A disciplined market planning process has two main components, development of the Marketing Background and the written Market Plan. For the sake of simplicity, both sections can be included in one document even though the Marketing Background is frequently developed and documented separately. The Market Plan can then serve as a reference for both historical marketing information and future-oriented market planning efforts.
The Marketing Background provides a quantitative and qualitative decision-making base for the Market Plan. It provides a framework for all strategic marketing decisions that are developed within the plan. The information collected for the Marketing Background should be reviewed and updated at least annually as part of the normal business planning process.
The power of a formal market plan comes from several sources:
- Team processes, both in the origination of the market plan and in the sharing of the final product where all employees understand what the company is trying to accomplish in the marketplace and how it is going to do it. This is crucial for all sales and marketing personnel but also important for anyone with a stake in the company.
- Disciplined approach to market and planning process. The structure of working through market objectives, strategies and tactics ensures the final plan will be as efficient as possible in investing limited time, energy and money resources in the highest potential targets.
- The fact that it is a written plan. It is important that the market plan be written. The value in writing the strategic market plan includes:
Þ The exercise of writing a strategic market plan forces us to confront the key issues facing the business in a disciplined, structured way.
Þ A market plan that is written tends to be more enduring and is less likely to be changed without careful thought.
Þ A written market plan easily provides critical guidance to the management team, outside investors and advisors and other key individuals in the organization.
Although a formal market plan can be a powerful tool for growth, it does rely on several critical company factors:
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