Operational marketing – that may sound like a tautology, but in fact, there are striking differences between operational and strategic marketing.

Although operational marketing has many short-term elements, it is primarily the elements in the so-called marketing mix that make up this form of marketing.

Table of contents

Time Makes the Difference!

Strategic marketing is geared to the long term. Here, in addition to future opportunities and possibilities of the market, the possibilities of the company are also considered.

How much can be spent on what? What external influences can affect the company and its market position in the long term? Strategic marketing provides a long-term answer to these and many other questions.

However, time is always of the essence in marketing activities. In operational marketing, the half-life of an action is much shorter than that of strategic marketing.

The special thing about operational marketing is that it includes all those elements of marketing practice that are short-lived.

Whether distribution, advertising, or price, changes here lead almost immediately to reactions from the customer side. Satisfaction or problems often come to light much faster than in strategic marketing.

No Image Building

The best marketing includes long and short term actions. While means of strategic marketing serve above all the image building and long-term success prospects and enterprise alignments and remain also longer public, marketing instruments of the operational marketing appeared partly lightning-fast and disappeared again.

Precisely because these campaigns are for the most part so short-lived, they do not contribute to image building.

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The Marketing Mix as a Core Element

In addition to the time factor, it is the so-called marketing mix that characterizes operational marketing. The core of this are four elements, also called the four P’s: Product, Price, Place, Promotion.

So it seems that operational marketing is much more than funny guerrilla marketing or video marketing campaigns. But let’s take a look at the four elements in detail.

Remember that you can always count on the help of digital marketing agencies in New Zealand or closer to you in developing your business’ operational marketing strategy.

Product Policy

product policy; operational marketing

As mentioned earlier, one distinguishing feature of operational and strategic marketing is “lifespan.” Interestingly, however, defining the product (product development, product maintenance, and product elimination are the three stages within this process) or service to be offered is part of operational marketing.

Quality standards, what the product should ultimately be called, and the design of the packaging all fall into this area. All these sub-elements appear to be quite homogeneous.

Interestingly, the product policy also includes which warranties go hand in hand with the product as well as other services in connection with this product.

Pricing Policy

Yes, price is absolutely a marketing tool. And it is probably the most flexible of all. Because between the minimum value (production costs) and the value that customers ascribe to the product, anything is possible – and can be changed more or less spontaneously.

In pricing policy, there are internal and external factors that can influence the price. Internal factors include, for example, the general strategy of the marketing mix, the cost structure, and the organization within the company.

External factors, on the other hand, are politics and the economy, in addition to customer interest, which is probably the most fundamental.

Although price is a very flexible instrument, it should not be changed lightly in the short term. However, temporary adjustments such as discount campaigns and coupons can be used consciously in operational marketing.

Sales Policy

The best product will not be a success if it is not accessible to customers. That is why the issue of distribution is extremely important.

Just think of the coffee giant Nespresso. Although the coffee capsules can also be ordered online, the brand’s stores are undoubtedly an integral part of its marketing. After all, this is where people can smell and taste. These are certain core elements that are important in the product policy.

Nespresso Boutique Store

So it is not only in this area that the decision falls as to whether a product should only be sold online, with its own store, or, for example, via rented shelf space in an established store.

This area also includes how the products get from the company to the customers. Including all possible intermediate stations.

Direct Sales

Direct sales via online stores are often faster thanks to the short communication channels. In addition, companies can also benefit from direct contact with their customers, strengthen customer loyalty and retention and thus also gain advantages in other areas of marketing.

Indirect Sales

In indirect sales, on the other hand, the expected market penetration is higher. This means that if you sell your product through an existing network of stores, you can reach more customers.

Let’s stay with the example of Nespresso. Yes, the stores are certainly something special. But you can also find it in well-stocked supermarkets around the world such as Carrefour. The operational marketing staff has therefore clearly opted for a hybrid approach, giving all coffee lovers in the world access to coffee enjoyment.

Nespresso Point in K Kiosk Sihlquai in Zurich (Cyril Zingaro)

Regular Reconsideration

As with pricing policy, it is advisable to regularly review sales to see if any adjustments need to be made. Particularly because, for example, having your own store can incur costs that are unrelated to revenue. But other aspects come into play here that should be reconsidered as part of the overall marketing strategy.

Communication Policy

The last element of the marketing mix of operational marketing is the communication policy. Here, decisions are made about means of advertising such as guerrilla marketing or even tasting booths.

This is virtually the last building block of a marketing strategy. Because the best brand image strategy is of no use if the communication to the customer does not work. There are four elements that make up the communication policy:

Each marketing department must decide for itself which means to focus on and to what extent.

Operational Marketing: How Does Its Implementation Work?

After we have looked at the theoretical side, we should still take a look at how all this knowledge about marketing can also be implemented.

To do this, let’s highlight three important steps (which, however, should not be considered linear, but should be carried out side by side):

Project Management

Especially in smaller companies, it can often seem that the position of project management is unnecessary. Yet, being responsible for a project and having an overview of it is the key to success.

Many projects fail precisely because of this.

Those involved lose track of the big picture or no one keeps track of the big picture. Thanks to this plan, it is possible to recognize more quickly where deviations from the schedule or even the milestone planning occur and thus to react more quickly.

Where Does Value Come From?

Although it could almost seem like a part of project management, creating a value chain can help to check the approach in your own company for efficiency.

The concept goes back to Michael Porter, an American business economist.

The model helps to show how a product goes from raw material to use. The stations along the way are also shown with the associated costs. The final goal is to meet the expectations and needs of the customer. The lower the “friction losses” between the stations, the greater the value to be created at the end.

Establish Benchmarks

In order to be able to speak of success in the question of operational marketing, it is important to keep an eye on the competition by means of benchmarks.

It is one of the most well-known marketing strategies to orient oneself on successful role models. In addition, the direct comparison to the rest of the market helps to recognize where one’s own company stands.

Lend a Hand!

As one of the most important elements of marketing, operational marketing is certainly the area where the most direct influence can be exerted and where changes can be seen and felt most quickly.

Long-term goals are less part of the picture here. It is much more about the direct influence on the product and customer satisfaction.

To this end, the four P’s, in particular, are mentioned as a basic requirement. But filling these well with content can certainly hold difficulties.

For this very reason, experienced project managers are advisable, for example. But also the correct analysis of relevant data is of relevance that should not be underestimated.

This is even more true when it comes to advertising. This is perhaps the most diversified area of operational marketing, but if you cut corners here, customers may not even take notice. And relying only on recommendations and word of mouth is not a reliable strategy in the medium term.