Marketing planning is a process that involves organizations adopting systems and procedures to profitably identify and meet customer needs. This process allows managers to develop an effective marketing mix for their enterprises from the limited supply of planning constituents needed in creating the right blend of place, product, price, and promotion considerations (Jobber and Fahy, 2019). In this paper, the marketing planning process is evaluated to show its value to businesses. The analysis is based on an introspective examination of key issues experienced when developing such plans. The insights provided in this document will be useful in enhancing them by highlighting their value through the improved coordination of departmental activities, the development of better segmentation, targeting and positioning (STP) strategies, a better adaptation to the business environment, and an enriched customer experience.
The marketing planning process is an intricate activity that ideally should encompass the inputs of most departments in a company. The goal is to formulate a broader and cohesive strategic framework for managing operations that create a right fit between an organization’s key competencies and opportunities in the market (Al Badi, 2018). To this end, the planning process helps managers to gather valuable information relating to a company’s operations and create an overarching framework of strategic change processes that should be followed to improve existing processes (Walker, Milne, and Weinberg, 2019). Based on these activities, marketing planning helps managers to coordinate organizational plans at a department level and improve a firm’s value chain by collating pieces of information from different departments to create a broader marketing plan (Chernev, 2020). This activity creates value for businesses by improving synergy across different departments.
Based on the aforementioned insights, the marketing planning process emerges as a systematic approach to the realization of a company’s goals based on the effectiveness of managers to develop the right fit between a company’s products/services with its consumer needs. From this relationship, the success of the marketing planning process is contingent on aligning an organization’s internal operational dynamics or competencies with existing market opportunities (Hinterwimmer, 2018). To achieve this goal, it is important to use trusted environmental analysis tools, such as the PESTLE and SWOT analyses, to understand external and internal market dynamics that affect the overall marketing plan (Chernev, 2018). Using such techniques, information relating to the competitive, legal, environmental, social, economic, and technological aspects of a market can be obtained and assessed.
The above-mentioned tools are integral in helping managers to align their organizations’ internal marketing competencies with consumer needs based on how they organize departmental activities. This process involves the robust coordination of operational plans across various segments of a firm to meet consumer needs. The goal is to formulate appropriate market selection decisions by finding the right balance between product, price, place, and promotion considerations (Mizik and Hanssens, 2018). This coordinated sequence of departmental planning improves synergy in the workplace and helps firms to meet their clients’ needs.
Segmentation, Targeting, and Positioning (STP)
Consumers are important stakeholders in the marketing planning process because companies often formulate strategies to segment, target, and position brands that appeal to their unique needs. This approach to the planning process views consumers as problem solvers because the entire exercise is based on understanding their unique preferences and needs (Erickson, 2017). The focus on consumers in marketing planning is heightened in undeveloped markets where people have a limited understanding of their tastes and preferences (Al Badi, 2018). Similarly, it may be adopted where there are no established criteria for market development in selected industries (Erickson, 2017). In such environments, consumer-centrism is a common phenomenon.
A key part of the STP process is understanding the unique characteristics of the target market. This step in the planning process seeks to exploit unique tastes and preferences that exist in every market subcategory. It is also reminiscent of the market segmentation process, whereby consumer characteristics form the basis of developing distinct marketing mix plans (Leung, Tse, and Yim, 2020). From experience, this process aids in identifying distinct segments of the market worth examining when developing the segmentation plan but does not disclose how to appeal to them. Nonetheless, the most important part of the STP process is targeting the right consumers. The objective is to identify attractive segments of the market for creating consumer awareness (Samiee and Chirapanda, 2019). To achieve it, it is vital to understand how an organization’s resources and plans help in targeting the right customer group. The overriding goal is to match an organization’s capabilities with existing customer requirements, tastes, and preferences. Indeed, it would be futile to target a segment of the market that cannot be effectively served with an organization’s existing resources. Therefore, the attractiveness of a consumer group in marketing planning is largely dictated by a firm’s capabilities.
Adapting to the Environment
The enhanced role of the consumer in contemporary marketing planning is consistent with the need to understand the business environment and adapt a company’s strategies to exploit existing opportunities. For instance, marketing planning helps to understand the cultural and economic characteristics of a consumer group, thereby making it easier for firms to customize their marketing strategies to reflect their influences on consumer behavior. The process may be based on an economic analysis of the target market or a review of people’s tastes and preferences. These analyses allow firms to create an innovative product/service design features that complement the consumer culture, as opposed to contradicting it. Consequently, the value of marketing planning is perceived as a business philosophy that is partly informed by the need to understand consumer needs and redesign the marketing mix strategy to reflect current macro and microeconomic factors adaptable to the business environment.
In the contemporary global business environment, consumers are perceived as problem solvers because they have much influence in today’s technologically powered marketplace where social media is a powerful marketing tool. The growing power of the consumer has increased the profile of digital marketing tools in contemporary marketing planning because it highlights the need to develop consumer-centric strategies in the process (Langan, Cowley, and Nguyen, 2019). Basing an entire marketing plan on consumer needs makes it easier for firms to appeal to their target markets because their client’s needs are addressed. This practice allows companies to adapt well to the business environment because they evolve as customers do. From this development, sincerity, and accountability grow between businesses and their customers because managers align organizational processes and outcomes with the business environment.
Consumer satisfaction is an essential attribute of marketing planning. Based on its importance, businesses strive to find the right marketing mix to maximize consumer satisfaction. Marketing planning helps to facilitate this process by making it possible for businesses to develop product and service strategies that maximize shareholder value (Weinstein, 2020). This aspect of planning describes the essence of marketing, which is to match goods and services with the right group of consumers based on their unique tastes and preferences (Finch, Geiger, and Harkness, 2017). Therefore, the marketing planning process helps to expand a business’s market share and revenues by promoting consumer satisfaction because satisfied customers are loyal people. This statement is consistent with the views of Lilien, Rangaswamy, and De Bruyn (2017), which highlight the need to maintain high levels of customer satisfaction in marketing planning as a strategy of boosting sales numbers in the long term. In this regard, promoting customer satisfaction is a supplementary goal of marketing planning.
Lastly, the effectiveness of the marketing planning process in improving customer satisfaction is predicated on the ability of companies to develop an effective positioning strategy that would contribute towards nurturing a positive image of a firm, relative to its competitors (Diderich and Mamali, 2017). This approach to marketing planning plays an important role in improving user experiences and maintaining high levels of customer satisfaction. These aspects of consumer behavior are subject to the experiences buyers would have otherwise got by purchasing a rival’s products.
The insights provided in this paper highlight the value businesses get from the marketing planning process by highlighting its role in helping firms to adapt to their environment, satisfy consumer needs, coordinate departmental activities, and promote consumer-centrism. In this regard, firms stand to benefit the most from effective planning because it helps them to control multiple variables relating to a business’s micro and macro environment. Nonetheless, the value of the marketing planning process presented in this paper is focused on transactional marketing activities, which have a short-term orientation, as opposed to relationship-based marketing strategies that have a long-term appeal. Therefore, future research should seek to understand the value of marketing planning processes that have a long-term orientation.
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