Marketing planning is the process through which a business environment is analyzed, the internal situation is analyzed, establishing marketing goals, marketing strategies to achieve these objectives are formulated, and action plans are designed to and to implementing these strategies. Make marketing planning allows a company to anticipate events and thus reduce uncertainty and minimize the risk; but in addition, it allows you to better coordinate marketing activities, better control the performance of personnel of these, and better assess the results.
Normally it thinks that marketing planning is something that only is responsible to large companies due to their complexity; however, the truth is that this is also done by small and medium enterprises, and that is something that any of us can and should do. Let's look at the stages that make marketing planning:
1. Analysis of the environment
The first stage of marketing planning is the analysis of the environment, which is the analysis of the forces or external factors that might influence the company. These forces or external factors could be formed by:
- Indirect action forces: economic forces (growth rate of gross domestic product, inflation, interest rate, etc.), social forces (fertility, mortality, migration, etc.), government forces (government regulations, patent laws, laws on monopolies, etc.), technological forces (new machinery, new production processes, new communication systems, etc.), etc.
- Consumers: needs, preferences, desires, habits, purchasing behavior (where they buy, when they buy, how often they buy, why they buy), customs, attitudes and other characteristics of consumers.
- Competition: location, target audience, sales volume, market share, market expertise, resources, capacity, main strategies, competitive advantages, strengths, weaknesses and other characteristics of competitors.
Environmental analysis allows us to better understand the business environment and identify opportunities and threats, which serves as a basis for setting marketing objectives and to formulate marketing strategies that allow us to seize opportunities and cope with threats.
2. Analysis of the situation
The next step is to analyze the situation, which is the analysis of the various elements or factors that may exist within the company, and that can give an idea of the resources and capacity available to it. These elements or internal factors may be comprised of:
- The administrative area: objectives, strategies, policies, culture, values, structure, planning, organization, management, control, etc.
- The area of marketing: sales, target audience, product, price, distribution, promotion, customer service, customer loyalty, etc.
- The area of finance: liquidity, profitability, financing, investments, financial ratios, working capital, assets, liabilities, equity, etc.
- The area of production: plant layout, research and development, technology, input procurement, inventory control, etc.
- The area of human resources: recruitment, training, compensation, incentives, labor relations, leadership, motivation, etc.
The analysis of the situation, to allow us to have an idea of the resources and capacity available to the company, allows us to identify strengths and weaknesses, and thus also serve as a basis for setting marketing objectives and to formulate marketing strategies allowing us to leverage the strengths and neutralize weaknesses.
3. Establish marketing objectives
At this stage marketing objectives that seek to achieve are set, taking into account the environmental analysis and analysis of the situation. You should set goals that take into account the opportunities and threats identified in the analysis of the environment, and at the same time take into account the resources and capacity available to the company as well as their strengths and weaknesses in the analysis situation.
Marketing objectives must be both general and specific. General marketing objectives are broad objectives that are aligned with the goals and mission of the company. Examples of general marketing objectives are:
- Being a leading company in the market.
- Positioning the brand in the minds of consumers.
- Be a company recognized for its quality customer service.
While specific marketing objectives are specific objectives expressed in terms of quantity and time, so as to achieve the overall objectives. Examples of specific marketing objectives are:
- Increase monthly sales by 20% for the second half.
- Achieve a 15% market share at year's end.
- Open two new stores in the first quarter of next year.
4. Formulation of marketing strategies
At this stage marketing strategies to be used to achieve the objectives are formulated. They should develop strategies to seize opportunities and tackle the threats and, at the same time as the objectives, taking into account the resources and capacity available to the company, enhance their strengths and neutralize their weaknesses. Marketing strategies must be oriented product, price, distribution and promotion. Examples of marketing strategies aimed at product are:
- Include new features or attributes of the product.
- Launch a new product line.
- Adding new ancillary services to the product.
Examples of marketing strategies aimed at price are:
- Launch a new product with a low price in order to achieve rapid penetration.
- Increase product prices in order to increase the sense of quality.
- Reduce prices below the competition in order to win market.
Examples of marketing strategies aimed at the distribution are:
- Using intermediaries in order to increase the coverage of the product.
- Internet use as a selling point.
- Increase the number of delivery vehicles.
Examples of marketing strategies are aimed at promoting:
- Tender offer to purchase a second product at half price for the purchase of the first.
- Ads on classified sites in Internet ads.
- Give away promotional items such as pens, key chains or cartridge to carry a company logo.
5. Design of action plans
Finally, at this stage the action plans, which are documents in which the steps and other elements necessary to implement or execute marketing strategies formulated are specified are designed. Some of the elements that should be specified in the plans of action are:
- The tasks: the tasks, activities or actions to be performed, necessary to implement marketing strategies.
- The allocation of resources: the resources that will be used to perform the tasks and implement strategies and how they will be distributed.
- Makers and managers: those responsible and responsible for carrying out tasks and implement strategies.
- Scheduling of tasks: the schedule with start dates and deadlines to perform the tasks and implement the strategies.
- The required budget: the investment required to perform the tasks and implement the strategies.
Action plans guide us to implement or execute marketing strategies, but also serve us as a tool for monitoring and evaluation, allowing us to check that tasks are as developed as specified, and are being met on time agreed.