Once a firm has been able to identify market opportunity, it sets out to evolve a marketing plan. In most Indian firms, marketing planning is an informal exercise. This is particularly evident in a family managed or a sole proprietary concern. However, in large professionally managed firms, marketing planning is a formal exercise undertaken on an annual basis .There is no uniformity in the structures of marketing plans of different companies However, a careful analysis of these plans show that they generally have the following contents:
The executive summary is an overall birdâ€™s eye view of the marketing plan .It tells the focus of the plan and is generally targeted at the top management .Since the top management is always short of time, it is evident that no top manager will be able to go through all the facts and figures in the plan .He needs to be told in a clear and concise manner the thrust of the plan, the objectives to be achieved and the overall strategy.
A marketing plan has the origin in the situation analysis or situation audit. At this stage the following issues are raised:
â€¢Where are we in terms of our sales, market share and profitability?
Answers to these should reflect actual to planned performance on all these parameters, as far as possible, should be obtained on the following two basis:
â€¢Where are our competitors in terms of sales, market share and profitability on the above two parameters.
â€¢What environment factors helped or hindered our growth?
â€¢What will be the environment factors in future?
This analysis will help the marketer to identify opportunities and threats as also firmâ€™s strengths and weakness.
Having conducted an in-depth situation analysis, the firm has to decide on its objectives. Many a time, firms commit a mistake by stating their objectives in terms of historical growth of their sales turnover. The fallacy in these objectives is that it does not relate the companyâ€™s strength to the market situation. For example, if, in an industry, all the players are growing at the rate of 25 to30% per annum, it is a clear indicator of a growing market. There could be others who might be growing at a higher rate than this firm and hence are more competitive. Thus it is important that objectives should reflect aspirations at the following levels:
1. Relative market share of the SBU.
2. Sales turnover of the SBU.
3. Profit and ROI from the SBU.
4. Customer satisfaction.
Clearly defined, realistic but highly challenging objectives on these parameters help guide marketing and other functional teams to achieve planned performance.
These objectives, as mentioned above, should be based on market realities and be meaningful and achievable .All concerned must participate in this determination .In other words, a bottom-up approach will help make marketing objectives more realistic This implies involving even the sales personnel in objective setting exercise