I recently googled “strategic review” and was surprisingly pleased with the clear, concise definition I found on Strategic Planning Kit for Dummies’  website: “A strategy review monitors progress of the company from a strategic level, making sure that the objectives are on track.”  Paraphrasing the same source and putting it a marketing context, this differs from an operational review which looks at details of the marketing plan such as return on marketing dollars spent, message you are communicating and methods used to deliver that message.

Don’t get me wrong.  A quality review of marketing should be a top-down process including an operational review digging down to the nitty-gritty details. However, the marketing review process should begin at the strategic level with questions such as: “What are the objectives of your marketing?” “Are these objectives aligned with your company’s overall goals?”  Too often businesses get stuck only on the “down” side of that “top-down” review asking questions such “Can I get a better discount for my ad?” or “Is it OK to just advertise using Google keywords or should I consider Facebook too?”  At least every 1-2 years every business should take the time to do a comprehensive top-down, strategic marketing review.

What are the benefits of doing such a comprehensive strategic marketing review this often?  Here are two client cases studies.

Case Study #1

The primary goal for one business owner I worked with was to grow his company without increasing his infrastructure.  This was not an easy task given it was a small company with the owner being the only salesperson.  The company’s primary product was a subscription-type of product geared to small, local retailers.  Thus, maintenance is the main objective after the initial sale. The owner knew he had a good product with great upside potential.  But he did not want to invest in an internal sales force given the ongoing oversight and costs of adding staff.  My suggestion:  Organize a network of non-profits who can use their connections to get the product in the door.  It was a win-win-win scenario.  Non-profits such as churches can easily sell to their neighborhood businesses and then benefit from the steady-stream of sales commissions. The local businesses benefit from increased traffic gained from mentions in the church’s bulletin as well as word-of-word mouth advertising.  And the business owner achieves his goal of growing his company while limiting the size of his staff infrastructure.

Case Study #2

The business owner looked to increase sales but felt limited due to market saturation within her current target audience.  The company’s customer base was a small, tight knit community of potential customers.  Almost everyone within this customer base knew the company with most already purchasing from it.  A conversation with the owner and staff revealed the company had a small number of sales to a different type of customer.  Some further research revealed how to make inexpensive adjustments to the company’s products to create a whole new line of products for this other market.  In the first year after launch, sales to this new market reached $1,000,000.

When was the last time your company did a comprehensive strategic marketing review and what are some of the innovative marketing ideas it generated?