Marketing planning is about translating company objectives into strategies and actions. Therefore, it is essential for directing and coordinating marketing efforts and resources. In addition, marketing activities are more relevant to the context in which they are carried out because planning requires companies to examine external opportunities and threats. Thus, marketing is more likely to be successful.
Marketing planning produces a marketing plan which contains the:
- Marketing objective
- Marketing strategy
- Marketing budget
- Marketing activities
The plan provides a written report on what the company wants to achieve through its marketing and how it reaches it.
A marketing audit examines marketing areas, including the external and internal marketing environment. It becomes the input for devising a plan and, ultimately, for improving marketing effectiveness and performance.
For example, a company sets increasing market share as its objective. The company then examines the marketing environment, including consumer trends, tastes, and preferences. Analyzing competitors and how they compete is also the area audited.
Then, the company develops a strategy and elaborates it into marketing tactics to increase market share. For example, marketing strategies and tactics may involve increasing promotional spending, opening new distribution channels, or lowering selling prices.
Why is a marketing audit important?
A marketing audit is important for companies because businesses can dig into data and information to see what brings the most success to marketing. Then, the company uses its output to, for example, develop a new strategy or improve an old strategy. Or, they ignore old strategies because they don’t work.
In this way, companies can better allocate efforts and resources in marketing areas. As a result, companies can invest more of their budget into successful strategies. And they revisit old strategies and abandon them if they aren’t effective and aren’t delivering the ROI they want.
Marketing audit purposes
A marketing audit systematically examines current marketing strengths and weaknesses. In addition, it helps scan marketing external opportunities and threats.
Thus, through audits, companies get an overview or input to empower internal strengths to maximize external opportunities and minimize external challenges to internal weaknesses. In addition, it allows managers to make necessary changes to their plans.
What is audited
SWOT analysis, market research, and competitor analysis are the main elements of a marketing audit. Meanwhile, the issues audited usually include the following:
- PESTEL Environment (political, economic, sociodemographic, technology, environmental, and legal)
- Customer profiles, including their tastes and preferences
- Market position, including market share
- Competitive analysis, including company competitiveness, competitors’ competitiveness, and their strategies
- Business marketing objectives and strategies
- Existing products and brands
- Existing marketing strategies and activities
- Available resources
A marketing plan is a formal written document outlining how a business intends to achieve its marketing objectives. It details things like marketing programs, budgets, sales forecasts, and strategies. It is structured considering the macro environment, market trends, consumer desires, competitors’ strategies, and internal resources and capabilities.
To develop a marketing plan, companies start with a marketing audit. They conduct market research to review the current marketing situation and predict future trends.
Marketing planning may involve:
- PESTEL analysis
- BCG Matrix
- Market segmentation
- Consumer profiling
- SWOT analysis
- Competitive analysis and strategic grouping
Considerations when creating a marketing plan
In marketing planning, a company need to start by answering several important questions, such as:
- Where is the company now? This requires a marketing audit.
- Where does the company want to go? This involves setting marketing objectives.
- How will the company get there? This involves deciding on the right strategy, tactics, and marketing activities – including the marketing mix-.
- How does the company make sure it gets there? This requires the company to use performance standards and benchmarks to assess the extent to which it has achieved its objectives.
Elements of a marketing plan
The marketing plan includes the following:
- Marketing objective
- Marketing environment analysis and market research
- Marketing strategy
- Marketing budget
- Monitoring and reviewing the plan
Marketing objective. What will be achieved through marketing? Objectives must meet SMART criteria: specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound.
Marketing environment analysis. It’s about scanning the external and internal environment. The company maps out the most strategic factors influencing marketing success. The external environment may present external opportunities, which must be maximized. Or they are external threats that pose risks to marketing success.
Market research. It details the target market, competition, size, and consumer profile. The company segments the market and identifies the segments to serve. They then select a target market and use market research to explore it, including customer profiles and competitive maps. In addition, the company needs to assess competitors’ strategies, strengths, and weaknesses.
Marketing strategy. The company specifies steps to achieve marketing objectives relying on marketing environment analysis and market research as a foundation. Long story short, strategy describes how the business plans to achieve the stated objectives.
The marketing strategy outlines an action plan concerning the marketing mix: product, place, price, and promotion. In addition, the company translates strategy into selected specific programs, tactics, and actions.
Marketing budget. The company prepares a budget to ensure the strategy effectively achieves its objectives. The budget will look at how much it costs to carry out the marketing strategy and how much revenue is generated from the chosen strategy. In addition, the budget must consider sales performance to allow comparisons between marketing expenditures and expected revenue.
Monitoring and review plan. The company develops plans to monitor how effective marketing strategies are. They use performance standards and benchmarks to measure the extent to which the company is close to its objectives. In addition, the review is also essential for taking corrective action.
Benefits of a marketing plan
A marketing plan is important for:
- Develop an integrated marketing approach, considering external and internal factors.
- Focusing marketing activities on achieving company goals, which, in turn, are specified into work programs and plans for individuals
- Increase business efficiency by allocating resources and efforts to the most effective programs.
- Better prepare the business to deal with change because marketing plans require companies to continuously monitor and evaluate internal strengths and weaknesses and external opportunities and threats.
- Becomes an integral part of developing a business plan, which, for example, is used to convince potential investors
Limitations of a marketing plan
- Creating a professional marketing plan takes time and effort. It’s also expensive for small businesses because they lack resources.
- Marketing plans can become obsolete before realized because the environment changes, not as assumed in the plan.
- Bias due to data being analyzed inappropriately or information being misinterpreted. This, for example, leads to wrong marketing decisions and unrealistic financial projections.
The marketing mix refers to the critical aspects on which marketing decisions and efforts should be focused. It includes:
- Physical evidence
The last three elements are important factors in marketing services.
- Products – goods or services by which consumer needs and wants are satisfied. Creating excellence can be through modifying product features, appearance, and packaging.
- Price – how much it costs the consumer to obtain the product. Price is vital because it can affect consumers’ willingness and ability to pay. Pricing usually takes into account production costs, competition, and demand.
- Place – about how the product gets to the consumer at the most desirable time and in the right location. Companies need to decide on the best places to sell products. They must also develop effective and efficient distribution channels to reach customers.
- Promotion – about how to attract customers and encourage them to buy. Promotion creates attention, generates interest and desire, and drives action through new or repeat purchases.
- People – those with whom the customer comes in contact. In the service business, they are the spearhead for success because service depends on how well staff devote time, listen and solve customer problems.
- Process – the systems, procedures, activities, and protocols by which services are delivered to customers. Effective and efficient processes minimize costs (time and money) and delight customers when using services.
- Physical evidence – the physical elements experienced by the customer. Furniture, lighting, layout, cleanliness, and equipment contribute to customer comfort, ultimately impacting satisfaction.
Developing the marketing mix requires the company to ensure the above elements must be coherent and interrelated. Thus, consumers are clear with the message conveyed by marketers.
Each element ideally supports the other. Therefore, no aspect is more important than another for building excellence and achieving marketing objectives.
Companies modify each element in the marketing mix to build an overall brand image. For example, a company offers a product with unique features. This decision requires the company to sell it at a premium price to create an image as a superior product. On the other hand, if sold at a low price, customers may see the opposite and perceive the product as ordinary.
In addition, modifications to the marketing mix are also important to create a unique selling proposition. It makes the product stand out from the competition, and customers will prefer the company’s products over competitors’ products.
Marketing strategy and tactics
A marketing strategy is a medium-long-term action plan to achieve marketing objectives. Companies describe their objectives in several alternative ways to achieve them.
Marketing tactics are specific action plans and steps to actualize the strategy. They implement the initiatives outlined in the strategy.
Developing a product strategy involves the following steps:
- Market research. Companies use primary and secondary research to identify customer needs and wants.
- Product planning, design, and development. Companies design suitable products to meet customer needs and wants.
- Implementation. Companies carry out the strategy through the right marketing mix according to the marketing budget.
Some tools for developing a marketing strategy:
- PESTEL analysis to map significant external opportunities and threats
- SWOT analysis to analyze internal strengths and weaknesses and external opportunities and threats
- Perception map to determine product position in the market
- Porter’s Generic Strategy for determining on which dimensions the company wants to build a competitive advantage
- Ansoff matrix to map alternatives for growth strategies
Explore More #MARKETING MANAGEMENT
- Introduction to Marketing
- Product vs. Market Orientation and Commercial vs. Social Marketing
- Marketing Objectives, Strategy, and Ethics
- Market and Its Features
- Consumer Behavior, Customer Service and Satisfaction
- Marketing Planning
- Market Targeting and Market Segmentation
- Market positioning, Target Marketing, and Product Strategy
- Sales Forecasting and Market Research
- Marketing Mix: Product
- Marketing Mix: Price
- Marketing Mix: Promotion
- Marketing Mix: Place
- Marketing Mix: People, Process, and Physical Evidence
- International Marketing
- Internet Marketing