What’s it: Marketing planning is the process of defining marketing goals and developing a clear and comprehensive set of programs to achieve those goals. The written document of plans we call a marketing plan.
The marketing plan must be flexible to meet changing internal or external conditions. It should be based on current assessments of the market, consumer preferences, internal capabilities, and company resources. That way, the marketing strategy and program remains relevant. Companies must continuously review programs and results and compare them with the initial objectives to take appropriate evaluation steps.
Importance of marketing planning
Marketing planning is important for the following reasons.
First, through marketing planning, the company clearly defines marketing objectives aligned with its mission and vision. That way, marketing planning can synergize with other business plans. To market a product, the marketing department needs support from other departments, including production, human resources, and finance.
Second, plans help to achieve success in exploiting opportunities and minimizing threats. Many small companies fail to make it big because of a lack of marketing planning. Some may be overly ambitious and don’t pay attention to existing resources or budgets. Others are overly optimistic and tend to ignore the potential for the competition that will arise later.
Third, the marketing program is more effective and efficient. The company allocates and focuses resources on activities that have the most significant impact on marketing success. Companies identify and target their ideal customers more smartly. It streamlines marketing costs to increase sales.
Also, through the plan, they can monitor whether they are getting closer to their marketing goals or not. If not, they can evaluate their marketing activity and quit before wasting further resources.
Marketing planning process
Marketing planning is a systematic process. It usually includes steps such as:
- Set marketing goals
- Assess marketing opportunities and resources
- Set the target consumers and the company’s competitive position in the market
- Develop marketing strategies and tactics
- Establish guidelines for the implementation and control of marketing programs
- Determine the evaluation of marketing programs
The end result of this process is a marketing plan. It is a written document containing the planning of a company’s marketing activities for a certain period.
Marketing plan components
A good marketing plan should cover the following aspects:
First, the company’s marketing goals. Goals must be SMART: specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound.
Second, the value proposition the company offers. It is the uniqueness of a product and becomes the reason consumers buy company products. It may be related to the product’s features or performance or other elements of the marketing mix. In the market, it acts as a differentiator from competitors’ products.
The selection of a selling value proposition influences the marketing strategy and marketing mix to run. For example, when a company develops a unique selling proposition by offering a premium product, it needs selective marketing communication and distribution channels. It will probably avoid mass channels.
Third, information about the target market or customers. The company explains the target customers. This is essential for designing an appropriate program and marketing mix.
Companies targeting the mass market may focus on mass advertising, discounts, and extensive distribution. They are trying to increase product availability. As a result, products are available when consumers need them, without costly effort.
Conversely, if the company adopts target marketing, it must segment the market. Companies attempt to link consumer tastes and needs with demographic, geographic, or psychographic variables. Depending on the original purpose, they may choose a broad market segment or a narrower market niche from several available segments. Then, the company selects the target segment and designs a program and marketing mix accordingly.
Fourth, the competitor’s comparative position in the market. Competitor mapping is important as an input in the formulation of an effective marketing strategy. The company lists competitors and maps out its competitive strategy. Then, it establishes its competitive position o and designs a marketing program accordingly.
Fifth, the marketing strategy to adopt. After establishing a competitive position, the company then creates a more detailed marketing plan and tactics for implementing the strategy. One of them is about promotion and distribution channels.
Promotion is about encouraging consumers to buy products. The company maps and selects programs and activities according to the existing promotional mix: advertising, sales promotion, publicity, and personal selling.
Distribution strategy seeks to place products in the right location and at the right time. Thus, when consumers need them, the product is available for purchase.
Sixth, the budget for executing the marketing plan. Companies map the activities and resources consumed, including the team or person in charge. Then, they expand their spending month by month on those activities.
Seventh, metrics to monitor progress. This is important for controlling activities and budgets. Companies can also use them as material for evaluating marketing programs. For example, a company makes sales forecasts to allow the progress of the plan to be monitored. It can also develop other metrics to tell them to quit if it doesn’t generate an adequate return on investment (ROI).