by Jeff Bartlett

Corporate strategy and marketing

Corporate strategy demands an understanding of the wider external environment in which an organisation works, or plans to work, and its own capabilities.

With that understanding, the organisation can then decide which customers and consumers to serve, and which additional capabilities it needs to acquire in order to achieve its overall objectives.

The most successful organisations find it hard, if not impossible, to distinguish between their corporate strategy and their marketing strategy. This is because the marketing philosophy is so deeply ingrained in the way they work that it is the way they work.

In other words, these successful organisations always start their strategy development by looking at their consumers and customers in the different markets in which they operate (or plan to operate). They then, in detail, work through what it is they have to do to satisfy those consumers and customers.

Corporate strategy can therefore be viewed as the choices an organisation makes regarding which customers and consumers it will serve, how it will serve them, with which products, and in which markets. Having made these choices the organisation can then set time-lined goals and objectives, and develop the tactical programmes of activity to achieve them.

An organisation needs to make strategic choices about the type of business it will be. Does the organisation present itself to the world as a corporate brand, like Virgin, for instance? Or does it choose to operate under a range of different brand names, like Unilever, which owns high-profile brands such as Flora, Dove and Persil, but where the organisation essentially remains invisible to the consumer?

Choices made here will heavily influence the marketing approach to be taken. Virgin will rely on creating a favourable market image for the umbrella Virgin name, while Unilever will focus on creating a distinct market image for each individual brand.