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Thoughts on Marketing and Marketing Strategy

Peter Drucker once said that the aim of marketing is to make selling superfluous. He says further that the aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well that the product or service fits him/her and sells itself. Ideally, marketing should result in a customer who is ready to buy! To achieve this a marketing specialist distils the marketing strategy from the marketing planning process. A specific strategy (or plan) is needed for each individual product, brand, product line, SBU (strategic business unit), channel, or customer group to achieve its stated objectives. The employee responsible for the firm's marketing strategy (i.e. the marketing manager, product or brand manager, etc.) should first understand and examine 1 the marketing process before developing a marketing plan. The marketing process incorporates the following: advertising and research agencies, suppliers, intermediaries) are to a greater or lesser extent predisposed and involved with the planning, implementing and controlling of the plan. Although driven by a marketing official, the marketing plan must be seen as the collective responsibility of all the parties that have an invested interest in the firm's successful existence.

Components of a marketing plan The following outline gives you a fair indication of what the main components of a marketing plan are: 5 Cover Sheet: Stating the subject of the marketing plan, e.g. a marketing plan for product, brand, line, SBU, channel, or customer group; person responsible for compiling the report; date of report's presentation; and the duration of the plan. 5 Executive Summary consisting of a brief summary of the marketing plan's main objectives, recommendations, costs, and possible outcomes. 5 Table of Contents referring to the main issues addressed in the marketing plan. 5 Brief Company Description examining, in a noncritical manner, the company's history, industry, products, organisational capabilities, and financial profile. 5 External Environment Analysis relating to the specific marketing plan. It scrutinises the broader business environment and the resulting effect that opportunities and threats have (or might have) on the firm's marketing operations and prospects. This analysis includes the screening of the Macro Environment and Market Environment. 5 Internal Environment Analysis and Market-driven Assessment of the firm based on its respective strengths and weaknesses, and how that will impact strategy. The firm's ability to capitalise on the opportunities identified in the macro and market environment needs to be critically assessed. 5 Competitor Analysis that includes competitor's corporate profile; marketing efforts; competitiveness; supplier relations; and cash-flow status. 5 Summary of Key Success and Critical Issues based on the external environment, internal environment,

5Analysing marketing opportunities; 5Researching and selecting target markets; 5Designing marketing strategies; 5Planning of marketing programs (plans); and 5Organising, implementing, and controlling
the marketing effort. Marketing strategy is the result of a collective endeavour The marketing plan is the package in which the marketing strategy is presented. Marketing strategy can be seen as the result of the marketing process and a collective multi-functional and inclusive endeavour. To succeed with a specific marketing strategy means that, ideally, the whole firm should buy into the marketing process to enable the optimal planning, implementing and controlling of the marketing strategy. A successfully implemented marketing strategy secures a unique competitive position and a sustainable competitive advantage for the firm. This means that the firm can now play according to its strengths, thus optimally satisfying the needs of its target market and at the same time enjoying good bottom-line results! Putting together a marketing plan is a team effort. When studying the contents of a marketing plan, one sees that all of the firm's functions and service providers (e.g.

(Continued from p.7 Thoughts on Marketing and Marketing Strategy)

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and competitive environment analysis. Marketing and Financial Objectives the firm wishes to achieve for the said product, brand, product line, SBU, channel, or customer group. Marketing Strategy is primarily based on the stated marketing and financial objectives. The marketing strategy usually consists of three parts: The identification of the target market; the strategic orientation vis--vis its competitive strategy and competitive position; and the defining and allocation of the broader marketing mix variables, i.e. the social responsibility program, product management, pricing, distribution, marketing communication, and marketing research. Cash-flow Budget of Projected Income and Expenses compiled on a monthly basis for a minimum of one year. Strategy Implementation and Controls that look systematically at each of the critical marketing activities that will have an impact on the achievement of the marketing and financial objectives. A framework should be compiled that is based on: the

primary activities to implement, secondary objectives to achieve, what actions to take, who are responsible, timing of activities, and cost of activities. Contingency Planning has to put together a plan for the low road possibility, i.e. possible failure to achieve stated objectives. In the final analysis the marketing plan can propose one or more of the following contingency strategies: divesting or with-drawing from the market; harvesting of non-profitable segments and focusing on profitable niche segments; retaining market position but cutting down considerably on marketing and operational costs; and in extreme cases, paradoxically, increasing its investment in a troubled market.

Most firms will need expert advice on developing a relevant and implementable marketing plan. Objectivity can be built into the planning process by using a strategic marketing consultant, like a Chartered Marketer. The challenge, however, is to find a specialist that has extensive knowledge of and a good feel for your specific industry!

1. Kotler, Philip. Marketing Management. Eleventh Edition, Prentice Hall, New Jersey, pp. 112 - 118, 2003.