I wanted to start the New Year with a small discussion on marketing plans. Now a lot has been said about marketing and sales and which is better and so on. But there is one fundamental principle when it comes to marketing plans. Marketing plans are intended to support the business plan. So if the business does a strategic plan and derives an operational plan based on the strategic plan then it is advisable for marketing to do the same.
Marketing plan should never be prepared in isolation as marketing as a function is there to support the business.
So the essential elements of the marketing plan are the fundamental 4Ps (product, price, place and promotion) of marketing, which eventually leads to a 5th P Positioning.
Which of the Ps forms a part of the marketing plan is again subject to the nature of business. For example in the services business there is lesser emphasis on product and more emphasis on promotion, but for most technology products (Like Automobiles) the heavy emphasis is on the product and the price.
Once the overall mission of the marketing is decided for the year then the focus is on what marketing would deliver for the business in order for the business to achieve its goals. For example, if the goal of business is to expand into new geographies then marketing will ensure that there is more awareness created in that geography.
Marketing plan essentially consists of the following components:
- Study of the business environment- This studies the current scenario, the trends, competition, regulations, local economies in case of multi nationals.
- Corporate vision-This is derived from the business as to what is the current vision for the company
- Marketing priorities- Based on the vision from the business, business environment
- Consumer Analysis- Analysis on consumer behavior especially analysis from Point of sale data
- Market Research – I believe this should be based on sales data to form inputs into the marketing plan. An independent market research can be done as well but I believe be that it would be a waste of time.
- The 4 Ps- Whichever P is relevant, some companies specially in the services use the 7 Ps the other three Ps being People, process and physical environment.
- Detailed strategy of each of the 4 or 7 Ps based on corporate and marketing priorities
- Analysis using tools like BCG Matrix to recognize the cash cows and star products
- Possible portfolio reorganization
Creating marketing plans is a very painful process, but it important as all strategic and tactical decisions in marketing are based on the plan. Every quarter or even a month a check has to be kept on the marketing fulfillment as measured against the plan. If there is a very dynamic change in the market for example the global meltdown in 2008, then the plan has to be re assessed.
A final tip to all marketers – Please allocate and spend the budget in the first two quarters otherwise it becomes a challenge as most budgets are squeezed at the end of the year. And invariably marketing is the first causality.