure, creating strategic marketing assets that include clear CTAs and offers are the best way to go. This will allow you to easily count the number of redemptions and compare it against the cost to place the ad. Of course there are benefits to incorporating print advertising into your marketing strategy or soon-to-be-added marketing initiatives that cannot be measured by direct ROI, like consistent branding and awareness.

This only further solidifies the need for strong print assets to help make your marketing plan sing. Looking for some more inspiration? Check out these genius print ads. Once your designer completes the ad(s) using the right specs, you’re ready to execute a marketing campaign or move on to the next step of your marketing plan!

Remember that aside from ads, there are lots of other printed marketing assets your company may need for marketing plan, like:

  • brochures
  • business cards
  • signage
  • and more

Public Relations

A PR professional will rely on your business and/or reps from your marketing team to provide them with a series of assets they can use to spread the word and formulate a branded marketing plan.

These things include:

  • brochures
  • press releases
  • a current website
  • upcoming event or product information
  • educational videos
  • and more

The assets your PR company needs to excel have likely already been created by the time you are ready to onboard their services. Be sure to have them provide you with a list of desired assets before hiring them so you can determine the added cost of creating any new assets they may need. This is another way to keep your marketing plan efficient while also sticking to your budget.  Our go to PR firm- MAG PR.

Search Engine and Social Media Marketing

Depending on the online platforms you intend to utilize, you will need to create a variety of digital assets before launching a campaign and/or taking the next step in your strategic marketing plan.

For example, if your marketing initiatives include the launch of a search engine marketing campaign as part of your marketing strategy, you will need the following:

  • Ad copy focused around a relevant keyword
  • At least one image or graphic (we recommend using two or more to help determine what your audience likes; this is called A/B testing).

As another example, if your marketing plan includes starting a new Facebook Page for social media marketing, you need to prepare the following:

  • A cover photo
  • A profile image
  • A short description of your business
  • A series of pre-planned posts including copy and accompanying graphics or images (we suggest planning a month ahead!)

In addition, if your marketing plan includes advertising on Facebook, you’ll need to develop:

  • Ad copy
  • At least one image or graphic (two are recommended, the same as noted above)

Local Outreach (Events)

If you have a brick-and-mortar business or one that can benefit from connections with the community, considering adding local outreach and events to your marketing plan. The assets you need to advertise at local events will vary based on the event, but in general you can create certain items that will serve your marketing strategy or marketing plan in multiple scenarios:

  • Banners
  • Pop-Up Signs
  • Flyers
  • Brochures
  • Branded Swag

Before partnering with any events, ask for the build-out requirements so you can determine the added cost of creating any new assets they may need. You’ll likely already have logos, color schemes and various graphics created for other aspects of your marketing plan — your marketing team just needs to reuse them for banners, table tents, etc.

Inbound Marketing

Building a loyal following of advocates that want to share and converse with your brand all starts with creating a story they can connect with.  Your story is an integral part of your marketing plan and every asset it contains.

Your inbound marketing plan might include:

  • Valuable Content Offers
  • Converting Landing Pages
  • Strong Call To Actions
  • Consistent Activity on Social Platforms
  • Utilizing SEO in all content (blogs, white papers, posts)

Creating an effective inbound marketing strategy within your marketing planning process will attract target leads that have a common interest in your brand. Through effective content you are able to pull leads into your pipeline rather than constantly pushing a message out, creating a more dynamic marketing plan, amplifying your lead-generation process and hopefully fueling greater visibility and (hurray!) profitability.

SEE ALSO: The Ultimate Guide to Using Snapchat for Business in 2017


Creating an effective marketing strategy and/or marketing plan is all about organization, preparation, and data-backed design. Putting together your strategic marketing planning process includes these steps:

  1. Perform data collection and analysis through market research
  2. Determine marketing budget and allocation for your marketing mix
  3. Create marketing assets that support your planning process


And while most people would rather dive right into the exciting stuff, we guarantee investing time in this marketing process will help you confidently execute successful campaigns. Your marketing plan is the heart and soul of all future progress — it really is that important.

Whether you’re going it alone or hiring a fully-fledged marketing team stocked with pros, you can use the guidelines from each of these steps to create a marketing planning process that works specifically for your business!

What do you feel is one of the most important steps of the strategic marketing planning process?


What are the 5 steps in the marketing process?

To build a strong, scalable marketing strategy, it’s crucial to include these five steps of the marketing process:

  1. Plan: Identify SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Aspirational, Realistic, Time-Bound) so you know what you’re working toward
  2. Analyze: Study the market and your competition and identify all relevant opportunities, risk factors, strengths, and weaknesses
  3. Establish: Create your strategy while considering your marketing mix, aka “the four Ps”: Product, Price, Promotion, & Place
  4. Execute: Put together a schedule for all promotions/posts/etc. and launch your strategy
  5. Review & Adjust: See how your tactics are working, identify weak points, make the required changes, and relaunch — as many times as necessary

In the real world, strategy planning isn’t nearly so clear cut. Expect lots of overlap — you’ll likely want expert advice and additional research at multiple points in the process, for instance. Still, using these five steps as a road map will help propel you forward.

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What are the 3 phases of the marketing process?

Expert marketers split the planning process into three phases:

  1. Data Collection & Analysis: It’s impossible to overestimate the planning stage. This phase includes tons of research both internally and externally, analyzing all aspects of the home business as well as competitors. General market research and studies of everything from cultural influences to market predictions also take place here, but the primary goal is to understand your target market. Then there’s analysis and goal setting.
  2. Determine Marketing Budget & Allocation: This part of the marketing planning process involves deciding on your marketing mix budget and determining how you’ll split it up. Will you funnel funds to TV and radio or focus more on PR and search engine marketing? You’ll need to evaluate your KPIs (key performance indicators) to help decide which marketing avenues make the most sense for your business and goals.
  3. Create the Marketing Assets: No marketing plan is complete with the materials you need to make it all happen. Assets for television and radio, print, public relations, search engine and social media marketing, local outreach, and inbound marketing will help you get your message out and drive your campaign toward its ultimate goal.

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What are the four basic marketing strategies?

The four basic marketing strategies, also known as the “four Ps of marketing” are interlocking pieces that help inform and structure your game plan:

  • Product: The good or service that is or will be on offer. Marketers need to understand not only what this is, but why it’s necessary (what consumer pain point does it address?), who it’s for, and how it outshines the competition.
  • Price: Price is all about value. What you charge the consumer is important, but not nearly as important as whether or not those consumers feel about their ROI. In addition to the cost of the actual product price also includes things like product longevity, the need for additional purchases like apps or accessories, and if there are barriers to getting the product (expensive shipping, for instance).
  • Promotion: How will you get the word out? Everything from bus ads to happy hour deals goes under the promotion header. Promotion also considers when that messaging will go out, not only in regards to time of day but also seasonality and how the advertising aligns with the timing of other launches or promotions.
  • Place: Will you sell online or in brick-and-mortar stores? Is your how-to guide a downloadable ebook or a snail-mail-only hardcover? Place is about distribution — how whatever you’re selling gets to the consumer, and specifics matter. If you’re aiming for brick and mortar, know whether you’d be better off with a big-box retailer or a tiny boutique.

Those elements make up what’s known as the “marketing mix,” and they all have to work together in order for a strategy to be successful.

What are the 7 steps of marketing?

  1. Research: Conducting market research via direct customer contact as will as third-party firms will help inform every decision that follows. You also want to study up on your industry as well as any factors such as economic shifts or cultural issues that could impact your business.
  2. Goal Setting: Outline what it is you want to do. Remember to pick SMART goals (goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Based). Doing so ensures that you’ll be able to know how you’re progressing, when you need to make changes, and when you can say, with certainty, that you’ve reached your target.
  3. Define Your Target Audience: Who are you marketing to? You need to know what your ideal buyer looks like so you know how best to reach them. Use customer surveys, study the competition, and invest in market research to avoid guessing.
  4. Identify Your Ideal Channels: This is the “how” of your marketing plan. Look not only at social media but also at everything from speaking engagements to event sponsorship. It’s likely you’ll use a mix of channels in order to maximize your reach and get to consumers at various points along the buyer journey.
  5. Set Your Budget: Decide how much you want to spend on your campaign — or, if you’re planning a long-term strategy, how much you want to spend for the year. You’ll also want to determine how those funds will be allocated to avoid spending too much on one channel and not having enough for the others.
  6. Decide on Implementation: Now that you’ve assembled all the individual parts, it’s time to see how they fit together and how you’ll put them all to work to achieve the best possible outcome.
  7. Launch, Test, Tweak: Put your plan in to action and check in regularly to measure results and make adjustments. Then it’s all about rinse and repeat until you reach your goal.

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What is the difference between strategic marketing and tactical marketing?

With strategic marketing planning, you’re looking at a company’s goals based on key differentiators and laying out a road map to help achieve those objectives. Tactical marketing involves the actual mechanics you’ll use to put your strategic plan into action.

In other words, strategic marketing is the what, tactical marketing is the how. The planning process starts with your strategy and then tactical marketing follows with a detailed blueprint on how you’ll execute that strategy and reach your goals.

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What are the four C's in marketing?

To help focus on goals and understand the best path forward, marketing professionals use the four C’s:

  1. Customer: How does the product or service address the wants or needs of the customer?
  2. Cost: In addition to the actual price of a product or service, “cost” includes all peripheral expenses. This could mean actual monetary expenditures for items like accessories and subscriptions or the value of a customer’s time for delivery and setup.
  3. Convenience: Remove friction from the buying process so the target audience can get to the product/service as easily as possible. For instance, if the ideal customer shops online, it’s important to incorporate e-commerce.
  4. Communication: Know how and with what frequency the brand will communicate with customers. This encompasses every interaction from social media posts to thank you emails post-purchase.

What is the purpose of strategic marketing?

Strategic marketing is how brands set themselves apart from the competition. By identifying what makes a brand special and setting goals, marketers can start building a customer-centric strategy that also ensures company success. Without strategic marketing, it’s difficult to obtain the competitive edge necessary to stand out from the crowd and efficiently achieve operational success.

What are examples of marketing strategies?

There are numerous types of marketing strategies. Some are more suitable for certain industries while others are more universal. Here are a few examples of both:

  • Undercover Marketing: Play on consumer curiosity by leaking small teasers that hint at the product or service in an intriguing way without giving away the whole story.
  • Search Marketing: A combination of paid and unpaid strategies used to increase visibility and traffic. Search engine optimization (SEO) is a major component.
  • Content Marketing: Using written and visual content to educate and influence consumers. This may include blogs, website copy, emails, newsletters, infographics, social media posts, and more, with the focus on soft selling rather than using more direct sales language.
  • Promotional Marketing: Promotional marketing relies on incentives like coupons, contests, and samples to get customers interested, excited, and more motivated to make a purchase.

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Why is strategic marketing important?

Strategic marketing forms the backbone of a marketing plan. It’s not only the road, it’s also the directional signs and GPS that tells marketers where to go, how to get there, and what to do along the way. Without strategic marketing, brands run the risk of spending money aimlessly, which often results in drained resources and very little ROI.

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How do you implement a marketing strategy?

How you implement your marketing strategy is just as important as how you plan it in the first place.

  • Bring together everyone on the marketing team
  • Communicate expectations, including goals, priorities, policies, and possible limitations with resources and/or skills
  • Ensure every tactic centers on the brand’s unique selling proposition (USP)
  • Monitor progress to see what’s working and what isn’t so you can adjust as needed

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What are the 5 marketing concepts?

For effective marketing planning, it’s crucial to consider the five basic marketing concepts:

  1. Production Concept: Consumers want products that are convenient (easy to find) and affordable (read: cheap). Brands have to respond by answering that need without overly compromising on quality and efficacy.
  2. Product Concept: At the same time, consumers also want products that offer quality and embody innovation. In other words, they want options, and will give their loyalty to brands that can deliver.
  3. Selling Concept: This concept hinges on the notion that consumers need to be persuaded into making a purchase, especially when the product or service in questions is a want and not a need.
  4. Marketing Concept: Successful marketing convinces consumers that your brand delivers more value (in terms of what the target demographic is looking for) than the competition. A brand’s unique value proposition comes into play big time here!
  5. Societal Marketing Concept: Modern-may marketing is increasingly focused on the societal aspect, meaning it emphasizes giving back to society by creating products and services that respect the environment, ease poverty, and/or address other social issues. A great example would be companies switching to biodegradable packaging or retailers committing to all Fair Trade suppliers.

What are the 5 promotional strategies?

There are many approaches to marketing that can garner positive results, but these core promotional strategies are the go-to marketing mix for industry professionals:

  1. Personal Selling: A more intimate, often one-on-one approach involving pitching a product or service in person
  2. Advertising: Traditional promotions using commercials, billboards, etc.
  3. Sales Promotion: Using multiple media-based communication channels to execute a set strategy designed to stimulate product/service demand and expand reach
  4. Direct Marketing: Direct-to-consumer marketing that facilitates undiluted communication between brands and consumers
  5. Public Relations: Pay-for-play news stories designed to present a favorable image of a product, service, or brand in order to motivate consumers to make a purchase/sign up/take other actions

What are the tools of marketing?

There are countless marketing tools that help experts get the job done. These range from polls and surveys to social media and direct mail. Depending on the marketing strategy, the overarching goals, the industry, the budget, and other relevant factors, marketers choose the tools and tactics best suited to the task at hand.

Other tools include:

  • Automation
  • Loyalty programs
  • Metrics like Google Analytics
  • Email management platforms
  • Social media tracking
  • Design suites

Need help starting your strategic marketing plan?

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