“The formal marketing plan is the symbol and essence of purposeful management,” in the view of many marketing executives surveyed by The Conference Board.
“Formulation of a written plan to guide the future operations of the marketing function, some marketers contend, links in a practical way the customer oriented marketing concept and the principle of management by objectives. What is more, in the words of one executive, such a plan puts an end ‘to the intuitive approach to decision‑making and to informal planning to meet day-to-day challenges.
“Those supporting use of a formal marketing plan applaud especially the discipline of spelling out future intentions in a written document. Several acknowledge that the element of ritual in preparing a written plan may, on occasion, degenerate into ‘busy work’ or ‘gold-plating.’ Yet they themselves do not see this as sufficient reason to settle for anything less formal. Unless all the key elements of a plan are written down, they say there will always be loopholes for ambiguity and misunderstanding.
“The notion that formalized marketing planning can become something of a straitjacket, leaving too little flexibility for future marketing, action, is not borne out by the experience of most of the marketers reporting. Many emphasize that for them, formal planning is not mere adherence to standardized techniques sure to yield standardized plans. As they see it, marketing planning in each company is a search for logical goals for the component elements of the marketing function and for logical ways of implementing these goals in the marketplace. This search, it is felt, leaves plenty of room for diversity and adjustment to individual marketing situations and management styles.” (Hopkins 1972; 1)
The marketing plan is frequently a part of an overall business plan, which includes operations, and financial plans. A single business plan is most common in smaller organizations.
A marketing plan is generally for a twelve-month period. In order that they will be read, many firms place a premium on brief marketing plans that are clearly written. The majority of firms propose a single set of objectives and action programs. Some firms, however, write into their plans contingency or alternative objectives and action programs to be used in the event of competitive, consumer, or internal changes during implementation of the plan. Consideration of alternative actions is useful in planning for effective changes in market plans.
I. SITUATION ANALYSIS [ALSO CALLED BUSINESS REVIEW]
“The marketing plans of most companies begin with a review of the current market situation for the product or product line covered by the plan. This review frequently includes the product’s sales trend, competitive position, past promotional support, market strengths and weaknesses. Depending on the complexity of the case or on management preference, the review may take a few paragraphs or it may run to several pages or considerably more…
“There are certain managements that stress the importance of keeping the background analysis in plans diagnostic rather than merely descriptive…all data shown in this section should end in a conclusion, i.e., a problem or an opportunity.
The situation analysis is a realistic evaluation. Problems may result from internal resource limitations, environmental trends, or competitor actions. They may influence the whole industry or just your company. Some may be solvable while others may not be and require consideration in your action plans. Opportunities can often result from environmental trends or a mistake by your competitors. It may be useful to consider where the product is located in the product life cycle.
The situation analysis can be organized into three sections:
· Market Analysis
· Competitor Analysis
· Company Analyses
Includes both subjective and quantifiable, measurable targets and all assumptions upon which they depend. Typical objectives include sales, profits, market share, advertising awareness, etc. Objectives are outcomes and cannot be directly controlled. For example, to spend four million dollars on advertising is a planned action. Advertising spending can have several measurable outcomes or objectives; aided and unaided recall, change in product positioning, or sales. Be careful not to state planned actions as objectives.
III. MARKETING STRATEGIES
“A marketing strategy is a broad directional statement that describes how marketing objectives will be accomplished. Within our marketing plan, the marketing strategies represent a first overview of various marketing tools and how they will be used to achieve the marketing objectives. While marketing objectives are specific, quantifiable, and measurable, marketing strategies are descriptive.” [Hiebing and Cooper 2000 pg. 159. Marketing strategies provide a linkage between your objectives and your specific planned actions.
IV. ACTION PLAN (THE MARKETING MIX)
Defines as specifically as possible the detailed actions, timing and implementation of the marketing mix including product, promotion, price, and place (distribution) as appropriate to the situation. This section of the market plan is based on the foundation of a strong situation analysis. An effectively prepared situation analysis leads directly to marketing strategies and specific marketing actions.
V. CONTINGENCY PLANS (OPTIONAL)
Contingency plans are useful when assumptions underlying the market plan have a significant degree of uncertainty or risk. “What if?” analyses can include a sensitivity analysis using spreadsheets. For example, high and low sales forecasts can be used to determine effects on objectives. Contingency plans include alternative action plans.
Analytical details are placed in appendices where they can be referred to when necessary. Each item in the Appendices must be directly referenced in the body of the market plan. Appendices often include sales forecasts, pro forma financial statements, budgets, and any detailed analysis of the action plan.
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: One Page No More No Less
SITUATION ANALYSIS & MARKETING OBJECTIVES: Two Pages No More No less
MARKETING STRATEGIES: One Page No More No Less
ACTION PLAN: Four Pages No More No Less than Three Pages and a Half
CONTINGENCY PLANS: One Page No More No Less
APPENDICES: No Page Limit
(Your case analysis should include all items that apply to the specific case)
Limit to one page providing complete coverage of each section of your plan. The reader should be able to have a basic understanding of all aspects of your plan. The summary assists the reader in understanding your plan.
The rest of the elements are very detailed and you or your group may not be able to find every piece of information. Existing companies keep trade secrets and those pieces of information will only be available to insiders. Items marked with an (*) will be optional. For the rest, good marketing plans address each of them in either depth or a mention when data is scarce.
Market and Industry Definition
Product Sales History
Previous Performance Versus Objectives
Market Potential and Forecast
Examples of marketing objectives include:
Return on Investment
Customer Satisfaction *
Customer Repeat Purchases *
Advertising Day After Recall (recall of an advertising message 24 hours after it airs)*
Salesperson Quotas *
Growth in Distribution Outlets *
Sales by Specific Distribution Outlet *
Examples of marketing strategies include:
Entering a new market to increase sales revenues
Introducing a new product to build a market
Introduction of a new promotional campaign to increase brand awareness
Introduce a low price product line to build market share
ACTION PLAN [THE MARKETING MIX]
Promotion [Advertising and promotional plans]
Marketing Research *
CONTINGENCY PLANS [NOT OPTIONAL PLEASE INCLUDE]
APPENDICES [AS APPROPRIATE]
Pro Forma Financial Statements
Action Plan Analysis
Timelines and Schedules
Hiebing, Roman G. and Scott W. Cooper (1990) The Successful Marketing Plan: Brief Edition, NTC Business Books: Lincolnwood, Ill.
Hopkins, D. S. (1972) The ShortTerm Marketing Plan, The Conference Board: New York, N.Y.
Lehmann, Donald S. and Russell S. Winer (1997) Analysis for Marketing Planning. Irwin McGraw-Hill: Boston, MA.