How to write a marketing plan (Part 3)

This is STAGE 3: ACTIONS, MEASUREMENT AND CONTROLS. How will you monitor progress? Who will do which jobs? When will each element be completed? How will you adjust the plan? What will be the budget? This section discusses action plans, controls, measurements and reporting.

DEVELOPING AN ACTION PLAN

An action plan is core to the marketing process – a constantly evolving document which is cascaded to the relevant people and monitored regularly. Most action plans are relatively short term documents which focus on the coming year, but longer term implications should also be considered.

Action planning is a stages approach:

Clarify goals, and ensure they are SMART

Link back to your objectives and tactics

Set criteria for success

Prioritise

Set timings

Determine who will complete each action point

Monitor the progress of the plan and review regularly

MEASUREMENTS, CONTROLS AND REPORTING

The final stage of the action plan is the implementation of measurements and controls and reporting results. Many models for monitoring the performance of businesses have emerged, many of which address the needs of key stakeholders and allow them to evaluate the overall success of a company.

THE BALANCED SCORECARD APPROACH FOR MONITORING COMPANY PERFORMANCE

The balanced scorecard approach is a widely used method of monitoring overall performance and ensuring daily work is focused on the strategic objectives. The scorecard is a "strategic planning and management system…which is used to align business activities to the vision and strategy of the organization, improve internal and external communications, and monitor organization performance against strategic goals". This approach encourages open communication throughout the business and allows tracking of performance throughout the year.

Reference: balancedscorecard.org

Traditionally, businesses have tracked success based on just one measure – financial results. However, the scorecard system views the business from four external perspectives to gain a more relevant approach to performance metrics.

Learning & growth – how you are innovating and improving to meet your goals

Business process – how critical processes are measuring up Customer perspective – usually measured in terms of time, quality, performance and cost

Financial perspective – financial performance from the stakeholder point of view

Each element is tracked using four items, which are listed individually:

Objectives - as identified in stage 2 of the marketing planning process

Measures - how will success be measured?

Targets - specific quantifiable targets

Initiatives - how to make the targets more readily achievable KEY PERFORMANCE INDICATORS (KPIS)

Depending on your industry, you may also have certain specific metrics which determine success, these could include:

Market share analysis

Sales analysis

Quality control

Financial results

Market research

Marketing information systems

CRM - New customers acquired, retention

Service levels

Brand awareness

Competitor performance

Benchmarking

Profitability

GAP ANALYSIS

Gap analysis is another useful tool which answers two questions: Where are you? Where do you want to be? It can be useful to identify where you are with the following facets of the business:

Organisation

Business direction and marketing mix

Business processes

Information technology

Requirements versus capability

Market potential versus existing usage

Your business versus competition

FEEDBACK

Now that you have an accurate picture your plan's success it is important to feedback this information in order to fine tune the strategy and update your actions accordingly.

FINAL WORDS

The marketing planning process is a comprehensive method for examining your business, your market and the environment in order to develop a strategy to exploit opportunities. This is a vital process which should be used by almost every company to ensure a profitable and sustainable future.

(These articles are collected from Marketing Made Simple)