Thinking...

The conceptual background to strategy, marketing and planning

Stephen Cashman, February 2003
This online background paper provides a review of some of the definitions, theories and concepts underpinning strategy. As such it is intended to introduce the key concepts involved, or to form an overall reminder of the various issues relating to these areas.

1. What is strategy about and why is it so important?

‘Every company needs a strategy – either explicit or implicit.’ Costas Markides (1995) ‘An effective strategic management process has become the essential norm for businesses.’ Richard Hanscombe and Philip Norman (1993) ‘Effective strategic management is the ultimate aim of all managers.’ Financial Times, 1997 ‘The survival, growth and prosperity of any organisation depends on the quality and viability of the strategy the organisation is pursuing.’ Andrew Kakabadse, Ron Ludlow and Susan Vinicombe (1988) Indeed, such is the importance attached to the subject of strategy that one commentator on the subject, Richard Whittington (1993), reports that ‘there are thirty-seven books in print with the title Strategic Management’. Similarly a leading strategy thinker, Henry Mintzberg, and his colleagues (1998) note that ‘The literature of strategic management is vast – the number of items we reviewed over the years numbers close to 2,000 – and it grows larger every day.’ However, despite the importance given to them, thinking, writing and talking about ‘strategy’-related topics are subject to two main challenges, as is acknowledged by the warning issued by a leading thinker on marketing strategy, Paul Fifield.

‘The word “strategy” has become one of the most common and badly used words in business writing.’ Paul Fifield (1992) The twin challenges faced here in using the term ‘strategy’ are as follows: • First, unless the user is wary of how management terms can sometimes be abused (and thus end up as mere jargon), these expressions can occasionally be used more to create an impression of good management, rather than for their actual comprehended meaning. • And second, there is very little agreement as to what these sorts of terms mean.

‘There is no single, universally accepted definition [of strategy]. Different authors and managers use the term differently.’ Henry Mintzberg and James Brian Quinn (1998) ‘Strategy is very important. But no one knows what it means. Every professor in the world has a different version of what strategy means.’ Jo Owen (2002)

The challenge of defining ‘strategy’
The roots of the challenge of defining ‘strategy’ rest in the fact that ‘strategy’ has always been a dynamic, evolving and shapeshifting concept. Initially the term came from Ancient Greek military use, where the word

The conceptual background to strategy, marketing and planning

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1 Mintzberg’s (1987) five ways of thinking about strategy Strategy can be thought of as being like: • A plan: ‘a consciously intended course of action’. This meaning then changed to become ‘the art of a general’. ‘Strategy is concerned with making major decisions affecting the long-term direction of the business. the world in which it works).e. in his On War.strategos described a general in command of an army. is further complicated by the term’s potential to describe a number of distinctly different ways of thinking. Hence its modern business and organisational application was initially a metaphorical extension of these military notions. 1980). What’s more. By implication this relates to setting and guiding an organisation’s future direction. it lives (its ‘domain’) is to examine reallife instances of strategy and strategic management practice as a means of distilling its essential features and characteristics. The earlier military aspects of the term were still being employed in modern times by eighteenth-century General von Clausewitz who. the challenge of arriving at a contemporary meaning for ‘strategy’ that is unified. writes of strategy as being concerned with ‘draft[ing] the plan of war … shap[ing] the individual campaigns and within these. ‘strategy’ is predominantly concerned with addressing the major issues facing an organisation. but also about the things it should not be doing. Here Henry Mintzberg (1987) makes the pertinent point that there are five different approaches to visualising strategy (Figure 1. • A perspective: an all-embracing way of thinking about the organisation and its approach to the world. comprehensive and consistent.1). in conceptual terms. Contemporary business usage very clearly flowed from such initial militaristic use. decid[ing] on the individual engagements’. • A position: a deliberate stance taken in relation to the environment (i. • A ploy: ‘a manoeuvre intended to outwit a competitor’.’ Graeme Drummond and John Ensor (1999) Part of setting the organisation’s overall direction will inevitably involve making decisions and choices about the scope of its activities. For a start. In this sense strategy rests on agreement not only about what the organisation should be doing. It’s also helpful to get a sense of where strategy actually lives. • A pattern: underpinning ‘a stream of actions’. Figure 1. So although this short review of the term’s early and current use gives some sense of where the current meanings of ‘strategy’ sit. In turn this involves managing the relationship between an organisation and the world in which it works (sometimes referred to as its 2 . and by the time of Pericles (450 BC) strategos was being used to indicate ‘overall managerial skill’ (Evered. a more useful approach to defining it is to consider some of the identified qualities that are frequently attached to it. So what’s it for and where does it live? One way of identifying both what strategy is for (its ‘purpose’) and where.

2 Effective strategy ensures that the organisation continues to fit in with the world in which it works. McDonell (1990) The importance of this is emphasised by Figure 1. Consequently one aim of strategic management is ensuring that – as far as possible – an organisation continues to ‘fit in’ with its world.. its environment ENVIRONMENTAL CHANGE THE ORGANISATION TIME (b) In reality.2(a)). Hence this danger is about not keeping up with environmental change. it would change its approach and activities in such a way that they parallel.’ I. organisations may occasionally lag behind environmental change ENVIRONMENTAL CHANGE THE ORGANISATION TIME (c) Ineffective strategy leads to an increasing gap between the organisation and the world in which it works = strategic drift ENVIRONMENTAL CHANGE THE ORGANISATION TIME The conceptual background to strategy. management: to position and relate the firm to its environment in a way which assures its success and makes it secure from surprises. Ansoff and E. Ideally. British strategy writer Gerry Johnson (1992) who warns of the dangers of what he calls ‘strategic drift’.‘operating environment’). if the organisation has a wellthought-through and well-implemented strategy. However. and take advantage of. it will avoid this danger by maintaining the best possible level of synchronicity or fit between itself and its surrounding world. This occurs when the relevance of an organisation to the world in which it works becomes gradually diminished as things in that world change. thus avoiding strategic drift (a) An organisation stays synchronised with.. But because it often ‘[Strategic management is] a systematic approach to a major and increasingly important responsibility of . opportunities cropping up in the world in which it operates (Figure 1. and keeps up with changes in. marketing and planning 3 .

Figure 1. then a gap between the two will gradually develop (Figure 1. if no efforts are made to maintain some form of synchronicity with the world in which an organisation operates. the relevance of the organisation. policies and action[s] .. in reality there may be times when even the most strategic businesses lag behind changes in their environment (Figure 1.. ‘A strategy is the pattern or plan that integrates an organization’s major goals.2(c)). good strategy can be seen to trickle down into. In a sense.’ James Brian Quinn (1980) As a result. reduces. presentation and curation 4 .takes extensive energy and effort for organisations to respond to change. then. if an organisation is taking a wellthought-through approach to strategy. into a cohesive whole. and the sense of connection it has to the world in which it works. It can be damaging because as strategic drift increases. inform and affect everything in an organisation – almost like the word ‘Brighton’ permeates every bite of Brighton Rock (Figure 1. However.3 Well-thought-through strategies permeate every part of the organisation THE ORGANISATION'S STRATEGIES OPERATIONS MANAGEMENT OF RESOURCES Finance and personnel EDUCATION AND OUTREACH MARKETING Production.2(b)). devoted to bringing together and coordinating an organisation’s various areas of activity. Thus one writer has described strategy as the ‘conceptual glue that binds together an organisation’s activities and functions’. This last case represents strategic drift at its worst and most damaging to the future prospects of an organisation. what it does will come across almost as a set of variations on a common underlying theme. At the same time – and as a way of achieving these aims – ‘strategy’ is an essentially integrative function.3). permeate.

Ensuring the organisation’s activities fit with its available capabilities and resources. Translating the organisation’s thinking and aspirations into a practical set of actions. 4. implications for an organisation’s finances. The momentum for this change in strategy was gained from the overall transformation process. Bringing together. Given that project funding was partially awarded on the basis of growing audiences. marketing and planning 5 .4).e. Big issues. Managing the relationship between the organisation and the world in which it works so that it continues to fit in with it. i. a marketing team of six and a cross-gallery focus on developing new audiences. Figure 1. strategy needs to turn into a set of actions to be carried out in the real world. but most staff feel that this increased audience focus has enriched their activities. Current and potential visitors are segmented into three main bands: ‘diehards’. The long-term direction of an organisation. big ideas and big thinking about the organisation’s desired future destiny and direction that help it fit in with the big picture.And then. Kate Farmery. the Gallery’s approach to strategic marketing needed reviewing. who have more propensity to become regular visitors. The harderto-reach ‘difficults’ are encouraged via outreach programmes while the ‘maybes’.4 At a glance – the top seven distinguishing features of strategy Strategy is concerned with: 1. Consequently it can be seen that the strategy’s whole area of concern (as it were. So appropriate strategic thinking tends to ensure pragmatism by making sure that an organisation’s activities match its capabilities and resources. 5. including the flagship Manchester Art Gallery. The annual attendance The conceptual background to strategy. to be useful. 7. coordinating and integrating an organisation’s various activities. It manages four venues. 6. Thus in this sense strategic decisions usually have major resources implications. Head of Marketing and Business Development. are targeted via programming and mainstream marketing activities. 3. There is now marketing representation at senior management level. A market study prior to the closure of the Gallery for this project indicated that most visits were made by a core audience of less than 30. Thinking about important and major issues for the organisation. ‘maybes’ and ‘difficults’. the domain it inhabits) relates to ‘big things’. Case study: Adopting a strategic approach at the Manchester Art Gallery Manchester City Galleries is a department of Manchester City Council and a major regional galleries service. explained that Manchester Art Gallery has recently undergone a £35 million redevelopment which transformed the way in which the organisation engages with its audiences. staffing and knowledge base (see Figure 1.000. Deciding the scope of the organisation’s activities – both what to do and what NOT to do. 2.

and then deciding which of these paths should be followed. strategic planning and strategic management As was implied earlier. Strategic planning is about assessing the starting point. Thinking BIG! (the hard-copy guide that is backed up by this online paper) focuses on the strategic planning of marketing activities. the central concept of strategy all share a common concern with addressing big issues. With these ideas in place. But it doesn’t quite resolve three further conundrums that are central to this publication’s purposes: • What’s the difference between strategy. devising the routes that could lead to the desired goals.5 and 1. Strategic planning is the detailed specification of both the long-term aims and the strategy for achieving them. Strategic management is the process by which the long-term aims. ‘I see strategy as the means by which an organisation moves to attain its long-term aims. and flow from. In short. thus realising the strategy and its overall intentions (Figures 1. And strategic management is concerned with the practical measures needed to put the plans into action. strategy and strategic management. the last two terms will be referred to on numerous occasions. But given the strong. offers a set of helpful definitions. David Hussey (1991). Yet there is an intrinsic difference between the way in which some of these terms are used. the terms that relate to. The differences between strategy. it should now be possible to generally recognise what constitutes strategy and strategic thinking.’ David Hussey (1991) 6 . intrinsic and mutually dependent links between the practices of strategic planning. strategy is about identifying the overall path that will lead to the achievement of an organisation’s intentions and goals – how it moves from where it is now and gets to where it wants to be in the future. the required journey from it.6). and its implementation are managed …The three concepts are intrinsically bound together.target was reached within three months of the Gallery re-opening. and put at its simplest. Fortunately one writer on the subject. the strategy. strategic planning and strategic management? • How is strategy different from tactics? • And what is strategic marketing about? These questions are discussed below.

5 Strategy.6 The links between strategy. strategic planning and strategic management as three distinct activities and roles DESCRIPTION EMPHASIS Identifying the overall path to be followed to achieve the organisation's intentions and goals Assessing the start point. marketing and planning 7 . formulating the potential ways forward and then deciding between them Taking the required actions STRATEGIC MANAGEMENT Implementing the practical steps needed to undertake the journey and successfully reach its end HELMSPERSON Figure 1.Figure 1. formulating and deciding between alternative paths • Taking practical steps needed The conceptual background to strategy. strategic planning and strategic management THE DESIRED WAY TO GO STRATEGY Strategic planning The GOAL STRATEGIC MANAGEMENT • Setting the overall direction • Assessing. devising potential routes and selecting the most suitable path to follow PRIMARY COMPARABLE NAUTICAL ROLE TASK STRATEGY CAPTAIN Setting the general direction STRATEGIC PLANNING NAVIGATOR Analysing the need.

Tactical activity is needed to put the steps intended to realise strategy into action.’ Martin Bell (1989) Distinguishing between a strategy and a tactic can tend to be a matter of degree.. for an organisation to achieve the results it desires from its activities. It’s also a matter of perspective. The two sorts of approach are thus mutually dependent – one could not exist in a useful form without the other. the places where the links and gateways into tactical marketing and tactical marketing planning can be placed during the creation of a strategic marketing plan will be pointed out. (However. organisational level strategy is clearly about big.’ Richard P. What’s more. However. Both types of approach need to be taken into consideration when developing plans for the organisation. These differences can be thought of according to a range of varied illustrative criteria and aspects (Figure 1.8).7). what is strategic depends on where you sit. it is assumed that marketing tactics should be conceived once an organisation has its marketing strategy in place. Rumelt (1974) 8 . It identifies the action details necessary to implement the long-term plan. while tactics tend to be more concerned with small-scale. an ongoing and vital link between tactics and strategy. Here top thinker on marketing strategy Malcolm McDonald (2002) points out that a good tactical approach applied in the absence of well-conceived strategy. while strategy sets the agenda for the tactical activity to be carried out. Strategy and tactics thus work in support of each other. But while strategy and tactics both work in tandem.The relationship between strategy and tactics ‘Tactical planning in … marketing is directly linked to strategic planning. or an excellent strategy delivered in the absence of appropriate tactics. are both likely to deliver less than perfect results for an organisation (Figure 1. long-term issues affecting the wider destiny of an organisation. Since the publication to which this paper relates is devoted to strategic marketing planning. both its tactics and strategies need to be at an appropriately high level. at an all-embracing. day-to-day operational activity. There is. of course..) ‘One person’s strategies are another’s tactics . strategy needs to be devised first.

marketing and planning 9 .Figure 1.8 The mutual dependence of both good srategies and tactics after Mc Donald (2002) STRATEGY Effective Ineffective Efficient THRIVE DIE (quickly) TACTICS Inefficient SURVIVE DIE (slowly) The conceptual background to strategy.7 Tactics vs. strategy ASPECT Emphasis Purpose Time-frame Extent Focus Navigational metaphor TACTICS The quick fix Achieving operational goals Short term Local Immediate needs and issues Take the 2nd left STRATEGY The wider game Reaching underlying ends Long term Global Adapting to long-term change Get to London Figure 1.

together with a framework. two further sections of this background paper provide a discussion on marketing and planning intended to create a consistent understanding of what these terms mean. strategic marketing is the use of marketing on a ‘big thinking’ scale to address big organisational issues and concerns. Similarly. which can be adopted in creating a strategic marketing plan for your organisation. But first. and then formulate action steps for its implementation.Strategic marketing and strategic marketing planning As might be expected from the preceding discussion of strategy. to identify and select potential ways of working. The overview section of Thinking BIG! suggests a sequence of tasks. 10 . Strategic marketing is the application of a strategic approach to an organisation’s marketing activities which thus contributes to the achievement of the organisation’s overall strategic goals. strategic marketing planning can be considered as the formal and systematic thinking required to assess what is needed from strategic marketing.

marketing is by no means a new form of human behaviour. In fact. it becomes apparent why it’s no wonder that people have differing and occasionally confused notions of what marketing is. But let’s start our detailed consideration of the issues they identify by putting things into context.’ Martin Christopher and Malcolm McDonald (1991) Marketing is not a new or modern form of human behaviour. ‘The concept of marketing is inherently simple – business success via a process of understanding and meeting customer needs.2. glossy corporate management. For instance. there is still confusion as to what is really meant by the term ‘marketing’. if the literature devoted to marketing is considered. This is because the one term encompasses three different sorts of thing at The conceptual background to strategy. source unknown) ‘The simplest definition of marketing is that it is the process of matching the resources of the business with identified customer needs.’ Theodore Levitt (1988.’ Graeme Drummond and John Ensor (2001) But this broad consensus tends to break down the moment people try to explain: • what exactly marketing is for • what marketing is meant to do • and how it is meant to do it. marketing and planning 11 . literally. Marketing – an old practice with an important and current application The definitions of marketing shown here give an initial hint of what marketing really involves. just like the word ‘strategy’. in ‘marketplaces’). create. The results of this drive to come up with a comprehensive and well-thought-through definition of marketing – which started in the 1940s and 1950s – has not been particularly clear cut. The aspect of marketing that is relatively new and modern is the way in which its underlying purposes and processes have been isolated and identified by management thinkers. Consequently. Despite all its apparent links to modern business usage and slick. Whenever and wherever people have gathered to trade goods and services (that is. Yet there is an important respect in which this ancient notion has been modernised. But the systematic description of what it involves is. The essence of marketing and arts marketing ‘[Marketing consists] of a tightly integrated effort to discover. arouse and satisfy customer needs. some form of marketing has been going on. marketing is concerned with customer satisfaction and with the focussing of the organisation’s resources to ensure that the customer is satisfied. Drummond and Ensor (2001) begin a seminal text by making an adamant assertion. The nature of this confusion can be a bit deceptive. There is a degree of general consensus as to what the fundamental aim of marketing is. Thus ‘marketing’ can actually be seen as an essentially ancient craft. In other words.

It can refer to a way of thinking. Such ‘exchanges of value’ are essentially a trade or swap.one and the same time. perspective or state of mind • a management task – something that can’t be left to chance. using those links as a basis for stimulating and bringing about what is known as an ‘exchange of value’. such that it needs to be a defined responsibility for someone inside the organisation • and a set of tools and techniques for turning marketing thinking into real action. This basic thing that marketing is for has two complementary aspects: first. The term ‘marketing’ can be used to describe three different sorts of thing at one and the same time. positive feedback. letters of appreciation or a repeat attendance).1 The matching concept. marketing is a term used to simultaneously describe: • a way of looking at and thinking about the world – a philosophy. The organisation's: • capabilities • offerings • products and services Products. The essence of marketing as a philosophy – the purpose of marketing and the concept it represents Underpinning the philosophy – or way of thinking – that is marketing is one core purpose. seen in this way. Figure 2. a defined management task or a set of tools for turning thinking into action. applause. and second. goods or services in return for payment from its customers – or some other indication that the customer’s needs have been satisfied (for example. whereby an organisation provides products. goods or services Potential customers': • needs • wants • desires Payment or some other indication of satisfaction 12 . finding the links between an organisation’s capabilities and what it provides (its ‘product’ or ‘offerings’) and the needs. The core concern of marketing is finding and using the links between organisation and customer to bring about a swap. wants or desires of its potential customers and users. So.

Assess results and use them The conceptual background to strategy. The ways in which this task is done can take many forms. What’s more. somewhere in the organisation. and setting out to satisfy their needs. has to perform and can’t really be left to chance. posters and other publicity mechanisms) that tend to be used as a part of marketing activity. Such an examination results in a model that is frequently described as ‘the marketing process’. This is driven by the underlying intentions of both finding a match between organisation and its potential customers or users. • And that a key set of concerns and points of reference for effective marketing practice is understanding an organisation’s customers and users. what it stands for. and of using that match as a basis for marketing action intended to stimulate an exchange. Use the marketing mix to persuade customers 5. • That marketing isn’t exclusively about financial transactions.‘The central idea of marketing is of a matching between a company’s capabilities and the wants of customers in order to achieve the objectives of both parties. intention and practice range far wider and deeper than the set of tools and techniques (such as leaflets. Set objectives for the marketing exercise 2. It can be used not only to encourage people to buy from an organisation. then the following can be seen: • That marketing is a discipline whose purpose. If the underlying purpose of marketing is taken to be about using an identified match to bring about an exchange of value (or swap) of some kind. marketing and planning 13 . The basic ‘marketing process model’ is shown in Figure 2. So marketing can be used to encourage involvement with an organisation in the form of both consumption and participation. Identify. Marketing as a management task entails using a systematic process It was noted earlier that marketing can also be thought of as a dedicated management task. but also to encourage people to buy into an organisation and Figure 2.2.’ Malcolm McDonald (1999) Indeed this purpose is based on a recognised management model that tends to be referred to as ‘the matching concept’ (see Figure 2. Review the organisation and research customers 3.2 The marketing process 1.1). It’s a job that someone. it’s a model that has a number of interesting and important implications. However. by examining best practice it is possible to spot the elements and stages involved in doing the job of marketing in an organisation. select and focus on potential customers 4.

As can be seen. and on the organisation’s potential customers. as a ‘set of tools’. i. Indeed the marketing mix and issues relating to it – in terms of marketing planning – are explained further in Section D. Set and agree relevant objectives. It provides a road map or blueprint for each and every marketing exercise that your organisation carries out. chapter 10. 5. It can also be applied to any marketing exercise. These are as follows. an exchange of value) with the selected group of customers or users. So in this sense. the marketing process model is used as a source of elements for the strategic marketing planning framework suggested by the hard-copy publication Thinking BIG! The marketing process model shows the five key steps involved in thinking about and carrying out a marketing exercise. is included in this publication’s wider consideration of marketing plans. in a way that secures the achievement of the organisation’s objectives. Review organisation and research potential audiences.e. It could be used in any setting or context.e. select and focus on potential customers/users. and using the conclusions drawn to inform thinking on the objective for the next comparable marketing exercise you undertake (see Figure 2. With this review of the appropriate information complete. what it provides and factors in the surrounding world that impinge on the marketing activity). As might be realised. the fourth stage is where that analysis flows into action. 2. The model can also be used as a basic structure that provides key elements for both tactical and strategic marketing plans. it is made up of five key stages. this model also illustrates how thinking about and putting in place any marketing exercise can also be thought of as a learning process or even a virtuous cycle. This action consists of selecting from. That’s why the fifth and last stage is about assessing how well your activity has worked. (Further discussion of the third way of defining marketing. What’s more. users or visitors. exhibition or participative event) or a strategic one. Figure 2. this model can be used in a number of ways. However. be it a tactical one (such as a campaign related to a specific production. the third stage of the process is to use this material as a basis for identifying and selecting the sorts of people who offer the best prospect of enabling the organisation to realise its objectives. It can also be used to inform the structure of marketing plans for those exercises. these first three stages are very much about thinking and analysis.) Besides providing a structure and blueprint for marketing activity. 14 .3 The five steps of the marketing process at a glance 1. 4. 3. Once the particular objectives have been agreed. Identify. Use appropriate set of marketing tools to persuade customers/users. First it shows that the starting point for all effective marketing activity is ideally a set of objectives that clarify what the activity is intended to achieve. Assess results and use them to inform future plans. the set of marketing tools (typically referred to as ‘the marketing mix’) as a means of stimulating and bringing about the desired trade (i.This is an intentionally ‘generic’ model.3). the second stage is to acquire relevant information – both on the organisation (for instance. and using.

4 Multiple priorities for the not-for-profit arts organisation Fulfil the artistic urge Not-for-profit arts organisation Ensure social responsibility by securing maximum access Meet the financial imperative The conceptual background to strategy. subsidised arts organisations have a moral and social responsibility to ensure maximum access and equality of opportunity for all (Figure 2.’ Peter Drucker (1990) Overall. Their product is a cured patient. ‘not for profit’ organisations have a reason for existing that is not primarily about generating profits for their owners and shareholders. Indeed. What is required is that we borrow the best of commercial marketing ideas and adapt them to support the arts’ purposes. because they are using monies drawn from general taxation. this concept of the not-for-profit organisation means that subsidised arts organisations effectively work to a threefold set of strategic priorities. This seems intrinsically unfair. marketing and planning 15 . Figure 2. In this respect the pre-eminent American authority on management Peter Drucker (1990) makes a telling observation with powerful and positive resonances for artsbased. a young woman grown into a self-respecting adult. a changed human life altogether. just adopting corporate practice was never going to work. a child that learns. or maybe because of the resonances accompanying its introduction to the arts in this country (which coincided with a new emphasis on best ‘commercial’ practice). ‘The non-profit institution[’s] product is a changed human being. Possibly because of its roots in the corporate sector. They must respond to the artistic urge by safeguarding artistic integrity.4). even today marketing is sometimes unjustly treated with suspicion in some parts of our sector. They have to remain financially viable by meeting the financial imperative of generating a surplus on some of their activities. because first and foremost the idea of arts marketing was never just to apply wholesale the thinking and ways of working of big business. Rather. And perhaps the central difference is that – especially in the publicly funded sector – arts organisations are frequently what are known as ‘not for profit’ or ‘non-profit’ organisations (as opposed to ‘for profit’ or commercial organisations). let alone thrive. They do – because without doing so they will not survive.Arts marketing is different – and special When it comes to marketing used in support of the arts and culture (‘arts marketing’. as it were) there is a further intriguing and fascinating complication. because our sector is intrinsically different. Indeed the nature of these differences – between the arts and commerce – reverberate through the activities of arts organisations in such a way that they determine the key differences between arts and commercial marketing. Their purpose is primarily about delivering some form of social good. This is not to say that such arts organisations don’t have to watch their finances. And at the same time. not-for-profit organisations.

(For instance. is it artistic.If the publication that this paper backs up has one recurrent theme. it is perhaps the importance of having a set of identified and agreed objectives as the starting point for any and every marketing exercise. 16 . they might be intended to generate income. Just as the same hypothetical marketing person should not be pilloried for compromising artistic integrity if the agreed purpose of an exercise was primarily to generate income. And since any one organisation may – from time to time – have a range of different objectives for its projects and exercises. Hence it would seem unwise to undertake marketing activity without first having answered the question ‘why are we doing this?’ For not-for-profit arts organisations this notion of why a marketing exercise is being done becomes all the more important because different exercises may be required to work in support of different priorities. Hence the agreed priority for an exercise will affect which parts of the organisation and its potential audiences are examined as part of the stage two review. it is frequently the case that differing approaches to marketing will be used at different times depending on the underlying objective. condition and determine the nature of the various stages of the marketing process. They might be required to contribute to the fulfilment of the organisation’s social responsibility. For instance. Or they might be devised to support the overall artistic aims of the organisation. a marketing person should not be castigated for failing to generate substantial income if the agreed priority of an exercise was to fulfil the organisation’s social and access priorities. financial or social). Regardless of which of these varied objectives is considered to be the current priority. which sorts of people will be considered as potential customers/users.) • The allocated priorities – rather like strategies – need to flow through. marketing in an organisation where there is a potential mix of multiple objectives has two major implications: • It is vital that there is agreement as to the specific priority of a particular exercise (i. and which set of marketing tools will be used in contacting these people. and that this agreement is not arbitrarily changed at a later stage.e.

South Shields. leisure patterns exhibited and understanding of the arts The conceptual background to strategy.The Customs House. It was recognised. however. The marketing and publicity strategy was formulated with the help of the steering group. then monthly. The Customs House feels very strongly about providing everybody with equal access to its services. while publicity was sent via the Asian programmes on BBC Radio Newcastle. taxi drivers were offered one free ticket when they brought customers to the venue. The issues had been identified following past attempts to engage with the audience by promoting Asian artists. A project coordinator was employed to lead the project and carry out the necessary evaluation to measure the outcomes (Padma Rao). South Shields varies the marketing being used to achieve a project’s desired purpose • more contacts need to be established with the Asian community • specialised marketing knowledge is required. Ray Spencer. Identified issues The Director. Other groups were also to be invited for consultation in order to encourage raised awareness about The Customs House and the aims of its audience development initiative. Sikh. that few Asian audiences were accessing the venue and facilities despite a considerable population of this type in and around South Shields. i. A relationship was to be formed with relevant communities in order to establish The Customs House as being fully committed to addressing the needs of the communities and to help generate a sense of ownership of the venue. Alternative ticket sales outlets were also engaged. as part of its artistic policy. Indeed it was learned that: • promoting Asian arts and cinema is a specialised area requiring careful planning • programming should be informed by the needs of the community • more understanding is needed about the barriers to attendance faced by the Asian community. Indian. The venue has a main theatre/cinema space (seating 400). and was part of the extensive development of that area undertaken and funded by the Tyne and Wear Development Corporation. as well as spreading the word in their communities and meetings were initially to be held fortnightly. Special schemes were set up to encourage attendances. says that.e. participating in the Asian arts festival ‘Awaaz’ and by screening Bollywood films in the cinema. marketing and planning 17 . Pakistani and Bangladeshi communities. a studio theatre space (seating 145). marketing department and project coordinator. There were also competitions arranged via the local press and media. A steering group was established with key members representing all communities. for example. for example partner restaurants and the Apna Ghar Asian women’s project. Despite being a positive experience it was felt that little impact was made with the target audience. Members were expected to contribute useful contacts and ideas for programming and marketing. a restaurant and a bar. Background Implementation The Customs House is a venue situated on the riverfront at Mill Dam.

for example Asian food stores. ‘The aim of arts marketing is to bring an appropriate number of people. youth projects and community centres. in so doing. economic conditions and age. into an appropriate form of contact with the artist and. This is done by first using the ‘matching concept’ to find the link. therefore. the marketing process is used to create the circumstances for an ‘exchange transaction’ or ‘swap’ between the organisation and its customers to take place. and then to persuade these users to buy from (or buy into) the organisation. between the organisation and its potential user. Marketing and arts marketing – a summary Marketing. surgeries. such that the action steps of the marketing process can be customised to suit it. Cultural awareness training was to be carried out to equip staff with the confidence to learn more about cultural/social barriers and how to address them. using an appropriate range of marketing tools and techniques both to stimulate the potential users’ interest in the organisation and what it offers. or point of contact. drawn from the widest possible range of social backgrounds. Which all goes to suggest that managing and marketing an arts organisation is a far more complex undertaking than managing in the commercial sector. to arrive at the best financial outcome compatible with the achievement of that aim. is the management activity that is concerned with an organisation’s customers and users. The Customs House set up a film programme that worked on a ‘rolling basis’ (so it was not necessary for the audience to be there at a specific time in order to see the whole film). student unions. These circumstances are created by: • understanding the objectives of an exercise • reviewing the organisation and its potential users • identifying the potential users offering the best prospect of helping the organisation achieve its selected priorities • and lastly. Once this has taken place. It also ensured that these screenings were staffed entirely by women (including a female projectionist) and that entry to the cinema could be by a dedicated entrance thus avoiding the need for audience members to pass through the more general public areas.And posters and flyers would be printed and distributed at key points.’ Keith Diggle (1994) Fortunately it is possible to devise an approach to strategic marketing planning that is so flexible it can be customised to support a range of aims and objectives – no matter how diverse and varied they are. One such framework is explored in the overview of Thinking BIG! 18 . not-for-profit arts organisations. And in the case of subsidised. there needs to be initial clarity about the whole point of an exercise.

Hence this is the fear of having planning ‘cramp your style’. Frederic Vogel.1). there is potentially a perceived tension between having the freedom to be creative and artistic on the one hand. that it forces people to do things when they realise from further experience that doing something else would be better.’ Frederic Vogel quoted by Phyllida Shaw (1995) Planning need not be the antithesis of creativity. and being limited. and this sometimes seems to be a particular case in our sector – the arts and culture. that change is impossible. The importance of planning Strategic marketing planning is like a tripod. It relies on three legs for support and stability. What’s more. • And lastly there is also the suspicion that planning could represent a waste of time – the ‘I’m far too busy to plan’ syndrome. quoted by Phyllida Shaw (1995). Yet none of these reservations seem particularly valid. or at the very best. and planning would cramp my style’ • a potential waste of time – ‘I’m far too busy to plan’. To put it succinctly. that a plan must be adhered to rigidly once it is formulated and approved. • Then. most effective and useful plans entail the exercise of creativity and inspiration on the part of their creators. However. in the arts. one is precluded by a plan from taking advantage of opportunities which may arise unexpectedly. difficult. Figure 3. feels less esoteric and – of all the triptych of notions involved here – it can feel closer to everyday common sense. as it were (Figure 3. constrained and restricted by the rigours required by a planning approach on the other. A central part of most artists’ practice is to plan how an artwork is to be developed. as is noted by an American writer on arts management.1 Potential excuses for not planning – at a glance Planning can feel like: • a maternalistiic or paternalistic imperative – ‘mummy and daddy know best’ • a restriction on one’s creativity – ‘I’ve got an artistic temperament. The conceptual background to strategy. This is possibly for three reasons. Indeed I suspect I’m not alone in having had parents who frequently advocated the wisdom of ‘thinking ahead’. ‘It often is assumed that planning is a restrictive process. marketing and planning 19 . Unlike the pair of terms introduced so far. such perceptions of planning are ridiculous. the third leg of this tripod – after ‘strategy’ and ‘marketing’ – is the concept of ‘planning’ itself. planning is probably a lot easier to define and understand. there can often be a reluctance for organisations to engage with planning.3. Unsurprisingly. that because one doesn’t know what is going to happen in future. • For most people (regardless of whether they work in the arts or not) an insistence on the importance of planning may occasionally carry resonances of paternalistic or maternalistic parental authority. that the organisation and its creative leadership will be locked into a plan which may well not be good for either. It’s less arcane.

time devoted to planning can be seen more as an investment than as a cost (Figure 3.’ Dwight Eisenhower quoted in Hilary Barnard and Perry Walker (1994) Figure 3. the potential benefits to an organisation (and the people working in it) of adopting a planning approach – particularly if undertaken as part of a strategic process – are as follows.And then an old saw of time management is that time spent planning reduces the amount of time needed to carry out actions. By the same token. having such an agreed framework reduces the temptation of others to change that framework or ‘move the goal posts’. not a ‘time waster’ TOTAL TIME INVESTED Time spent planning Time spent doing Time spent planning Time spent doing Time gained 20 . the plan is nothing. There is another potential misconception about planning. to consider planning as a static thing as opposed to a flexible process. by securing the agreement and support of all involved. Hence in this sense. By using a dedicated process that involves all the relevant and interested people in your organisation. this starts to highlight the potential benefits of planning. According to a range of writers. ‘Planning is everything. planning helps generate a sense of ownership and involvement in the organisation’s ultimate destiny and the ideas developed to help make sure that destiny is realised. When recognised. What’s more.2 Planning is a ‘time maker’. a planning process will establish a broad consensus on what needs to be done and how it will be done.2). it also becomes vital for the people responsible for marketing the organisation because it ensures that there is an agreed framework for the activity to be undertaken. And while this seems attractive and desirable from the point of view of internal organisational harmony. This is to confuse planning’s outputs (‘a plan’) with what led to its creation (‘the planning process’) – in other words.

big picture-based overview of the organisation and the world in which it works. As a result planning assists the development of a highlevel. In turn this will ensure optimised allocation of resources such as time. knowledge and ideas. Figure 3. determine and inform the whole gamut of an organisation’s activities.k. it prepares the organisation and its people for change. Alongside all the potential benefits of planning outlined so far. And it helps an organisation to do this while there is still time to do something about these incoming factors.As is discussed in Chapter 4 of Thinking BIG!. carrying out a planning process that involves all the relevant members of a team. Consequently by planning what an organisation intends to do and how it will do it inevitably enhances coordination between its different activities. undertaking a strategic planning process — at a glance Planning can: • generate ownership • establish consensus • encourage an overview of the organisation and the world in which it works • identify and set priroities • make the organisation environmentally alert • enhance coordination between different activities • ensure optimised resource allocation • help the organisation and its people cope with uncertainty • prepare the organisation and its people for change • reduce risk by preparing for it. its environment). So a planning process also makes the organisation environmentally alert. The conceptual background to strategy.3). And as further spin-offs. a planning process is almost akin to installing long-range radar. and benefits of. put more simply. planning for strategy involves close analysis of the organisation as well as a thoughtful and far-reaching inspection of the world in which it works (a. This ‘radar’ enables the organisation to register incoming threats and potential opportunities. Nowadays change needs to be accepted as an unavoidable and given factor. Equally. and has helped the organisation agree what it wants and needs to do (and how to do it). is founded on a careful examination of the organisation and its environment. it will then be well placed to identify and set priorities. money. Or. by encouraging an organisation to inspect and review the world in which it works. while reducing the level of risk faced because it has been prepared for (Figure 3. as opposed to what is not and doesn’t really matter. This can be important because – as does building a broad consensus – it increases the chances for making sure that everyone involved has a common understanding of what is required and is ‘singing from the same song sheet’.3 Potential reasons for. there is one last set that relates to the turbulent nature of the world today. marketing and planning 21 . Moreover. which can increase the range of uncertainties that an organisation faces and the risks associated with these uncertainties. helps an organisation to cope with uncertainty. once the organisation has acquired that ‘long view’.a. to spot what is important and what matters to it and its future. It was observed above that one defining aspect of strategy is the way in which it can permeate. people. However.

11 new major works have been commissioned and approximately 900 films have been shown. As part of a sponsorship proposal a chain of corner shops agreed to accept leaflets in return for complementary tickets. print studio. shop and education and outreach facilities. So the quantities of cinema leaflets distributed were increased and a change in the distribution locations was piloted. to identify any gaps in the attender profile. approximately 900.000 in distribution costs. Twenty exhibitions have been held. for example. Two marketing plans were formulated: a five-year plan and a more detailed strategic plan for 2002–03. in particular. two cinemas. for example the overlap 22 . Thanks to these it was concluded that the DCA team could be happy with the levels of awareness of the organisation. thus providing a broad snapshot of attenders throughout the day. Thanks to these planned innovations DCA saved approximately £10. marketing. planning is particularly important because of the need to use existing Identified issues Jeni Iannetta. front-of-house and box office were asked to increase their data capture to 60% using the Databox system. Implementation Background Dundee Contemporary Arts (DCA) opened in March 1998. Cinema attenders were asked to complete a more detailed questionnaire including questions about value for money. there was minimal data on attendance and attenders. café/bar. Some in-house market research was implemented in order to find out about attenders. Because exhibitions were free. Since its opening. and the use of the café/bar. But it seemed important to know more about attenders. Head of Communications. The results of this research were then fed into the marketing plans as follows. Although it was found that attenders were coming from a wide geographical area. Jeni emphasises that where budgets are tight. which could be cross-referenced against attenders at the free exhibitions. including 300 foreign language and 175 British. so data was not being captured either. Additionally. visual research centre. At least 10% of all visitors were approached by attendants. Its building houses two galleries.Dundee Contemporary Arts benefit from adopting a planning approach between attendance at the cinema and exhibitions.000 visitors have attended. Additionally. front-ofhouse and customer services. there were certain postcodes from which attendance was less than in other areas. Once the organisation reached two years old. their use of other cinemas. This collected transactional information as well as names and addresses. the objective was set of monitoring patterns of attendance. invitations to private viewings and their logo being featured on the website and on print. says that her role involves the management of press. specific age groups. a set of challenges became obvious. the programming and location of the cinema. attendance increased by 10% and income increased by 12%. and information gathered from the cinemas indicated that patrons were not booking in advance but buying tickets on the day of the showing.

As a result of this planning cycle future activities are likely to include: • additional market research with supplementary questions • leaflets possibly being distributed with newspaper deliveries • extending new distribution patterns to include exhibition leaflets in addition to cinema listings • developing new strategic relationships. such as working with a taxi company • further development of e-marketing using the new DCA website. Each year core activities.resources as effectively as possible. marketing and planning 23 . the importance of knowing as much as possible about audiences and communicating relevantly with each of the target markets. The DCA’s five-year plan lines up the long-term aims and objectives. is the purpose of hard-copy publication Thinking BIG!’s first main chapter. This. then. while the one-year plans provide supporting detail. The conceptual background to strategy. Having now advocated the benefits of planning. It has also set out some of the crucial elements and aspects of both marketing and arts marketing. pilot stage activities and first phase activities are defined. in particular. it seems timely to put the three areas together and suggest one possible way of carrying out a strategic marketing planning process. This paper has provided a short explanation of the notions underpinning strategy and strategic management.

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