What is Marketing Planning?
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Organizations use various marketing methods to reach their business goals and position their brand. Marketing planning helps you set marketing goals and achieve them. If you are a business owner or marketing enthusiast, you may want to know more about marketing planning. In this article, we explain what marketing planning is and its different steps.
What is marketing planning?
Marketing planning is a process that allows to determine goals and develop marketing strategies and techniques to achieve these goals.
Marketing planning implies
Analyzing the existing situation, information and marketing opportunities
Forecast and start planning
Selecting target market(s)
Defining marketing objectives
Designing and developing a marketing strategy
Allocating resources to achieve these objectives
You can adapt marketing planning to the organization's situation, like the launching, routing planning or repositioning. Some phases may acquire more or less importance according to that particular situation. For example, a company repositioning or rebranding requires more strategy and techniques to improve the new brand's visibility. A company that is in the launching phase, on the other hand, needs to focus on developing a go-to-market strategy
Types of marketing planning
There are two types of marketing planning:
Long-term marketing planning: Long-term marketing planning is marketing planning for more than one year. It is the top management's responsibility. This marketing planning sets future objectives and strategies, and it prepares a framework in which short-term plans are created. Long-term marketing planning includes, for instance, the selection of a price policy, a distribution channel and media advertising.
Short-term marketing planning: Short-term marketing planning is marketing planning for less than a year, like bi-annual or annual plans. It is the responsibility of the mid-management. The short-term plans help to solve recurring issues.
Most companies renew their marketing plan once a year but assess the plan's performance and adjust it for the rest of the year.
What are the steps in the marketing planning process
Marketing planning can involve two main phases. The first phase consists of analyzing the current situation to decide which area requires more focus. During this phase, you evaluate past promotions to verify their success, analyze the competitors and determine objectives. Then, in the second phase, you create and develop marketing strategies.
There are several steps to follow during the marketing planning process:
1. Understand the current business situation.
The objective of marketing planning is to achieve the company's business goals. To do so, it is crucial that you understand these goals and the current business situation, including the things that could stop you from achieving those goals. You can:
Analyze the opportunities of different markets or audiences
Make some client research to understand how they make their buying decision.
Research your brand.
2. Understand your target client.
It is essential to kmow how your client thinks and prioritize certain things to help you understand how they choose a new product or provider. When you know what they are looking for, you can position yourself as such and have them choose you. You can also research how they look for their products or providers to know how to provide them your information.
3. Position your brand
A successful positioning is one that attracts people's attention to your brand and shows your competitive advantage. You can start by understanding your differences from the competition or differentiators. Differentiators must be true, provable and relevant. Once you identified them, you can write messages to your audience. Remember that different audiences are looking for various aspects of your brand, so adapt your messages by focusing on the benefits your target wants to see.
Related: What Is Brand Positioning?
4. Define and refine your offer
As your clients' needs change, you want to adapt your offer and answer those needs. This step is guided by the previous analysis of your current business situation, competition and clients.
5. Choose your marketing techniques
Now that you understand your target audience, you know how and where they look for information. Knowing this allows you to use their preferred channel to reach them. That way, you can make your brand and expertise more visible. It is recommended to use both online and offline marketing techniques to gain better visibility. You can also use diverse content for the different sales funnel levels, from attracting prospects to turning them into clients.
6. Adapt your tools and skills to your techniques
If you realize you need to add a new technique to your marketing planning, you may need new tools. These tools may include a website, marketing automation, social media, or search engine optimization.
You may also need to learn new skills to build your new strategy. You can upgrade your skills or hire outside professional help.
7. Write down your plan
Translate your strategy into a written plan detailing the actions to take with a timeline. This plan will help you evaluate your progress. Your plan includes a marketing calendar and a marketing budget. The calendar covers the period during which you implement your plan, usually a quarter or year. It details the scheduled actions and helps you to stay consistent. The budget shows the cost necessary to cover the tools you identified earlier. Make sure to leave some room for contingencies, like five to ten percent of the entire budget.
A good marketing plan consists of your value proposition, information about your target market, your positioning in the market, advertising strategies, distribution channels, and budget allotted for the plan.
Benefits of marketing planning
Marketing planning presents several advantages:
Marketing planning keeps you accountable
Marketing planning requires the business development and marketing teams to set objectives and evaluate their achievement compared to these goals. The management is responsible for alloting sufficient resources to enable the plan to succeed.
Marketing planning forces you to adapt
Marketing planning makes you question your habits and find out why you made earlier decisions. It makes you realize that doing the same thing because it worked earlier is not necessarily a winning strategy.
Marketing planning reduces risks
Marketing planning invites you to study your target audience, your competition, your value proposition to clients and your marketplace. When you perform such research, you assess your marketing program and business model before investing time and money in them, so you take fewer risks. Moreover, you also study your target audience and connect with it faster, which makes your profit grow faster.
Marketing planning can be a competitive advantage
Your marketing strategy can help you differentiate your business from competitors. You reflect on your unique aspects, so you can find more reasons why clients should choose you over another company.
Marketing planning allows you to be proactive
When you plan ahead, you are more in control of your marketing. It implies that you can maximize its impact and change plans when necessary.
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