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Behind every successful product is a good marketing plan

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"Every customer is different, and every customer has a different value for your company. To succeed in marketing, you must understand and exploit these differences by matching offerings to customer needs and by focusing resources on your most valuable customers."
- Dr Mohan Sawhney

Behind every successful product is a good marketing plan
Markets are changing at the click of a mouse and the complex marketing environment is being shaped by huge technological advances. Companies therefore need marketing planning as a vital path-finding function to boost customer power and knowledge. You need tools and techniques to improve your company's internal and external efficiencies. This planning process will lead to a profitable path and an effective marketing strategy to capitalise on any business opportunities coming your way.

Marketing planning as defined by Marian Burk Wood is the structured process of researching and analysing the marketing situation; developing and documenting marketing objectives, strategies and programs; and implementing, evaluating and controlling activities to achieve quantifiable and measurable objectives.

All planning should be approached as a flexible, ongoing process rather than an inflexible annual event. Then, continually revise your plans in line with changes in your company, its products and services, performance and the marketing environment.

Sir George Bull from Sainsbury makes this valuable point in that the marketing plan is distinguished from the business plan by its focus. "The business plan takes as both its starting point and its objective - the business itself, and in contrast, the marketing plan starts with the customer and works its way round to the business."

So what goes into a marketing plan?
Marketing plans vary from company to company. Marian Wood's gives us these broad steps to consider when developing a plan.

Analysing your current situation: Take into consideration the macro- and micro-environmental factors and your company's internal and external situation. This information will help you formulate a plan that will take advantage of your company's strengths and opportunities and defend it against weaknesses and threats.

Understanding your markets and customers: Define and analyse your markets and customer needs. This will assist you in projecting market changes and forecast future demands for sales. From your customer database you will be able to extract an accurate profile of your customers and their buying and paying behaviour.

Segment, target and position for competitive advantage: This is necessary to compete more effectively by serving specific customer groups with differentiated offerings.

Set objectives and strategic direction: Set quantifiable, measurable and realistic marketing and financial objectives within timelines and budgets and consistent with your company's resources and core competencies. This should tie-in with your strategic direction of growth, market penetration, market and product development and diversification.

Develop marketing strategies and programs: Your strategy development must include all elements of the marketing mix to satisfy customer needs and accommodate environmental circumstances, and achieve financial and marketing objectives. It should also support the P's in marketing and include customer service and internal marketing, which affects implementation.

Budget, forecast and track progress: Set budgets for each specific function or program. This will enable you to work out your return on marketing Rands invested. Forecast your sales and ensure you know what your break-even is. Establish concrete checkpoints and rules for measuring progress.

Control plan and implementation: The purpose of control (annual plans, profitability, productivity and strategic) is to ensure that your employees and marketing activities are effectively moving your company in the direction outlined in your marketing plans. This will assist you in taking constructive decisions and corrective action, if necessary.

To read more about planning, invest in Marian Wood's Handbook and CD on marketing plans. Email me directly at: winn@themarketingsite.com.

The most important aspect of marketing planning is to ensure that the approach is 'bottom-up' with company-wide input and collaboration. This ensures and built internal consensus, support and cooperation that is needed for a smooth implementation of your plan. And another factor to consider - you cannot prepare budgets and other financial plans until your marketing objectives, strategies and action programs have been set.

And remember the old saying: "What you can't measure, you can't manage."


Winnifred Knight
Email: winn@themarketingsite.com
Web: http://www.theMarketingSite.com

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