Any person, corporation, or nation should know who or where they are, where they want to be, and how to get there. The strategic-planning process utilizes analytical models that provide a realistic picture of the individual, corporation, or nation at its “consciously incompetent” level, creating the necessary motivation for the development of a strategic plan. The process requires five distinct steps outlined below and the selected strategy must be sufficiently robust to enable the firm to perform activities differently from its rivals or to perform similar activities in a more efficient manner.
A good strategic plan includes metrics that translate the vision and mission into specific end points. This is critical because strategic planning is ultimately about resource allocation and would not be relevant if resources were unlimited. This article aims to explain how finance, financial goals, and financial performance can play a more integral role in the strategic planning and decision-making process, particularly in the implementation and monitoring stage.
The Strategic-Planning and Decision-Making Process
1. Vision Statement
The creation of a broad statement about the company’s values, purpose, and future direction is the first step in the strategic-planning process. The vision statement must express the company’s core ideologies—what it stands for and why it exists—and its vision for the future, that is, what it aspires to be, achieve, or create.
2. Mission Statement
An effective mission statement conveys eight key components about the firm: target customers and markets; main products and services; geographic domain; core technologies; commitment to survival, growth, and profitability; philosophy; self-concept; and desired public image. The finance component is represented by the company’s commitment to survival, growth, and profitability. The company’s long-term financial goals represent its commitment to a strategy that is innovative, updated, unique, value-driven, and superior to those of competitors.
This third step is an analysis of the firm’s business trends, external opportunities, internal resources, and core competencies. For external analysis, firms often utilize Porter’s five forces model of industry competition, which identifies the company’s level of rivalry with existing competitors, the threat of substitute products, the potential for new entrants, the bargaining power of suppliers, and the bargaining power of customers.
For internal analysis, companies can apply the industry evolution model, which identifies takeoff (technology, product quality, and product performance features), rapid growth (driving costs down and pursuing product innovation), early maturity and slowing growth (cost reduction, value services, and aggressive tactics to maintain or gain market share), market saturation (elimination of marginal products and continuous improvement of value-chain activities), and stagnation or decline (redirection to fastest-growing market segments and efforts to be a low-cost industry leader).
Another method, value-chain analysis clarifies a firm’s value-creation process based on its primary and secondary activities. This becomes a more insightful analytical tool when used in conjunction with activity-based costing and benchmarking tools that help the firm determine its major costs, resource strengths, and competencies, as well as identify areas where productivity can be improved and where re-engineering may produce a greater economic impact.
SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) is a classic model of internal and external analysis providing management information to set priorities and fully utilize the firm’s competencies and capabilities to exploit external opportunities, determine the critical weaknesses that need to be corrected, and counter existing threats.
4. Strategy Formulation
To formulate a long-term strategy, Porter’s generic strategies model  is useful as it helps the firm aim for one of the following competitive advantages: a) low-cost leadership (product is a commodity, buyers are price-sensitive, and there are few opportunities for differentiation); b) differentiation (buyers’ needs and preferences are diverse and there are opportunities for product differentiation); c) best-cost provider (buyers expect superior value at a lower price); d) focused low-cost (market niches with specific tastes and needs); or e) focused differentiation (market niches with unique preferences and needs).
5. Strategy Implementation and Management
In the last ten years, the balanced scorecard (BSC) has become one of the most effective management instruments for implementing and monitoring strategy execution as it helps to align strategy with expected performance and it stresses the importance of establishing financial goals for employees, functional areas, and business units. The BSC ensures that the strategy is translated into objectives, operational actions, and financial goals and focuses on four key dimensions: financial factors, employee learning and growth, customer satisfaction, and internal business processes.
The Role of Finance
Financial metrics have long been the standard for assessing a firm’s performance. The BSC supports the role of finance in establishing and monitoring specific and measurable financial strategic goals on a coordinated, integrated basis, thus enabling the firm to operate efficiently and effectively. Financial goals and metrics are established based on benchmarking the “best-in-industry” and include:
1. Free Cash Flow
This is a measure of the firm’s financial soundness and shows how efficiently its financial resources are being utilized to generate additional cash for future investments. It represents the net cash available after deducting the investments and working capital increases from the firm’s operating cash flow. Companies should utilize this metric when they anticipate substantial capital expenditures in the near future or follow-through for implemented projects.
2. Economic Value-Added
This is the bottom-line contribution on a risk-adjusted basis and helps management to make effective, timely decisions to expand businesses that increase the firm’s economic value and to implement corrective actions in those that are destroying its value. It is determined by deducting the operating capital cost from the net income. Companies set economic value-added goals to effectively assess their businesses’ value contributions and improve the resource allocation process.
3. Asset Management
This calls for the efficient management of current assets (cash, receivables, inventory) and current liabilities (payables, accruals) turnovers and the enhanced management of its working capital and cash conversion cycle. Companies must utilize this practice when their operating performance falls behind industry benchmarks or benchmarked companies.
4. Financing Decisions and Capital Structure
Here, financing is limited to the optimal capital structure (debt ratio or leverage), which is the level that minimizes the firm’s cost of capital. This optimal capital structure determines the firm’s reserve borrowing capacity (short- and long-term) and the risk of potential financial distress. Companies establish this structure when their cost of capital rises above that of direct competitors and there is a lack of new investments.
5. Profitability Ratios
This is a measure of the operational efficiency of a firm. Profitability ratios also indicate inefficient areas that require corrective actions by management; they measure profit relationships with sales, total assets, and net worth. Companies must set profitability ratio goals when they need to operate more effectively and pursue improvements in their value-chain activities.
6. Growth Indices
Growth indices evaluate sales and market share growth and determine the acceptable trade-off of growth with respect to reductions in cash flows, profit margins, and returns on investment. Growth usually drains cash and reserve borrowing funds, and sometimes, aggressive asset management is required to ensure sufficient cash and limited borrowing. Companies must set growth index goals when growth rates have lagged behind the industry norms or when they have high operating leverage.
7. Risk Assessment and Management
A firm must address its key uncertainties by identifying, measuring, and controlling its existing risks in corporate governance and regulatory compliance, the likelihood of their occurrence, and their economic impact. Then, a process must be implemented to mitigate the causes and effects of those risks. Companies must make these assessments when they anticipate greater uncertainty in their business or when there is a need to enhance their risk culture.
8. Tax Optimization
Many functional areas and business units need to manage the level of tax liability undertaken in conducting business and to understand that mitigating risk also reduces expected taxes. Moreover, new initiatives, acquisitions, and product development projects must be weighed against their tax implications and net after-tax contribution to the firm’s value. In general, performance must, whenever possible, be measured on an after-tax basis. Global companies must adopt this measure when operating in different tax environments, where they are able to take advantage of inconsistencies in tax regulations.
The introduction of the balanced scorecard emphasized financial performance as one of the key indicators of a firm’s success and helped to link strategic goals to performance and provide timely, useful information to facilitate strategic and operational control decisions. This has led to the role of finance in the strategic planning process becoming more relevant than ever.
Empirical studies have shown that a vast majority of corporate strategies fail during execution. The above financial metrics help firms implement and monitor their strategies with specific, industry-related, and measurable financial goals, strengthening the organization’s capabilities with hard-to-imitate and non-substitutable competencies. They create sustainable competitive advantages that maximize a firm’s value, the main objective of all stakeholders.
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Authors of the article
Pedro M. Kono, DBA, is a professor of finance at Graziadio School of Business and Management at Pepperdine University and Fox School of Business at Temple University. He is also the president of Key Financing Solutions, a company engaged in structuring vendor programs and international financing. Dr. Kono worked for many years for Citigroup in the U.S., U.K., Japan, and Brazil, and gained significant international and diversified management experience at commercial banking, leasing, and finance companies. He obtained his doctoral degree from Wayne Huizenga School of Business and Entrepreneurship at Nova Southeastern University and has conducted research in the fields of corporate finance, specifically in the investment area, and corporate strategy. He is currently researching the market efficiency hypothesis and the performance of Exchange-Traded Funds (ETFs) in the U.S., Japan, and Brazil.
Barry Barnes, PhD, is the Chair of Leadership at Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, where he teaches graduate-level courses in leadership, strategic decision making, and organizational behavior. In 2009, he received an Outstanding Research Award at the Global Conference on Business and Finance; he received a Best Paper Award at the International Global Academy of Business, and he was selected as Faculty Member of the Year in 2000. Dr. Barnes has published in the International Journal of Organizational Analysis, The International Journal of Business Research, Review of Business Research, the Journal of Applied Management and Entrepreneurship, and other journals. His recent research and writing focus on the relationship between leadership, organizational change, and strategy, as well as the innovative and improvisational business practices of the legendary rock band the Grateful Dead.
A marketing plan may be part of an overall business plan. Solid marketing strategy is the foundation of a well-written marketing plan. While a marketing plan contains a list of actions, without a sound strategic foundation, it is of little use to a business.
A marketing plan is a comprehensive document or blueprint that outlines a business advertising and marketing efforts for the coming year. It describes business activities involved in accomplishing specific marketing objectives within a set time frame. A marketing plan also includes a description of the current marketing position of a business, a discussion of the target market and a description of the marketing mix that a business will use to achieve their marketing goals. A marketing plan has a formal structure, but can be used as a formal or informal document which makes it very flexible. It contains some historical data, future predictions, and methods or strategies to achieve the marketing objectives. Marketing plans start with the identification of customer needs through a market research and how the business can satisfy these needs while generating an acceptable return. This includes processes such as market situation analysis, action programs, budgets, sales forecasts, strategies and projected financial statements. A marketing plan can also be described as a technique that helps a business to decide on the best use of its resources to achieve corporate objectives. It can also contain a full analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of a company, its organization and its products.
The marketing plan shows the step or actions that will be utilized in order to achieve the plan goals. For example, a marketing plan may include a strategy to increase the business's market share by fifteen percent. The marketing plan would then outline the objectives that need to be achieved in order to reach the fifteen percent increase in the business market share. The marketing plan can be used to describe the methods of applying a company's marketing resources to fulfill marketing objectives. Marketing planning segments the markets, identifies the market position, forecast the market size, and plans a viable market share within each market segment. Marketing planning can also be used to prepare a detailed case for introducing a new product, revamping current marketing strategies for an existing product or put together a company marketing plan to be included in the company corporate or business plan.
A marketing plan should be based on where a company needs to be at some point in the future. These are some of the most important things that companies need when developing a marketing plan:
- Market research: Gathering and classifying data about the market the organization is currently in. Examining the market dynamics, patterns, customers, and the current sales volume for the industry as a whole.
- Competition: The marketing plan should identify the organization's competition. The plan should describe how the organization will stick out from its competition and what it will do to become a market leader.
- Market plan strategies: Developing the marketing and promotion strategies that the organization will use. Such strategies may include advertising, direct marketing, training programs, trade shows, website, etc.
- Marketing plan budget: Strategies identified in the marketing plan should be within the budget. Top managers need to revise what they hope to accomplish with the marketing plan, review their current financial situation, and then allocate funding for the marketing plan.
- Marketing goals: The marketing plan should include attainable marketing goals. For example, one goal might be to increase the current client base by 100 over a three-month period.
- Monitoring of the marketing plan results: The marketing plan should include the process of analyzing the current position of the organization. The organization needs to identify the strategies that are working and those that are not working.
One of the main purposes of developing a marketing plan is to set the company on a specific path in marketing. The marketing goals normally aligns itself to the broader company objectives. For example, a new company looking to grow their business will generally have a marketing plan that emphasizes strategies to increase their customer base. Acquiring marketing share, increasing customer awareness, and building a favorable business image are some of the objectives that can be related to marketing planning. The marketing plan also helps layout the necessary budget and resources needed to achieve the goals stated in the marketing plan. The marketing plan shows what the company is intended to accomplish within the budget and also to make it possible for company executives to assess potential return on the investment of marketing dollars. Different aspects of the marketing plan relate to accountability. The marketing plan is a general responsibility from company leaders and the marketing staff to take the company in a specific direction. After the strategies are laid out and the tasks are developed, each task is assigned to a person or a team for implementation. The assigned roles allows companies to keep track of their milestones and communicate with the teams during the implementation process. Having a marketing plan helps company leaders to develop and keep an eye on the expectations for their functional areas. For example, if a company's marketing plan goal is to increase sales growth then the company leaders may have to increase their sales staff in stores to help generate more sales.
The marketing plan offers a unique opportunity for a productive discussion between employees and leaders of an organization. It provides good communication within the company. The marketing plan also allows the marketing team to examine their past decisions and understand their results in order to better prepare for the future. It also lets the marketing team to observe and study the environment that they are operating in.
Marketing planning aims and objectives
Though it's not clear, Behind the corporate objectives, which in themselves offer the main context for the marketing plan, will lie the "corporate mission," in turn provides the context for these corporate objectives. In a sales-oriented organization, the marketing planning function designs incentive pay plans to not only motivate and reward frontline staff fairly but also to align marketing activities with corporate mission. The marketing plan basically aims to make the business provide the solution with the awareness with the expected customers.
This "corporate mission" can be thought of as a definition of what the organization is, or what it does: "Our business is ...". This definition should not be too narrow, or it will constrict the development of the organization; a too rigorous concentration on the view that "We are in the business of making meat-scales," as IBM was during the early 1900s, might have limited its subsequent development into other areas. On the other hand, it should not be too wide or it will become meaningless; "We want to make a profit" is not too helpful in developing specific plans.
Abell suggested that the definition should cover three dimensions: "customer groups" to be served, "customer needs" to be served, and "technologies" to be used. Thus, the definition of IBM's "corporate mission" in the 1940s might well have been: "We are in the business of handling accounting information [customer need] for the larger US organizations [customer group] by means of punched cards [technology]."
Perhaps the most important factor in successful marketing is the "corporate vision." Surprisingly, it is largely neglected by marketing textbooks, although not by the popular exponents of corporate strategy — indeed, it was perhaps the main theme of the book by Peters and Waterman, in the form of their "Superordinate Goals." "In Search of Excellence" said: "Nothing drives progress like the imagination. The idea precedes the deed."  If the organization in general, and its chief executive in particular, has a strong vision of where its future lies, then there is a good chance that the organization will achieve a strong position in its markets (and attain that future). This will be not least because its strategies will be consistent and will be supported by its staff at all levels. In this context, all of IBM's marketing activities were underpinned by its philosophy of "customer service," a vision originally promoted by the charismatic Watson dynasty. The emphasis at this stage is on obtaining a complete and accurate picture.
A "traditional" — albeit product-based — format for a "brand reference book" (or, indeed, a "marketing facts book") was suggested by Godley more than three decades ago:
- Financial data—Facts for this section will come from management accounting, costing and finance sections.
- Product data—From production, research and development.
- Sales and distribution data — Sales, packaging, distribution sections.
- Advertising, sales promotion, merchandising data — Information from these departments.
- Market data and miscellany — From market research, who would in most cases act as a source for this information. His sources of data, however, assume the resources of a very large organization. In most organizations they would be obtained from a much smaller set of people (and not a few of them would be generated by the marketing manager alone).
It is apparent that a marketing audit can be a complex process, but the aim is simple: "it is only to identify those existing (external and internal) factors which will have a significant impact on the future plans of the company." It is clear that the basic material to be input to the marketing audit should be comprehensive.
Accordingly, the best approach is to accumulate this material continuously, as and when it becomes available; since this avoids the otherwise heavy workload involved in collecting it as part of the regular, typically annual, planning process itself — when time is usually at a premium.
Even so, the first task of this annual process should be to check that the material held in the current facts book or facts files actually is comprehensive and accurate, and can form a sound basis for the marketing audit itself.
The structure of the facts book will be designed to match the specific needs of the organization, but one simple format — suggested by Malcolm McDonald — may be applicable in many cases. This splits the material into three groups:
- Review of the marketing environment. A study of the organization's markets, customers, competitors and the overall economic, political, cultural and technical environment; covering developing trends, as well as the current situation.
- Review of the detailed marketing activity. A study of the company's marketing mix; in terms of the 7 Ps - (see below)
- Review of the marketing system. A study of the marketing organization, marketing research systems and the current marketing objectives and strategies. The last of these is too frequently ignored. The marketing system itself needs to be regularly questioned, because the validity of the whole marketing plan is reliant upon the accuracy of the input from this system, and `garbage in, garbage out' applies with a vengeance.
- * Portfolio planning. In addition, the coordinated planning of the individual products and services can contribute towards the balanced portfolio.
- * 80:20 rule. To achieve the maximum impact, the marketing plan must be clear, concise and simple. It needs to concentrate on the 20 percent of products or services, and on the 20 percent of customers, that will account for 80 percent of the volume and 80 percent of the profit.
- * 7 Ps: Product, Place, Price and Promotion, Physical Environment, People, Process. The 7 Ps can sometimes divert attention from the customer, but the framework they offer can be very useful in building the action plans.
It is only at this stage (of deciding the marketing objectives) that the active part of the marketing planning process begins. This next stage in marketing planning is indeed the key to the whole marketing process.
The "marketing objectives" state just where the company intends to be at some specific time in the future.
James Quinn succinctly defined objectives in general as: Goals (or objectives) state what is to be achieved and when results are to be accomplished, but they do not state "how" the results are to be achieved. They typically relate to what products (or services) will be where in what markets (and must be realistically based on customer behavior in those markets). They are essentially about the match between those "products" and "markets." Objectives for pricing, distribution, advertising and so on are at a lower level, and should not be confused with marketing objectives. They are part of the marketing strategy needed to achieve marketing objectives. To be most effective, objectives should be capable of measurement and therefore "quantifiable." This measurement may be in terms of sales volume, money value, market share, percentage penetration of distribution outlets and so on. An example of such a measurable marketing objective might be "to enter the market with product Y and capture 10 percent of the market by value within one year." As it is quantified it can, within limits, be unequivocally monitored, and corrective action taken as necessary.
The marketing objectives must usually be based, above all, on the organization's financial objectives; converting these financial measurements into the related marketing measurements. He went on to explain his view of the role of "policies," with which strategy is most often confused: "Policies are rules or guidelines that express the 'limits' within which action should occur. "Simplifying somewhat, marketing strategies can be seen as the means, or "game plan," by which marketing objectives will be achieved and, in the framework that appears here, are generally concerned with the 8 P's. Examples are:
- Price — The amount of money needed to buy products
- Product — The actual product
- Promotion (advertising)- Getting the product known
- Placement — Where the product is sold
- People — Represent the business
- Physical environment — The ambiance, mood, or tone of the environment
- Process — The Value-added services that differentiate the product from the competition (e.g. after-sales service, warranties)
- Packaging — How the product will be protected
In principle, these strategies describe how the objectives will be achieved. The 7 Ps are a useful framework for deciding how a company's resources will be manipulated (strategically) to achieve its objectives. However, the 7 Ps are not the only framework, and may divert attention from other real issues. The focus of a business's strategies must be the objectives of the business— not the process of planning itself. If the 7 Ps fit the business's strategies, then the 7 Ps may be an acceptable framework for that business.
The strategy statement can take the form of a purely verbal description of the strategic options which have been chosen. Alternatively, and perhaps more positively, it might include a structured list of the major options chosen.
One aspect of strategy which is often overlooked is that of "timing." The timing of each element of the strategy is critical. Taking the right action at the wrong time can sometimes be almost as bad as taking the wrong action at the right time. Timing is, therefore, an essential part of any plan; and should normally appear as a schedule of planned activities. Having completed this crucial stage of the planning process, to re-check the feasibility of objectives and strategies in terms of the market share, sales, costs, profits and so on which these demand in practice. As in the rest of the marketing discipline, employ judgment, experience, market research or anything else which helps for conclusions to be seen from all possible angles.
At this stage, overall marketing strategies will need to be developed into detailed plans and program. Although these detailed plans may cover each of the 7 Ps (marketing mix), the focus will vary, depending upon the organization's specific strategies. A product-oriented company will focus its plans for the 7 Ps around each of its products. A market or geographically oriented company will concentrate on each market or geographical area. Each will base its plans upon the detailed needs of its customers, and on the strategies chosen to satisfy these needs. Brochures and Websites are used effectively.
Again, the most important element is, the detailed plans, which spell out exactly what programs and individual activities will carry at the period of the plan (usually over the next year). Without these activities the plan cannot be monitored. These plans must therefore be:
- Clear - They should be an unambiguous statement of 'exactly' what is to be done.
- Quantified - The predicted outcome of each activity should be, as far as possible, quantified, so that its performance can be monitored.
- Focused - The temptation to proliferate activities beyond the numbers which can be realistically controlled should be avoided. The 80:20 Rule applies in this context too.
- Realistic - They should be achievable.
- Agreed - Those who are to implement them should be committed to them, and agree that they are achievable. The resulting plans should become a working document which will guide the campaigns taking place throughout the organization over the period of the plan. If the marketing plan is to work, every exception to it (throughout the year) must be questioned; and the lessons learnt, to be incorporated in the next year's .
Content of the marketing plan
A Marketing Plan for a small business typically includes Small Business Administration Description of competitors, including the level of demand for the product or service and the strengths and weaknesses of competitors
- Description of the product or service, including special features
- Marketing budget, including the advertising and promotional plan
- Description of the business location, including advantages and disadvantages for marketing
- Pricing strategy
- Market Segmentation
Medium-sized and large organizations
The main contents of a marketing plan are:
- Executive Summary
- Situational Analysis
- Opportunities / Issue Analysis - SWOT Analysis
- Marketing Strategy
- Action Program (the operational marketing plan itself for the period under review)
- Financial Forecast
In detail, a complete marketing plan typically includes:
- Title Page
- Executive Summary
- Current Situation - Macroenvironment
- Economic State
- Legal State
- Governmental State
- Technological State
- Ecological State
- Sociocultural State
- Supply chain State
- Current Situation - Market Analysis
- Current Situation - Consumer Analysis 
- Nature of the buying decision
- Buyer motivation and expectations
- Loyalty segments
- Current Situation - Internal
- Company Resources
- People (workforce)
- Mission statement and Vision statement
- Corporate objectives
- Financial objective
- Marketing objectives
- Long term objectives
- Description of the basic business philosophy
- Corporate Culture (Organizational Culture)
- Company Resources
- Summary of Situation Analysis
- Marketing Research
- Information requirements
- Research methodology
- Research results
- Marketing Strategy - Product
- Marketing Strategy - segmented marketing actions and market share objectives
- By product
- By customer segment
- By geographical market
- By distribution channel
- Marketing Strategy - Price
- Marketing Strategy - Promotion
- Marketing Strategy - Distribution
- Geographical coverage
- Distribution channels
- Physical distribution and logistics
- Electronic distribution
- Financial Summary
- Prediction of future scenarios
- Plan of action for each scenario
- Pictures and specifications of products
- Results from completed research
Measurement of progress
The final stage of any marketing planning process is to establish targets (or standards) so that progress can be monitored. Accordingly, it is important to put both quantities and timescales into the marketing objectives (for example, to capture 20 percent by value of the market within two years) and into the corresponding strategies. Marketers must be ready to update and adapt marketing plans at any time. The marketing plan should define how progress towards objectives will be measured. Managers typically use budgets, schedules and marketing metrics for monitoring and evaluating results. With budget, they can compare planned expenditures with actual expenditures for given period. Schedules allow management to see when tasks were supposed to be completed and when they actually were. Marketing metrics tracks actual outcomes of marketing programs to see whether the company is moving forward towards its objectives (P. Kotler, K.L. Keller).
Changes in the environment mean that the forecasts often have to be changed. Along with these, the related plans may well also need to be changed. Continuous monitoring of performance, against predetermined targets, represents a most important aspect of this. However, perhaps even more important is the enforced discipline of a regular formal review. Again, as with forecasts, in many cases the best (most realistic) planning cycle will revolve around a quarterly review. Best of all, at least in terms of the quantifiable aspects of the plans, if not the wealth of backing detail, is probably a quarterly rolling review — planning one full year ahead each new quarter. Of course, this does absorb more planning resource; but it also ensures that the plans embody the latest information, and — with attention focused on them so regularly — forces both the plans and their implementation to be realistic.
Plans only have validity if they are actually used to control the progress of a company: their success lies in their implementation, not in the writing'.
The most important elements of marketing performance, which are normally tracked, are:
Most organizations track their sales results; or, in non-profit organizations for example, the number of clients. The more sophisticated track them in terms of 'sales variance' - the deviation from the target figures — which allows a more immediate picture of deviations to become evident.
`Micro-analysis', which is simply the normal management process of investigating detailed problems, then investigates the individual elements (individual products, sales territories, customers and so on) which are failing to meet targets
Market share analysis
Few organizations track market share though it is often an important metric. Though absolute sales might grow in an expanding market, a firm's share of the market can decrease which bodes ill for future sales when the market starts to drop. Where such market share is tracked, there may be a number of aspects which will be followed:
- overall market share
- segment share — that in the specific, targeted segment
- relative share
The key ratio to watch in this area is usually the `marketing expense to sales ratio'; although this may be broken down into other elements (advertising to sales, sales administration to sales, and so on).
Expense analysis can be defined as a detailed report of all the expenses that a business incurs. It is produced on a monthly, quarterly and yearly basis. It can be dissected into small business subsets to determine how much money each area is costing the company.
In marketing, the marketing expense-to-sales ratio plays an important part in expense analysis because it is used to align marketing spend with industry norms. Marketing expense-to-sales ratio helps the company drive its marketing spend productivity. Marketing expense-to-sales analysis is also included with the sales analysis, market share analysis, financial analysis and market-based scorecard analysis as one of the five analysis tools marketers used to control and drive spending productivity. The marketing expense-to-sales ratio allows companies to track actual spending that is relative to the accepted budget and relative to sales goals as stated in the marketing plan.
The "bottom line" of marketing activities should at least in theory, be the net profit (for all except non-profit organizations, where the comparable emphasis may be on remaining within budgeted costs). There are a number of separate performance figures and key ratios which need to be tracked:
There can be considerable benefit in comparing these figures with those achieved by other organizations (especially those in the same industry); using, for instance, the figures which can be obtained (in the UK) from `The Centre for Interfirm Comparison'. The most sophisticated use of this approach, however, is typically by those making use of PIMS (Profit Impact of Management Strategies), initiated by the General Electric Company and then developed by Harvard Business School, but now run by the Strategic Planning Institute.
The above performance analyses concentrate on the quantitative measures which are directly related to short-term performance. But there are a number of indirect measures, essentially tracking customer attitudes, which can also indicate the organization's performance in terms of its longer-term marketing strengths and may accordingly be even more important indicators. Some useful measures are:
- market research — including customer panels (which are used to track changes over time)
- lost business — the orders which were lost because, for example, the stock was not available or the product did not meet the customer's exact requirements
- customer complaints — how many customers complain about the products or services, or the organization itself, and about what
Use of marketing plans
A formal, written marketing plan is essential; in that it provides an unambiguous reference point for activities throughout the planning period. However, perhaps the most important benefit of these plans is the planning process itself. This typically offers a unique opportunity, a forum, for information-rich and productively focused discussions between the various managers involved. The plan, together with the associated discussions, then provides an agreed context for their subsequent management activities, even for those not described in the plan itself. Additionally, marketing plans are included in business plans, offering data showing investors how the company will grow and most importantly, how they will get a return on investment.
Budgets as managerial tools
The classic quantification of a marketing plan appears in the form of budgets. Because these are so rigorously quantified, they are particularly important. They should, thus, represent an unequivocal projection of actions and expected results. What is more, they should be capable of being monitored accurately; and, indeed, performance against budget is the main (regular) management review process.
The purpose of a marketing budget is to pull together all the revenues and costs involved in marketing into one comprehensive document. The budget is a managerial tool that balances what is needed to be spent against what can be afforded, and helps make choices about priorities. A budget can further be used to measure a business's performance in the general trends of a business's spending.
The marketing budget is usually the most powerful tool by which one can determine the relationship between desired results and available means. Its starting point should be the marketing strategies and plans, which have already been formulated in the marketing plan itself; although, in practice, the two will run in parallel and will interact. At the very least, a thorough budget may cause a change in the more optimistic elements of a company's business plans.
- H. A. Simon, "Rational decision making in business organisations," American Economic Review
- J. Pfeffer and G. R. Salancik, The External Control of Organizations
- K. Paolo Sumagaysay, "The oversaturated world"