Importance of Marketing Plan to the Company

A marketing plan is essentially a guidebook on how you intend to market your business. It can also be referred to as an operational plan with focuses on different aspects of the business such as sales and distribution strategy, marketing expenditure, media and advertising mix and brand communication plan.

Strategic marketing plans are not just a business, but also sales and marketing plans are needed for new products and services. A well-written marketing plan is essential to any organisation.

Many people see a business plan and sales strategy as the same thing – but they’re not. Sales and marketing activities can have different goals, different approaches, and execute on different time frames. This can cause problems in the long term if your sales strategies are built on the premise of a near-term market opportunity that never happens

Definition of Marketing Planning:

The American Marketing Association has defined marketing planning as – “Marketing planning is the work of setting up objectives for marketing activity and of determining and scheduling the steps necessary to achieve such objectives”. Thus, under marketing planning first of all marketing objectives are set up and then marketing activities like – purchase-sale, product planning and development, advertisement, sales-promotion and scheduled policies and programmes to carry out these activities are prepared.

Types of Marketing Planning:

(i) Long-Term Marketing Planning:

It refers to that marketing planning which is done for more than one year. It involves the development of basic objectives and strategies to guide future company efforts. These long-run plans provide the framework within which other short-term plans are prepared and implemented. These plans are generally done by the top management. It involves the selecting of the marketing research programme, selection of channel of distribution, selection of price policy, selection of media advertising and sales promotion etc.

(ii) Short-Term Marketing Planning:

Planning made for less than one year for marketing activities refers to short-term marketing planning. Generally, these are annual or bi-annual plans of the company. These short-run plans are not possible in absence of the long-run plan. These plans are made to solve problems of recurring nature. Short-term marketing planning is the responsibility of medium level management.

Factors Affecting Marketing Planning:

Several factors affect the marketing planning of an organization.

These factors can be grouped under three categories:

(i) Internal Factors:

Internal factors are those factors that arise in the organization itself. It includes the size of the company, risk-bearing capacity of the company; financial resources of the company; organizational structure; availability of experienced marketing personals and channel of distribution etc.

(ii) Industry Factors:

Every firm is a part of the total industry. Any change in factors related to the industry also affects the organization. Various industrial factors are technological changes in the industry; severity of competition in industry and relationship between organization and industry etc.; which affect marketing planning of an organisation.

(iii) Natural Factors:

Certain natural factors like population and its regional distribution; National income and regional distribution; regional development in the country; State of the national economy; industrial policy in the country and trade policy of country etc. also affect the marketing planning of an organization.

Difficulties in Marketing Planning:

Marketing planning is concerned with the identification of resources avail­able and allocating these resources to achieve organizational objectives. This task of identification and allocation of resources is not an easy task. Some thinkers state that it is waste of time, energy and money. They argue that as planning is concerned with uncertainty, then how planning can be cent per cent correct. The idea behind this thinking is perhaps the difficulties that arose during market­ing planning.

Some of the main difficulties of marketing planning are:

1. Diversity of Alternatives:

One of the greatest difficulties in marketing planning is the availability of several alternatives to solve a problem. Every alternative has its own merits and demerits. Moreover, every alternative gives different results. It is very hard to select the alternative which is best for the organization. In this way, diversity of alternatives present difficulties in marketing planning.

2. Rapid Change in Cost:

The cost of producing a product is not fixed; it changes as time changes. It makes frequent changes in the price of the product, which has a direct effect on the demand for the product. It in turn influences the objective of marketing planning. Therefore, frequent and rapid changes in cost is also a hurdle in the way of marketing planning.

3. Time Consuming:

Another handle in the way of marketing planning is that it is a time-consuming process. Time managers always complain about lack of time, while preparing scientific plans for the organization which requires time cum efforts to analyse and evaluate available time.

4. Difficulties of Marketing Research:

Every marketing planning is based on a marketing research about consumer behaviour which is very uncertain especially in India. In fact, in certain cases, it is impossible to forecast. In absence of accurate forecasting, marketing research becomes difficult and unreliable, this, in turn, makes marketing planning a useless effort.

5. Inadequate Management Ability:

Marketing planning involves the great ability and intelligence of the marketing manager and staff. Unfortunately in India, there is a lack of trained marketing professionals. The latest study says only 21% of MBA are useful. Thus, lack of inadequate managerial ability is another hurdle in way of marketing planning.

6. Expensive:

Another difficulty in marketing planning is that it involves huge expenditure because it involves extensive marketing research. It needs a lot of time, energy and money and thus, increases the cost of marketing planning. Most of the companies are not in a position to bear these huge expenses and hence, do not go for marketing planning.

7. Frequent Changes in Government Policy:

Frequent change in the government policies is another difficulty in a way of effective marketing planning. In India, especially frequent changes are made by the government and its policies. Sometimes, it encourages export at other times restrictions are imposed on an export. Rate of taxation changes frequently which affect the price level, which in turn influence the demand and supply position of an organization.

Marketing Planning System:

Different companies adopt different organizational structure that suits them. The marketing planning, thus in different organizational structures are different.

In broad category these structures can be:

a. Product-oriented organization.

b. Customer-oriented organization.

c. Market-oriented organization.

d. Function oriented organization.

a. Product Oriented Organization:

Under a product-oriented marketing organization, marketing plans for each product is made separately. In these organizations plan for each product is set separately and then detailed programmes for achieving these targets are made. In such planning amount to be spent on advertising, sales promotion, product development, market research etc. are fixed for each product. In the same way, decisions are taken separately for each product regarding its distribution and marketing etc.

b. Customer-Oriented Organization:

This type of organization is based on the different characteristics of customers. Separate marketing plans are prepared for each class of customers. The objectives and goals of the organization are set keeping in view the characteristics of each class of customers and decisions regarding advertising, sales promotion, pricing, distribution etc. are made accordingly.

cMarket Oriented Organization:

These are those organizations in which different targets for different regions are fixed and programmes are prepared to achieve these objectives or targets. In this type of organization decisions regarding advertising, sales promotion, distribution channels and pricing etc. are made keeping in view the nature and intensity of competition in each region.

d.Function Oriented Organization:

Under this type of organization, marketing planning is based on functions. In this organization whole marketing department is divided into different functions or activities like – marketing research, product planning and development, advertising and sales promotion; and physical distribution etc. There is a separate head in each department, who makes plans for each department.

What Makes a Marketing Plan Effective

An effective marketing plan conveys a sound business strategy that is aimed at a large and varied audience. The plan must be:

  • Clear – stating exactly what is to be done in unambiguous terms.
  • Quantified – predicting the outcome of each activity so that it is as quantified as possible and its performance can be monitored.
  • Focused – avoiding and realistically controlling the proliferation of activities, beyond the numbers.
  • Realistic – offering achievable goals and objectives.
  • Agreed – having the consensus and commitment of the people who are tasked with implementation and their agreement that the plan’s goals are achievable. The plan is a working document that guides the marketing campaign for a designated length of time and throughout the entire organization. By questioning and monitoring all the plan’s exceptions, the organization captures valuable information that can be incorporated into future marketing plans.
  • Actionable – clearly defined objectives and an outlined course of action.
  • Succinct -clearly expresses goals and the plans needed to achieve them, cutting down on information clutter the readers may already face.

The Key is a Good Plan

A group of people discuss a topic and take notes.

Marketing Plan: A marketing plan is created through the collaboration of a diverse group of people.

Many different individuals from different business disciplines contribute to the writing of a marketing plan to ensure a consistent style and voice the final version is usually written by only one person. This function can be outsourced or executed by an employee of the business. The team consists of the following:

  • A person in charge of the marketing effort – a product manager, brand manager, or a product-line manager.
  • Members of the management – from various departments within the organization such as IT, marketing, purchasing, the sales force, or operations.
  • “Influencers” – taste makers not employed by the organization, who, through their preferences and recommendations, influence the marketing of products or services.
  • Gatekeepers – those who review the plan for compliance to industry rules and regulations such as in-house legal departments, corporate counsels, regulatory or licensing specialists.
  • Upper Management – those with the final say who have to sign off on the plan and “green light” its implementation. They must endorse the plan.

The Marketing Plan’s Target Audience

Every marketing plan is written and devised with a specific, well-defined target audience in mind. Plans usually target:

  • Employees;
  • Collaborators (external entities); and
  • Stakeholders.

Advantages of a Marketing Plan

The marketing plan creates alignment between the organization’s vision and the stakeholders’ understanding of that vision.

Conclusion

A marketing plan is an essential part of running a successful business. It will provide a clear vision for your company and help you to know exactly what tactics to take to increase your profits.  

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