How to assess a strategic marketing plan

How do you assess whether a proposed marketing plan is appropriate for your business?

Well the answer depends on four factors:

  1.  Your target market
  2.  Your core positioning
  3.  Your price positioning
  4.  Your total value proposition
  5.  Your distribution strategy
  6.  Your communication strategy

Many managers still see their target market as everybody.  That may be the case for a firm who produces staple goods but even they may limit their marketing activity.  for example Coca Cola do not see children as a target market (even though children consume their products).  If you are trying to be ‘all things to all men’, you may be wasting valuable resources and not making the most of your specific corporate attributes.

It is important that you base your marketing activity on one or two core attributes which position you within the market.  For example, Volvo promote safety, Rolls Royce highlight luxury and BMW advance the core attribute of driving experience; IBM focus on service quality and Aldi on value for money.  All these brands are positioned on one core attribute.  Some firms have more than one core attribute but no more than two or three attributes.

There are various price positioning strategies:

  1. More for more – For example, BMW cars are sold at a price premium but consumers can expect higher quality engineering and service provision.  A family friend regularly purchased a Mercedes from a dealership near Murrayfield.  They arranged to service and valet his vehicle whilst he attended Scotland Rugby internationals.
  2. More for the same – Pepsi sell their Cola at a similar price to that of Coca Cola but in larger bottles.
  3. The same for less – Aldi advertises that its own brand products are of a similar quality to that of high profile brands but at a lower cost.
  4. Less for much less – Used by no frills car brands.  You may not get electric windows or air conditioning in your car but you pay a cheap price.
  5. More for less – Used by companies using loss leader strategies, for example BOGOF (Buy one get one free).

Total value proposition is the answer to the question ‘why should I buy from you?’.  It is your product’s core attribute together with those attributes which surround it (halo attributes such as service provision and packaging).  It is the factors which ensure that consumers buy your products rather than those of your competitors.

Your distribution strategy is how your goods reach your target customer.  For example, the rise of internet banking has seen the closure of high street branches; the post office has moved into acting as a delivery agent for direct mail as email has reduced letter postage.

Your communication strategy is how you tell your target customer that your goods are available.  What is the strategic objective of each form of communication you use?  How are communications budgets to be allocated.  Are you aiming to elicit an emotional or a rational response from your target market?

Each of these five factors must be part of a consistent, joined-up strategy.

Ask yourself the following questions to assess whether  proposed marketing plan is sound:

  1.  Does it include new and exciting opportunities?
  2.  Does it highlight significant threats?
  3.  Does it include clearly defined target markets?
  4.  Will consumers in the target market see your offer as superior?
  5.  Is the proposed strategy consistent and does it use the appropriate marketing tools?
  6.  What is the probability of the plan meeting its declared objectives?
  7. What would be the outcome if you only gave 80% of the requested resources to the plan?
  8. What would the marketing plan be if you gave your marketing strategist 120% of the requested resources?