The main idea of marketing is to combine the company’s potential and customers’ needs in such a way to reach the objectives of both parties. In turn, marketing planning is an important part of building the company’s success. It involves the use of company resources to achieve the marketing objectives, in order to create a competitive advantage.
According to the simplest definition – “marketing plan is a short, detailed and written plan, which shows the set out actions that the company needs to come around in order to achieve founded turnover and marketing objectives” (Bangs 1999: 7).
Marketing planning is a formalized process. It includes the study and analysis of the current situation (including those concerning the markets and customers), the development of objectives, strategies and marketing plans, as well as the implementation, assessment and control of actions undertaken to achieve the objectives. The result of the marketing planning process is a document referred to as the marketing plan: “each marketing plan should explain the intended marketing strategies, describe the actions that employees will undertake to achieve goals, show mechanisms for measuring progress and make some adjustments possible if the results are not what they were expected to be” (Burk Wood 2007: 15-16).
A worth mentioning definition of a marketing plan has been formulated by McDonald and Wilson (2012: 15). It reads as follows: “a strategic marketing plan should be a clear and simple statement of the main market trends, key target market segments and their requirements in terms of supplied values and intentional ways to give the offer of greater value than offered by competitors. It must clearly indicate priorities concerning the objectives and marketing strategy and show financial consequences of these actions”.
In addition to the marketing plan of a strategic nature, there are also tactical plans. The main difference is the level of details, here .The strategic marketing plan says, in a general way, about the main intentions and plans of the company, while the tactical plans specify actions taken in some area, they are much more detailed. The relationship between them, as well as other components of strategic planning, are shown in the following figure.
Source: Own study based on: R. Kłeczek i in., Strategiczne planowanie marketingowe, Warszawa 1999, s. 51.
The preparation of a marketing plan is not easy, because it requires a connection of various types of data both from within the company and from its outside environment. Stages of work on a marketing plan can be divided into: the preparation of the plan structure (determining what elements it will consist of), the adoption of a specific template (e.g. spreadsheet), filling in the particular parts of the marketing plan by competent persons, formulating tactical marketing plan. The attention should be paid to its consistency, if it is prepared by many people.
The marketing plan allows the business manager to answer the question of how to find and take advantage of all opportunities that are present on the market. Not having a plan ready he/she would be moving blindfold. Thus, companies use marketing plans in order to achieve their goals. They show the way to success, regardless of how it is defined.