The Why And How Of A Marketing Plan
Whether the Marketing program of York University in Toronto, Canada ranks highly or not is beyond my knowledge, but reading Marketing Led Sales Driven it occurred to me multiple times that professor Ajay K. Sirsi who teaches/taught there is not just knowledgeable about marketing, but is also very passionate about marketing plans. In his opinion the Marketing department at a company leads and Sales follows. The Marketing department sets the plan, parameters and outlines the steps and Sales executes in tandem. That model is one Pandora’s Box that won’t be opened in this review! The author notes that Marketing and Sales are two sides of the same coin and the company needs to rally around this notion. Figure 2.1 depicts this simple connection. Speaking of which, and to be clear, the book’s title hints at a broader topic than the rather focused content of these pages.
A colleague of mine from work handed me this title as a gift and, despite it taking me a while to begin reading due to a backlog of books waiting on the shelf, it was something well worth reading not only because of my occupation or that one of my degrees is in Marketing, but because the author and his self-published book have attentively included multiple charts and graphs to explain the contents in detail. It is always beneficial when the book augments its text and information with samples of which there are three in this book in the form of three appendices; a complete Marketing Plan sample, a complete Sales Plan sample and a complete Key Account Plan example. The author provides the reader with templates. There are even time-lines and a calendar as well.
The book does occasionally become confusing layout and order-wise, but overall it is concise and easy to read and understand.
In seven chapters (200 pages fifty of which are the aforementioned appendices) Marketing Led Sales Driven describes the imperatives of a Marketing plan, the Sales execution that needs to follow including the necessary and mandatory components and the pitfalls to watch for step by step. Page 59 really kicks things off by posing the question we all need to pose, “what business are we in?” and relates and insists that the planning is a must and relevant to all manner of companies, namely from a solo endeavour to a multinational corporation. Examples abound. The question is key because everything one does is to benefit the customer and to do that one needs to segment our customers and markets. Once that is done, the winning company is one that serves its customers better and faster than the competition. Success, Sirsi reminds us, is not accidental and absolutely depends on developing and executing a strategy.
As the author describes the flow is as follows:
- Understand Your Market
- Create A Marketing Strategy
- Deliver And Manage It (including specific time-lines).
A successful enterprise is in alignment and does not work in silos. Successful companies implement at the customer level and the customer level is not the strategic plan level. Also, the author recommends taking the strategic plan one year at a time and implementing at the customer level. Then the team meets regularly to review the marketing activities. In fact, the professor is insistent that a good marketing plan is actionable on a daily basis. The qualities of a good one are outlined in page 66, including the most important one namely being ‘customer focused.’ Chapters 3 and 4 provide more details. All of this, importantly, hinges on data. It is the data that drives everything and without those the exercise is futile. Moreover, the author is of the mind that customers should not be asked regarding their interests, wants and needs. Any customer would ask for more at a lower cost. What the author wants the marketers to determine is what the customer segmentation’s value chain and benefits are. This information not only forms the basis for the annual plan, but should also be relayed to the customer segment as a form of service! An outline of questions to ask in the service of the customer segmentation is on page 56 as is a hi-level way of delivering a SWOT Analysis.
One more thing the author emphasizes is the simple fact that the marketing Plan is to make the company money. One that costs money has it backwards. This is an important point and one that does not get enough sunlight in the corporate world. Elsewhere, the author warns against benchmarking against the competition. It is something the author warns against and calls “a slippery slope.”
On a personal level, the contrasts between Exhibits 5.3 and 5.4 came across as whimsical. You will have to read it for yourself. Suffice to say that the author mocks overly complex and irrelevant customer Marketplace Analyses against simple and matter-of-fact ones.