-- BY DR RABINDRA KARNA
A marketing plan is the blue print of any business. Although a marketing plan is an integral business plan, marketing strategy is the foundation guiding the path of business. It basically ensures the alignment of activities with the corporate mission that provides context for the awareness drive with customers and consumers.
The structure of the plan needs regular evaluation and examination in view of validating the input that directs the total planning process. Because the 7P (product, place, price, promotion, process, people and physical surrounding) principal is one of the best supports for the planning process in marketing, although it can occasionally deflect from customer and consumer, it is widely acknowledged by businesses. However, the facts play an important role around successful planning- Financials, Product, Sales & Distribution, Promotion. Merchandizing and Market Size etc are some of the vital information that generates confidence in market research to achieve the successful execution of a marketing plan. Thus, it is suggested to have a marketing plan that is simple, clear and concise.
The marketing objectives are mainly guided by financial objectives. Policies are meant to guide the limits which control the execution. Marketing strategies in general are meant to achieve the bottom line in the framework of the ‘8 Ps’ that are- Product, Process, Packaging, Price, Promotion, Placement, People and Physical environment.
The planning statement can positively include structured options among the key options selected. However, the “Timing” of the strategic execution is often critical which in general is overlooked by most businesses. Right action at the right time is essential to lead the plan in the right direction to achieve the expected result of marketing plans. Timing, therefore is one of most essential components and must be taken into account in the form of a schedule of planned activities. As in any of the marketing disciplines, market share, sales, costs and profit conclusions must be supported from different angles like market research, feasibility, employee judgment etc.
The most crucial ingredient here is detailing out the programme and individual activities that are scheduled for that particular period of time that can be monitored. And these must be –
a. Precise: It must be specific on target expectations
b. Measurable: The predictions must be enumerated in view of performance monitoring
c. Alert: To maximize impact, it needs to concentrate carefully on product/services and customers that count for volume of business and the profit
d. Pragmatic: Must be feasible
e. Established: Commitment of executing team is most essential to secure success of plan
Any change in surroundings and settings shall necessitate a review and/or improvisation in the plan. An ongoing evaluation of achievement against expected outcome becomes the most valuable aspect. Not only marketing, any plan can only be validated if you control the progress; success lies in execution and not in design of the plan.
A recognized documented marketing plan is important in order to have an explicit reference for activities through the planned period of time. Since a marketing plan is part of a business plan, it also contributes in gaining the confidence of stakeholders showing growth perspective and return on investment. Because budgets are thoroughly calculated, these are important for projection and probable achievement. Thus, the result against a budget becomes the key for management review along with accurate monitoring capabilities.
The marketing budget is usually the most powerful tool by which you think through the relationship between desired results and available means. Its starting point should be the marketing strategies and plans, which have already been formulated in the marketing plan itself; although, in practice, the two will run in parallel and will interact. At the very least, the rigorous, highly quantified, budgets may cause a rethink of some of the more optimistic elements of the plans.
Marketing communication requires plenty of home work in addition to time and cost; thus it is advisable to have a plan in place that guides total business through the schedule along with appropriate utilization of budget. It (Marketing Plan) helps businesses in detailing a stepladder towards association with customers and Consumers.
Planning accurate marketing is necessary for business success since it supports branding decisions that result positively in terms of return on investment. It is vital to understand the consumer segment that the business is focusing on to ensure promotion is designed accordingly. Additionally, the plan must be crystal clear about the value proposition of the product in view of driving communication in the right direction.
There are abundant prospective buyers in almost all markets but for guaranteed and speedy success market feasibility becomes most important to establish the distinctiveness of targeted customers/consumers. This helps to define the financial return over the particular time frame. Hence, a well defined activities calendar becomes indispensible for consistent initiatives and execution of a plan.
The approach always is to enhance revenue through a successful plan. Businesses need to determine the most productive method for product and brand communication- anything from print media to electronic media or both can be used for the purpose.
Crafting a detailed financial plan, getting the right human resources duly assigned with adequate and appropriate tasks are the contributing constituents for the success of a plan. Also the presence of the competitor and their nucleus proficiency must be remembered. This is beneficial in terms of being ready against the competition’s response.
Finally, monitoring and evaluation of success is equally important for marketing plans as for any other activities or business parameters. It requires a comparative study of results against past achievements or opportunities available.
The writer is Director of Human Resources, Hyatt Regency Kathmandu and immediate past Executive Chairperson, MARK Business Solutions Pvt Ltd.