WRITING A MARKETING PLAN


The Marketing plan provides a detailed formulation of the actions necessary to carry out the marketing program.  A marketing plan is not the same as a business plan.  Business plans, although they typically contain a marketing plan, encompass other issues such as business organization and ownership, operations, financial strategy, human resources, and risk management.  Can be developed for specific products, brands, target markets, or industries.  Likewise, a marketing plan can focus on a specific element of the marketing program, such as a product development plan, a promotional plan, a distribution plan, or a pricing plan.

Marketing Plan Structure

  • Comprehensive-essential to ensure that there are no omissions of important information
  • Flexible-must be flexible enough to be modified to fit the unique needs of your situation
  • Consistent-may also include the connection of the marketing plan outline to the planning process used at the corporate- or business-unit levels.
  • Logical-because the marketing plan must ultimately sell itself to top managers the plan’s outline must flow in a logical manner

I. Executive Summary-A synopsis of the overall marketing plan, with an outline that conveys the main thrust of the marketing strategy and its execution; should also identify the scope and time frame for the plan.  The idea is to give the reader a quick understanding of the breadth of the plan and its time for frame for execution.  It should always be the last element to be written because it is easier to write after the entire marketing plan has been developed.  It may be the only element of the marketing plan read by a large number of people.
a. Synopsis
b. Major aspects of the marketing plan
II. Situational Analysis
a. Analysis of the internal environment-
considers issues such as the availability and deployment of human resources, the age and capacity of equipment of technology, the availability of financial resources, and the power and political struggles within the firm’s structure.
b. Analysis of the customer environment-
examines the current situation with respect to the needs of the target market, anticipated changes in these needs, and how well the firm’s products presently meet these needs
c. Analysis of the external environment-
includes relevant external factors-competitive, economic, social, political/legal, and technological-that can exert considerable direct and indirect pressure on the firm’s marketing activities
III. SWOT Analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats)-
common mistake in SWOT analysis is the failure to separate internal issues from the external issues.  Another common mistake is to list the firm’s strategic alternatives as opportunities.  At the conclusion of the SWOT analysis, the focus of the market
a. Strengths-Internal
b. Weaknesses-Internal
c. Opportunities
d. Threats
e. Analysis of the SWOT matrix
f. Developing competitive advantage
g. Developing a strategic focus
IV. Marketing Goals and Objectives-
sets the performance targets that the firm seeks to achieve by giving life to its strategic focus through its marketing strategy.  It also defines the parameters by which the firm will measure actual performance in the evaluation and control phase of the marketing plan.
a. Marketing goals-
are broad, simple statements of what will be accomplished through the marketing strategy
b. Marketing objectives-
are more specific and essential to planning. Should be stated in quantitative terms to permit reasonably precise measurements.


V. Marketing Strategy: 
involves selecting and analyzing target markets and creating and maintaining an appropriate marketing program to satisfy the needs of those target markets.

a. Primary and secondary target markets
c. Product Strategy-
must be of higher quality that competitive offerings
d. Pricing Strategy-
must be consistent with the level of quality (value)
e. Distribution/supply chain strategy-
must be as efficient as possible
f. Integrated marketing communication (promotion) strategy-
must be more effective in communicating with target customers

VI. Marketing Implementation
Structural issues-
the implementation section of the marketing plan describes how the marketing program will be executed
1.    What specific marketing activities will be undertaken?

2.    How will these activities be performed?
3.    When will these activities be performed?
4.    Who is responsible for the completion of these activities?
5.    How will the completion of planned activities be monitored?
6.    How much will these activities cost?
a.     Tactical marketing activities


VII. Evaluation and Control-
Marketing control involves establishing performance standards, accessing actual performance by comparing it with these standards, and taking corrective action if necessary to reduce discrepancies between desired and actual performance.
a. Formal controls
b. Informal controls
c. Implementation schedule and timeline
d. Marketing Audits
Estimates of costs, sales, and revenues determine financial projections.
Marketing audit-
systematic examination of the firm’s marketing objectives, strategy, and performance.  Can help isolate weaknesses in the marketing plan and recommend actions to help improve performance.


Using the Marketing Plan Structure

1) Plan ahead-writing a comprehensive marketing plan is very time-consuming especially if the plan is under development for the first time.
2) Revise, then revise again-
because the revision process always takes more time than expected, it is wise to begin the planning process far in advance of the due date for the plan
3) Be creative-
a marketing plan is only as good as the information it contains and the effort and creativity that go into its creation
4) Use common sense and judgment-
necessary to sort through all of the information, weed out poor strategies, and develop a sound marketing plan.
5) Think ahead to implementation-
you should always be mindful of how the plan will be implemented.
6) Update regularly-
once the marketing plan has been developed and implemented; it should be updated regularly with the collection of new data and information.
7) Communicate to others-
ability to communicate to colleagues, particularly top managers who look to the marketing plan for an explanation of the marketing strategy, as well as for a justification of needed resources, like the marketing budget.
Research indicates that organizations that develop formal, written strategic marketing plans tend to be more tightly integrated across functional areas, more specialized, and more decentralized in decision-making.

Purposes and Significance of the Marketing Plan
1. Explains both the present and future situations of the organization.  This includes the situation and SWOT analyses and the firm’s past performance.

2. It specifies the expected outcomes (goals and objectives) so that the organization can anticipate its situation at the end of the planning period
3. It describes the specific actions that are to take place so that the responsibility for each action can be assigned and implemented
4. It identifies the resources that will be needed to carry out the planned actions
5. It permits the monitoring of each action and its results so that controls may be implemented.  Feedback from monitoring and control provides information to start the planning cycle again in the next time.  The marketing plan is the means of communicating the strategy to top executives who make critical decisions regarding the productive and efficient allocation of resources

Organizational Aspects of the Marketing Plan
The marketing manager, brand manager, or product manager writes the market plan.  Some develop through committees.  Others hire professional marketing consultants.  Most firms lie at the level of marketing vice president or marketing director.  The plan must be clear and persuasive to win the approval of the decision makers who make the evaluation.

Maintaining Customer Focus and Balance in Strategic Planning
Many firms have changed the focus and content of their strategic planning efforts and marketing plans (1) Renewed emphasis on the customer (2) The advent of balanced strategic planning

Customer-Focused Planning
Having a market or customer orientation meant putting customer’s needs and wants first.  Market-oriented firms are those that successfully generate, disseminate, and respond to market information.  These firms focus on customer analysis, competitor analysis, and integrating the firm’s resources to provide customer value and satisfaction, as well long-term profits.  Where traditional structures are very authoritative, with desicion-making authority emanating from the top of the hierarchy, market-oriented structures decentralize decision making.  Serving customer needs.

Balanced Strategic Planning
The basic tenet of the balanced performance scorecard is that firms can achieve better performance if they align their strategic efforts by approaching strategy from four complementary perspectives: financial, customer, internal process, and learning and growth.  The financial perspective is vital but should be balanced by the other components of the scorecard.  The customer perspective looks at customer satisfaction metrics as a key indicator of firm performance, particularly as the firm moves ahead.  The internal process perspective focuses on the way the business is running by looking at both mission-critical and routine processes that drive day-to-day activity.  The learning and growth perspective focuses on people and includes such vital issues as corporate culture, employee training, communication, and knowledge management.
1. Translate the strategy into operational terms

2. Align the organization to strategy-link different functional areas through common themes, priorities, and objectives.
3. Make strategy everyone’s everyday job-move the strategy from the executive boardroom to the front lines of the organization.
4. Make strategy a continual process-hold regular meetings to re-view strategy performance.
5. Mobilize change through executive leadership-committed energetic leaders who champion the strategy and the balanced scorecard.

One of the major benefits of the balanced scorecard is that it forces organizations to explicitly consider during strategy formulation those factors that are critical to strategy execution.  Good strategy is always developed with an eye toward how it will be implemented

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