The nature and content of marketing plan


Marketing managers follow a marketing process to carry out their responsibilities effectively. Working within the plans set up by the top management product managers come up with a marketing plan for individual products, lines, brands, channels, or customer groups. Each product level (product line, brand) must develop a marketing plan for achieving its goals.

A marketing plan is a written document that summarizes what the marketer has learned about the marketplace and indicates how the firms plan to reach its marketing objectives. It contains tactical guidelines for the marketing programs and financial allocations over the planning period. It is one of the most important outputs of the marketing process.

Marketing plans are becoming more customer- and competitor-oriented and better reasoned and more realistic than in the past. The plans draw more inputs from all the functions and are team-developed. Marketing executives increasingly see themselves as professional managers first, and specialists second. Planning is becoming a continuous process to respond to rapidly changing market conditions.

At the same time, marketing planning procedures and content vary considerably among companies. The plan is variously called a “business plan,� a “marketing plan,� and sometimes a “battle plan.� Most marketing plans cover one year. The plans vary in length from under 5 to over 50 pages. Some companies take their plans very seriously, whereas others see them only a rough guide to action. Eisenhower once observed: “In preparing for the battle I have always found that plans are useless but planning is indispensable.� The most frequently cited shortcomings of current marketing plans, according to marketing executives, are lack of realism, insufficient competitive analysis, and a short-run focus.

Contents of the Marketing Plan:

The marketing plan should open with a brief summary of the main goals and recommendations. The executive summary permits senior management to grasp the plan’s major thrust. A table of contents that outlines the rest of the plan and all the supporting rationale and operational detail should follow the executive summary.

Situation analysis:

This section presents relevant background data on sales, costs, the market, competitors, and the various forces in the macro environment. How is the market defined, how big is it, and how fast is it growing? What are the relevant trends affecting the market? What is the product offering and what are the critical issues facing the company? Pertinent historical information can be included to provide context. All this information is used to carry out a SWOT analysis.

Marketing strategy:

Here the product manager defines the mission and marketing and financial objectives. The manager also defines those groups and needs that the market offerings are intended to satisfy. The manager thus establishes the product line’s competitive positioning, which will inform the “game plan� to accomplish the plan’s objectives. All this is done with inputs from other organizational areas, such as purchasing, manufacturing, sales, finance, and human resources, to ensure that the company can provide proper support for effective implementation. The marketing strategy should be specific about the branding strategy and customer strategy that will be employed.

Financial Projections:

Financial projections include a sales forecast, an expense forecast, and a break-even analysis. On the revenue side, the projections show the forecasted sales volume by month and product category. On the expense side, the projections show the expected costs of marketing, broken down into finer categories. The break-even analysis shows how many units must be sold monthly to offset the monthly fixed costs and average per-unit variable costs.

Implementation Controls:

The last section of the marketing plan outlines the controls for monitoring and adjusting implementation of the plan. Typically, the goals and budget are spelled out for each month or quarter so management can review each period’s results and take corrective action as needed. A number of different internal and external measures must be taken to assess progress and suggest possible modifications. Some organizations include contingency plans outlining the steps management would take in response to specific environmental developments, such as price wars or strikes

In this article we have discussed in detail how the marketing managers go about planning their marketing strategies to overcome competition, increase market share and attract more customers for their products. In practice all the players in the field adopt their market planning techniques resulting in stiff competition and the faster innovations by any of the firms the more shall be the market share.