Generally, companies are broken down into four levels of hierarchy, the corporate, the division, the business unit and the product level. The overall plan of the company is designed at a corporate level. As part of this planning, each resource is allocated to each division of the company. Next, division level planning allocates resources to each business unit of the company. In addition, business unit planning designs a strategic plan for each business area, which determines each of the marketing objectives/goals, strategies and tactics, that have to be consistent with the overall strategic plan.
Therefore, a marketing plan, according to Kotler, is a “written document, which includes the objectives, strategies and action plans regarding the elements of the marketing mix which facilitate and enable compliance with the strategy dictated at the corporate level”.
So in order to bring success to your business, you need a strategic marketing plan. Strategic plans are classified according to their time frame to long, medium and short- term plans. Usually long-term plans tend to be between 5-10 years at corporate level, medium-term plans 2-5 years and short-term consists of a time period ranging from 6 months to 1 year.
A proper marketing plan has 10 sections.
- Executive Summary: the marketing plan like all the documents that are submitted to established executive bodies must begin with a brief summary of the whole plan, with basic numerical data and info.
- Mission and Vision: the marketing plan includes the company’s “reason of existence”, values and its future intentions and strategic approach.
- Situation Analysis: this section includes all the market research results with various subsections. It includes an external analysis (macroenvironment and microenvironment analyses) and an internal analysis (with the assistance of various internal matrices such as BCG Matrix and General Electric Matrix).
- SWOT Analysis: the company’s strengths and weaknesses and environmental threats and opportunities for the company, this is the basis for defining the marketing objectives and strategies.
- Objectives: the goals that the company plans to achieve, that can be classified based on their characteristics as quantitative or qualitative.
- Marketing Strategies: based on the objectives, a marketing strategy is the roadmap to success.
- Marketing Mix: one of the key points of the marketing plan is the design of medium and long-term approach of the 4 Ps (price, place, product, promotion).
- Action Program: on this section all the actions to be performed are gathered with specific information, timetables and responsibilities among the personnel.
- Provisional Income Statement: the plan must include an income statement with any inputs for which the marketing department is responsible for.
- Monitoring and Control: the purpose of this section is to make sure that all 9 sections are followed and the proposed objectives are being achieved.
Apart from these 10 sections a marketing plan in order to be successful it needs to have 3 characteristics.
- The plan must be flexible, because the business environment is changing rapidly and the plan needs to be able to adapt in order to achieve the objectives that have been set.
- The marketing plan must be clear and precise in each section order to avoid misunderstandings within the department.
- It has to be systematic and structured, written as a series of logical, organized steps and complete in regards to amount of information.