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Marketing Planning Process

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11. MARKETING PLANNING PROCESS

This book has followed very closely the sequential order of the marketing planning process, and the purpose of this chapter is to review that, adding reasons for it and how the results should be presented. The process of planning insures that a company is pro-active through always monitoring the outcome of it plans to ensure it can change and re-act to the market place. This is not a knee jerk reaction, as when the planning process takes place the possible alternatives and complications should have been studied.

The marketing planning process is undertaken by utilising the 3 "C"s:

CONSTRUCT

CO-ORDINATE

CONTROL

Constructing the plan normally uses one of two methods, the first top down, where the plan is created in the boardroom and issued from "on high", while the second is bottom up, where the final plan may not meet the corporate objectives of the boardroom. Clearly construction is going to be most successful where both are utilised resulting in a plan that is constructed by each level of the company. The Board give clear direction as to the corporate objectives, the senior marketing management can translate these into marketing objectives while those working in the separate functions can contribute the strategies and day to day tactics that will make everything happen. The construction process will identify from the analysis (Market Audit) possible options, and by the involvement of all levels of the company the resources that are available or can be allocated. The great advantage of the combined process is that are involved and therefore they are committed to and recognise when change is necessary.

Co-ordination brings together all elements of the company and by mutual discussion and planning gives the opportunity to reduce internal friction. Above all the process of co-ordination allows communication to take place internally to both management and staff, allowing everyone to be aware of exactly what is expected.

Control comes when the plan has been agreed and is being implemented. It is about monitoring what is happening, ensuring that the objectives and targets set are achieved. By having clear forecasts and direction laid down allows mangers to have early warning of any deviation from the plan whether it is favourable or unfavourable. The warnings can then be noted and corrective action taken, and where necessary a new plan constructed.

A plan covers a period of time but the planning horizon can be split between the long term (3 or 5 years) and a detailed annual programme. The long term objectives give stability and vision to the organisation, whereas the shorter detailed plan gives the tactics, budgets and stepping stones to meeting the ultimate goals. To meet the objectives whether long or short underlines the need for monitoring, and where required modification. The need to re-write the annual proposal gives the opportunity to check whether the long term view is in line with external forces, and still valid.

All corporate planning commences with the company's Mission Statement, a simple written declaration of what the firm stands for, the goals that it has , and possible the methods it uses. The best statements not only communicate vision but purpose to those both inside and outside the company. Factors that influence the content of the a Mission Statement include:

- corporate culture

- organisational structure

- products and markets

- customer/ consumer needs

- technology.

The statement is of particularly relevance to marketing as it forces the specialist manager to identify the customer/consumer groups and their particular needs and wants which the firm can or wishes to satisfy. The Mission Statement should be the longest lasting element in the plan.

The corporate objectives come from the aim and direction laid down in the mission statement and define specific goals that have to be met. They can reflect the need of the company to achieve:

- profitability

- return on investment

- earnings per share

all of which are financial but there can also be strategic objectives linked to:

- market and technical innovation

- market positioning

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