University of FloridaSolutions for Your Life

Download PDF
Publication #FE299

Strategic Marketing Management: Building a Foundation for Your Future1

Allen F. Wysocki and Ferdinand F. Wirth2

Abstract

This workbook is designed to help firms and individuals become more familiar with the implications of a strategic marketing management program for their businesses. The workbook provides a basic introduction to marketing and strategic marketing management. Readers will also learn the basics of a marketing plan and why they need one. Included is a detailed introduction to performing an analysis of the customer, the company, the competition, and the industry as a whole. A major portion of the workbook is devoted to carrying out an effective Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats analysis. This workbook illustrates how analysis can be used to form an effective strategic marketing plan that could increase efficiency and profitability.

Strategic Marketing Management Quotes

To set the stage for this strategic marketing management workbook, it is useful to consider what some of the leading strategic management writers have said about the environment in which we live and the need for strategic planning. Please consider the following passages:

“There is but one certainty regarding the times ahead, the times in which managers must work and perform. This certainty is that they will be turbulent times. In turbulent times, the first task of management is to make sure of the firm's capacity for survival; to make sure of its structural strength and soundness; and to make sure of its capacity to survive a blow, to adapt itself to sudden change, and to avail itself to sudden change and new opportunities.” [Drucker, 1974]

Although this first Peter Drucker passage is appropriate, given the environment early in this, the twenty-first century, it is actually more than 20 years old. Many producers in Florida would agree that these are indeed turbulent times that require firms to take stock of their strengths and ability to seize opportunities.

“There are no solutions with respect to the future. There are only choices between alternative courses of action, each imperfect, each risky, each uncertain, and each requiring different efforts and different costs. But nothing could help the manager more than to realize what alternatives are available to him and what they imply.” [Drucker, 1974]

The essence of this workbook is to help producers identify their areas of strengths and weaknesses. Once identified, the producer should use this information to make choices between alternative courses of action.

“Truly strategic managers have the ability to capture essential messages that are constantly being delivered by the extremely important, yet largely uncontrollable external forces in the market and using this information as the basis for altering the important controllable internal factors of the business to strategically and effectively position the firm for future success.” [Kepner, 1995-2001]

In addition to identifying strengths and weaknesses, firms would do well to identify factors outside the direct control of managers. In this workbook, these are referred to as opportunities and threats. Careful analysis regarding this combination of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats will help managers position the firm for future success.

Introduction

This workbook is designed to help producers become more familiar with how to construct a strategic marketing management program for their business. Originally used at the Grapefruit Economic Workshop, this material was presented by the University of Florida's Florida Cooperative Extension Service and the Indian River Citrus League. The purpose of the workshop was to allow individual producers an opportunity to focus on grapefruit marketing and production strategies. The following workbook has been modified to apply to a wide range of producer groups. The workbook will provide a basic introduction to marketing and strategic marketing management. Readers will also learn the basics of a marketing plan and why they need one.

The presenters of this workshop challenged producers to consider what their individual firm's marketing strategy was and to identify alternative strategies. Are producers willing and able to change the way they market to improve the profitability of their businesses? Included is a detailed introduction to performing an analysis of the customer, the company, the competition, and the industry as a whole. This workbook will show how these analyses can be used to form an effective strategic marketing plan that could increase efficiency and profitability.

What Is Marketing?

Let us begin with a definition of marketing. There are many different definitions of marketing. For our purposes, we define marketing (Wysocki, 2001) as:

The identification of customer wants and needs, and adding value to products and services that satisfy those wants and needs, at a profit.

Please note this definition has three components: (1) the identification of customer wants and needs, as the customer or end-user of your product or service is perhaps the most important actor in the marketing drama, (2) one must add value that satisfies wants and needs to one's product or service or the customer will not remain a customer for long, and (3) firms must make a profit to be sustainable in the long-run.

Marketing does not just occur between harvesting, packing, and consumption. Effective marketing in today's changing food system demands that producers also take on a “marketing” approach to production and shipping.

What Is a Marketing Plan?

A marketing plan is a written document containing the guidelines for the organization's marketing programs and allocations over the planning period (Cohen, 2001). Please note that a strategic marketing management plan is written, not kept in the decision maker's head. Prior successes or failures are incorporated into the marketing plan. That is, effective marketing managers learn from past mistakes. A marketing plan requires communication across different functional areas of the firm such as operations, human resources, sales, shipping, and administration. Finally, marketing promotes accountability for achieving results by a specified date. Just like an effective goal, an effective marketing plan will be measurable, specific, and attainable.

The Goal of Strategic Marketing Management

There are at least four goals of strategic marketing management that need to be understood by those wishing to use strategic marketing management to craft profitable strategies:

  1. To select reality-based desired accomplishments (e.g., goals and objectives).

  2. To more effectively develop or alter business strategies.

  3. To set priorities for operational change.

  4. To improve a firm's performance.

Reality-based accomplishments are shaped by the level of understanding decision makers have regarding the external factors outside of their control and the internal factors under their control. Proper use of this newly acquired knowledge of internal and external factors will lead to more effective business strategies. Strategy, by definition, means decision makers must make choices, and that means setting priorities for operational change. Conducting a strategic marketing management planning exercise should be more than just an exercise. Therefore, the goal of effective marketing management is to improve a firm's performance.

Figure 1 illustrates the strategic marketing management model as discussed in this workbook. This model is divided into three levels: external/self analysis, strategic posture, and market planning. We will explain each of these three components, beginning with external/self analysis, followed by strategic posture and market planning. External/self analysis will receive the majority of our attention in this workbook, while strategic posture and market planning will be given a brief overview. Upcoming Food and Resource Economics Extension reports will focus on strategic posture and market planning.

Figure 1. 

The Strategic Marketing Management Model.


[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]

Components of External Analysis

External analysis involves an examination of the relevant elements external to your organization. This analysis should be purposeful, focusing on the identification of threats, opportunities, and strategic questions and choices. The danger of being overly descriptive must be guarded against. It is easy to get caught up in an exhaustive descriptive study, at considerable expense, with little impact on strategy and long-run profitability. It is not uncommon to generate page after page of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats facing your business, especially if management involves the entire organization in the process. This brainstorming type of activity is useful and may encourage buy-in by the rank and file of your organization, but at some point this list of self (internal) and external factors must be boiled down to the most important strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats facing the firm (Aaker, 1995).

The components of external analysis include:

  • Customer analysis is the identification of the market segments to be considered, as well as the motivations and unmet needs of potential customers identified.

  • Competitor analysis is the identification of strategic groups and their performance, image, and culture, as well as the identification of competitor strengths and weaknesses.

  • Industry analysis is the uncovering of major market trends, key success factors, and the identification of opportunities and threats through the analysis of competitive and change forces (e.g., distribution issues, governmental factors, economic, cultural, demographic scenarios, and information needs) [Aaker, 1995].

Output of External Analysis

You might be wondering what kind of information can be garnered from an external analysis of the factors affecting your firm. An effective external analysis will lead to identification and understanding of the opportunities and threats facing the organization arising out of customer, competitor, and industry analyses. The following is a definition of opportunities and threats:

  • Opportunities are those external factors or situations that offer promise or potential for moving closer or more quickly toward the firm's goals. For example, changing consumer preference for convenience may be an opportunity for your firm.

  • Threats are those external factors or situations that may limit, restrict, or impede the business in the pursuit of it goals. For example, new regulations may raise the cost of production, resulting in a threat to your profitability.

The most efficient way to assess the external opportunities and threats facing your organization is to conduct a “brainstorming” session with people from across your organization. You may be surprised at the number of different insights that can arise with this type of exercise. Remember, if the item being considered is beyond the control of the firm, then it is truly external (e.g., an opportunity or threat). If the item being considered is under the control of the firm, then it should not be considered external, but rather should be considered internal to the firm (e.g., a strength or a weakness).

Customer Analysis

Customer analysis involves the examination of customer segmentation, motivations, and unmet needs (Aaker, 1995). One could argue that the material presented in this section belongs under the market planning portion of the strategic marketing management model. The following components of customer analysis are discussed here as part of the “external” analysis component of the model:

  • Market segmentation is the identification of who your current and potential customers are (Wedel, 1998). In today's food system, market segmentation must include current and potential ultimate consumers of your product/service. For example, a fresh grapefruit producer could identify a number of potential market segments such as produce wholesalers, food service distributors, retail grocery buyers, road-side stand customers, and gift fruit buyers.

  • Customer characteristics and purchasing hot buttons provide the information needed to decide whether the firm can and should attempt to gain or maintain a sustainable competitive advantage for marketing to a particular market segment (Lehmann and Winer, 1994). For example, retail grocery buyers of fresh grapefruit, who purchase in large quantities, need grapefruit that are labeled with UPC codes, and they require a supplier to be able to meet their supply needs when they order.

  • Unmet needs may represent opportunities for dislodging entrenched competitors (Aaker, 1995). For example, fresh fruit processors may be looking for effective ways to create whole-peeled grapefruit in order to utilize more grapefruit in their overall fruit purchasing program.

In Table 1, you are asked to take a few minutes to identify as many customer market segments as you can for your particular industry. For each customer market segment, state the customer characteristics and their purchasing hot buttons. Indicate whether the characteristics represent an opportunity (O) or threat (T) to your firm. Cite evidence why the characteristic is an opportunity or a threat to your organization.

Components of Competitor Analysis

Competitor analysis can include a multitude of parts. We will limit our competitor focus to the following:

  1. Who are your competitors? Competitors may be firms in your same industry or they could be firms in other industries that your customers view as providing acceptable alternatives for your product or service.

  2. What does each competitor do well? How about your competitors' image and personality? That is, how are your competitors positioned and perceived in the marketplace? What about your competitors' cost structures? Do competitors have a cost advantage? Finally, what is the marketing attitude of competitors (e.g., least cost, differentiated product, niche market)?

  3. What does each competitor do poorly? This might provide insight into areas that your company might exploit.

  4. What can you learn from your competitors? Consider current and past strategies and anticipated future moves by competitors. Where does your firm have a competitive advantage (a strength that clearly places a firm ahead of its competition)? Where is your firm at a competitive disadvantage (a weakness that clearly places a firm behind its competition)?

Please use Table 2 to take a few minutes to identify and to describe the competitors in your industry. For each competitor state what he does well and what he could do better. Indicate whether your competitors' skills represent an opportunity (O) or threat (T) to your firm. Cite evidence why the skills are an opportunity or a threat to your organization. For example, a competitor might be very efficient at distribution. This may mean that competing against them on the basis of distribution systems may be unwise. This same competitor may have a reputation for below average delivery of customer service. If your firm is well known for customer service or has the potential to deliver superior customer service, this may be an area for your organization to concentrate on to gain competitive advantage.

Industry Analysis

Industry analysis has two primary objectives:

  1. To determine the attractiveness of various markets (i.e., Will competing firms, on average, earn attractive profits or will they lose money?).

  2. To better understand the dynamics of the market so that opportunities and threats can be detected and strategies adopted (Aaker, 1995).

A thorough industry analysis will include the following four components:

  1. Major market trends. Events or patterns that are especially useful if focused on what is changing in the marketplace (Naisbitt, 1970) such as the increasing consumer need for convenience. For example, consider the long-term decline in per-capita consumption of grapefruit juice and fresh grapefruit facing grapefruit producers.

  2. Key success factors. Those factors that are the building blocks for success in your industry (Thompson and Strickland, 2001). Key success factors arise out of strategic necessities and strategic strengths. For example, a minimum requirement for being in the grapefruit business is to be skilled at all aspects of producing a grapefruit crop.

  3. Competitive forces. These forces help to explain the potential for profit (or lack thereof) in a particular industry. These are based on the work of Michael Porter. They include the threat of entry, supplier and buyer power, the availability of substitutes, and the intensity of rivalry within the industry. For a more complete explanation of these competitive forces, refer to “Competitive Strategy: Techniques for Analyzing Industries and Competitors” by Michael Porter, published in 1980.

  4. Change forces. Change forces are events outside your organization that shape the way you conduct business. These include government regulations, product and marketing innovations, economic issues, consumer trends, and information needs (Lehmann and Winer, 1994).

Please take a few minutes to identify trends and key success factors for your industry in Table 3. For each trend or key success factor, indicate whether it represents an opportunity (O) or threat (T) to your firm. Cite evidence why the characteristic is an opportunity or a threat to your organization.

Competitive Forces Analysis

We have organized Porter's Five Forces model in such a way that you should be able to assess the strength of each of the five forces in your particular industry. For each item in Table 4, circle the number on the scale that best corresponds to your honest assessment of the external situation faced by your firm. Numbers to the left on the scales correspond to situations with greater threats, while numbers to the right correspond to situations with greater opportunities.

How many components of the five forces did you assess as opportunities? How many as threats? Later in this strategic marketing management workbook, we will compare internal strengths to external opportunities and internal weaknesses to external threats to establish areas of competitive advantage and competitive disadvantage, respectively.

Change Forces Analysis

For each item in Table 5, circle the number on the scale that best corresponds to your honest assessment of the external situation faced by your firm. Then in the space provided, list specific key changes influencing your firm. Less change corresponds to less threatening, but probably fewer opportunities. Greater change corresponds to more threatening, but probably more opportunities. Later in this analysis, we will compare internal strengths to external opportunities and internal weaknesses to external threats to establish areas of competitive advantage and competitive disadvantage, respectively.

Components of Self Analysis

Having completed a detailed external analysis, one must look inward. Self analysis seeks to provide a detailed understanding of aspects internal to your organization of strategic importance. Components of self-analysis include assessing the internal strengths and weaknesses of your organization, as well as identifying strategic problems, organizational capabilities, and constraints your firm brings to the strategic marketing management process (Aaker, 1995).

We will utilize the analysis of the internal strengths and weaknesses to identify strategic problems, organizational competencies (Prahalad and Hamel, 1990) and constraints. At this time, it is appropriate to define what is meant by a strength and a weakness:

  • Strength. Something a company does well, or a characteristic that gives it an important capability. For example, one of Wal-Mart's strengths is its cost-efficient distribution system.

  • Weakness. Something a company does poorly, or a characteristic that puts it at a disadvantage. For example, one of Wal-Mart's weaknesses could be its inflexibility to respond to changes in the marketplace at the local level.

Self Analysis Checklist

We will utilize a series of checklists to allow you to identify internal strengths and weaknesses, just like we did for external opportunities and threats. For each item in Table 6, circle the number on the scale that best corresponds to your honest assessment of your firm's strength or weakness in the indicated area.

We hope this extensive list helps you to identify internal strengths and weaknesses you may not have thought about in the past. The real value of this analysis takes place when strengths are compared to opportunities and weaknesses compared to threats. This forms the basis of SWOT analysis.

SWOT Analysis

SWOT is an acronym that is widely used in the strategic planning literature. SWOT has been so widely and extensively used, that it is difficult, if not impossible, to give credit to any one person for its origination. Each letter of the acronym stands for a different component of this internal/external interface: S=Strengths, W=Weaknesses, O=Opportunities, and T=Threats.

Strengths and weaknesses are internal, while opportunities and threats are external to the firm. The goals of SWOT analysis are twofold:

  1. To determine your firm's competitive advantages and disadvantages. In what areas do your strengths clearly distance you from your competition? In what areas do your weaknesses clearly put you behind?

  2. To prioritize the firm's opportunities and threats. In what areas do your strengths match or mismatch your opportunities? In what areas do your weaknesses make you increasingly vulnerable to threats?

A competitive advantage is created by the interface of your most important strengths matching with the most viable opportunities. A competitive disadvantage is created by the interface where your most pronounced threats make you even more vulnerable to the most serious threats facing your organization.

To summarize, SWOT analysis generally follows a four-step process. Please note that steps one and two are interchangeable. That is, you can begin the analysis on either an external or internal focus. The key point is that both external and internal analyses need to be done for effective strategic marketing management to take place. This process is listed below:

  • Step 1: Conduct competitive and change analyses to uncover potential opportunities and threats.

  • Step 2: Make an honest assessment of your firm's strengths and weaknesses in Marketing, Production, Personnel, Information Systems, Finance, Management/Leadership, and Organizational Resources.

  • Step 3: Determine your competitive advantages and disadvantages.

  • Step 4: Prioritize the opportunities and threats.

To make the most out of SWOT analysis, please consider the following statements of fundamental strategic truths, in priority order:

  1. Use competitive advantages to seize opportunities.

  2. After exhausting the chances to use competitive advantages, develop internal strengths that give your firm competitive advantages.

  3. After exhausting “1” and “2” above, work to eliminate competitive disadvantages (Peterson, 2001).

Opportunities and Threats Analysis

Table 7 provides you with a worksheet to assess your firm's five most important opportunities and threats from your own beliefs and from those you identified as part of the external analysis worksheets (Tables 3, 4, and 5). In the final column, cite specific evidence that supports your belief that the item is an opportunity or a threat. Remember, an "opportunity" is any external factor or situation that offers promise or potential for moving closer or more quickly toward the firm's goals. A "threat" is any external factor or situation that may limit, restrict, or impede the business in the pursuit of its goals.

Strengths and Weaknesses Analysis

Table 8 provides you with a worksheet to assess your firm's five most important strengths and weaknesses from your own beliefs and from those you identified as part of the self-analysis worksheets (Table 6). In the column marked Rank, provide a numerical ranking of the top five strengths and weaknesses. Place a “1” besides the top-priority strength and top-priority weakness. In the final column, cite specific evidence that supports your belief that the item is a strength/competitive advantage or weakness/competitive disadvantage.

Concluding the Strategic Marketing Management Analysis

“The final analytical task is to zero in on the strategic issues that management needs to address in forming an effective strategic action plan. Here, managers need to draw upon all prior analysis, put the company's overall situation into perspective, and get a lock on exactly where they need to focus their strategic attention” (Thompson and Strickland, 1995). Having gathered all this data, it is now time to put the analysis together in a way that will help your firm craft a long-term strategy. In Table 9, you are asked to answer a series of five questions that rely on your ability to use information obtained from earlier analysis. Please take a moment to answer the questions in Table 9.

Although this SWOT process was quite detailed, and at times repetitive, we hope you found the process insightful and useful. Having completed a thorough SWOT analysis, it is time to use this information to begin crafting a strategic posture.

Components of a Strategic Posture

SWOT provides the foundation for an effective Strategic Posture. A strategic posture is a set of decisions that:

  • Expresses how management intends to achieve a firm's long-term mission, vision, and objectives.

  • Commits management to a way of achieving competitive advantage.

  • Springs from awareness of the firm's internal strengths and weaknesses, and its external opportunities and threats.

  • Unifies short-term operational plans and decisions.

A fair question to ask would be why should one care about strategic posture? A strategic posture:

  • Creates a bridge between the broad intentions of long-term vision and objectives and the specific actions needed for implementation.

  • Demands that you make choices about what you plan to do—you cannot be all things to all people.

  • Requires different capabilities and resources for different postures. There are a lot of strategic combinations to choose from; and strategic postures can be developed for the whole firm, a business unit, or for a department.

A complete strategic posture includes decisions in at least four areas: primary competitive strategy, competitive role, priority strategic initiative, and vertical coordination strategy. Each of these areas is discussed in upcoming sections of this workbook.

Primary Competitive Strategy

Firms can chose from four generic primary competitive strategies. These strategies are adapted from the work of Michael Porter (1980), David Aaker (1995), and others:

  1. Price Advantage (overall cost leadership) is a price-driven strategy based on basic products/services offered to a broad market (e.g., Sam's Club).

  2. Quality/Features Advantage (broad differentiation) is a quality-driven strategy based on specialized products and services offered to a broad market (e.g., Publix).

  3. Market Focus Advantage (focused low cost and focused differentiation) is a customer-driven strategy based on specialized products and services offered to a specially targeted (niche) market (e.g., Sav-A-Lot stores).

  4. Total Quality Management (TQM) Advantage (best cost provider) is a value-driven strategy based on continual innovation in product, price, and process (e.g., Saturn)

It is rare that a firm excels at more than one of the primary competitive strategies. The characteristics that make one of the above strategies effective are likely to reduce the effectiveness of another primary competitive strategy. Remember, it is hard to be all things to all people.

Competitive Role Strategy

Once a firm has decided to pursue a primary competitive strategy based on overall cost leadership, broad differentiation, focused differentiation, or best cost provider, a competitive role strategy must be chosen. That is, a decision must be made how to best position the firm, given the primary competitive strategy that has been chosen. There are four competitive role strategies that can be chosen:

  1. Leader. The largest market share and/or initiator of change that causes others to respond and follow their lead (e.g., McDonald's).

  2. Follower. An adopter and adapter of successful strategies from others (e.g., A&W restaurants).

  3. Challenger. An innovator of strategies that challenge the industry and its normal way of doing business (e.g., Chik-Fil-A).

  4. Loner. A provider of products/services that fill gaps in the marketplace (e.g., "mom and pop" restaurants).

Just as in primary competitive strategy, it is difficult for a firm to be all things to all people. For example, under Jack Welsh's leadership, General Electric made a commitment to only stay in markets where General Electric would be either first or second in market share. This is an example of a "leader" competitive role strategy.

Priority Strategic Initiative

The next step in developing an effective strategic posture takes place after the primary competitive strategy and the competitive role strategies have been identified. This step is labeled the priority strategic initiative. There are five possible strategic initiatives that firms should consider (Aaker, 1995):

  1. Grow. Expand the size or scope of your business (e.g., Subway has been attempting this for a number of years)

  2. Maintain/Defend. Keep what the firm has achieved in size and scope (e.g., in many ways, McDonald's has been doing this, since same-store sales have been flat).

  3. Reposition. Maintain the firm's size or scope while changing key elements of market position (e.g., IBM has been doing this since the 1990s).

  4. Retrench. Reduce the size and scope of the business (e.g., RJR Nabisco's decision to spin off foreign cigarette manufacturing).

  5. Exit. Leave the market (e.g., this is what the original owners of Boston Market were forced to do when they sold the company to McDonald's).

Each of these strategic initiatives demands a singleness of purpose like the primary competitive strategies and competitive role strategies.

Vertical Coordination Strategies

The final decision to be made concerning a firm's strategic posture is which vertical coordination strategy to choose? Vertical coordination strategies are perhaps best thought of as decisions of how to best handle the “buy” and “sell” interface that takes place across the entire food system from input supplies to final consumer purchases (Peterson and Wysocki, 2001). The decision maker must consider five possible vertical coordination strategies:

Spot/Cash Market is the traditional way agricultural products have been sold in the United States. Spot markets rely on external control mechanisms, price, and broadly accepted performance standards to determine the nature of exchange. Neither party can influence price or the generic standards (e.g., selling grapefruit to citrus packers on the open market) (Lehmann and Winer, 1994):

  1. Contracting. Marketing contracts are legally enforceable agreements of specific and detailed conditions of exchange. Each participant must agree on specifications that are ultimately enforced by a third party (e.g., a production contract with a citrus processor).

  2. Relation-Based Alliance. An informal agreement between parties designed for the mutual benefit of both parties. Both parties retain separate, external identity where formal joint-management structure is not present to allow for strong internal control. However, enforcement mechanisms are developed internal to the relationship (e.g., an agreement between a citrus producer cooperative and a citrus processor whereby the cooperative's members agree to sell their entire production to the citrus processor in exchange for prices that average above the spot market average).

  3. Equity-Based Alliance. Catch-all of many organizational forms, including joint ventures and cooperatives, that involve some level of equity (money, sweat, or emotional). One distinguishing feature is the presence of a formal organization that has an identity distinct from the members, with decentralized control. Owners still maintain a separate identity that allows them to walk away (e.g., a citrus producer cooperative).

  4. Vertical Integration. Having control or ownership of multiple stages of production/distribution (e.g., Tyson Foods in the poultry industry).

All four of these strategic posture decisions must be made for each major strategic direction in which the company embarks. It should be apparent that there are many strategy decisions to be made when designing a strategic posture. There are approximately (4x4x5x5) = 400 choices for selecting a primary competitive strategy, competitive role, priority strategic initiative, and vertical coordination strategy combination.

The final part of this workbook will look at the relationship between strategic marketing management and three critical marketing concepts. These will only be given superficial treatment in this workbook. Upcoming publications will explore these concepts in greater detail.

The Changing Consumer

It is important to understand the changing needs of consumers when designing your strategic marketing management plan (Kepner, 2001). For each of the following changing consumer needs, please consider their potential impact (positive or negative) on your firm (Lehmann and Winer, 1994).

  1. Overriding desire for quality. Today's consumers demand quality and they are willing to pay for it.

  2. Bargain hunting by the affluent. Just because the affluent have money does not mean that they are not bargain hunters.

  3. The buying guideline is selectivity. Consumers demand a multitude of choices, varieties, etc.

  4. Traditional brand loyalty is fading. This is, in part, due to the increase in the quality of store brands such as Publix brand products.

  5. The middle line is dropping out. There has been a squeezing out of middle management in corporate America over the last decade or so. Increasingly, our society is becoming bi-polar. That is, a nation of haves and have-nots (Stevens, Loudon, and Warren, 1991).

  6. Consumers want it now! Convenience and immediate gratification fuel many of today's consumer goods purchases.

  7. Home entertainment is in style. Consumers are not motivated by price alone. Many of us are willing to spend more for products and services if we can be entertained along the way.

  8. It's back to the way we were. There is a growing segment of the population that craves life the way it used to be, with simplicity and value being paramount.

  9. Staying alive. This phrase describes those consumers who are health conscious.

  10. Cashing out. Consumers who are tired of the “rat race” and want to take up a simpler life.

  11. Small indulgences. Many consumers are willing to treat themselves to small rewards for accomplishments and milestones reached in their lives.

  12. Customization. Wanting quality, and wanting it now, in the sense that U.S. consumers, in particular, want products and services that fill very specific needs.

  13. S.O.S., or Save Our Society. S.O.S. refers to consumers who make purchasing decisions based, in part, on social concerns or causes they support (Lehmann and Winer, 1994).

The purpose of looking at the changing consumer is to encourage you to consider the consumer more directly when crafting a strategic marketing management plan.

Three Critical Marketing Concepts

The strategic marketing plan is built around three critical marketing concepts. These concepts are represented by the following acronyms and are discussed briefly at the end of this workbook:

  • TLC (Think Like Customers).

  • CMSQ (Critical Marketing Strategy Question).

  • STP (Segment, Target, and Position).

Think Like Customers

"Think Like Customers" (TLC) is a plea for businesses to remember the customer in their decision making process. To think like a customer is consistent with the viewpoint that “marketing is the whole business as seen from the viewpoint of the customer.” Experience and research indicate that all firms have the opportunity to do better at TLC. We are sure you would be able to cite numerous examples from your own life when firms did not practice thinking like their customers. Can you list examples of firms that think like customers? Can you list examples of firms that do not think like customers?

Critical Marketing Strategy Question

In its simplest form, the "critical marketing strategy question" (CMSQ) is: “Why should customers purchase your firm's products/services over those of your competitors?” (Kepner, 2001). This may sound like a simple question. You may be surprised at how difficult it can be to come up with good reasons (reasons that differentiate you from your competition) why people/firms should purchase your products/services. Table 10 asks you to list all the reasons why you believe customers should buy products/services from your firm.

Based on the list above, select the first and second most important reasons why customers buy from you. That is, in essence, your answer to the critical marketing strategy question.

  1. ______________________________

  2. ______________________________

Segment, Target, and Position

"Segment, Target, and Position" (STP) is one of the basic building blocks of modern marketing (U.S. Small Business Administration, 1980). STP strategies should complement a firm's overall generic strategies, consisting of a primary competitive strategy, competitive role strategy, strategic initiative, and vertical coordination strategy.

Market Segmentation is the basic recognition that every market is made up of distinguishable segments consisting of buyers with different needs, buying styles and responses. In essence, this is the process of identifying all possible markets to which your product or service could be offered. Although there are many ways to segment a market, these are beyond the scope of this workbook.

No single offer or approach will appeal to all buyers. This means that companies must make a choice regarding which markets, out of all the possibilities, they wish to serve. Target market selection is the act of developing measures of segment attractiveness and selecting one or more of the identified segments to enter and emphasize. Table 11 asks you to make a list of all the possible target markets for your product or service that you would consider entering.

Based on the list in Table 11, select the two most attractive market segments to serve. Keep in mind your firm's competitive advantages and disadvantages when stating your answer. These will become your target markets.

  1. ____________________________________

  2. ____________________________________

The final step of the STP strategy involves the establishment of a positioning strategy. Positioning includes decisions in product, price, distribution, and promotion. Each of these is the subject of a workbook unto itself. Remember, once you have determined the one or two markets you want to target, you need to decide how to position your product or service in the minds of potential customers, relative to your competitors.

Conclusion

We hope you have enjoyed the strategic marketing management process as identified in this workbook. Please remember that the strategic marketing management process is not meant to be used once every five years, only to collect dust on some manager's shelf. To be effective, this process requires the support of upper management and the involvement and commitment of the entire company.

Readers interested in applying the analysis contained in this workbook are encouraged to contact Dr. Allen F. Wysocki at wysocki@ufl.edu or Dr. Ferdinand F. Wirth at fwirth@gnv.ifas.ufl.edu. Drs. Wysocki and Wirth are happy to lead workshops on this material tailored to your specific needs.

References

Aaker, David A. Strategic Market Management, Fourth edition. New York, NY: John Wiley & Sons, Inc. 1995.

Cohen, William A. The Marketing Plan. New York, NY: Wiley. 2001.

Drucker, Peter F. Management, Tasks, Responsibilities, and Practices. New York, NY: Harper and Row. 1974.

Kepner, Karl W. Presentations made to extension audiences by this Distinguished Professor representing the University of Florida 1975-2001.

Lehmann, Donald R. and Russell S. Winer. Analysis for Marketing Planning, Third Edition. Burr Ridge, IL: Richard D. Irwin, Inc. 1994.

Naisbitt, John. Megatrends: Ten Directions Transforming Our Lives. New York, NY: Warner Books. 1982.

Peterson, H. Christopher and Allen F. Wysocki. “Strategic Choice Along the Vertical Coordination Continuum.” Staff Paper 98-16. Department of Agricultural Economics, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI. 1998.

Peterson, H. Christopher. Class presentations made to students at Michigan State University, 1992-2001.

Porter, Michael E. Competitive Strategy: Techniques for Analyzing Industries and Competitors. New York, NY: Free Press. 1980.

Prahalad, C.K. and G. Hamel “The Core Competence of the Corporation” Harvard Business Review (May-June 1990): 79-91.

Stevens, Robert E., David L. Loudon, and William E. Warren. Marketing Planning Guide. Binghamton, NY: The Haworth Press, Inc. 1991.

Thompson, Arthur A. and A.J. Strickland. Crafting and Executing Strategy: Text and Readings, Twelfth Edition. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill. 2001.

Thompson, Arthur A. and A.J. Strickland. Crafting and Executing Strategy: Text and Readings, Sixth Edition. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill. 1995.

U.S. Small Business Administration, Office of Management Assistance. Marketing Strategy. Washington, DC: US Small Business Administration. 1980.

Wedel, Michel and Wagner A. Kamakura. Market Segmentation: Conceptual and Methodological Foundations. Boston, MA: Kluwer Academic. 1998.

Wysocki, Allen F. Class presentations made to students at Michigan State University, 1998-2001.

Wysocki, Allen F. and Ferdinand F. Wirth. Assessing the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats Involving Your Business. Workbook prepared for the Grapefruit Economic Workshop, University of Florida, Indian River Research and Education Center, Fort Pierce, Florida. March 24, 1999.

Tables

Table 1. 

Identification of Customer Segments and Their Marketing Characteristics.

Customer Segment

Characteristics, Hot Buttons, and Unmet Needs

(O) or (T)*

Evidence

     

 

 

   

Source: Wysocki and Wirth, 1999.

* (O) = Opportunity, (T) = Threat.

Table 2. 

Competitor Analysis.

Competitor

Examples of Competitor Skill

(O) or (T)*

Evidence

 

Done Well

   
 

Could Be Better

   
 

Done Well

   
 

Could Be Better

   
 

Done Well

   
 

Could Be Better

   

Source: Wysocki and Wirth, 1999.

* (O) = Opportunity, (T) = Threat

Table 3. 

Industry Analysis Worksheet.

Major Market Trend

(O) or (T)*

Evidence

     

   

   

   

   

   

Key Success Factor

(O) or (T)*

Evidence

   

   

   

   

   

   

Source: Wysocki and Wirth, 1999.

(O) = Opportunity, (T) = Threat.

Table 4. 
 

Competivive Force

Threat-

based

1

2

3

4

5

Opportununity-

based

1. Potential Entry

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How difficult is it for firms to enter your market?

Easy

1

2

3

4

5

Difficult

 

How many options exist for discouraging new firms from entering your market?

Few

1

2

3

4

5

Many

2. Supplier Power

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How much bargaining power do your suppliers have?

Much

1

2

3

4

5

Little

 

How many options exist for lessening supplier power?

Few

1

2

3

4

5

Many

3. Buyer Power

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How much bargaining power do your buyers have?

Much

1

2

3

4

5

Little

 

How many options exist for lessening buyer power?

Few

1

2

3

4

5

Many

4. Potential Substitutes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How many alternatives do buyers have for getting the benefits of your products or services in some other way?

Much

1

2

3

4

5

Few

 

How many ways exist for improving your value to customers?

Few

1

2

3

4

5

Many

 

How many options exist for increasing customer loyalty?

Few

1

2

3

4

5

Many

5. Rivalry

 

What level of intensity exists in the rivalry between you and your direct competitors?

High

1

2

3

4

5

Low

 

How strong are these direct competitors relative to your firm?

Weak

1

2

3

4

5

Strong

 

How many options exist for taking on these competitors head-to-head?

Few

1

2

3

4

5

Many

 

How many options exist for selecting areas of the market that are not so competitive?

Few

1

2

3

4

5

Many

 

Source: Wysocki and Wirth (1999); Porter (1980).

           
Table 5. 

Competitive Force

Less Threatening/ Fewer Opportunities

1

2

3

4

5

More Threatening/ More Opportunities

1. Changes in buyer demand (i.e., wheat buyers want and need)

Little change

1

2

3

4

5

Much change

 

Consider changes in tastes, lifestyle, family income, preferences for uniqueness, etc.

List key changes

         

List key changes

2. Changes in long-term market growth rate

Little change

 

 

 

 

 

Much change

 

Consider changes in industry growth, population growth, product/service attractiveness to customers, market saturation, etc.

List key changes

1

2

3

4

5

List key changes

3. Product and marketing innovations

Little change

1

2

3

4

5

Much change

 

Consider innovations in product/service features, quality, packaging, promotion, advertising, distribution, etc. (e.g., fresh cut fruit and heart-healthy labeling)

List key changes

 

 

 

 

 

List key changes

4. Technological change and the speed with which it spreads

Little change

1

2

3

4

5

Much change

 

Consider changes in equipment, production methods, biotechnology, computers, information systems, and the speed with which industry competitors or customers adopt these changes.

List key changes

 

 

 

 

 

List key changes

5. Regulatory influences and government policy changes

Little change

1

2

3

4

5

Much change

 

Consider changes in environmental regulations, food safety regulations, etc.

List key changes

 

 

 

 

 

List key changes

6. Changes in uncertainty and business risk

Little change

1

2

3

4

5

Much change

 

Consider changes in business liability, volatility of markets, ability to forecast effectively, etc.

List key changes

 

 

 

 

 

List key changes

7. Major changes in the economy

Little change

1

2

3

4

5

Much change

 

Consider changes in the availability of skilled laborers, investment, interest rates, etc.

List key changes

 

 

 

 

 

List key changes

8. Increasing globalization of your industry

Little change

1

2

3

4

5

Much change

 

Consider changes in imports, exports, international firms, entering US markets, etc.

List key changes

 

 

 

 

 

List key changes

Table 6. 

Self Analysis Checklist to Assess Strengths and Weaknesses.

Resources

Weakness*

     

Strength*

I.

Marketing Resources

         

1.

Customer satisfaction with products/services

1

2

3

4

5

2.

Ability to gain customers versus competition

1

2

3

4

5

3.

In-depth knowledge of product/service line

1

2

3

4

5

4.

Product/service quality (function, image, place, possession, ease of use)

1

2

3

4

5

5.

Advertising and promotion activities

1

2

3

4

5

6.

Product/service pricing

1

2

3

4

5

7.

Facilities/methods used to sell to customers

1

2

3

4

5

II.

Financial Resources

         

1.

Strong and recurring operating profits

1

2

3

4

5

2.

Strong and recurring cash flow

1

2

3

4

5

3.

Strong and recurring return on investment

1

2

3

4

5

4.

Strong and recurring return on equity

1

2

3

4

5

5.

Efficient asset management

1

2

3

4

5

6.

Proper balance of debt and equity

1

2

3

4

5

7.

Ready access to outside/new funds

1

2

3

4

5

8.

Well-managed customer credit

1

2

3

4

5

9.

Well-managed supplier credit

1

2

3

4

5

III.

Human Resources

         

1.

Adequate number of people to do the work

1

2

3

4

5

2.

Adequate quality of people to do the work

1

2

3

4

5

3.

Personnel plans

1

2

3

4

5

4.

Job design and description

1

2

3

4

5

5.

Performance standards/evaluation procedures

1

2

3

4

5

6.

Training programs

1

2

3

4

5

7.

Good morale as evidenced by absenteeism, turnover, tardiness, complaints, bickering, and employee growth and development

1

2

3

4

5

8.

Compensation system that promotes performance and satisfaction

1

2

3

4

5

9.

Equitable and competitive pay

1

2

3

4

5

10.

Equitable and competitive fringe benefits

1

2

3

4

5

11.

Appropriate use of terms

1

2

3

4

5

12.

Work ethic of individuals and teams

1

2

3

4

5

IV.

Operations/Production Resources

         

1.

Quality of facilities to serve customers

1

2

3

4

5

2.

Capacity of facilities to serve customers

1

2

3

4

5

3.

Up-to-date, appropriate technology

1

2

3

4

5

4.

Effective and efficient physical plant

1

2

3

4

5

5.

Effective and efficient work flow

1

2

3

4

5

6.

Effective and efficient inventory control

1

2

3

4

5

7.

Effective and efficient purchasing practices

1

2

3

4

5

8.

Effective and efficient production practices

1

2

3

4

5

V.

Management/Leadership Resources

         

1.

Effective management style

1

2

3

4

5

2.

Timely decision making

1

2

3

4

5

3.

Effective delegation

1

2

3

4

5

4.

Effective participation

1

2

3

4

5

5.

Effective risk taking

1

2

3

4

5

6.

Effective leadership

1

2

3

4

5

VI.

Organizational Resources

         

1.

Appropriate mix of resources (people, money, equipment) available

1

2

3

4

5

2.

Resources properly placed to do the job

1

2

3

4

5

3.

Effective interdepartmental communications

1

2

3

4

5

4.

Effective reporting relationships

1

2

3

4

5

5.

Firm's public image

1

2

3

4

5

6.

Strong organizational culture (productivity, honesty, dispute handling, tolerance of change)

1

2

3

4

5

VII.

Information Resources

         

1.

Appropriate financial/cost accounting systems

1

2

3

4

5

2.

Planning system appropriate for internal analysis (assessing strengths and weaknesses)

1

2

3

4

5

3.

Planning system appropriate for external analysis (assessing opportunities and threats)

1

2

3

4

5

4.

Control system that highlights problems and generates corrective action

1

2

3

4

5

5.

Information systems that use the best technology (computers, etc.) available

1

2

3

4

5

6.

Effective information for strategic decision making

1

2

3

4

5

7.

Effective information for operation of decision making

1

2

3

4

5

* Rated on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1=greatest weakness and 5=greatest strength

Source: Wysocki and Wirth (1999), adapted from class discussions led by H. Christopher Peterson, Michigan State University.

Table 7. 

Opportunities and Threats Analysis.

Opportunities

Evidence

 

 

 

Threats

Evidence

 

 

 

Source: Wysocki and Wirth, 1999.

Table 8. 

Strengths and Weaknesses Analysis.

Strengths

Rank

Evidence

   

   

   

Weaknesses

Rank

Evidence

   
     

   

Source: Wysocki and Wirth, 1999.

Table 9. 

Putting the SWOT Analysis Altogether.

Where do your company's strengths and opportunities reinforce each other, suggesting competitive advantage?

Where do your company's weaknesses and threats reinforce each other, suggesting competitive disadvantage?

What are the key success factors that must be addressed to assure a successful future?

Are your company's current vision, mission, goals, and objectives (this is another whole workshop) adequate? How much change is needed?

Are your company's current strategies adequate? How much change is needed?

Source: Wysocki and Wirth, 1999.

Table 10. 

Answering the Critical Marketing Strategy Question.

Based on your experience and beliefs, make a "grocery" list of all the reasons why customers buy from you.

1.

____________________________________________________________________

2.

____________________________________________________________________

3.

___________________________________________________________________

4.

____________________________________________________________________

5.

____________________________________________________________________

6.

____________________________________________________________________

7.

____________________________________________________________________

8.

____________________________________________________________________

9.

____________________________________________________________________

10.

____________________________________________________________________

Source: Wysocki and Wirth, 1999.

Table 11. 

Identifying Possible Target Markets.

Make a list of all the possible markets that exist for your product or service.

1.

___________________________________________________________________

2.

___________________________________________________________________

3.

___________________________________________________________________

4.

___________________________________________________________________

5.

__________________________________________________________________

6.

___________________________________________________________________

7.

___________________________________________________________________

8.

___________________________________________________________________

9.

__________________________________________________________________

10.

___________________________________________________________________

Source: Wysocki and Wirth, 1999.

Footnotes

1.

This document is FE299, one of a series of the Food and Resource Economics Department, Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida. Original publication date August 2001. Revised September 2008. Reviewed February 2012. Visit the EDIS website at http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu.

2.

Allen F. Wysocki, assistant professor, Department of Food and Resource Economics, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, and Ferdinand F. Wirth, assistant professor, Indian River Research and Education Center, Fort Pierce, FL, Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL.

The use of trade names in this publication is solely for the purpose of providing specific information. UF/IFAS does not guarantee or warranty the products named, and references to them in this publication does not signify our approval to the exclusion of other products of suitable composition.


The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. For more information on obtaining other UF/IFAS Extension publications, contact your county's UF/IFAS Extension office.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, UF/IFAS Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A & M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension.