Monday, January 28, 2013

Marketing management and planning

Solomon, Marshall & Stuart (2012) defined marketing plan as business document that is prepared to indicate the current condition of the market where the business operates in together with the various strategies which the business is adopting so that they can be able to survive in the given market. The marketing plans are always time bound with the period usually being about or between one (1) and five (5) years. Woof (2011), just like Solomon, Marshall and Stuart (2012) also noted that the marketing plans of the different firms usually contain the different actions which will provide a foundation for the decisions which the different firms that are preparing the marketing plans are focused on reaching. The essay will discuss a number of issues which are related to the preparation of the marketing plan in the firm. They include the role and nature of the marketing plan, a discussion of the various elements of the marketing plan as well as the various assumptions that are considered in the marketing plan. 
            The marketing plans have become a very instrumental part of the operations of the different firms. This is an indication of the role and nature of the marketing plans that are developed by the different firms. There are a myriad of roles that the marketing plans undertake. First, the marketing plans are instrumental in forging the long term goals and the strategies that must be considered by the firm (Cravens & Piercy, 2009). The marketing plans usually have the mission statements which are a clear depiction of the reasons why the given firms were in the line of business and also the various changes and contributions that the firm will be able to make in the long term as a result of their continued operations in that area of business. Secondly, the marketing plans also sho0w the various steps and actions that the firm is exploring so that they can be able to achieve the various objectives of the business. The actions that are clearly shown in the marketing plans, usually in terms of the various strategy proposals, ensure that the firm is able to meet its objectives. The marketing plans usually help the firm to achieve a number of strategies for instance how the firm can acquire more market share in the industry where it operates. The other strategies which the firm might be exploring include the various ways through which the firm can be able to increase its profitability as well as the other financial elements of the operations of the firm. The strategies that are developed in the marketing plan will clearly indicate how the products of the firm will reach the new markets and consumers so that the different objectives can be achieved by the firm.
There is also another instrumental role that the marketing plans play, that of ensuring that the activities of the marketing managers are undertaken in an effective and responsible manner.  This position was supported by the works of Ferrell, Fraedrich & Ferrell (2011), Cravens & Piercy (2009) and Marshall & Johnston (2009). The above authors all argued that through the use of the marketing plans, the managers will have a responsibility to be able to develop strategies that address how the different product lines, customers and brands can be effectively managed. The marketing managers, through the use of the marketing plan, will be able to respond effectively to the various changes that are taking place in the market. Finally, Cravens & Piercy, (2009) posited that the marketing plans can also be used to request for funding from the various parties whom they are requesting for financing from.  
            Rather than just the consideration of the various roles that the marketing plans of the firm play, the essay also considered the distinct nature of the marketing plans. The nature of the marketing plans entails the structure, the increased competitors and customer focus of the various plans. The marketing plans have achieved the focus through the team development ability that is achieved by the different elements of the marketing plan.  
According to McLoughlin & Aaker (2010), the business plan refers to a document that is usually produced by the different firms to outline the strategies and the key objectives of the management of the firm towards the achievement of the different goals of the given organization. The business plans are developed by the management of the firms when they are entering into new markets, when they are introducing new products and for many other reasons. Unlike the marketing plan which usually contains a period of between 1 to 5 years, the business plans usually run for a period extending between 3 and 5 years (Woof, 2011).
The business plans usually contain the history of the organizations as well as the present market situations and the conditions where the firm operates. Woof further noted that the business plan is a tool that is used by the management of the firms to be able to run the organizations more effectively. The managers can be able to know the strengths and the weaknesses of the firm thus providing them with the knowhow to develop targets that can be met without straining the resources of the firm. Mullins, Walker & Harper Boyd Jr. (2009) argued that although the business plan is usually an internal document, it can sometimes be accessed by the external entities that are related to the firm. The external entities which can access the business plans of the firm include the banks and other organizations that provide funding, the potential partners of the business and the investors of the firm.  
The marketing plans and business plans are usually similar in many ways that they are most times confused; one is taken as the other (McLoughlin & Aaker, 2010). There are a number of relationships that exist between the two types of plans that are prepared by the different firms. First, the business plans are prepared so that the investors and the funding agencies can be shown the potency, feasibility and the value of the business idea that is being developed by the firm. The marketing plan picks from the point of the business idea as it goes ahead to indicate the various strategies that can be used by the firm to be able to create a market for the various products that are developed by the firm (Lamb, Hair & McDaniels, 2006). The marketing plan works to attract and retain customers for the various products that the firm may have hoped to introduce in the marketing plan. The above relationship can thus be said to be complementary in that the marketing plan is a way through which the support can be provided so that the various goals of the business plan can be achieved by the firm.
Moreover, when the business plans have been developed by the firm, they will be able to stick to that area of operation unless the firm significantly moves away from its previous underlying mantra (Wassinger & David Baxter, 2011). The above fact on the business plans is supported by the very essence of the marketing plans, as they significantly react to the changes in the environment where the firm operates in. The marketing plan will support the business plan as it will help it to keep on track on the various assumptions that it had when it was entering into the new markets (Adela & Monica, 2011).
The marketing plans always entail a number of elements of strategies as well as tactics. The success of the various firms usually depends on the various tactics and strategies which are developed by the marketing plans of the firm. The strategic nature of the marketing plans usually ensures that the business or the organization is able to achieve the various goals and objectives that had been asset by the firm without falling short. The strategic nature of the marketing plans includes a clear consideration of the customers of the firm. The strategies which will be developed are those that are focused on ensuring that the firm can effectively use the changing consumer preferences and other changes in the market to model messages and product offerings that can help to keep the various existing customers of the firm while also significantly attracting a host of new customers to the firm. Moreover, the marketing plans also have provisions for strategy. Westwood (2005) noted that strategy also entails the development of objectives that are SMART thus the marketing plans plays the role of strategy through supporting the various goals that are being sought by the organization.
In addition to the strategic uses of the marketing plans, there are also tactical uses of the marketing plans. According to Westwood (2005), the marketing plan allows for the development of tactics that can be used to capture the customers. The consumer targeting allows the fir to clearly demarcate the various customers that it is exploring so that the firm can be able to effectively develop products that will serve the given category. Schulaka (2011) supported the above argument when he noted that the marketing plans contain elements which help in influencing the consumers who have been targeted towards the development of the particular consumption behaviors. The consumers are influenced through the various elements of the marketing mix i.e. the pricing, the place, the products and promotion.
Many marketing plans usually have some common elements. However, it must be noted that the marketing plans usually have some slight differences. These differences usually result from the differences in the industries especially with regards to whether the product that is being offered by the firm is a good or a service. Solomon, Marshall & Stuart (2012) noted that the main difference between the marketing plan for a service and that of a good usually exist in the stage of strategy formulation. This is with a particular reference to the elements of the marketing mix. The structure usually begins with an executive summary or an abstract that is a summary of the various elements which are found in the marketing plan. Secondly, an introduction is developed followed by the situational analysis. Thereafter, there is the development of the Porters 5 forces model and the SWOT analysis. Later the marketing strategies are developed. The marketing plans also have controls that will guide the implementation process (Marshall & Johnston, 2009).  Schulaka (2011) noted that the situational analysis has the elements of the 5Cs for instance the customer, company, collaborators, climate and competitor analysis. The above is in addition to the SWOT analysis and the Porter’s 5 forces model. The marketing strategy entails the elements of segmentation and positioning as well as marketing mix elements.
The situational analysis as   component of the marketing plan structure usually entails the consideration of the macro and micro elements of the market where the firm operates. The analysis plays an important role in ensuring that the firm is conscious of the various elements of the environment that will have an impact on its operations given the competencies and resources that the firm has. The various elements of the situational analysis help in the identification of the conditions, trend and the main driving forces in the industry for instance the changes in the consumer preferences, the legislations and other elements that affect the operations of the business in the given industry (Kennedy, 2000).
The situational analysis requires a host of information which is acquired from different sources. With regards to the competitor analysis, the firm will look for information on the objectives and goals, potentials of new entrants, the customers they serve, performance levels and the products that are offered by the firms. The above information can be found on the company websites, marketing research reports and industry publications amongst others. The information regarding the consumers can be found in Census data, marketing reports etc. The information that will be required includes the market growth rate and size, wants and consumer preferences, the purchase and consumption behavior (Kennedy, 2000; Lamb, Hair & McDaniels, 2006). When looking at collaborators a host of information will be required i.e. the agencies, the partnerships, product distribution and the suppliers of the firm. The information can be found in company website, company publications, journals, newspaper reports and other financial publications such as Time and Financial Times.  The information regarding the companies can be acquired from books, journals and company website. This includes the revenues, the resources, and the strategies that the firm is exploring.
Still considering the 5Cs, the climate which shows the various external considerations which affect the various operations of the firm must be considered. The factors include politico-legal, economic, socio-cultural and environmental and technological considerations. There are a number of sources of the above information (Westwood, 2005). They include law reports, economic outlooks and forecasts, technological reports, magazines and newspapers, company websites, census reports, findings of market research.
The Porters 5 forces uses very little external information as it is developed after the research on the 5Cs has been completed by the firm (Mullins, Walker & Harper Boyd Jr., 2009). The final is the SWOT analysis which shows the attractiveness of the given industry. It uses information from the 5Cs and Porters model to come up with the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.
The marketing strategies are the approaches through which the firms are able to achieve the objectives and goals of the marketing. The strategies are always aligned with the elements of the situational analysis. The findings of the situational analysis must be used in developing the strategies.  The marketing strategies support the achievement of the objectives that have been developed by the firm. The segmentation shows the parts of the market where the business or the firm will focus on (Westwood, 2005). The information will be from the consumer and climate analysis of the 5Cs under situational analysis.  In addition to the above, the firm will develop the positioning strategies for the various products. The information will be derived from the segmentation as well as a consideration of the climate, socio-cultural, economic and consumer analysis.  The final consideration under marketing strategy is the marketing mix which considers the information derived from the positioning. When the product is positioned as value, the place will not be serene, the price will be competitive, promotion will be encouraged i.e. offers, product quality may be high but basic.
There are relationships between the various elements of the marketing plan. From the above discussion, the plan must start with the 5Cs of the situational analysis. This are followed by the Porters 5 Forces model and SWOT analysis as they are developed from the elements of the 5Cs (Solomon, Marshall and Stuart, 2012). The latter two elements can be developed only after the 5Cs have been developed. The marketing strategies also depend on the situational analysis thus they can only be developed after the situational analysis has been undertaken.
The assumptions in the marketing plans are geared towards injecting certain levels of certainty to the uncertain environment in which the plans are developed. The assumptions cover a number of areas which include potential for new competitors, changes in the economic situations and customer preferences (Hollingworth, 2008). There are a number of mistakes that usually accompany the assumptions. In many cases they are unwarranted. The two elements include the view that the customers focus on having relationships with the brand. Secondly, the view that the firms will be able to build relationships with the consumers the more they interact with the consumers is an unwarranted assumption that is always made by the firms (Freeman, Spenner & Bird, 2012).

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