The problem that many marketers in the professions face is that they are expected to develop a marketing strategy and plan when there is not a business strategy and plan in place! Business and marketing strategy are linked. So producing a marketing strategy often means producing a strategy for the firm overall first – and if all your partners have spent many years not succeeding at this task then it is not likely to be an easy task for you!

So the flippant answer would be to call in an experienced strategic marketing consultant! It is relatively easy to list the steps to developing a good business and marketing strategy – but it is so much more difficult to do in practice because it requires a host of analysis, creative, facilitation and implementation skills. However, for those of you who want the basics here is a step-by-step guide – call me if you need any help (I do great coaching!):

Articulate your culture and values

(Where are we now and where do we want to be?)

Key questions:

    • As partners, what holds us together? What are our common values?
    • What are we here to achieve? (3Cs – Convenience, Complementing or Combining?)
    • What is our vision for the future and what are our goals? (Profits, reputation, fun or what? There MUST be more than purely financial goals)
    • What are the things we must ensure we preserve for the future?
    • What limitations are there on our action? (Owners, finance, location, market demand, skills, staff expectations etc)

The answers to these questions should be used to evaluate the suitability of the strategic options generated later.

Determine your present position and the options for the future

(Where are we now and where could we go?)

Key questions:

External analysis

    • What is happening with economical, sociological, technological and political trends? How will these affect us and our clients in the future?
    • Who are our current and future competitors and what are they doing?
    • What opportunities and threats are present in our market?
    • Who are our clients? Where did they come from? Why did they choose us? What do they value about our services? What groups or segments are represented? Which are the most profitable? What are their current and future needs?
    • Who are our targets and prospects?

Internal analysis

    • What resources do we have available (people, skills, knowledge, technology, cash, time)?
    • What information systems do we have? What knowledge gaps are there?
    • What has our past and present marketing achieved? (See other FAQs for information about the marketing mix)
    • What are our core strengths and what are we best know for doing well?
    • What are our strengths and weaknesses?
    • What are the priorities for action?

Future options

    • What are the different options facing us?
    • What are the advantages and disadvantages of the various options?
    • Where should we divest or invest our resources?
    • How do these options measure up against our values, vision and goals?

This is broadly following the process you would undertake in a marketing audit or situational analysis.

Decide on a competitive strategy

(How are we going to get there?)

Key questions:

    • What are our most important services, clients, locations and processes?
    • What is the basis of our competitive and differentiating strength(s)?
    • Which of the basic strategies is appropriate?
    • Which are our target markets?
    • What will be our critical source of value?
    • How do we wish to be positioned in the marketplace against the competition?
    • What international issues must we address?
    • To what extent do we wish to consolidate/maximise short term returns or expand/maximise long term growth?

You should note down and consider all the options and ideas presented. These are your strategic options – at the end of the process you can assess the relative strengths and weaknesses of each option.

Prepare an implementation plan

(What are we actually going to do?)

Key questions:

What are the major actions?

    • Any services/skills to cut and any to develop?
    • Any research we need to do?
    • Any particular clients we should get or drop?
    • Any offices or teams to open, expand or close?
    • Implications for staffing, finance or technology?
    • What information, systems or processes must we change?

Who will take responsibility?

    • Which are for the Board/managing committee? Who specifically?
    • Human resources/personnel (recruitment or training) changes?
    • IT/Technology changes?
    • Marketing and business development changes?
    • Finance changes?
    • Information and research changes?
    • Any changes fall between these areas? Who to tackle?
    • What changes for individual partners/directors, fee-earners and support staff?

When can we start?

    • Who needs to be involved in the planning process?
    • Who needs to approve the plan and how and when?
    • How do we communicate the plan across the firm and when?
    • What else needs to happen before we start?
    • Is anything stopping us from proceeding?
    • What are the most important things to do first?
    • Are we being realistic? Should we focus on less?
    • What are the critical success factors – how will we measure progress?
    • How will we motivate people to act?

It is important to note that the journey is often so much more important than arriving at the destination. As you proceed through the process – which can take several months – you will learn a lot about your business, your clients and your people. A broad range of people need to be involved in the process so that they can develop their understanding of the issues and feel some ownership of the final plan.


I do not restrict access to the FAQs but I politely request that you let me know by email and acknowledge the source ( if you wish to use the material anywhere.

As always, if there are particular topics you would like me to address in the future, please let me know. You will also find a source of more and up to date information on a broad range of management and marketing issues in the professions by checking out the blog where I also post regular reviews of books that might be helpful.