Corporate Marketing Strategy vs Business Strategy

June 05, 2019
by Deanitra Kuminka

This is one of those topics that can be quite elusive to a small business owner or even a mid-level manager, especially if they just hit the ground running and keep going without ever really…. REALLY defining their direction. Before engaging any individual, team, or even yourself, understanding the corporate strategy and having a Strategic Plan is vital to know exactly what defines success within your own (or someone else’s) organization.

Strategic planning is a management activity that is used to set priorities, focus energy and resources, strengthen operations, ensure that employees and other stakeholders are working toward common goals, establish agreement around intended outcomes/results, and assess and adjust the team’s direction in response to a changing environment. This disciplined effort produces fundamental decisions and actions that shape and guide what a team is, who it serves, what it does, and why it does it, with a focus on the future.

Effective strategic planning articulates not only where a team is going and the actions needed to make progress, but also how it will know if it is successful.

The small business owner often finds themselves in a whirlwind from the very beginning, especially if their business was the results of happenstance (that perfect moment of opportunity and all of the planets aligning) rather than true planning of each and every detail from the original idea.

Here is an example of a business owner and the many thoughts in his head:

Roy realizes that the “baby boomer bubble” is getting older, so he needs to update his product line accordingly, perhaps to accommodate the “young old” (people from 60-80 years of age). He is looking to reduce his labor costs, perhaps by outsourcing more work, especially to other countries having cheaper labor costs.  Roy also wants to position his company to be more competitive in the marketplace where there is increasing competition.  He especially wants to update his unique value proposition.

Now, this sounds like random thoughts during the morning commute, and to the business owner, it often is. In Roy’s mind, these are his goals and objectives, and he will spend more time in the upcoming commutes strategizing these in his headpiece mail. This would be more of a reactive stance than proactive, which is what strategy is.

This exercise is often first completed by Senior Leadership to set the compass for the company, then each team within the company can devise their own strategic plan with a scope narrow and specific to their contribution to the overall plan.

Components of a Strategic Plan

  • Vision /Mission Statement —A description of the ideal future for the team and the outcomes it hopes to create for its customers and stakeholders.
  • Core Values and Beliefs—Statements of the belief that describe behaviors and ideas that are important to the team’s long-term success and that guide individual action throughout the company.
  • Strategic Issues—Key issues that the team chooses to address to enable it to close the gap between the ideal world it wishes to create and the real world that exists today.
  • Critical Success Factors—Broad measures indicating that the team is making progress toward its vision.
  • Department/Work Area Strategic Plans—The long-range plans that translate the larger organizational strategic plan into action at the department, work unit, and team levels.
  • Annual Budgets/Operational Plans—The specific decisions and actions that the team will take annually and the budget to support these actions in line with the strategic agenda (vision, mission, values, and strategic issues).

fBenefits of Strategic Planning:

Strategic planning serves a variety of purposes in teams, including to:

  • Clearly define the purpose of the team and to establish realistic goals and objectives consistent with that mission in a defined time frame within the team’s capacity for implementation.
  • Communicate those goals and objectives to the team’s constituents.
  • Develop a sense of ownership of the plan.
  • Ensure the most effective use is made of the team’s resources by focusing the resources
    on the key priorities.
  • Provide a base from which progress can be measured and establish a mechanism for informed change when needed.

Creating a Strategic Plan

This is not something that you sit down for an hour and draw out. It takes time and collaboration of the team. This exercise not only gets different perspectives but gets the team aligned with the exact direction of the organization.

Basic Strategic Plan Steps:

  1. Create a Vision or Mission Statement
  2. Identify Core Values
  3. Define your Current State using a SWOT Analysis
  4. Select high-leverage items/issue(s) to address
  5. Select format – aka Strategic Agenda
  6. Action Plan Template – How will you get there?

1. Start with a Vision/Mission Statement

A good vision/mission statement will engage people’s spirit and provide a clear and compelling alternative to the present. It provides people a standard or benchmark for evaluating or assessing the quality of their actions and challenges them to unite and focus their energies toward a common goal.

Vision/Mission Statement Examples:

Swift Transportation  To attract and retain customers by providing Best in Class transportation solutions and fostering a profitable, disciplined culture of safety, service,
and trust.
Marriott Hotels Every guest leaves satisfied.
Merck To preserve and improve human life.
Wal-Mart To give ordinary folk the chance to buy the same things as rich people.
Walt Disney We use our imagination to bring happiness to millions.


  1. Add Core Values

    These are the compass governing decisions and actions within the organization.

Common characteristics of core values:

  • Tap into the existing belief structure of those who choose to work for the team
  • Speak to what is right, moral, and has the highest integrity
  • Move beyond the self-interest of the team
  • Enable individuals to assess their own decisions and actions
  • Enable the leadership team to make decisions and take actions within a framework
    in concert with the vision and strategy
  • Are stated in the present tense
Intel Listen to all ideas
Johnson & Johnson We must be good citizens
Disney Openness, honesty, integrity, courage, respect, diversity, and balance
Wegmans High standards are a way of life
Ikea Create a better everyday life


  1. SWOT Analysis

SWOT is a great exercise to identify merits, challenges, and opportunities around a group or even a situation,
as displayed in these examples:

  1. Select high-leverage items/issue(s) to address

Consider your Vision/Mission Statement and where you want the team to go.  With that in mind, analyze your SWOT and select the items where a small, well-focused effort produces the most significant and enduring improvements or changes.  These will be your High Leverage items.  While there may be dozens of actionable items to make progress toward the vision, it’s important to focus on a few at a time and select the ones that will have the greatest impact.

  1. Select format – aka Strategic Agenda

Considering your Vision/Mission statement and what your SWOT Analysis tells you, what is your focus now to move your team forward toward that Vision/Mission statement, based on your core values? That is what your Strategic Agenda should be.  This defines the actions you can take to reach your goal.

Selecting a Strategic Agenda as the format for your plan

As with strategic planning, there are several methods for selecting the strategic agenda—the set of issues that the team chooses to address so that it can move toward its vision and achieve its strategic goals. The agenda represents the five to seven areas at which the team will target its efforts over the life of the strategic plan.

Some common strategic agenda formats are:

  • Balanced Scorecard
  • Scenario Planning
  • Core Competencies
  1. Action Plan Template – How will you get there?

This is laying exactly how each high-leverage item will be achieved. For this step, we offer you a white paper to use as a template to create your own Action Plan template with some additional words of wisdom.

Where does marketing fit in your strategy? Joseph Studios provides a formal marketing strategy for your growing business, incorporating Specific, Measurable, Assignable, Relevant, Time-bound (SMART) goals that are broken down into a marketing road map for your organization. Boardroom-ready, and briefed to your executive team monthly.

We divide the strategy in a 30-60-90-day plan whereas deliverables get closer to fruition they’re continuously groomed, details added, and actioned when appropriate.

From specific, customized services to a full marketing strategy, Joseph Studios is the organic marketing agency to get your company noticed and recognized as a trusted source in your field. (end blog)

Template for Strategic Planning and Actions needed

Congratulations on getting this far with your corporate strategy! Now is your time to lay out exactly how you will be succeeding with your strategy. Take your time and make your goals realistic and achievable.

Strategic Issue(s) that you selected to work with (from your list of high-leverage items):

  1. What is the strategic issue/problem/opportunity?

Define the boundaries of this strategic issue. What is included in the definition of this issue? Who is affected?
How are they affected?   What are the long-term effects of this issue, problem, or opportunity?

  1. What brings energy to this issue? What causes or sustains this issue?

Addressing this issue must be based on an understanding of the sources of energy that keep this issue alive.
If it is a problem or challenge (internal or external), what are the causes? If it is an opportunity or strength to pursue or maintain, what sustains this issue?

  1. If the issue is successfully addressed, what will the outcome look like?

If we make progress with this issue, what will be achieved? What positive results/outcomes will be realized by the team?

         4. How will success on this issue be measured/evaluated?

         5. What is the 2-3 year strategic objective or goal for helping the team make progress on this issue?

  1. What are the obstacles to achieving the two- to the three-year strategic objective?

What obstacles is the team likely to encounter as it tries to make progress toward this objective/goal?
How will each obstacle be addressed?



  1. Brainstorm ideas for addressing this issue and achieving the goal.

Brainstorm a list of strategies, steps, and actions that the team could take to make progress toward the strategic goal. List your ideas in no particular order. Wild or crazy ideas are encouraged, so don’t censure your ideas. Go for quantity, not quality.

       8. What specific actions should we take to move toward accomplishing the 2-3 year strategic objective?

Drawing from your brainstormed list of ideas/steps, develop a final list of actions in sequence. For each action, identify who (group or individual) should take the lead and by when the action should be completed. Include both actions that deal with the underlying causes and actions that address ways to overcome the obstacles that you identified above.

Specific Actions Who Takes
the Lead
Completion Date

Template for Strategic Action Planning

  1. What resources (staff time, information, financial support, tools, systems, and so forth) will be required to accomplish the desired outcomes for this strategic objective?
Resource Required Estimated Cost Source for or Strategy to Acquire
Marketing Strategy and services Joseph Studios:

Lessons from Chaos and Complexity Theories

As you are ready to launch your strategy, here are some key tips to keep in mind as your team gets accustomed to their actions and decisions being executed in the direction of the strategy:

  1. Status quo is death:
    Stability and equilibrium are the enemies of long-term team success. Stability ensures yesterday’s success.
  2. The future is unknowable:
    The long-range future of an innovative team cannot be known. Innovative strategies take a team into the uncharted waters of open-ended change. With an unknowable destination, the strategy for success involves creating and discovering the destination as you go.
  3. Teams are dynamic systems:
    Unknowability arises from the nature of team systems (dynamic, nonlinear feedback systems). Their future actions or directions are unpredictable.
  4. Chaos is not the absence of order:
    Chaos is the absence of predictable outcomes. When observed over time, chaos conforms to specific boundaries and patterns that take a predictable shape.
  5. Teams are self-organizing systems:
    When dynamic systems are faced with radical amounts of change, they fall apart. But they then reorganize themselves in a more adaptable form around data that are available to them in the present.
  6. People should focus on issues, challenges, and aspirations:
    Instead of controlling a team through long-range planning to achieve stability, managers and staff should focus on identifying and exploring emerging contemporary issues and challenges. Managers must challenge people to envision a possible future while focusing on what they can accomplish today and capitalize on tomorrow.
  7. Complex learning leads to future success: A team’s ability to survive over the long term depends on its members’ ability to question mental models (paradigms) and assumptions, develop new mental models, and develop new approaches to working together that encourage diversity and contention.
  8. Informal networks and political behavior are the wellsprings of new ideas and directions:
    Innovative ideas emerge through the capacity of individuals to use informal networks and engage in political behavior to highlight and promote innovation. Teams must develop people’s capacities for effective influence and persuasion.

Keep your Plan Alive!

A plan is only as good as its team is at keeping it going. Make this plan your mantra and spread it down to each department. Challenge your department heads to devise their own strategic plans, specific to how their groups will contribute the overall strategy.

  • When issues at your team level are specific to a team or group, that team takes the lead.
  • Initiate collaborative efforts (across departmental boundaries) to achieve synergy and avoid duplication
    and the silo effect.
  • Develop a communication process to keep all players involved, responsible, accountable, and informed.
  • Develop semiannual “checks” on progress, assessing results against the vision, critical success factors,
    and individual goal measures.
  • Ensure accountability by building measurement and progress reports on the plan into the routine business processes of individual departments.
  • Make adjustments to the plan as it unfolds.

Where does marketing fit in your strategy? Joseph Studios provides a formal marketing strategy for your growing business, incorporating Specific, Measurable, Assignable, Relevant, Time-bound (SMART) goals that are broken down into a marketing road map for your organization. Boardroom-ready, and briefed to your executive team monthly.

We divide the strategy in a 30-60-90-day plan whereas deliverables get closer to fruition they’re continuously groomed, details added, and actioned when appropriate.

From specific, customized services to a full marketing strategy, Joseph Studios is the organic marketing agency to get your company noticed and recognized as a trusted source in your field.


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