Marketing control involves gathering information on marketing performance and comparing the achieved performance against the planned or budgeted performance, using pre-determined standards and yardsticks. It provides feedback, it regulates and it exercises a restraining or redirecting influence. It ensures that the marketing activity does not derail or go off the track; it acts as a radar system for marketing recording and signaling the ups and downs, and deviations in the marketing performance; it also provides the required clues for their timely correction. In a dynamic environment, marketing programs cannot be implemented effectively without continuous control and corrective adjustments. Marketing controls takes care of this requirement. It paves the way for the maximization of profitability and productivity of all marketing activities.
Marketing Control is a part of Management Control:
Marketing control is a part of management control. Control, after all, is not peculiar to marketing; it is a part and parcel of the total management job.
To control means to check performance and adopt corrective measures: In common parlance, the word â€œcontrolâ€ is used to mean â€œto commandâ€, or â€œto governâ€. However in management terminology, it means to verify and check performance and to adopt corrective measures.
Before we examine the components of an effective marketing control system, it would be useful to have an understanding of control systems in general and the place of marketing control in it.
Designing a marketing control system:
Marketing Control must monitor all Key Result Areas of Marketing:
Marketing control uses a variety of techniques. But whatever be the technique used, marketing control basically has a common purpose, viz., monitoring the key result areas in marketing management. Some of the key result areas that are monitored by marketing control are:
1. Sales volume
2. Market share
3. Market standing
4. Marketing costs
6. Productivity in each marketing activity
7. Channel effectiveness
9. Sales force deployment /productivity.
The steps in management control explained above apply to marketing control as well in a broad sense. The main requirement is that the control design must ensure that major variances are automatically distinguished and highlighted. It must also be capable of correctly interpreting the variances; the control process should bring out the true meaning of the variances; and the control information should lead to action.
The control reports should be brief, lucid and pertinent. There must also be a mechanism in the control design that translates the control information on variances into corrective courses of action. And, the control process should facilitate the focusing of attention on exceptions. The whole process should be oriented to the present and the future rather than to the past. While control may involve appraisal of past performance, its main burden is current and future action.
Fast feedback is essential for Marketing Control:
In the nature of things, any deviation between plan and actual can be identified only after the event has occurred. As such, the time lag between the occurrence and noticing of the deviation, and the time lag between noticing of the variance and taking corrective action becomes very crucial in the control process. If the interval is long, control becomes in fructuous. Once planning is completed and implementation is underway, the feedback should start flowing fast. In other words, the crux of control is speedy feedback and speedy action that adjusts the operations to the pre-set norms. It is through feedback that control is achieved. Thus, feedback and action have to be viewed as two sides of the same coin the two components of a unified job. Feedback is essential for timely understanding of what is happening against the norms/targets. Action is essential for modifying the direction and level of performance so that it comes back in line with the pre-determined norms.