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Preparing to Market Your Products or Services: Beware of These Six Barriers

written by: N Nayab•edited by: Jean Scheid•updated: 5/18/2011

Marketing planning is the logical sequence of events adopted by a company to define marketing objectives and draw up plans to achieve such objectives. It is a complex exercise, and companies invariably encounter many barriers during implementation.

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    1. Environmental Barriers

    Barbed Wire Barrier The prevailing social, legal, economic, political, technological, and ethical norms and regulations, all together constituting the external environment of the business may pose major barriers to marketing planning by placing restrictions or limitations in the way the business interacts with the environment, or by regulating corporate conduct.

    Regulations may prevent comparison marketing when market surveys indicate the best form of marketing as comparing the product with the competitor’s substandard product. Lack of skilled workforce in the area or labor laws that stipulate inviable minimum wages may prevent deputing people on a large scale to conduct field surveys for customer preferences or feedback. A competitor’s marketing campaign may force postponement or modification of the drawn up marketing plan.

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    2. Cultural Barriers

    Culture is the complex whole of the knowledge, belief, morals, custom, values, attitudes, and any other capabilities and habits shared by people. Organizational culture influences performance in a big way.

    Culture impedes market planning when the managers and/or the workforce inculcate a lack of belief in the planning, or on the need to change. An organization that thrives on a bureaucratic culture, may underestimate the need to plan, or fail to take the initiative to leverage an unexpected favorable condition.

    Failing to understand the cultural sensitivities of the target audience leads to faulty marketing plans, especially in international marketing. For instance, U.S. advertising tends to emphasize the benefits of the product, but Japanese customers consider an advertiser suggesting how a customer could benefit from the product as too pushy and arrogant. Similarly, the application of humor, stereotyping, gender roles, sexual explicitness, emotional appeals, manifestation of popular culture such as music versus traditional or classical culture such as ancient art forms, and others in advertisements and promotions all depend on cultural sensitivities of the targeted audience.

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    3. Behavioral Barriers

    The behavioral traits of the workforce can influence marketing plans in a big way. For instance, a conservative marketing team may prefer caution and adopted time tested marketing methods that may fetch modest returns and steady growth, whereas the marketing team filled with risk takers may experiment with aggressive or innovative marketing strategies to improve market share fast.

    Behavioral issues impeding marketing plans may also manifest as lack of top management support, and lack of cross-functional involvement. The marketing plan might involve surveying the market to come up with the idea of a celebrity launch for the new product, when the conservative top management may remain uncomfortable with the idea and prefer a soft launch instead. Similarly, interpersonal issues or ego clashes may lead to lack of cross-functional or departmental support to sustain the marketing plan. The marketing team may obtain space in newspapers at an earlier date than what was committed, but the design department may not advance the deadline to release the design of the new product to synchronize with the efforts of the marketing team.

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    4. Cognitive Barriers

    Lack of knowledge or skill resulting in incompetence very often ranks as a primary reason for faulty or unsuccessful marketing plans. Marketers without adequate skills fail to understand the products, markets, customers, or competitors properly, and make faulty, distorted or ineffective marketing plans.

    Lack of skills may prevent the marketing team from conducting a market survey to identify new trends or customer preferences to launch effective marketing campaigns. Again, the team may lack the skills to design eye-catching visuals or phrases that may enhance the responsiveness of advertisements manifold.

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    5. Systems and Procedures

    Barriers to Marketing Plan At times lack of data or information, and / or inappropriate systems may greatly impede marketing plans. For instance, lack of a market survey forces the marketing team to rely on guesswork to determine the best marketing approach for the targeted market.

    Inappropriate systems may hold up implementation of the marketing plan. The marketing team not empowered to commit resources may have to seek approval for each item of expenditure, dragging down efficiency and timely implementation. The marketing team not empowered to take decisions without a detailed submission and discussions would forego good opportunities that close very fast.

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    6. The Right Resources

    The biggest barriers to marketing planning are by large a lack of resources such as time, people, and money.

    The success of any marketing plan depends on having a fund or a war chest to sustain the campaign. Cash crunches force the marketing team to focus on low cost alternatives, which invariably provides less value for the money. Lack of people to undertake the marketing campaign has a direct bearing on the pace of work or the extent of campaigns. For instance, shortage of people may force the marketing plan to ignore door-to-door campaigns even when surveys and other trends prove this approach as the most effective method to promote a particular product. Similarly, lack of time to prepare eye-catching visuals or quality promotion materials may lead to lower responses.

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    Much of the factors that constitute barriers to marketing planning are interdependent. Improper systems lead to faulty marketing plans, which lead to reduced sales and cash crunches, which in turn, prevents taking measures to improve skills or develop better systems. Lack of funds leads to greater controls and hence inefficient systems. Inefficient systems leads to faulty procedures in hiring new talent or providing training to existing workforce to enhance their skills. Lack of skills leads to poor marketing efforts and further diminishes availability of funds, all pointing to a vicious cycle.

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    • McDonald, Malcom. “Advanced Marketing Planning." Cranfield University. Retrieved from on May 04, 2011
    • Perner, Lars. “The Global Marketplace" USC Marshall. Retrieved from on May 04, 2011.

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