The Strategic Gap In the realm of business, a robust marketing strategy is key to delineating the path your company will travel in the upcoming years, be it a three, five, or ten-year plan. This strategy necessitates a thorough, 360-degree analysis of your firm and its operating context. Such a deep dive aims to unearth new business opportunities that your firm can capitalize on for a distinct competitive edge.
Strategic planning is far from static; it doesn’t cling to the notion of maintaining the status quo. Rather, it’s a dynamic process that challenges assumptions about your firm’s current market offerings and customer base. The objective is to spot the ‘strategic gap’ – a term that encapsulates the chasm between where your firm currently stands (the strategic reality) and where it needs to be positioned for sustainable, long-term growth (the strategic intent).
This process is instrumental in addressing three seemingly straightforward yet profound questions:
Where are we now? This involves a situation analysis, understanding the current standing of the business in its market.
What business should we be in? This delves into defining or redefining the vision and mission of the company.
How do we get there? This is about charting out the strategies, plans, goals, and objectives to achieve the defined vision.
A fourth question may be added to the list, namely ‘How do we know when we got there?’ Due to the increasing need for accountability, many marketing organizations use a variety of metrics to track strategic performance, allowing for corrective action to be taken as required. On the surface, strategic planning seeks to address three simple questions, however, the research and analysis involved in strategic planning are very sophisticated and require a great deal of skill and judgment.
Tools and Techniques
Strategic analysis is designed to address the first strategic question, “Where are we now?” Traditional market research is less useful for strategic marketing because the analyst is not seeking insights about customer attitudes and preferences. Instead, strategic analysts are seeking insights about the firm’s operating environment to identify possible future scenarios, opportunities, and threats.
Analytical Tools and Techniques
BCG Matrix: This tool is used to evaluate the performance of a firm’s portfolio of brands, categorizing them into four quadrants based on market growth and market share.
Perceptual Mapping: This technique helps in assessing the competitive performance of brands by visually displaying customer perceptions of different brands or products.
Product Evolutionary Cycle: This concept is used to forecast future directions for product development, helping businesses adapt to changing market needs.
Porter’s Five Forces Analysis This framework is essential for understanding the competitive forces within an industry and their implications on a company’s strategic positioning.
Research Methods and Analytical Techniques
Environmental Scanning: Identifying and analyzing external environmental factors that might affect the organization.
Marketing Intelligence: Gathering information about competitors and the market environment.
Futures Research: Exploring predictions and scenarios about future market developments.
Key Analytical Techniques
Brand Development Index (BDI)/Category Development Index (CDI)
Benchmarking: Comparing business processes and performance metrics to industry bests.
Blind Spots Analysis: Identifying areas where a company might be vulnerable.
Functional Capability and Resource Analysis
Impact Analysis: Assessing the potential consequences of a change.
Counterfactual Analysis: Considering what might have happened under different circumstances.
Demand Analysis: Estimating customer demand for a product or service.
Emerging Issues Analysis
Experience Curve Analysis: Understanding the cost advantage gained by increased production.
Gap Analysis: Comparing actual performance with potential or desired performance.
Industry Analysis: Using Porter’s Five Forces for a comprehensive industry review.
Market Segmentation Analysis: Dividing a broad market into subsets of consumers.
Perceptual Mapping: Visual representation of customer perceptions of a brand.
PEST Analysis: Reviewing Political, Economic, Social, and Technological factors.
Portfolio Analysis: Assessing a company’s portfolio of businesses or products.
Product Life Cycle Analysis: Understanding the stages of a product’s life from introduction to decline.
Scenario Analysis: Developing plausible representations of the future based on assumptions.
SWOT Analysis: Assessing Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats.
Trend Analysis: Identifying and analyzing historical patterns to predict future trends.
Value Chain Analysis: Examining the activities within and around an organization to maximize value creation.
The choice of these tools and techniques depends on various factors like data availability, the nature of the marketing problem, the objective of the analysis, the analyst’s skill level, and constraints such as time and resources. No single technique is universally optimal; the appropriateness of each depends on the specific context and the analyst’s expertise.