Marketing planning process (stages and principles)

The correct process of marketing management in the company avoids stupid mistakes in the work, helps to identify the main directions for marketing programs and spend the available money on promoting the product with maximum efficiency. In the article we will not consider the boring theory and say a lot of words about the role and essence of marketing management in the company. On the contrary, we will focus exclusively on the practical aspects of marketing planning: briefly consider the general marketing management system and describe in detail the key stages of marketing planning, indicating for each stage a “minimum program” and a “maximum program”, by which any marketing specialist will take the right step building an effective working marketing management system in the enterprise.

Marketing planning process

This article will answer 2 main questions of any marketing specialist : “Where to start marketing in a company?” and “What does the minimum marketing planning program consist of?”

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5 main principles of management in marketing

What is important to know about the marketing planning process in a company? Actually not so much. We have identified 5 basic principles of marketing management, following which we can say with confidence that the marketing planning system in the company is built and functioning correctly.

Principle # 1: Always Start From The Beginning

The process of marketing planning every time must be carried out from the very beginning. Only a consistent passage through all stages of marketing management guarantees crystal clarity and effectiveness of a marketing strategy. Without studying the consumer, it is impossible to develop the right product. Without a good product, it’s hard to hope for the long-term success of an advertising campaign and repeat purchases. Without a common strategy, all marketing programs and promotions will be chaotic, aimless in nature, solve different problems, form a different (and sometimes opposite) image of the product.

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Principle 2: Planning is a regular process

Marketing planning is a regular cyclic process. It must be carried out every year. Once every 3-5 years, you should study the market, consumer behavior, key drivers and market trends in great detail. Based on the information received, develop a long-term growth strategy for the company. And every year over the next 3-5 years (depending on the speed of development of the industry) to adjust their actions in terms of the approved long-term strategy.

Market conditions, level of competition, demand and technological level of the industry change every year and it is important to timely see threats from competitors, opportunities from the market and key trends. To do this, annually review and adjust the company’s global strategy.

Principle 3: Learn Only the Right One

Strategic planning in marketing is a complex and lengthy process that generates a huge amount of information that needs to be collected, studied and processed, to draw conclusions, and to develop a plan of specific actions for each conclusion. In order not to suffocate in the amount of information already at the initial stage of planning, approach skeptically and reasonably to every kilobyte of data about your market. Collect and analyze only what really helps in making decisions. Information in the modern world is an endless ocean that needs to be filtered.

Principle 4: Consider Alternatives

There are no single right decisions. And not always the first thought is the most effective and the most correct. Always, at each stage of marketing planning, look for another, alternative option: other growth opportunities, alternative positioning and pricing strategies, new assortment development solutions, lower cost promotion channels, etc. Alternatives help to soberly evaluate the effectiveness of the chosen marketing strategy of the company, develop impartiality of judgment and open up new opportunities.

Principle # 5: Setting Goals and Monitoring Implementation

Control is the basis of any planning, including marketing. Always set goals; let them be low or overstated in the first stages. They may be wrong. But they always provide a guideline and serve as good indicators of the effectiveness of marketing activities.

Marketing planning process

Marketing planning process

The whole process of marketing planning consists of three successive stages: business strategy, marketing strategy and tactical short-term action plan. Each stage represents a certain level of marketing management in the company. Following the correct sequence of the marketing planning process guarantees a high result.

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The first stage is a global business strategy. At the level of strategic planning of marketing activities, the company’s ability to capture the market is analyzed, company resources are allocated and long-term goals are set for the company’s position in the industry for 3-5 years.

The second stage of marketing management is the development of functional marketing strategies. At this level of planning, a marketing specialist should develop a marketing strategy for the development and promotion of goods on the market that will help to achieve the global goals of the company, set at the first level of planning.

The third stage of this process is tactical or operational marketing planning. At the third stage, a concrete plan is drawn up from marketing programs aimed at implementing strategies approved at the second level of planning.

Now consider each of the three levels of marketing management in more detail.

Stage One: Strategic Planning

Strategic Planning

Strategic planning is the first level of the marketing process. First, the marketing specialist (together with the company management) must approve the general business development strategy of the company for a period of 3-5 years. Why is such a long period necessary? Firstly, in 1 year you will not have time to create the desired image of the company, build a strong brand and achieve a good position in the market. If you start from scratch, then in 1 year you will only begin to create a loyal customer base, set up and hone internal processes, and create the desired image of the company. In the second year of work, you will be able to evaluate the results achieved and adjust (not re-create) the overall strategy. Secondly, any company should have a main goal, the “star” that it strives to achieve, which sets the general vector of product development,

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The stage of strategic planning in marketing is the level of goals and ambitions. At this level of marketing management, one does not need to invent a positioning or promotion strategy. It is only necessary to answer 6 main questions:

  • What are we selling?
  • Who are we selling to?
  • What needs do we solve?
  • Why will they choose us?
  • What do we want to achieve?
  • How do you want to grow your business?

There is always a minimum plan and a maximum plan in the marketing planning process:

What is their difference? The minimum plan can be written in just a few hours, it does not require much analytical work and is based only on your expert opinion of the market and understanding of your business. It is suitable for simple markets and companies with 1-2 priority areas of activity. The maximum plan includes a more detailed analysis of the company’s business, eliminates the possibility of a subjective error and helps to systematize a large amount of information. Such a plan is suitable for markets with a high level of competition and for companies with a complex product portfolio.

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In the section “Strategic Analysis Techniques” you can find detailed examples of using business analysis methods presented in the table.

Stage two: functional marketing strategies

functional marketing strategies

Once the main goals of the business are identified and a clear vector of the company’s development is chosen, you can proceed to the development of functional marketing strategies: positioning, pricing, promotion, distribution and methods of working with the target audience.

Positioning strategy

Start by approving a product positioning strategy. The minimum actions that need to be performed at this stage: to assess the current perception of your company and competitor companies (What do consumers know about you?) And determine the main competitive advantages of the product.

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Competition strategy

When developing a competition strategy, be sure to identify the main competitors and choose the principle of competition in the industry.

Assortment strategy

Do not save time developing an assortment strategy – this is the basis for the development of your business. Minimum: analyze the product and understand “What are you selling to the buyer?”, Determine the competitive advantages of each product and evaluate the unmet market needs. Create an action plan to improve your products and a plan for developing new proposals.

Pricing strategy

When approving a pricing strategy, be sure to determine the overall price positioning for your company in the industry and think about how to improve your business profitability.

Consumer Strategy

The implementation of this strategy almost instantly yields results. The minimum that is important to do at this stage of marketing planning is to understand your consumer, determine which customers you plan to grow in the coming years and how to make current customers buy more and more.

Promotion strategy

At the stage of developing a strategy for promoting a product, one cannot distinguish between minimum and maximum actions. You must precisely choose the goals of communication, determine “What will you say in advertising?”, And evaluate the effectiveness of the available promotion channels for advertising your business.

Distribution strategy

The product distribution strategy answers the question “How does your product reach the target audience?” At this stage of the marketing planning process, evaluate the potential and the level of competition in each market sales channel and select the most low-cost, reach and low-competitive product distribution channels.

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Stage Three: Operational Marketing

After the approval of all functional strategies, you can proceed to operational marketing activities: the implementation of all approved goals and objectives, guided by the established priorities of the activity. It’s time to draw up a detailed plan of key marketing programs for the year (new items, product improvements, advertising campaigns, promotional events), approve the advertising budget and start implementing all planned activities. The operational stage of marketing occupies 85-90% of all the work of a marketer, and most importantly it: meeting deadlines, evaluating the effectiveness of programs and timely adjustment of marketing actions.


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