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Defining the Marketing Strategy

by Dr Cedric Nazareth


The term marketing strategy probably does not have any single definition that may be acceptable to all, but however, it may simply be described as the game plan by which the company will meet its objective. The marketing strategy provides direction to the business activities, and will determine the allocation of resources and the marketing mix.

Align with the environment

There can be no universal success formula that will determine the marketing strategy for all. The strategy will depend upon the market environment, and will be related to the amount of turbulence in the market. Management capability should also be match the requirements of the market.

Strategy and vision

The marketing strategy should be related to the company’s vision, which is where the company expects to be in five to ten years. For example, if the company desires to be a leader in the ophthalmological products market, the marketing strategy should reflect this objective.

Eliminate confusion

In an organisation, there is often confusion regarding what is in fact the strategy. What an organisation is actually doing may differ from what it says it is doing, and this in turn can differ from what it should be doing. Furthermore, in the matter of strategy, many bright ideas are constantly generated, further adding to the confusion.

Keep it simple

The confusion about what is the strategy can be minimised by keeping the strategy statement simple. In one of its simplest forms, it could be five or six ideas about how to fight the competition. Get these ideas to fit on a single sheet of paper. Tactics should contribute to accomplishing the strategic objectives.

Current issues

Markets are becoming more fragmented. In the pharmaceutical market this may be related to new drugs categories and to newer concepts of disease management. Thus, there is a need to target the right market and in turn, the right segment of that market. Hence, proper evaluation of data is necessary. Innovation and speed are required for maintaining a competitive edge. Better value for the customer must be created despite possible budgetary constraints.

Marketing as a war

The marketplace is much like a battlefield. For success, market intelligence is definitely a prerequisite. Also needed is clear objective and a simple plan that is well-understood and swiftly implemented by the field force. Effective management of human resources and good leadership are also required.


Implementation is where most strategies fail. To be successful, the strategy should take into consideration the organisation’s resources and culture, its core competencies and the environment it exists in.

Anticipate change

It is said that the only constant is change. The more the change, the more we go from order towards chaos. Uncertainty must be accepted as a fact of business life. It is therefore necessary to keep looking outside the organisation to learn lessons and improve effectiveness. Learn from past mistakes and achievements, but do not allow preconceived ideas to gain the upper hand. Assume nothing.

Shaping the future

These three maxims from Philip Kotler sum it up: * Invest in the future : “Companies pay too much attention to the cost of doing something. They should worry more about the cost of not doing it.” * Move fast : “Every company should work hard to obsolete its own product line...before its competitors do.” * Excel at everything you do : “Your company does not belong in any market where it can’t be the best.”

15th December 2000.
Pharma Marketing Page.
This article appeared in Pharma Business, January 5, 2001.

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