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A primary step in the marketing planning process is to decide the objectives of the marketing planning exercise. Organizations may look to increase product or brand awareness, penetrate the market, or boost sales. The selection of effective marketing approach depends on the objectives. For instance, promoting brand awareness might require launching a marketing campaign that focuses on visibility whereas market penetration might require adjusting product prices and launching a campaign that targets retailers or frontline sellers.
Organizations would do well to undertake a SWOT analysis or an assessment of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats before defining the marketing objectives, for it helps to identify aspects that require improvement, and to structure the marketing campaign on strengths and opportunities.
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An important element of marketing planning is selection of the appropriate marketing activity and the best channel or medium for the activity. This is part of a wider marketing strategy and depends on the objectives of the marketing exercise and the nature of the business.
The common marketing activities are advertising, public relations, promotional events, and others. Common advertising channels include print ads, online banner ads, click ads, article marketing, social network marketing, door to door marketing, notice board marketing, and more. Common public relations related channels are press releases, corporate community development programs, sponsorships, and more. Promotional events may include celebrity endorsements, product launch parties, and personal selling.
Selection of the most effective marketing activity and channels depends on identifying the most effective medium for the target audience, by experience, surveys, benchmarking, studying market trends, and using other resources. A good system of organizational communication helps to integrate such information into a comprehensive whole and develop an efficient marketing strategy.
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Another major element of the marketing planning process is the activity of the marketing planning and implementation team.
The marketing planning team invariably involves top officials of the marketing department along with the chief executive officer, the chief finance officer, and other functional heads. This team plays an important role to ensure effective co-ordination and provide functional-level support to the marketing initiative.
The personnel of the marketing department constitute the core of the implementation team. Personnel from other departments or functional areas join this team on need basis, such as data analysts joining to team to interpret market survey results. Success depends on the skills and competencies of the team to implement the adopted marketing strategy.
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Success of the market plan depends on providing the identified marketing activities and mediums with the necessary inputs, or "message." The onus lies on the marketing team to draw up timely and appropriate messages to suit the medium.
Examples of messages to suit the medium include:
- Graphics and slogans for print ads
- Flash animations for Internet ads
- Good articles on the product to support article marketing methods
- Preparing "elevator pitch" or a brief introduction of the product or service in conversational mode for field or direct marketing endeavors.
- Identifying relevant programs for sponsorship and devising methods to enhance brand visibility through such programs, and more.
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Ensuring smooth execution of the marketing plan is also important in the marketing planning process. Such smooth implementation of the marketing plan depends on factors such as:
- Logistical arrangements to ensure the right message reaches the right medium or channel
- Positioning the right people at the right place
- Ensuring availability of the required technical competency, such as databases to store inquiries that stem from Internet campaigns
- Striking service level agreements and confirming other relationships such as channel partnerships, subscriptions, ad space and so on to realize plans into action.
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Developing systems to monitor the execution of the marketing plan is also necessary for success. The key components of such a monitoring mechanism are:
- Documenting the marketing budget and monitoring the same against actual spending
- Developing effective measurement indices to track relevant marketing data and determine effectiveness of the campaign
- Devising reporting methods to ensure better quality decision making
- Developing a timeline for implementation of the marketing plan and comparing actual implementation with the set timelines
- Having systems in place to approve budget spending, and make modifications to budget and marketing plans.
A good market plan ensures the close-knit integration of all elements to ensure meeting the objectives of the marketing exercise in the best possible manner by spending the least amount of resources.
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- McDonald, Malcom. “Advanced Marketing Planning." Cranfield School of Management. Retrieved from http://www.themarketingprocessco.com/document_downloads/mcdonald_presentation_nov_08_00.pdf onm May 05, 2011.
- “Marketing Communication Plan - Basic Elements." Retrieved from http://www.annesharp.com/MarketingPlan_BasicElements.htm on May 05, 2011.
Image Credit: freedigitalphotos.net/Renjith Krishnan