Everything you need to know about marketing planning. Planning is the first and the foremost function of management.

Planning precedes all the functions. Marketing planning is the starting point of all marketing and business activities of an enterprise. Because of the dynamism of the environment, the role of marketing planning has increased a lot.

Marketing planning is the process – Marketing planning is a process that consists of analyzing current situation and information about marketing opportunities, forecasting and establishing planning premises, selecting target market(s), determining marketing objectives, designing and developing marketing strategy or courses of action for achieving these objectives and allocating resources to the ingredients of marketing effort i.e. marketing mix and developing procedure and policies.

The activities of marketing planning are generally divided into two divisions according to time—(a) Long term Marketing Planning; and (b) Short term or annual Marketing Planning.


Learn about:- 1. Meaning of Marketing Planning 2. Why is Marketing Planning Essential 3. Scope 4. Nature 5. Types 6. Elements 7. Importance 8. Approaches 9. Components 10. System 11. Implementation 12. Benefits 13. Barriers.

Marketing Planning: Meaning, Scope, Nature, Types, Elements, Importance, Approaches, Components, Benefits and Other Details


  1. Meaning of Marketing Planning
  2. Why is Marketing Planning Essential?
  3. Scope of Marketing Planning
  4. Nature of Marketing Planning
  5. Elements of Marketing Planning
  6. Types of Marketing Planning
  7. Importance of Marketing Planning
  8. Approaches of Marketing Planning
  9. Components of Marketing Planning
  10. Marketing Planning System
  11. Implementation of Marketing Planning
  12. Benefits of Marketing Planning
  13. Barriers to Marketing Planning

Marketing Planning – Meaning

Planning is deciding in advance what to do, how to do it, when to do it and who is to do it. Planning is simply a rational approach to accomplish an objective. It bridges the gap from where we are & where we want to go. Planning is the first management function to be performed in the process of management. It governs survival, growth and prosperity of any enterprise in a competitive and ever changing environment.

Planning is an analytical process which covers:


1. Analysis of the situation or environment,

2. Assessment of the future opportunities and threats,

3. Determination of objectives and goals in the light of the future environmental forces and

4. Selection of the best strategy or the course of action from among the alternative strategies to achieve the objectives.  


Planning is the first and the foremost function of management. Planning precedes all the functions. Marketing planning is the starting point of all marketing and business activities of an enterprise. Because of the dynamism of the environment, the role of marketing planning has increased a lot.

Many experts today consider marketing planning as synonymous with overall business planning because the purpose of any business is the successful management of its markets (marketing resources).

Marketing planning is the process – Marketing planning is a process that consists of analyzing current situation and information about marketing opportunities, forecasting and establishing planning premises, selecting target market(s), determining marketing objectives, designing and developing marketing strategy or courses of action for achieving these objectives and allocating resources to the ingredients of marketing effort i.e. marketing mix and developing procedure and policies.

Every company must look ahead and determine when it wants to go and how to get there. Its future should not be left to chance. To meet this need, companies use two systems — a strategic planning system and marketing planning system. Strategic planning provides the route map for the firm. Strategic planning serves as the hedge against risk and uncertainty.

Strategic planning is a stream of decisions and actions which lead to effective strategies and which in term help the firm to achieve its objectives. Strategy is not something that can be taken out of one’s packet and pushed into the market all of a sudden. No magic formula exists to prepare for the future.

The requirements are excellent insight to understand changing consumer needs, clear planning to focus our efforts on meeting those needs, and flexibility, because change is the only constant. Most important, we must always offer products of quality and value to the consumers.

Marketing planning is the process of anticipating future events and developing strategies to achieve organisational objectives. It involves designing activities relating to marketing objectives. Marketing planning of an organisation is planning for that organisation’s revenue-generating activities.

It must begin with setting down the corporate plans and should be followed through with plans for each separate function:

1. The first step in marketing planning process is setting down marketing objectives and policies.


2. The second step is designing the marketing system. In the marketing system, a company has to design/define each function with its contribution.

3. The third step is to develop separate objectives, programmes, and strategies of each function, so that they can be assessed for the target purpose and the broad objectives. If any function cannot meet its objectives, have to be modified for that functional area.

4. The fourth step is drawing of detailed plans for each function for a shorter period, i.e., a quarter, half a year or a year. It will be helpful in defining responsibilities, timing and costs needed to achieve the short-term objectives.

5. The fifth step is merging the marketing plans into organisational plans.

Marketing Planning – Why is Marketing Planning Essential?


‘It is planning, not gambling, that produces profits and security.’

Organizations operate in increasingly fragmented, complex and fast-changing markets. Meeting the challenges presented by a highly fluid and competitive environment normally means experiencing conflicting pressures between business objectives.

For example:

(i) Enhancing customer service versus increasing profitability.


(ii) Short-term profit versus long-term value creation.

(iii) Maximization of revenue versus minimization of costs.

Marketing planning is an effective aid to management because of its integral role in identifying and clarifying the priorities for the business. Without a clear statement of priorities, the company is vulnerable to internal confusion and lost opportunities.

The following list describes the most common symptoms of a reliance on traditional sales forecasting and budgeting procedure in the absence of a marketing planning system:

(i) Lost opportunities for profit

(ii) Meaningless numbers in plans


(iii) Unrealistic objectives

(iv) Lack of actionable market information

(v) Inter-functional strife

(vi) Management frustration

(vii) Proliferation of products and markets

(viii) Wasted promotional expenditure


(ix) Pricing confusion

(x) Growing vulnerability to environmental change

(xi) Loss of control over the business

An effective marketing planning system should offer more than immunity against these operational problems- it should deliver clearer and more widely understood objectives and priorities, higher levels of usable market informa­tion, improved inter-functional coordination, less waste and duplication of resources, and greater overall business control.

A Business Week survey in 1996 indicated that as few as 6 per cent of business people in the USA would rate their company as excellent at planning for the long-term future. Could this be because they have not mastered the art of planning, or because they suffer from a short-sighted business outlook, or because their organizations contain barriers to marketing planning?

Marketing Planning – Scope: Long Term and Short Term Marketing Planning

The activities of marketing planning are generally divided into two divisions according to time—(a) Long term Marketing Planning; and (b) Short term or annual Marketing Planning.

Scope # 1. Long Term Marketing Planning:


Long range planning involves developing the basic objectives and strategy to guide future company efforts. The long range plan provides the frame work within which the other plans of the company are prepared.

Long run planning may involve a time horizontal of two or more years, although it uses even a longer horizon of five to twenty years. Long range planning is done by the top management with the help of specialised planning authorities.

Philip Kotler has pointed out that while preparing long term marketing plan the following situations should be considered:

(i) Diagnosis:

The planning process begins with an attempt by the company to size up the present market situation and the factors responsible for it. In short, diagnosis consists of where the company stands and why. The size up requires developing data on absolute levels of company sales and market shares and their receive trends, by product, territory and other breakdowns.

Supplementary data on marketing costs, plant utilisation, profit levels and other variables are also required. Plans must be taken to make a careful analysis of the recent trends instead of being relying simply of impressions.


(ii) Prognosis:

In addition to diagnosing its present position, the company must also estimate where but is likely to go if present market trend continues. What sales and profits can the company make in the long period.

A systematic sales and profit prognosis consists of five steps—(a) Projection of industry sales over the planning period; (b) Forecasts of company sales; (c) Forecast of company revenues, costs and profits; (d) Forecast of investment; and (e) Forecast of rate of return on the investment (R.O.I.) Prognosis indicates that if the company’s future seems to be bright, its present policies should be continued but if the future is dark and doubtful then the planning needs modification so that the objectives may be achieved.

(iii) Objectives:

If the prognosis indicates that the company has no future, then the company should decide upon fresh objectives as to the amount of sales.

(iv) Strategy:

Strategy lays down the broad principles which the company hopes to secure an advantage over competition attractiveness to buyers and a full exploitation of company resources.

Marketing strategy might consist of the following tenants:

1. To develop the highest quality product possible.

2. To charge a premium price.

3. To advertise more heavily than competitors.

4. To use salesmen who feel and exhibit a missionary drive.

There may be several alternatives of the strategy. The company should carefully study these alternatives and choose the best possible alternative strategy under the circumstances.

The control section of a long range plan should contain performance targets. They should be checked periodically. In short, control is necessary. If at any stage the variations are not favourable the underlying causes are discovered and then changes are introduced to remedy the shortfalls and profits in the changed circumstances.

(v) Tactics:

Tactics suggest how to use the company’s strategies to achieve its objectives. In other words tactics are the methods for carrying out the strategies. Philip Kotler has very interestingly distinguished objectives, strategies, and tactics in the following words—”The objectives of a company indicate where it wants to be, the strategy indicates the intended route; the tactical decisions are not primary, they nevertheless are very important.”

(vi) Control:

The long range plan represents the best vision of management at the time of planning of a proper set of objectives, strategies and tactics. It is based on a detailed set of assumptions and expectation whose validity will be revealed only in the course of time. More often, then not new events will occur that challenge some of the basic assumptions in the plan.

This means two things- first the plan must include a control section that specifies the type of monitoring that will go on to check the plan’s effectiveness; second the company might prepare one or more contingency plans to meet new challenges.

Scope # 2. Short Term or Annual Marketing Planning:

Each year companies prepare annual plan. In principle, the annual plan is developed in the context of the company’s long range plan. Short range plan, of course, is not possible where the company has no long range plan.

A long range plan is necessary if the short range plans are not to be chaotic series of expedient solution to short run crisis. Sometimes annual plans only reflect over reactions to previous year’s result and next year’s problems rather than the progressive implementations of long range plan.

Three different approaches are generally taken to annual planning:

(i) Goal Planning:

Management sets sales and profit goals for the year that if achieved, would satisfy the shareholders. It is left to goes for whom the goals are set to find ways of achieving them.

(ii) Optimisation Planning:

Management considers major alternative strategies and their likely impacts on profits, sales, market shares and future investment opportunities. The management selects the strategy with the most attractive consequences. This sort of planning is most logical of the three approaches.

(iii) External Planning:

Management considers continuing its current strategy and estimates the likely profits and sales it could achieve. If these are satisfactory, they are established as the company goals.

Marketing Planning – Nature: Divisional, Corporate, Product – Line, Product, Market, Brand and Functional Plan

As a company’s planning system evolves, there is increasing talk of “marketing planning and marketing plans.” Unfortunately, no common usage attaches to these terms. Companies that are highly market oriented sometimes use the term “marketing plan” synonymously with the overall business plan; perhaps a better title would be “market-oriented business plan.”

In other companies, “marketing plan” is used to describe the section within the larger business plan that deals specifically with marketing issues and strategies, in contrast to the financial and manufacturing sections of the same plan.

In still other companies, it is used to describe a special marketing document of retaining some marketing goal, such as a successful new-product launch or an orderly development of a new market.

Because of these varying usages, the term “marketing plan” may not be a useful as a more specific designation of the particular type of plan being discussed.

(i) Divisional Plan:

The divisional plan is similar to the corporate plan and describes the division’s plan for growth and profitability. It describes marketing, financial, manufacturing, and personnel strategies and may use a short, intermediate, or long-run planning horizon. In some cases, the divisional plan is the sum of all the separate plans prepared within the division.

(ii) Corporate Plan:

The corporate plan describes the overall business plan for the corporation. It might be an annual, intermediate, or long-range plan. The corporate plan deals sit company missions, growth strategies, portfolio decisions, investment decisions, and current objectives and goals. It does not contain details on the activities of individual business units.

(iii) Product-Line Plan:

A product-line plan describes objectives, goals, strategies, and tactics for a specific product line. Each product-line manager prepares this plan.

(iv) Product Plan:

A product plan describes objectives, goals strategies and tactics for a particular product or product category. Each product manager prepares this plan.

(v) Product/Market Plan:

A product/market plan is a plan for marketing a particular product or product line or the company is a particular industrial or geographical market. An example would be a plan by a bank to market its lending services to the real estate industry.

(vi) Brand Plan:

A brand plan describes objectives, goals, strategies, and tactics for a specific brand within the product category. Each brand manager prepares a brand plan.

(vii) Market Plan:

A market plan is a plan for developing and serving a particular market. If the organisation has market manager as well as product managers, the market managers would prepare these plans.

(viii) Functional Plan:

A functional plan is a plan for one of the major functions, such as marketing, manufacturing, manpower, finance, or research and development. It also describes plans for sub functions within a major function; such is, in the case of marketing, an advertising plan, a sales promotion plan, a sales-force plan, and a marketing research plan.

Most of these plans have a marketing component. In fact, the marketing component not only is essential but usually takes priority in the plan’s development. Planning often starts with the question – How great a sales volume can be hope to obtain at a profit?

This step is answered by marketing analysis and the development of a marketing plan. After this plan is approved, the non marketing executives start working on their manufacturing, financial, and personnel plans to support the marketing plan. Thus the marketing plan is foundation for the planning of the other activities of the company.

Marketing Planning – 4 Major Elements: Objectives, Programme, Completion Schedule and Budgeting

1. Objectives or Goals:

We have a statement of the com­pany’s goals, including a forecast of sales, market share, and profits and expenses. The primary goal is, of course, increase in profits. To achieve this, we have a set of specific goals, e.g., a 5% increase of the total market share or 20% increase in the sales turnover.

2. Programmes:

A programme is the second element of a marketing plan. A programme is an action plan, a detailed part of the plan. It points out the responsibilities of each department involved in marketing effort. Each programme is expected to achieve the set goals within a specified period.

Each department operates and carries out the allotted functions according to the programme. We have product programme for the development of new products. We have advertising and sales pro­motion programme for effective marketing communication, and physical distribution programme (covering transport, storage, inven­tory control and order processing) for assuring best customer service at the lowest cost as far as possible.

3. Completion Schedule:

We must have a proper schedule or time table for starting and completing the marketing activities included in the marketing plan. A schedule is a time-bound action plan. Deadlines are fixed for completing each step or item as per plan. Thus we can assure progress of a project within stipulated time.

4. Budgeting:

Magnitude of the marketing activities represented by the marketing-mix or programme depends upon the level of marketing budget or numerised plan. A budget is a docu­ment indicating the amount of resources allotted for a specific pur­pose or work in an organisation.

We have a marketing budget indicating the permissible amount of money which can be spent for financing all marketing activities in order to achieve pre-determined goals. We have quantity, quality, time and cost standards for measurement of results.

On the basis of budgeted marketing cost, marketing manage­ment can inter balance the component parts of the marketing mix. On the basis of sales forecast, we have our marketing budget. Budget­ing makes it possible to carry out plans. Budgeting also serves as a basis of control.

Marketing Planning – 7 Most Important Types: Product Mix, Distribution Channel, Marketing Research, Marketing Organisation, Sales Force, Pricing Plan and a Few Others

Following marketing sub-plans are prepared for the successful implementation of marketing programme & strategies:

1. Product Mix Plan:

Product mix determination is very important in industries with complex and changing technologies. It is an especially effective instrument in market where the consumer is affluent and has an elaborate system of preference. The decisions relating to product elimination, dropping, adding or developing are included in it.

2. Distribution Channel Plan:

This sub-plan involves the future course of action with regards to distribution channels – their number, forms, management and remuneration, etc.

3. Marketing Research Plan:

Marketing research is the gathering, reduction and analysis of market data. Because it describes and evaluates demand, the behaviour of buyers and intermediaries, and competition, it allows more rational and efficient decision making. Research is the key to an optimum allocation of marketing resources.

4. Marketing Organisation Plan:

Considering only physical distribution of goods and products is only half way to success in marketing efforts. The firm should chalk out a proper plan regarding the organisation structure of marketing department, communication policies and procedures, co-ordination of marketing activities to that of other departments of the firm, etc. Hence, a marketing organisation plan is also to be developed.

5. Sales Force Plan:

The plan signifies the efficiency of salesmen and other personnel engaged in selling the goods. The decisions relating to hiring and training salesmen, motivating them, and assignment of sales quotas, determining sales territories, compensating salesmen and introducing the incentive plans are included in it.

6. Advertising and Sales Promotion Plan:

The sub plan incorporates the selection of advertising media, channels of distribution, sales promotion techniques, advertising strategies, and tactics, etc. Thus, this plan is mainly concerned with promotion mix.

7. Pricing Plan:

Pricing is theoretically the single most important instrument of competition in a market economy. The firms have to consider different pricing policies, strategies, legal constraints relating to pricing and so on.

Marketing Planning – Importance: To Face Future Uncertainties, Provides Focus to Marketing Activities, Best Utilization of Opportunities, Better Coordination and a Few Others

The preparation of a marketing plan is vital for setting the strategies to achieve the marketing objectives and for monitoring the performance of the marketing department. It determines the target to be attained and the implementation of plans to achieve them successfully.

The importance of marketing planning can be summarized as follows:

1. To Face Future Uncertainties:

As the future is always clouded with risk, it is only pertinent that measures are taken as protection against unforeseen risks. An expert marketing manager makes marketing forecast on the basis of careful analysis of present circumstances and trends, and then sets the objectives for the future.

He also takes into account any situation that is likely to arise in the future which may have an impact on the company’s marketing plans. For example, a marketing manager may take into consideration the probable entry of new competitors in the same product line while making plans.

2. Provides Focus to Marketing Activities:

Efficient marketing planning helps in focusing the various activities, programmes and operations of the department towards the same direction- achieving the goals of the marketing department in a way that is aligned with the overall business success.

3. Best Utilization of Opportunities:

The future is not just fraught with risks, but it is also full of viable opportunities. Marketing planning helps the organization to identify the opportunities that may arise in future and seize them before the competitors do. Regular monitoring of the business environment throws light on a number of emerging consumer needs and wants which can be successfully converted into marketing ideas.

4. Determination of the Right Marketing Mix:

The marketing mix is the combination of the various marketing elements like product, price, place, promotion, people, physical evidence, etc. which is used by an organization to influence the demand for its products or services. A good marketing plan helps to determine the appropriate proportion of the various aspects of the marketing mix to create the maximum appeal to customers.

5. Better Coordination:

Marketing plans are basically formulated for the marketing department, but they are aligned with the overall objectives of the company. Therefore it helps to coordinate the activities of all the departments so that coordination is achieved in the performance of the marketing department.

6. Satisfaction of the Customer:

The business exists because of the customer and can operate profitably only through the satisfaction of his wants. Marketing planning entails the study of the customer wants and directs all marketing efforts towards the satisfaction of these needs. A marketing plan which is based on extensive consumer research lays the maximum emphasis on customer satisfaction.

Marketing Planning – Approaches: Profit Impact of Marketing Strategies, Portfolio Models and Competitive Analysis

Different authors and consultant firms have recommended different approaches to marketing planning.

Some of the approaches are:

1. Profit Impact of Marketing Strategies (PIMS),

2. Portfolio models, and

3. Competitive analysis.

Approach # 1. Profit Impact of Marketing Strategies (PIMS):

It is one of the path-breaking approaches to strategic planning and competitive strategy development. The Strategic Planning Institute of the USA sought to identify the most important variables affecting the profits by launching a study called Profit Impact of Marketing Strategy (PIMS).

For the purpose, it gathered data from hundreds of business units in a variety of industries and identified the most important variables associated with the profitability. Market share is one among the key variables thus identified affecting profitability.

According to a PIMS report, “The average return on investment (ROI) for business, with under 10 per cent market share, was almost 9 per cent on the average, a difference of ten percentage points in market share is accompanied by a difference of about five points in pretax ROI.”

The PMIS study shows that business with market shares above 40 per cent earn an average ROI of 30 per cent, or three times that of those with shares under 10 per cent. Market shares can improve their profitability further through increasing their market share. In many markets, one share point is worth tens of millions of dollars. For example, in the USA, a one-share- point gain in coffee is worth $ 48 million and in soft drinks $ 120 million.

Approach #2. Portfolio Models:

Another approach to marketing planning is the portfolio approach. A number of portfolio models have been proposed by researchers and management consultants.

Some of the portfolio models are briefly discussed as follows:

i. Boston Consulting Group (BCG) Approach:

The Boston Consulting Group, leading management consultant firm in the U.S., developed an approach known as the growth share matrix. This model uses the market rate.

Growth – (vertical axis) as the indicator of the industry’s attractiveness and a firm’s market share (horizontal axis) as its competitive positive in that industry. The BCG matrix categorised the firm’s SBUs into four groups, viz., Stars, Cash Cows, Question marks and Dogs.

Stars – These SBUS are supposed to be fast growing and carry the company’s future prosperity. As they show a high growth prospect they usually consume the maximum resources, particularly cash and marketing efforts to maintain their positions.

Cash Cows – These SBUs earn the highest revenues for the firm. Management should carefully protect the profitability of these SBUS.

Question marks – These SBUS are low performers compared, to the industry average. Management has to decide whether by putting in more resources it can bring these products into the high market share or “star” level or else to withdraw from those businesses in view of continuous below average performance.

Dogs – These SBUs are performing poorly from the stand point of both the industry growth rate and the company’s market share position. Therefore, unless the company is hopeful of turning them into a “high position” on any of the two axes, they have to be wound up.

The BCG model is based on the premise that a high market share and profitability are interrelated, because a high market share will mean – (a) greater economies of scale (b) greater market power vis-a-vis consumers as well as input suppliers, (c) better quality management, which is generally a characteristic of market leaders.

ii. General Electric (GE) Model:

The General Electric (GE) model is an improvement over the BCG model. It relates to market attractiveness to the SBU and firm’s strengths, which will make it competitive in the marketplace. Factors that determine market attractiveness are – nature of competition, government policy, Return on Investment (Rol), technology, market size, rate of market growth and so on.

On the other hand, the strengths of any SBU or firm may lie in R&D, finance, distribution, market share, product quality, customer service, etc. To measure these two dimensions, managers must identify the factors underlying each dimension and find a way to measure them and combine them into an index.

The GE matrix is divided into nine cells, which in turn fall into three zones. The three cells in the upper-left corner indicate strong SBUs in which the company should invest or grow. The diagonal cells stretching from the lower left to the upper right indicate SBUs that are medium.

In overall attractiveness – The Company should pursue selectivity and manage for earnings in these SBUs. The three cells in the lower-right corner indicate SBUS that are low in overall attractiveness. The company should give serious thought to harvesting or divesting these companies.

iii. Arthur D. Little Life Cycle Portfolio Matrix:

This model proposed by Arthur D. Little Inc., a management consulting firm, is built on the assumption that industries, like products, have life cycles. Every industry usually passes through four stages.

The characteristics of each stage are as follows:

a. Embryonic industry – Slow growth, changes in technology, vigorous pursuit of new customers, fragmented and unstable market shares.

b. Growth industry – Rapid growth customers exhibit definite purchase patterns, rising market shares of leading competitors, rapid pace of technological developments and negligible barriers to entry.

c. Mature industry – Stable purchase patterns, technology and market shares.

d. Aging industry – Falling demand, a declining number of competitors and a narrowing product line.

This model further conjectured that firms can occupy one of the six competitive positions viz., dominant, strong, favourable, tenable, weak and non-viable.

iv. Shell’s Directional Policy Matrix:

This model has two dimensions – the business sector’s profitability prospects and competitive capability. The profitability dimension has three classifications – unattractive, average and attractive. The competitive dimension is defined as weak, average or strong.

The model offers nine possible strategies-


i. Weak – Disinvest.

ii. Average – Phased withdrawal.

iii. Strong – Cash Generation.


i. Weak – Phased withdrawal.

ii. Average – Custodial.

iii. Strong – Growth.


i. Weak – Double or quit.

ii. Average –Try Harder.

iii. Strong – Leader.

Marketing Planning – Components

Let us now consider in more detail the key components of marketing planning- the preparation, the people, the plan and the process.

Preparing to Plan:

Preparation is an important part of the marketing planning process. Organiza­tions that do not dedicate the time and resources necessary for planning can pay a heavy price. Inadequate preparation invites mistakes and careless thinking, and can allow important decisions to be made on the basis of insufficient or unreliable information.

The typical planning cycle is 12 months and, generally speaking, major market research projects should be commis­sioned in the first half of the planning cycle and plans and programmes should be formulated in the latter half of the planning cycle.

When preparing to plan, it is important to be clear which type of planning you are engaged in- strategic or tactical planning. The strategic marketing plan reflects what managers perceive to be their market position and competitive advantage, what objectives they want to achieve and how they intend to achieve them (strategies), and what resources they envisage will be required and at what consequence (budget).

Tactical marketing plans are the detailed scheduling and costing out of the specific actions necessary to deliver the first phase of the strategic plan. Tactical plans should never be developed before strategic plans.

Who should be Involved?

The people who are going to use the plan should be involved in the planning process, as should those within the organization who can contribute knowledge or information to the plan. However, everyone need not attend every planning meeting.

A planning manager should be appointed to manage the virtual planning team, indicating who should be at which meetings and assigning whatever tasks need to be undertaken between meetings. It is also the planning manager’s responsibility to establish clear communications and to ensure proper completion of the plan.

Criteria of a Good Marketing Plan:

The measure of a good marketing plan is not its 100 per cent accuracy in predicting the future. If you could foretell what is going to happen, you would not need to plan. The role of the marketing plan is to capture the essentials of the planning process and distil them down into a comprehensive working document.

A good marketing plan should contain the following items:

1. Mission statement

2. Financial summary

3. Market overview (a brief summary of the marketing audit)


5. Assumptions

6. Marketing objectives and strategies

7. Programmes, with forecasts and budgets

The written marketing plan is the background against which operational decisions are taken on an ongoing basis and thus it should not include too much detail. To be usable, the marketing plan has to be well-written and short. As Malcolm McDonald says- ‘If it’s quicker to weigh it than to count the pages, it’s not a good marketing plan!’

The marketing plan is central to the company’s relationship management and revenue-generating activities, and from it flow all other corporate activities, such as the timing of the cash flow and the size and character of the labour force.

The marketing plan can be distributed to all those whom it involves directly or for whom it will have a significant impact. The distribution list should include the key account (or segment) director and manager, as well as each member of the key account (or segment) team.

Criteria of an Effective Marketing Planning Process:

The success of the marketing planning process is determined by more than simply the production of a marketing plan. An effective planning process will yield a usable plan and, in so doing, will additionally identify insufficient or unreliable information, promote clarity of thinking within the team and recommend methods for better team working.

The achievement of these criteria requires patient determination. Organizations usually take two to three years to install a planning process fully so if your plan is about 60 per cent of the way there in Year 1 and 80-90 per cent completed in Year 2, you are on track.

International Planning:

An international market audit poses the following additional considerations:

1. The product itself- Standardization and Adaptation.

2. Packaging and labeling- Protection/ security, Promotional/distribution channels, Cultural factors, Package size, Language, Legal or regulatory requirements.

3. Brands and trademarks- Global or national, Legal requirements and ownership issues, Cultural factors.

4. Warranty and service- International customers, Safety, Quality control standards, Usage, Promotion, Service networks

Some famous examples of not-so-successful international marketing initia­tives include:

(i) The Mexican bread and cakes brand, Bimbo, has an image problem in the USA.

(ii) The Rolls-Royce Silver Mist (‘mist’ means ‘manure’ in German).

(iii) The export of bacon flavoured crisps to Saudi Arabia (the entire planeload was incinerated at the side of the runway in Jeddah despite the manufacturer’s protests that the product contained no pork).

(iv) The Scandinavian vacuum cleaner manufacturer, Electrolux, ran a US advertising campaign with the slogan- ‘Nothing sucks like an Electrolux’.

Careful international marketing has much to offer, and not only in terms of increased sales. The successful international company is constantly on the lookout for synergy and cost savings. Economies of scale can be found in production, product R&D and new technologies.

Planning for Key Accounts:

Key account management is a complex task. It often involves cross-functional teams and international planning issues, and can engender internal confusion over priorities where specially tailored products or services are required. When planning for key accounts, it is therefore useful to treat a key account as a segment (or several segments) in its own right and to prepare a separate sub-plan for each key account.

The purpose of the key account plan is to show how the supplying organization intends to build and strengthen its relationship with its key accounts.

The plan should therefore address the following issues:

1. The key account’s decision-making unit and purchasing process.

2. The key account’s objectives and drivers.

3. The market audit from the key account’s point of view (the customer’s market background competitive position).

4. Opportunities and threats to the key account’s business as well as to the relationship between the supplier and the key account.

The strengths and weaknesses analysis should be based on the key account’s CSFs while the strategies should deal with people and process issues as well as the 4Ps (product, price, place and promotion). It can still be appropriate to use the Ansoff Matrix (‘new markets’ become ‘new parts of key account’) and the DPM (‘market attractiveness’ becomes ‘customer sub-segment attractiveness’).

The other significant difference between key account planning and other forms of marketing planning is that key account planning may be a joint process in which both supplier and customer take part.

IT in Planning:

Various software packages are now available which assist with elements of marketing planning. These range from simple matrix generators to complex segmentation packages. There are even programs that will write your marketing plan for you (based on the data you supply, of course!).

The advantages of using planning software can be considerable.

Benefits include the following points:

1. Guidance:

On-screen prompts and access to ‘Help’ pages guide the user through the planning process, ensuring that it is thoroughly and correctly completed.

2. Standardization:

The adoption of specific programs across large organiza­tions or international divisions provides consistency and supports consolidation. Site licenses and network versions may be purchased to allow planners in different locations to work on the same plan simultaneously.

3. Presentation:

Professional applications usually incorporate a choice of visual aids such as charts and tables to enhance clarity and interest value. Attractive graphics can help make essential points about segments or competitive positions.

4. Contingency Planning:

Planning software is easier to manipulate than traditional ‘paper and pencil’ methods, affording a time and energy saving facility, especially in ‘what if’ type exercises.

The following three examples of marketing software output illustrate the diversity and flexibility of IT features. The first example, based on the experience of a German engineering company, is a CSF bar chart for a product- market segment that has been produced using the weighting and scoring system.

It is clear from Figure 15.7 that Top Widget surpasses its competitors on quality, shares similar product range and service levels, but performs least well overall because its prices are perceived to be less attractive.

The second example is -the result of segmentation exercises using two different types of software. The following data shows the output from a cluster analysis of Europe-wide customer research data in a metal industry. Cluster 1 represents a group of customers for whom reliability of delivery and price are vital while cluster 2 represents a group of customers who are more interested in security of supply and consistent quality.

Another segmentation program also uses cluster analysis but in addition produces the results as a bar chart. Market research by a South African insurance company indicated a number of different segments.

One segment prefers to buy from a well-known company, preferably a company that is personally recommended. The insurance company labeled this segment ‘Security Seekers’. A different segment was primarily interested in price and was called ‘Economy’.

Using this information, the insurance company was able to develop two different marketing propositions. It targeted the Security Seekers with an advertising campaign emphasizing its history and track record, and introducing ‘recommend a friend’ incentives. The Economy segment was targeted with a new ‘no frills’ product and direct mailings were used to communicate the value-for-money message.

A word of warning- marketing software is a decision support tool, not a decision substitute. In the words of one experienced planner – The problem is not “garbage in, garbage out”; it’s when you start to believe the garbage because it comes out of a computer. We call this “garbage in, gospel out.”

Marketing Planning – System: Product-Oriented, Customer-Oriented, Market-Oriented, Function-Oriented Organization

An organization is a mechanism through which a managerial philosophy is translated into action. As the philosophy changes, organizational goals are revised and basic changes made in the organizational operations. The marketing planning system in various organizations may be focused on different aspects of marketing.

Any company would adopt the system most suitable to it. On the whole, marketing planning systems may be: product oriented, consumer oriented, market oriented or function oriented.

1. Product-Oriented Marketing Organization:

The marketing planning is made for each product separately in such an organization. Targets are determined for each product and detailed programmes are chalked out to achieve these targets and goals. The expenditures related to advertising, sales promotion, product development, marketing research, etc. are fixed individually for each product.

Each product is taken as a separate entity when it comes to distribution and marketing also. Big conglomerates like Unilever, Proctor and Gamble, Tata Sons, etc. have separate marketing plans for each product category (home care products, food items, personal care, electronics, etc.).

2. Customer-Oriented Marketing Organization:

In such kinds of organizations, separate marketing planning is prepared for each class of customers. Marketing organization is centred on the characteristics and needs of different types of customers. The objectives and goals are fixed in accordance with the features of each customer category.

For example, cosmetics companies like Gamier, Emami, Lakme, Ponds, etc. tailor their advertisements and marketing communication to specifically target a particular group of customers—fairness creams for men, fairness creams for women, anti-wrinkle products for older women, protection against pimples for teenagers, etc.

3. Market-Oriented Marketing Organization:

It refers to an organization which is regionally based. Different targets are fixed for different regions and plans are made according to the unique characteristics of the particular regions. Separate territory-wise budgets are prepared keeping in view the nature and intensity of competition in each region.

A company may offer its goods at a lower rate while attempting to enter a new market or may change certain product characteristics while catering to a particular geographical territory.

For example, global restaurant chains like McDonald’s, KFC and Pizza Hut change the ingredients of their food preparations according to the preferences and customs of the region they operate in, like providing vegetarian versions of traditionally non-vegetarian recipes in a country like India where many people avoid meat.

4. Function-Oriented Marketing Organization:

The consolidated marketing plans are prepared on the basis of several other smaller plans such as product mix plan, sales-force plan, advertising and sales promotion plan, distribution plan, pricing plan, market research plan and marketing organization plan, etc. First the individual plans for each function of marketing are to be made and the final plan will be an integration of all the functional plans.

Marketing Planning – Implementation with Key Elements

Most plans fail at this point Either the plan cannot be easily implemented or they fail due to the indifference of those who are supposed to implement it Therefore, everyone involved should be apprised and committed to ensure the successful accomplishment of the plan.

Challenges to the implementation of Marketing Plans are twofold:

i. External factors – Changes in the external macro and micro-environment will threaten the implementation of plans. A change may require a modification or even necessitate complete change.

ii. Internal factors – The marketing department is only one of the many in a company hence in reality it has to compete with other departments for limited resources. To deliver value the marketing department has to depend on other departments.

Common Problems in implementing strategic marketing plans can be identified as follows:

i. Lack of Support from the CEO and Other Top Management:

The strategic marketing plan is a marketing manager’s initiative and without support from the top other functional managers wouldn’t either.

ii. Lack of Internal Marketing Plans:

In reality a marketing plan has to be first marketed inside the office before it can be implemented outside. If a marketing plan does not get the commitment of all the people inside the organisation it cannot be successfully implemented.

For example the marketing division of a Courier service, with difficulty, under severe competition, broke into serve the far-east sector of a large buying house in the garment industry. Every evening a courier would be sent to pick up the shipments. One evening and after about one week of service, the head of the buying office happened to be present at the point where the courier takes over the package.

On this fateful evening the Courier came in as usual and took over the package, which was beautifully packed; without any consideration the Courier folded it into two crushing the beautiful packing simply to load it into the courier bag. To cut a long story short that was the end of the business for the courier company.

No matter how much of assurance the Sales and Marketing people would have given the customer, the foolish act of the courier ruined it for them. Alternatively, if the Courier was trained through an internal marketing planning process this would not have happened. So, marketing the Marketing Plan is of great importance, where many of us lack.

ii. Lack of Line Management Support:

Operational managers for many good reasons may not be willing to extend complete support, therefore, special attention and effort to address those issues and to canvass their support is essential for proper implementation of the plan.

iii. Confusion over Planning Terms:

Some managers may use academic planning terminology that some line managers may resent. Therefore, to avoid these misgivings separate meetings with relevant line managers independently or collectively should be held to explain the plan and to canvas support for it.

iv. Too much of Detail:

Too much of paper work and resultantly piles of paper work can be most boring for anybody. Therefore, main issues should be addressed cutting unnecessary detail when communicating the plan and implementing them thereafter.

v. Once a Year Ritual:

Planning must not be brought down to the level of being treated as an once a year ritual, then the danger of them being filed away till the next year will arise. Planning must be integrated as an integral part of a manager’s job and as a continuous process of good corporate management.

vi. Separation of Operational Planning from Marketing Plans:

This is also seen, as a problem where managers become operational oriented and lose Marketing concerns, strategic thinking and the longer-term needs. Influencing marketing orientation will be a necessary input to retain management’s interest in marketing planning and its implementation.

vii. Integrating Marketing Planning:

Marketing planning must be integrated into the corporate planning system and be considered in relation to the plans of finance, production and operations, research and development, logistics, personnel and so forth.

viii. Delegation of Planning to a Planner:

This is also a threat in that when the entire planning process is delegated to a specific planner and those who were not involved will handle implementation with indifference. Therefore, it may be wise to involve die respective managers at all possible stages of the planning process.

Effective leadership from the CEO downwards must be ensured for the proper implementation of the Marketing Plan; therefore challenges and problems must be of concern to all.

Key Elements of Implementation:

The key elements of the implementation program can be classified into the following activities:

1. Leadership:

Senior Management cannot leave it to the middle and junior level managers to implement the plans.

i. They must take the ultimate responsibility to implement the plan with the support of the others.

ii. They need to be committed to the strategic plan, as their juniors would usually be involved in short-term issues.

iii. Allocating responsibility to relevant managers and empowering them with authority to implement the plan is very important.

iv. Establishing check points are also key considerations for proper implementation –

a. Meeting present and future deadlines

b. Any targets that could be missed

c. Availability of resources to deliver value

d. Assurance of continuous supply.

In implementing a Marketing Plan it is a must that the Head of Marketing takes over and provides the necessary leadership. It is the marketer who has to motivate the rest, just as much as he would do with those outside the organisation to buy its value propositions.

There are charismatic leaders those who can lead by the strength of their own personality and there are also transformational leaders with charisma who are able to create new vision for the organisation, gain acceptance and implement them through change. The following is what Fredrick Forsyth wrote about Emeka Odimegwu Ojukwu — a great Nigerian leader, in his book titled Emeka.

“There are many, and I have met a few, who could administer, govern, and even rule. But to lead, really to lead a whole people, takes something more: and it is not learned in school or from books. It takes not to be judged by fine clothes, big cars, and money in the bank or the shouting of slogans. It is not just the capacity to start a crowd cheering – a demagogue on a street corner can do that. Leadership takes more. It involves the possession of a series of qualities that are possessed and seen to be possessed, and which make others prepared to follow the one who owns them”.

“Some years ago I addressed my thoughts to what these qualities should be and came up with the following. Strength without brutality, courage without recklessness, honesty without priggishness, intelligence without pedantry, humour without frivolity and compassion without sentimentality.

Then I looked at the list and realised there was something more, something missing. Call it the X factor. It may be presence, or charisma, the ability to dominate other men by sheer personality, or the capacity simply to inspire. Winston Churchill had it, Charles De Gaulle had it, John Kennedy had it and David Ben Gurion, the father of Israel, had it. But I never knew an African who had it Till Emeka”.

Today increasing attention is being made to the need of the visionary leader who could transform the business to greater heights.

2. Internal Marketing:

Before a business markets any value proposition to external customers it must do so to the internal customers. Internal Marketing is the process of implementing a marketing programme in the internal environment so that employees are seen as customers and are persuaded to buy into and support management ideas and planned processes. The value propositions of a business must also be marketed to its internal market if relevant. If a business is making industrial products a typical employee of a business will have no need for it. On the contrary if they were into FMCG or SMCG it may be relevant.

The first thing that the business should market is the Vision of the company, so that its vision will be very clear to all employees. Similarly, the Mission of the company must be communicated and must made be very clear. The vision and mission must be recallable and memorable. These cannot be achieved without an internal marketing programme.

In designing the internal marketing programme the following factors have to be considered:

i. Internal Marketing Objectives and Strategy:

The purpose of the internal marketing programme is to achieve goals & objectives of external marketing that will have a suitable strategy. Some research may be needed to assess the implication of the external marketing programme for the internal customers or employees.

ii. Segmenting the Internal Market:

By identifying, supporters of a proposed strategy, influential opponents and how the business can win them over, non-involved supporters and as to how their support can be increased and how non-involved opponents can be convinced, a valuable segmentation could be made.

iii. Develop an Internal Marketing Mix Product:

It could be a plan or change the business wants to implement. Price – the plan may have costs and benefits to staff. Shifting an office may result in an undesirable longer journey to some. Increased sales quotas may affect the Sales personnel’s commission earnings. Place— distribution of the plan or the process of bringing the plan and the internal customer together where timing must be addressed carefully. Promotion— effective communication with the internal market must be ensured so that the message is clear and well understood and support extended.

iv. Important Skills Needed in Implementing the Internal Marketing Plan:

It is the marketing department that must communicate with the others inside who control other key functions and resources such as – production, finance, research & development and those who are concerned with other stakeholders. Nike, the world leader in sports shoes, sometime back did not have a manufacturing facility but outsourced its products. They outsourced a large volume of its requirements from a town called Pusan in Korea.

To the Koreans, Nike was a very large customer and dependent on them so the Koreans decided to ask for a higher price from Nike. To Nike, Koreans were important stakeholders but the request for a higher price had an unpleasant impact in the relationship and eventually Nike had pulled out of Korea and set up elsewhere. Pusan thus became a ghost town overnight. To the Koreans, Nike was an internal customer and perhaps a good internal marketing plan with the following skills which would have averted such action and saved a number of people from being unemployed.

v. Negotiation:

A negotiation takes place when two parties with different objectives agree on a mutually agreeable outcome. Negotiations are the nucleus of a relationship with those outside, like outsourcers for example, on price and delivery but is also relevant to those inside. Negotiations with labour unions, other units etc., is an important aspect of internal marketing. Had the Koreans done it right they would not have been in that precarious predicament.

vi. Persuasion:

Marketers must be committed to persuade all other units, heads of departments, and all concerned about its external plan and get their support and concurrence.

vii. Co-Operation:

People in organisations have their own goals and ambitions, competition among departments and internal people. The success of any plan is to get the cooperation of all of them to implement it. A motivated internal people are a result of effective internal marketing, which is absolutely necessary for the implementation of the Marketing Plan.

3. Project Management:

Implementation of a marketing plan must take the route of project management to achieve success lest even the best of all plans will remain as plans. A project can be defined as an undertaking that has a beginning and an end and is carried out to meet established goals within cost, schedules and quality objectives.

4. Examples of Projects:

i. Management – Holding of an important national conference, conducting a major trade exhibition etc.

ii. Marketing – Setting up a new distribution network, implementing a promotional campaign etc.

Earlier seven different types of Marketing Plans were observed:

a. Marketing plan for Products

b. Marketing plan for Brands

c. Marketing plan for New Products

d. Marketing plan for Categories

e. Marketing plan for Segments

f. Marketing plan for Customers

g. Marketing plan for Regions & Countries.

For example, in the case of a launch of a new product the task of producing the marketing communications, which includes press, radio, journals, TV and point of purchase material are all a project that has to be accomplished. To establish stockists round the country and to set-up the distribution network and providing the logistics needs is also a project.

The setting up of a supply chain for all materials needed to produce the new product is also a project. The plan is a direction as to how it should be accomplished and a project is doing what has to be accomplished in the plan over its planning period, project management gives life to the plan.

5. Objectives of Project Management:

i. Quality – End result should conform to what the project was intended to do.

ii. Budget – Project must be completed within permitted costs and budget.

iii. Time schedule – Project must be carried out and accomplished within the time frame in which it was planned to be carried out.

6. The Project Manager:

In the case of the foregoing example of finding stockists round the country and setting up the distribution network the Project Manager will be the National Sales Manager and supported by Regional & Provincial Sales Managers, District Sales Managers and even Sales Representatives.

7. The Role of the Project Manager:

The project manager has the resources of staff, money and time, which have to be coordinated and a project manager’s principal duties could be described as follows –

i. Project Planning:

Developing project targets, with quality, budget and time Dividing the project into activities so that they can be delegated to team members to implement.

ii. Delegation & Team Building:

An important aspect is to delegate the divided activities to individuals and their teams. For example, the National Sales Manager will delegate the appointment of stockists to the various Regional Managers who in turn will delegate to provincial Managers and they in turn will delegate to District Sales Managers who may even involve the Sales Representative.

iii. Coordination & Communication:

The Project Manager must be responsible to report to superiors and have a constant dialogue with those below to ensure they are correctly briefed and apprised.

iv. Monitoring & Control:

It is the responsibility of the Project Manager to ensure that work is going on smoothly and that any problem that may arise is taken care of with the least delay.

v. Resolving Problems:

Even in the best of plans unforeseen problems may arise as we deal with the external macro and micro-environment of which we have no control. In such events the Project manager may seek counsel from his superiors, handle them himself or delegate responsibility to a team member to resolve it

vi. Quality Control:

The Project Manager must ensure that throughout the implementation of the project that quality is maintained. Often there is the tendency to meet time schedules and compromise on quality, which must be avoided. The top management must provide leadership to ensure quality is maintained and employees at all levels must be made to understand the importance of quality through internal marketing and ensure quality is maintained at all times. Quality ensures profitable markets and profitable markets ensure job security.

8. Project Planning Tools:

i. Schedule of Activities – This will ensure that each job is performed as and when scheduled. It will minimise the constraints on resources and performance.

ii. Estimate of Time – The time duration for each sub-unit of work, earliest work must be started in each unit and the latest it must be started.

iii. Gantt Charts – An easy plan for a project is made on a bar line chart or Gantt chart. It can be used as a progress control chart with the lower section of each bar being completed as the activity is undertaken.

9. Managing Change:

The fundamental aspect of any business is to ensure that it manages the velocity of change external to it internally by responding and acting. To prepare a business for the future it must keep abreast with the influences of the macro and micro- environment, which would result in the need to effect, change internally. A business must adapt and modify to survive in a changing environment, upon which it has no control. The external environment offers the organisation threats as well as opportunities. The business must respond with internal change to meet them and maximise on its strengths and mitigate weaknesses.

10. Aspects of Change:

i. The Environment – There could be changes effected by competitors, customers’ buying behaviour, changes in the law of the land, societal changes like unemployment or an aging population, attitudes and economic changes like inflation or even boom, the latter may need very different thinking and strategy.

ii. Product and Service Portfolio – They are provided according to the needs of the market and with a constant response to competition and changes in technology.

iii. How Products are made and Services are provided – It is important to respond to the legal needs when manufacturing products and providing services. Pollution control in a factory and hygiene in a restaurant are areas that may need change, for the general welfare of humans.

iv. Corporate Relations – Maintaining leadership, employee relationship, provides training and continuing professional development needs constant adjustment in corporate relations.

v. Organisational Structure – Changes by having new divisions, SBUs, centralisation or decentralisation are some aspects of adjusting organisational structure.

11. Questioning the Effectiveness of Change:

i. Influence of Change on Marketing Goals and Objectives – Has change contributed to marketing goals and objectives of the Plan?

ii. Success of Change in Meeting Marketing Goals and Objectives – Can change solve problems?

iii. Response of Internal People – Can change initiate better customer care, team spirit, attention to detail, output, performance and commitment?

Marketing Planning – Benefits

Formalized marketing is an institutionalized process designed to work out and write down in advance the particular competitive stance that the company plans to take. This system will ensure that the company’s hopes for the future are, and remain, realistic, relevant and widely understood.

In one study, 90 per cent of the industrial goods companies involved did not, by their own admission, produce anything approximating to an integrated, coordinated and internally consistent plan for their marketing activities. Significantly, this majority included a substantial number of companies with highly formalized procedures for marketing planning. Marketing planning procedures are most valuable when they culminate in a marketing plan.

Companies find that formalized marketing planning produces the following benefits:

1. Coordination of the activities of many individuals whose actions are interrelated over time.

2. Identification of expected developments.

3. Preparedness to meet changes when they occur.

4. Minimization of non-rational responses to the unexpected.

5. Better communication among executives.

6. Minimization of conflict among individuals that might result in a subordination of the goals of the company to those of the individual.

Marketing Planning – Barriers

As a rule, formalized marketing planning results in greater profitability and stability in the long term and also helps to reduce friction and operational difficulties within the organization. When marketing planning fails, it is generally because companies place too much emphasis on the procedures and the resulting paperwork, rather than on generating information useful to and consumable by, management.

Also, when companies relegate marketing planning to a junior planner or outsource the task, it invariably founders for the simple reason that planning for line management cannot be delegated to a third party. The real role of the planner should be to help those responsible for implementation to plan.

Failure to recognize this simple fact can be disastrous. Equally, planning failures often result from companies trying to do too much, too quickly, and without training staff in the use of procedures.

Barriers to implementing marketing planning may include:

(i) Weak support from chief executive and top management.

(ii) Lack of a plan for planning.

(iii) Lack of line management support (including hostility, lack of skills, lack of information, lack of resources, inadequate organizational structure).

(iv) Confusion over planning terms.

(v) Numbers in lieu of written objectives and strategies.

(vi) Too much detail, too far ahead.

(vii) Once-a-year ritual.

(viii) Separation of operational planning from strategic planning.

(ix) Failure to integrate marketing planning into a total corporate planning system.

(x) Delegation of planning to a planner.

If some or all of these barriers are an issue in your organization, you may find it necessary to combine the introduction of the planning process with a number of training sessions. It is essential to get buy-in from the top, early on in the process.