Marketing Planning

Marketing planning is described by Saunders as “one of the great few strengths of British marketing” (Saunders J, 1996:73).Marketing planning is used by most companies, particularly when they start-up, it is a process which helps predict what will be happening in the future and what actions the company can take to make sure that everything runs smoothly. It involves analysis, planning, implementation, and control.Strategic planning is the key to marketing planning, it will help Wings N’ Things create a balance between what the business goals and capabilities are, and help it with the changing market opportunities.

As Kotler advises:”Failing to plan means planning to fail” (Kotler et all, 2001:76)The four steps of the planning process are, as mentioned above, analysis, planning, implementation and control. Why are these important?The Analysis stage leads to the other stages of planning so must be carried out effectively and efficiently. Analysis involves the company looking at the current situation and seeing what opportunities are available to them and what threats may affect them. The analysis must pay a strong focus on the company’s strengths and weaknesses.The Planning stage involves developing the company’s strategic plan and marketing plans. To do this the company must look at the external environments and the internal situation.

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The company must discuss where they are at present, where they want to go and how they are going to get there; once this is clear it creates the strategic plan (which is planning while being aware of the outside environment). The objectives of the company must revolve around marketing, product and brand. (Perreault et all, 2000)The Implementation stage involves carrying out the planning; it turns the plans into actions. Craven (2001:163) suggests planning is all about ‘making mistakes on paper’ so that when it comes to the implementation stage then things are more likely to run smoothly.As the plans are put into action they will need to be controlled and monitored. To make sure the correct choices were made, evaluation of the results needs to be carried out.

If something is not working, it can be corrected through the continual monitoring.One of the best ways to put a company’s marketing plans together is with one of the most commonly used forms of analysis, the SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats).With a SWOT Analysis, One draws up lists of the company’s strengths, weaknesses, threats and opportunities; identifies the key issues in the external environment (Opportunities and Threats); consider aspects of the company itself under the heading of Strengths and Weaknesses; try to match strengths to opportunities and to minimise threats. One becomes aware of one’s vulnerability when looking at weaknesses in the light of the threats. With this analysis Wings N’ Things can make decisions about how to proceed.Internal SituationStrengthsWhat are the companies strengths /advantages?What is the company good at?WeaknessesWhat is done badly?What could be improved?What should be avoided?External EnvironmentOpportunitiesWhere are the good chances facing the company?What are the interesting trends?Are there any changes in government policy related to the company’s field?ThreatsWhat obstacles does the company face?What is the competition doing?Are there any bad debt or cash-flow problems?By using marketing planning Wings N’ Things will be made to look at itself and the customers along with any other external influences or dangers.

The process makes the business ask tough questions of itself and it creates objectives – this will force the company to look at resources, competition etc.Segmentation, Targeting and PositioningSegmentation, targeting and positioning are essential to all businesses whether selling products or services, business-to-business or business-to-consumer. The three concepts are fundamental in the processes of marketing planning as well as getting the business to gain some kind of competitive advantage.Henderson (1998:90) says that competitors who prosper will have “unique advantages over any and all other competitors in specific combinations of time, place, products and customers”. Segmentation, targeting and positioning are the tools to gain this advantage.

The meaning of each concept is as follows:Segmentation – is the process of selection. Selected target market groups are found then developed into a suitable marketing mix for the company to use.Targeting – is the process of deciding which market the company wants to compete in. Companies need to be careful at this point as there are often many attractive options of where to market but generally there won’t be enough resources to compete in all of them.Positioning – this is about how the marketing mix is applied, the brand the company has and how it wishes to be seen in the eyes of the customer.For Wings N’ Things there is a real issue.

To emphasise on Henderson, a new competitor succeeding depends on the ability of that competitor to develop and identify a clear superiority compared to all existing competitors in some subsection of the total market. Particularly relevant to the analysis and planning stage, Wings N’ Things must apply the principles of segmentation, targeting and positioning to achieve this advantage.It is crucial for any business to know which segments it is operating in; “to know its relative market share in those segments, and to focus on those segments where it can build a leadership position” says Koch (1999:93). While Wings N’ Things is just a small business start-up, the concept is still valid. The more that the business understands the business segment that they are operating in, the more likely that they can compete with others by having lower costs and/or by truly satisfying customers.

Understanding the segments enable the company to choose its strategy.So, Wings N’ Things needs to understand the sectors in which it can compete (local? Frozen food? Organic? Ready meals?). The company then needs to target a specific segment – they need to examine the competitors in the segment and be able to sort them out by differences. They must understand why this segment is different from others and must look for a way to be better than the competitors (positioning).With reference to positioning, McKenna (1991) states that product positioning gives individual products a unique presence in the market. It is this unique position that Wings N’ Things must seek to achieve.

Or, as Peters (2001) says, “if you are the same as your competitors why should your customers bother to buy from you”. Having targeted the segment that Wings N’ Things wish to compete in, they must understand how and why they can be different from their competitors. Good use of market positioning for Wing N’ Things should put it on the road to success.Finally, Wing N’ Things must recognise that there is additional complexity for them in the fact that they are considering a business-to-business operation. Their customers are not the end-users (the consumers) so the company will need to understand that they must satisfy the need of caterers to satisfy their specific customers, some careful thought may be required to make sure that there is a real understanding of how the Wings N’ Things product is seen and how and why it might be purchased through the eyes of the different potential customers.SummaryGood marketing planning will reduce possibility of failure and increase the chances of success.

This is particularly true for a potential start-up as hope is not a method! A methodical and systematic analysis together with some creative and original thinking can create a successful marketing plan. Wing N’ Things, at this stage may decide not to pursue their idea any further. On the other hand, the evidence may support planning and then implementing a plan – clearly the monitoring and evaluation stage will allow the company to improve its performance.Segmentation, targeting and positioning as part of the marketing planning process will focus the attention of Wings N’ Things on those aspects that will make them better or different in the eyes of the (business-to-business) customers.If the marketing concept holds that the key to achieving business goals is about “determining the needs and wants of target markets and delivering the desired satisfactions more effectively and efficiently than competitors” (Kotler P, 1988:11) then these two tools go a long way to improving your chance of business success.