The Importance of Marketing Planning

In the midst of this severe market recession, effective marketing planning is more important than ever before. Marketing budgets are being scrutinized more than ever before. Surely, the skill and quality of marketing planning can support both the effectiveness and efficiency of marketing. Likewise, understanding marketing planning best practices can aid marketers at all levels in realizing their potential.

This blog will consider the different types of marketing plans, while other blogs in this series will cover related topics including how to establish marketing budgets, and how much some top business-to-business (B2B) brands spend on marketing. In addition, a marketing planning checklist will be provided, along with a link to the results of a survey regarding 2011 marketing plans.

Types of Marketing Plans

There are several varieties of marketing plans from tactical marketing plans, to specific project or functional plans, to strategic marketing plans.

Tactical Marketing Plans

The most common type of marketing plan is the tactical marketing plan, which often is in the form of an annual marketing activity plan, along with corresponding budgets and schedules. This plan is used by firm brands and corporate America to efficiently coordinate and implement the multitude of marketing activities.

The tactical plan doesn’t focus on strategic issues like market segmentation, or competitive intelligence; but instead focuses on identifying the specific details of all known marketing programs, campaigns or initiatives. For example, vertical email campaign to design engineers; monthly frequency, content themes include frequently asked questions, design tips, and testimonials; goal of 2000 leads.

Project or Functional Marketing Plans

Depending on company size or budget, project or functional plans can be part of the tactical plan, or separate. Examples of project plans might include the plan for a new website development, or a new sales training program. Whereas functional plans might include advertising/media plans, trade show plans, and publicity plans.

Strategic Marketing Plans

Strategic marketing plans are the most rigorous of plans. What differentiates a strategic marketing plan for a tactical marketing plan is the longer time frame (typically 3-5 years), the analysis and research aspects of a strategic marketing plan, the potential financial aspects of a strategic marketing plan, and the consideration of new business or marketing initiatives that may be quite different from your existing business.

Strategic marketing plans are most often used by large brands or corporations, or when a new marketing regime or executive team takes over. Often, the strategic marketing plan is updated on an annual basis to include new research, or changing economics. The strategic marketing plan might include one or more of the following:

  • Company or brand financials (historical/projections, revenue, units, margin, ROI, payback, break-even)
  • Market analysis, sizing, segmentation
  • Secondary research (internet, association studies, publications)
  • Syndicated research (analyst Reports, research/consulting
  • firms, other)
  • Primary research results (surveys, interviews, focus groups; awareness, preference, purchase intention)
  • SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats)
  • Competitive analysis (share, positioning, intelligence)

Marketing Planning in Practice

If you have undertaken any of the above mentioned marketing plans in the past, the new planning cycle should entail updates and modifications. If not, starting from scratch can be daunting.

A number of marketing plan templates are available on the internet. For tactical or functional plans, we prefer a spreadsheet with grouped projects, monthly columns, and budgets that can be modified easily.

To help you get started, it often helps to do some benchmarking. What are your competitors or other brands planning for the following year?

Stay tuned as we dig into marketing budgeting and a marketing planning checklist. As always, feel free to comment below and like, tweet, and share this post with others who are developing marketing plans.


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