Thursday, May 8, 2008

What's the difference between strategic planning and strategic marketing planning?

I used to get really confused about that, so I made a point of investigating the concepts and educating myself about them when I did my Marketing Diploma. I didn't want to end up like Dilbert's manager, above. i.e. a complete dill. Let's see what the experts have to say and then see what that means for public libraries.

According to Philip Kotler, strategic planning is undertaken at a number of levels depending on the size and structure of the organization. For the most complex organizations a hierarchy of strategies is required.

  1. Corporate level (Corporate strategy)
  2. Strategic Business Unit (SBU) level (Business strategy)
  3. Functional level of SBU (Marketing strategy, Research & development strategy, Production & operations strategy, Finance & administration strategy, Human resources strategy)
1. Corporate strategy
involves decision making to:
* Define the corporate mission and vision
* Set objectives
* Define business portfolio strategy
* Deploy Resources
* Establish corporate values

2. Business strategy
involves decision making to:
* Define the business
* Set objectives
* Choose the product/market portfolio
* Establish competitive strategy
* Allocate and manage resources

3. Functional level strategy
involves decision making to develop:
* Marketing strategy - marketing goals and objectives, marketing strategies (customer, product/services, pricing, promotion and distribution)
* Research & Development strategy - technology, product development.
* Production and Operations strategy
* Finance and Administration strategy
* Human resources strategy

Kotler, Philip; Brown, Linden; Adam, Stewart and Armstrong, Gary, Marketing 6th ed. Pearson Education Australia, Frenchs Forest NSW, 2004, pp 78-83

Public Library Strategic Plans

At the corporate level, your council's strategic plan will set the scope within which your public library will operate. Most importantly, it’ll define the council's vision and mission which your public library will be helping to achieve. It’ll also set out the structure of the organization, into directorates or divisions that is designed to best achieve this vision and mission.

At the business level, the broad concerns of the strategic plan are broken down into smaller units. These may be called business units, departments or whatever terminology your council uses.

From the business unit level, smaller functional units may be created.

Depending on the size of your local council and how it is structured, your public library could fit into the business unit or functional level of an SBU. If it's large enough to be a business unit, then, within the Strategic Business Plan, it could develop an overall Strategic Marketing Plan for the library and/or separate Marketing Plans for each product/service. In either case, the planning process is the same.

* create or reiterate a vision and mission that you are trying to achieve
* engage in rigorous situation analysis
* set goals and objectives to achieve
* design strategies to achieve these goals and objectives
* specify action plans, including budgets, for implementing these strategies
* specify feedback and control mechanisms for monitoring the implementation of the plans

A public library is dependent for its direction on the goals and objectives of higher levels of the organization. It pays to be aware of these higher level goals and objectives because, technically, they set the parameters within which the public library operates. At each level, the vision and mission can be further refined, if desired, so that your library can establish its own vision and mission. The main thing to remember when doing this is that it should fit well with the council's vision and mission. The current buzzword is that it should be “in alignment with” the council’s vision and mission.

Local Government Strategic Plans in NSW tend to be of 4 years duration, so your Business and Marketing Plans should mirror this. Within your Strategic Marketing Plan, your Action Plans can be organised on a yearly basis to create Annual Marketing Plans to mirror your council's yearly Management Plan.

Having done this, don't forget, these are living documents reflecting the real world. The real world changes, sometimes unpredictably, so be prepared to change your plans if necessary. If you've done your initial research well and created clear detailed documents, then any changes should be easy to incorporate.

Here are some examples of Public Library Strategic Plans and Marketing Plans. If you know of any more that you think would be useful here, by all means let me know and I will add them.

Here are some sites on planning in general that you may find useful, too.


There is a range of software available to help you with business and marketing planning. Here’s a few that you might want to check out.

Masterplan Professional, CCH
Marketing Plan Pro, Palo Alto Software
BIZ Plan Freeware. This is a FREE Business Plan Guide and Template. The Word-based Template contains a detailed framework and structure for writing a business plan. It’s complemented by a comprehensive guide.

No comments: