Marketing strategies help the fundamental underpinning of marketing plans designed and planned to fill market needs and reach marketing aims and objectives. Plans and objectives are usually tested for measurable outcomes. Normally, marketing strategies are developed as multiyear plans, with a strategic plan detailing specific actions to be accomplished in the current year. Time horizons covered by the marketing plan differ by company, by industry, and by nation, though, time horizons are becoming shorter as the speed of change in the environment rises. Marketing strategies are dynamic and interactive. They are partially planned and partially unplanned.
Marketing strategy includes careful scanning of the internal and external environments which are summarized in a SWOT analysis. Internal environmental issues include the marketing mix, plus performance analysis and strategic constraints. External environmental issues contain customer analysis, target market analysis, competitor analysis, as well as evaluation of any elements of the technological, economic, cultural or political/legal environment likely to influence success. A key component of marketing strategy is often to keep marketing in line with a company's overarching mission statement. Also, SWOT analysis, portfolio analyses such as the GE/McKinsey matrix can or COPE analysis be performed to regulate the strategic focus.
Once a thorough environmental scan is complete, a strategic plan can be constructed to identify business alternatives, establish challenging goals, determine the optimal marketing mix to achieve these goals, and detail implementation. A final step in developing a marketing strategy is to make a plan to monitor progress and a set of contingencies if problems arise in the implementation of the plan.