The perfect marketing plan does not exist

The perfect marketing plan does not exist.  No matter how much care has been taken in developing a marketing plan, reality rarely conforms to expectations. Environmental conditions (e.g., the economic environment, customer preferences, technological possibilities, and/or competitive actions) change; tactics are not executed as planned; unavoidable delays are experienced; certain key planning assumptions turn out to be wrong.

While it is impossible to foresee all contingencies, one can build a control system that provides early warning, diagnoses why planning assumptions are not being met, and takes corrective actions.

Strategic coherence demands that all tactical decisions be scrutinised. Measurement systems must be designed to encourage such scrutiny and identify potential inconsistencies early in the process. Without such systems, and a coherent perspective, the benefits of good strategic analysis and decision making are likely to be lost before the customer even sees the core benefit proposition.

The use of regularly scheduled evaluations provides an opportunity to make slight corrections if needed to insure that year-end objectives will be met.  Major problems can often be prevented before they occur.

Once a tactical implementation plan has been developed and approved, it becomes necessary to monitor and control its implementation. We would begin by ascertaining whether the approved marketing program is, in fact being implemented as planned. Often it may prove difficult to open the planned distribution channels on schedule, or even to deliver the planned product in adequate quantities. Assuming that the program was implemented more or less as planned, our next step is to compare actual and predicted results. If the results we are achieving do not match our expectations, we will need to revise our tactics or re-examine the underlying strategic planning assumptions.

Analytic support can be extremely valuable in the implementation and monitoring and control processes.

Evaluation generally requires a review of the sales in dollars and units for all product lines.  The performance of each member of the sales force, each division, must also be regularly evaluated by the managers responsible for those areas.

After measuring results against objectives, it is each manager’s responsibility to determine why variances have occurred and to take corrective action.  If variances remain uncorrected over several periods, the head of the marketing department will need to take forceful action to bring projected and actual results into line.  This may involve many alternatives including the replacement of personnel, requesting additional marketing funds from top management, introducing new product lines, lowering prices, and many more.

Brian Monger – http://www.marketing.org – Smartamarketing on Twitter

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