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The Value of Marketing Plans and Analysis

1 Sep, 2015 By: Kathy Vogler, PERRY proTECH

Marketing typically works best with members of leadership teams to facilitate the development of strategies and plans for their business, and to provide feedback and measurements of their implementation progress. Responsibilities include staying in sync with the culture, the structure and the processes of the organization to assess the current plans against objectives, and to develop a consistent and repeatable process to adapt quickly to changing business conditions.  Marketing activities should be based on underlying needs.  The focus, as with sales, is not on what you want to sell but instead, how to satisfy your buyers’ needs.  Thus your marketing activities should be based on addressing those needs.

Marketing operations comprise the “how” of marketing – doing the marketing activities smarter and more profitably.  This is achieved by pulling everyone together to meet opportunities head on; through accountability, and by exhibiting consistency, responsibility and flexibility when a new opportunity arises.  The “how” requires an integrated strategy of the entire ecosystem, a focus on metrics, automation of processes and adept use of technologies.

Marketing planning often begins with a PEST Analysis (Political, Economic, Social and Technological) which can be very helpful in putting together your SWOT Analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats).  There are some overlaps between these processes but they come from two different perspectives.  PEST is great for assessing a market, including any competition, towards a particular proposition or business model. 

Strengths – Weaknesses – Opportunities - Threats

SWOT Analysis originated from research conducted at Stanford during the 60’s to understand why corporate planning often failed.  In the 60’s nearly every Fortune 500 company had a corporate planning manager, while the failures often stemmed from a lack of buy-in and commitment from management teams towards a comprehensive set of actionable programs.  The Stanford team defined a “Chain of Logic” designed to fix the missing link.  The Chain of Logic goes through the process of asking managers to define their values, their appraisal of current operations, and their motivations. 

Key research findings discovered that a business is divided into two parts: the base business and the development business.  Additionally, Dr. Peter Senge, MIT 1998, published “Fifth Discipline” and states:

  • The amount of development business which becomes operational is equal to or greater than the business on the books within a period of 5-7 years
  • The gap between what could be done by the organization & what is actually done is about 35%
  • The senior executive will over-supervise the area he or she’s most comfortable with
  • There are 3 factors that separate excellence from mediocrity (over attention to purchasing, short term plans & continued education for senior executives)

The conclusion of the Stanford research was to obtain a practical way to assimilate internal and external information about the business and the development of 6 planning categories for SWOT issues:

  1. Product – what are we selling?
  2. Process – how are we selling it?
  3. Customer – to whom are we selling it?
  4. Distribution – how does it reach them?
  5. Finance – what are the costs and investments?
  6. Administration – how do we manage this?

Breaking down the issues into these 6 actions makes them quantifiable, measurable and more manageable. 

The action items are divided into 4 categories:

  1. Strengths – to maintain, build & leverage
  2. Opportunities – to prioritize & optimize
  3. Weaknesses – to repair or otherwise remove
  4. Threats – to counter

You’ll sometimes find a marketing SWOT Analysis called a “2X2 Matrix” that divides Strengths and Weaknesses into INTERNAL factors that tend to be in the present and Opportunities and Threats into EXTERNAL factors that tend to be in the future.  Sometimes the headings will simply be Pro’s and Con’s.  Regardless of which method you choose, the important part of the equation is to assemble your team, map out the grid and walk through the 6 categories for each column.  A SWOT Analysis works great for workshops and brainstorming meetings.  It’s a fact-finding mission so that you can make intelligent decisions for the benefit of the organization and all of the members.  If you go through these steps frequently and compare results year over year, your marketing activities will become a value center to the rest of the organization and will allow the teams to work together to meet revenue opportunities.

About the Author: Kathy Vogler

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