In today's volatile and competitive marketplace, the strategic manager must possess a sophisticated perspective regarding creating and maintaining the overall image of the organization.

In order to accomplish this goal, marketing must play a key role, regardless of the company's size.

To be truly effective, a company must be up-to-date with it's marketing 'psyche'. In bygone times, companies concentrated on items it was able to produce, not on customer needs and wants. This type of outdated thinking will most likely lead to a rather short lifespan.

Today, marketing is a holistic approach that is often more complex than first thought.

What Is Marketing?

It is a process through which an organization identifies a need and then provides a means of filling or satisfying that need.

Customers are more informed and savvy than in the past and they expect more - in the quality of both products and service. Today's customer is not willing to merely sit passively by and consume - he wants a voice and relationship with the companies with whom he chooses to conduct business.

Marketing is not deciding where and how to advertise. This is only one component of the process. Effective managers make sure they have a well-defined and mapped out strategy that deals with the entire lifecycle of the process. The most successful companies have a keenly honed customer-centric marketing model.

This model outlines a process that allows the company to determine the needs and wants of a "target market" and deliver this while instilling in the customer the belief their company's 'satisfaction solution' is better value than the competition's.

The first step in a marketing strategy involves the identification of unmet needs within a market and delivering/developing products and/or services to meet those needs.

Define Your Market First.

Is it a business-to-consumer company, a business-to-business company, or both? Regardless of the target(s) a company must be able to clearly identify a common need amongst a large portion of this market, as well as that portions propensity and ability to buy that product or service.

Once the target market has been identified it is time to do some analysis. The depth, complexity and related cost should remain proportionate to the ratio of overall business this product or service is anticipated to generate.

Analyze Internally.

What will be involved in creating this product or service? Is there access to all of the necessary components? How much volume can be handled? Are their efficient distribution channels? What will it cost to make or provide this?

The next phase is an external analysis that looks at specific trends within the target market. With this information in hand, a company is then able to make an informed decision as to whether or not it is feasible to proceed.

Now that the target market has been identified and the operational side has been flushed out, a strategy can be addressed. How a company decides to communicate its message should be in correlation to its overall marketing strategy. Whether the most effective method of conveying you message to the target audience is through traditional advertising channels, the Internet or more innovative activities, it should be apparent from the prior analysis.

The final phase of a marketing strategy should examine the component of customer relationship management:

What processes are in place to service our customers? How do we ensure a positive resolution of customer complaints? What performance measurements will be used to determine how well clients are being serviced?

And, most importantly: How will customer relationships be maintained so they will do business with us again and again?

By developing a comprehensive strategy that spans the entire lifecycle of new to repeat client, a company will find it is able to effectively address the present needs and wants of it's target markets, as well as being able to incorporate new areas as they develop.

Article written by Lee.