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Weaknesses in Marketing Planning

risk management

Marketing managers plan in order to complete tasks on time and without exceeding pre-set resource limits.

When developing a marketing plan, the process involves choosing certain courses of action, and ruling out other possible options. Planning should be systematic, structured and involves three key components:

  1. Objectives – what must be achieved
  2. Strategy – how to achieve objectives
  3. Resource implications – resources required to implement the strategy

This article deals with six main issues:

  1. Marketing plan definition
  2. Why a marketing strategy matters
  3. Key success factors of a marketing strategy
  4. Barriers to successful marketing planning
  5. Marketing planning model
  6. Structure of a strategic marketing plan

It is important to understand the interface between marketing and corporate strategy. The corporate plan will define goals for the entire business and should coordinate the various functional strategies (i.e. marketing, operations, human resources management etc.). Functional strategies must be inter-related. For example, if the marketing strategy focuses on developing high levels of customer service in order to retain key customer groups, both the operations and human resources management functions would have a role to play in delivering this.

However, the truly successful plan is a vehicle to communicate, motivate and involve staff in fundamental business activities. Too often, planning is viewed as a restrictive process based on programming events and generating paperwork but it’s the opposite, plans aim to get employee commitment and ownership to achieve results.

In a strategic role, marketing aims to transform corporate goals and business strategy into a competitive market position. Essentially, the objective is to differentiate products and services by meeting customer needs more effectively than the competition. Therefore, a marketing strategy addresses three key elements: customer (or segmentation), competitors (or positioning), and internal corporate capabilities (targeting – matching capabilities with customer needs).

High-performing organizations and individuals who develop marketing strategies with proven excellence share these characteristics:

  • A bias for action
  • Autonomy and entrepreneurship
  • A closeness to the customer
  • Productivity through people
  • Hands-on and value-driven
  • Simple form and lean staff
  • Simultaneous loose-tight properties
  • Grit and getting their hands dirty

Managers view marketing planning as “fine in theory” but most fail to implement what they agree on in theory. Common barriers to successful planning are: 1/ Culture that may not be amenable to marketing plans despite statements to the contrary. 2/ Power and politics come into play when the development of a strategic plan in a company becomes a battlefield where vested interests fight each other’s proposals and squabble over status and resources. 3/ Silos of communications, 4/ “Paralysis by analysis”. 5 Managers must make a realistic view of the resource position and try to ensure resources are not over-committed or needlessly withheld; and 6/ Sometimes, managers don’t have the skills (i.e. project management, or forecasting etc.) required to make the best use of the planning process. Here, planning takes a ritual nature – a meaningless but must-do annual task.