The Marketing Plan
Planning can be regarded as the systematic and informed application of marketing resources to achieve marketing objectives.
Planning is, or should be, therefore a continuous activity of marketing management, rather than an irregular act.
Although most of the literature on marketing planning portrays the process as a series of discrete steps, the process is, in fact, a continuous interplay of assumptions, objectives, strategies, programmes and budgets, with a constant movement backwards and forwards, from the general to the specific, and with some stages occurring concurrently rather than consecutively.”
It is important to note, however, that the frequency, focus intensity and type of marketing planning actually undertaken by firms may vary both between firms and, over time, within a particular firm.
In the earlier stages, major attention will be placed on broad strategic matters, such as market targeting and positioning, the proper integration and co-ordination of individual mix elements, the development of appropriate and timely management information systems, and so forth.
During the more mature phases, attention is likely to be directed towards more tactical issues, such as product line extensions/deletions, price/promotion/distribution modifications or realignments, etc., and/or corporate and organisational issues, such as takeovers or mergers, devolution of decision- making responsibilities, the appointment of support staff, etc.
Notwithstanding such variations in frequency, focus, intensity or type of planning, there are certain benefits which any exercise of planning is capable of delivering. At base level, the major benefit of marketing planning should be better utilisation of limited resources Similarly, it has been stated that ‘the marketing plan’s … purpose is to establish priorities the allocation of marketing resources, primarily by specifying the marketing mix focussed on a specific market segment.’
Every company is the scene of continuous decision-making and problem-solving, but this should not be confused with marketing planning and control. The latter is a separate and higher-order activity which often rewards the company with improved sales and profit.
Benefits of Planning
Many companies operate without the benefit of a formal planning system, choosing to solve various problems was they arise.
In the case of newer companies, their managers are often so busy solving existing problems that they have no time for planning.
In the case of mature companies, many managers argue that they have done well without formal planning and therefore it cannot be too important. They resist the idea of taking time to prepare a written statement of objectives, strategies and action programmes: much preliminary work would be required, and the document itself would be too revealing of both the condition of the business and the quality (or lack of quality) of the responsible person’s thinking.
Many managers argue that their marketplace changes too fast for a plan to be useful or relevant; many also argue that planning becomes an annual ritual entered into half heartedly by executives and wasteful of time. For these and other reasons, many companies have not yet introduced formal planning systems.
The following are major benefits of a formal planning system:
1. It encourages systematic thinking ahead by management.
2. It leads to a better co-ordination of company efforts.
3. It leads to the development of performance standards for control.
4. It causes the company to sharpen its guiding objectives and policies.
5. It results in better preparedness for sudden developments.
6. It brings about a more vivid sense, in the participating executives, of their interacting responsibilities.