Question by rannietha4th: What does a marketing plan consists of?
I need some guidelines of what I need to focus on…
Answer by jwishz
The marketing planning process
In most organizations, “strategic planning” is an annual process, typically covering just the year ahead. Occasionally, a few organizations may look at a practical plan which stretches three or more years ahead.
To be most effective, the plan has to be formalized, usually in written form, as a formal `marketing plan’. The essence of the process is that it moves from the general to the specific; from the overall objectives of the organization down to the individual action plan for a part of one marketing programme. It is also an interactive process, so that the draft output of each stage is checked to see what impact it has on the earlier stages – and is amended accordingly.
 Marketing planning aims and objectives
Behind the corporate objectives, which in themselves offer the main context for the marketing plan, will lay the ‘corporate mission'; which in turn provides the context for these corporate objectives. This `corporate mission’ can be thought of as a definition of what the organization is; of what it does: ‘Our business is …’.
This definition should not be too narrow, or it will constrict the development of the organization; a too rigorous concentration on the view that `We are in the business of making meat-scales’, as IBM was during the early 1900s, might have limited its subsequent development into other areas. On the other hand, it should not be too wide or it will become meaningless; `We want to make a profit’ is not too helpful in developing specific plans.
Abell suggested that the definition should cover three dimensions: ‘customer groups’ to be served, ‘customer needs’ to be served, and ‘technologies’ to be utilized Abell, ‘Defining the Business: The Starting Point of Strategic Planning’ Thus, the definition of IBM’s `corporate mission’ in the 1940s might well have been: `We are in the business of handling accounting information [customer need] for the larger US organizations [customer group] by means of punched cards [technology].’ Fortunately, as the name itself (International Perhaps the most important factor in successful marketing is the `corporate vision’. Surprisingly, it is largely neglected by marketing textbooks; although not by the popular exponents of corporate strategy – indeed, it was perhaps the main theme of the book by Peters and Waterman, in the form of their `Superordinate Goals’ ‘In Search of Excellence’ said: “Nothing drives progress like the imagination. The idea precedes the deed.” ‘The Marketing Imagination’ If the organization in general, and its chief executive in particular, has a strong vision of where its future lies, then there is a good chance that the organization will achieve a strong position in its markets (and attain that future). This will be not least because its strategies will be consistent; and will be supported by its staff at all levels. In this context, all of IBM’s marketing activities were underpinned by its philosophy of `customer service'; a vision originally promoted by the charismatic Watson dynasty.
The emphasis at this stage is on obtaining a complete and accurate picture. In a single organization, however, it is likely that only a few aspects will be sufficiently important to have any significant impact on the marketing plan; but all may need to be reviewed to determine just which ‘are’ the few.
In this context some factors related to the customer, which should be included in the material collected for the audit, may be:
Who are the customers?
What are their key characteristics?
What differentiates them from other members of the population?
What are their needs and wants?
What do they expect the `product’ to do?
What are their special requirements and perceptions?
What do they think of the organization and its products or services?
What are their attitudes?
What are their buying intentions?
A `traditional’ – albeit product-based – format for a `brand reference book’ (or, indeed, a `marketing facts book’) was suggested by Godley more than three decades ago:
Financial data –Facts for this section will come from management accounting, costing and finance sections.
Product data –From production, research and development.
Sales and distribution data – Sales, packaging, distribution sections.
Advertising, sales promotion, merchandising data – Information from these departments.
Market data and miscellany – From market research, who would in most cases act as a source for this information.
His sources of data, however, assume the resources of a very large organization. In most organizations they would be obtained from a much smaller set of people (and not a few of them would be generated by the marketing manager alone). It is apparent that a marketing audit can be a complex process, but the aim is simple: ‘it is only to identify those existing (external and internal) factors which will have a significant impact on the future plans of the company’.
It is clear that the basic material to be input to the marketing audit should be comprehensive. Accordingly, the best approach is to accumulate this material continuously, as and when it becomes available; since this avoids the otherwise heavy workload involved in collecting it as part of the regular, typically annual, planning process itself – when time is usually at a premium. Even so, the first task of this `annual’ process should be to check that the material held in the current `facts book’ or `facts files’ actually ‘is’ comprehensive and accurate, and can form a sound basis for the marketing audit itself.
The structure of the facts book will be designed to match the specific needs of the organization, but one simple format – suggested by Malcolm McDonald – may be applicable in many cases. This splits the material into three groups:
‘Review of the marketing environment’. A study of the organization’s markets, customers, competitors and the overall economic, political, cultural and technical environment; covering developing trends, as well as the current situation.
‘Review of the detailed marketing activity’. A study of the company’s marketing mix; in terms of the 7 Ps – (see below)
‘Review of the marketing system’. A study of the marketing organization, marketing research systems and the current marketing objectives and strategies.
The last of these is too frequently ignored. The marketing system itself needs to be regularly questioned, because the validity of the whole marketing plan is reliant upon the accuracy of the input from this system, and `garbage in, garbage out’ applies with a vengeance.
‘Portfolio planning’. In addition, the coordinated planning of the individual products and services can contribute towards the balanced portfolio.
’80:20 rule’. To achieve the maximum impact, the marketing plan must be clear, concise and simple. It needs to concentrate on the 20 per cent of products or services, and on the 20 per cent of customers, which will account for 80 per cent of the volume and 80 per cent of the `profit’.
‘7 Ps': Product, Place, Price and Promotion, Physical Environment, People, Process. The 7 Ps can sometimes divert attention from the customer, but the framework they offer can be very useful in building the action plans.
It is only at this stage (of deciding the marketing objectives) that the active part of the marketing planning process begins’.
This next stage in marketing planning is indeed the key to the whole marketing process. The marketing objectives state just where the company intends to be; at some specific time in the future. James Quinn succinctly defined objectives in general as: “Goals (or objectives) state ‘what’ is to be achieved and ‘when’ results are to be accomplished, but they do not state ‘how’ the results are to be achieved”.
They typically relate to what products (or services) will be where in what markets (and must be realistically based on customer behaviour in those markets). They are essentially about the match between those ‘products’ and ‘markets’. Objectives for pricing, distribution, advertising and so on are at a lower level, and should not be confused with marketing objectives. They are part of the marketing strategy needed to achieve marketing objectives.
To be most effective, objectives should be capable of measurement and therefore ‘quantifiable’. This measurement may be in terms of sales volume, money value, market share, percentage penetration of distribution outlets and so on. An example of such a measurable marketing objective might be `to enter the market with product Y and capture 10 per cent of the market by value within one year’. As it is quantified it can, within limits, be unequivocally monitored; and corrective action taken as necessary.
The marketing objectives must usually be based, above all, on the organization’s financial objectives; converting these financial measurements into the related marketing measurements.
He went on to explain his view of the role of `policies’, with which strategy is most often confused: “Policies are rules or guidelines that express the ‘limits’ within which action should occur.
Simplifying somewhat, marketing strategies can be seen as the means, or `game plan’, by which marketing objectives will be achieved and, in the framework that we have chosen to use, are generally concerned with the 7 Ps. Examples are:
Price- The amount of money needed to buy products
Product- The actual product
Promotion (advertising)- Getting the product known
Placement- Where the product is located
People- Represent the business
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