A MARKETING PLAN AS AN OPERATIONAL FRAMEWORK

A marketing plan provides a framework for the organization’s activities. In addition to the mission and the statement of strategic intent, the marketing plan sets out plans for every aspect of the strategies to be pursued towards the organization’s goals.

At various levels of the organization, the marketing plan identifies both the objectives and the strategies to achieve those objectives. Each component of the marketing mix will be outlined in the marketing plan.

Marketing plans lay out the details of the marketing mix and provide guidance for other functional areas of an organization, such as production and human resources.

An effective marketing plan not only outlines what should be done, but also details how the plan should be monitored and controlled.

Allocating resources and budgets according to the marketing plan. A marketing plan should specify the points where reviews should be conducted and the metrics to be used.

Planning a marketing campaign requires a lot of time. The marketing plan should define the timing of the various activities. If the timing of various activities is not right, organizations could succeed or fail.

The following are critical issues:

  • Time to create new products
  • New market entry timing and speed
  • Response time and speed to competitor challenges
  • Marketing communications timing

In addition to defining strategies, the marketing plan also provides a detailed implementation guide, containing activities, timing, resources, and costs.

As part of the marketing plan, a range of activities should be put into action in order to meet the organization’s objectives. It is not a vague vision.

MARKETING PLAN FRAMEWORK – METHOD OF RESOURCE AND BUDGET ALLOCATION

The marketing plan provides a basis for allocating resources and allocating budgets.

The marketing plan should identify the activities to be carried out as well as the resources needed. These resources may include materials, equipment and labor or management time. Resources are likely to be limited, so the marketing plan offers an opportunity to consider priorities and activities that are critical for the success of the organization.

Resources will be allocated to activities that are deemed to be more important. Each activity outlined in the plan will need to be costed. How much does the internal marketing program cost? How much will radio advertising cost? Does the extra sales staff cost anything? How much does that direct mail campaign cost?

The costs of all the activities should be incorporated into the marketing plan. Appropriate budgets should be allocated to the functional departments responsible for each aspect. Budget allocation requires strong negotiating skills, as politics within the organisation may conflict with the priorities set out in the marketing plan.

Responsibilities will need to be agreed and departments and individuals given authority to manage each delegated aspect of the master budget.

The corporate objectives

In order to formulate marketing objectives, corporate objectives need to be formulated. It has a role to play in providing analysis that will guide objective setting, and will help to achieve these goals through its own activities. 

The business’s corporate objectives cover measurable outcomes such as:

  • Growth
  • Performance in finance
  • Innovating
  • Corporate reputation

To achieve these objectives, the corporate strategy should be employed. The corporate strategy dictates operational objectives, functional division objectives, and their subsequent strategies and tactical plans.

  • At the corporate level
  • At the operational level
  • On a departmental level

Corporate strategies should take into account the whole organization, not just the marketing department, although marketing does play a significant role in assisting them.

The strategic objectives (corporate objectives) will serve as an overall guide for managers of each business unit and function. These tasks will be set by each manager, with each having responsibility for accomplishing them. There must be strong coordination between functional departments to ensure there is no conflict between goals.

The marketing strategy is guided by marketing objectives. They should refer to the mission statement, corporate goals, and objectives and will only discuss products and markets. 

It should be clear where the organization wants to be in terms of marketing, and what its planned marketing actions will achieve.

SMART Objectives

Following the SMART criteria, some examples of marketing objectives might look like this:

To increase market share from the current [current %] to [future%] by [year]

To achieve a sales revenue of [£number] at a cost of sales not exceeding [percentage in [year]

To increase product awareness in the target market from [x%] to [y%] in [year]

The marketing objectives may start at a broad level and then become more specific for specific markets. Ideally, they should cover new and existing products or services, as well as new or existing target markets.

ANSOFF MATRIX

Using Ansoff’s Matrix, the following markets can be defined:

  1. Selling existing products to existing markets
  2. Extending existing products to new markets
  3. Developing new products for existing markets
  4. Developing new products for new markets

The marketing strategies to get to the marketing objectives can lead to advertising objectives and advertising strategies, (and other objectives relating to other elements of the marketing mix), which are at the bottom of the hierarchy of objectives.

Analyze how your organization develops its objectives.

  • Who is responsible for determining objectives?
  • To refine objectives, what process is used?
  • What is the effectiveness of this?
  • Are employees aware of the company’s mission and objectives? 

What are the Risks?

The following should be avoided by managers:

  • You don’t want to get tangled up in potentially rigid control mechanisms – the plan is to steer you, not constrict you
  • A rigid process will restrict your flexibility and creativity – a plan should serve as a guide rather than a constraint and will highlight things you might otherwise overlook
  • Not focusing on ‘best fit’ – the plan should be tailored for the organization’s size, culture, pace, and circumstance
  • A plan whose construction undermines and alters the strategic objectives
  • Goals (what you want to achieve) and strategies (how you are trying to achieve them) are often confused.
  • A failure to properly analyze information or a focus on predicting future markets from historical data
  • Not fully consulting on and communicating the plan
  • Not explaining how the proposed plan will affect costs.