The 30 (definitive?) benefits of strategic marketing planning (1 of 2)
Let’s start with the first 14
In the previous posts (https://nestplaninternational.com/why-marketing-planning-1-of-2/ and https://nestplaninternational.com/why-marketing-planning-2-of-2/), I tried to emphasize the importance and usefulness of strategic marketing planning, in both profit and non-profit organizations, precisely because of the uncertainties and speed of change in the business environment, that are incredibly cited as some reasons for not planning by some pranksters (burloni or mattacchioni in Italian)!
By the way, my granddaughter Irma’s jump in the photo above summarizes well the idea of overall performance produced by planning, but let’s be more analytical.
The major and numerous benefits provided by a good planning process, particularly in the marketing area that, as we have seen, is at the heart of any organization’s wealth, should be relatively obvious, and most of them are strictly interrelated and somewhat overlapping, but I think it’s worth listing them in detail, since most companies ignore them altogether.
As a matter of fact, I saw on the web several checklists that propose 5, 10 or 17 good reasons for marketing planning, but I believe that they are more numerous, and classified them into six major categories.
Here are the first two.
A. Guidance, direction, and control
- planning forces the definition of specific and measurable objectives: without these, we would just have generic statements of intent, hardly translatable into guidelines for action;
- in view of these objectives, planning requires the development of medium and long-term forecasts and projections, developing the ability to interpret data and make reasonable estimates when data are missing;
- especially if the projections are supported by simple software tools such as an electronic spreadsheet, it’s easy to conduct sensitivity analyses of the estimated results, based on changes in the assumptions …
- … and, therefore, compare the relative attractiveness of alternative courses of action …
- which is the indispensable prerequisite for estimating the opportunity costs of the various alternatives, systematically neglected in most companies;
- in practice, the plan represents an explicit guide to action, i.e. a sort of compass that allows an easier identification of the route to be followed for reaching the objectives;
- thanks to this compass, it will therefore be easier to focus the firm’s efforts and resources, improving the effectiveness of the planned moves;
- it will also be easier to translate the strategic guidelines into operational plans, with the identification of roles, responsibilities, activities, deadlines …
- … and, therefore, the possibility of controlling both the attainment of the stated objectives and the correct implementation of the planned activities.
B. Analysis, interpretation, and information management
- planning forces the identification and explicit description of the industry characteristics, and of the related opportunities and threats;
- consequently, it allows the identification of the firm’s potential strengths and weaknesses in relation to these characteristics;
- it therefore facilitates the identification of the information needs, and a check of completeness of the analysis;
- over time, it allows the creation, development, and consolidation of an invaluable knowledge base and hardly copiable know-how, that are easily accessible anytime by anybody (qualified and interested in contributing to them), instead of being randomly stored and dispersed in the brains of few people, with all the attached risks of being lost;
- not to mention the often-neglected fact that planning facilitates planning (!), i.e. helps at developing, over time, the ability to capitalize on experiences and know-how, look forward, and formulate realistic and quantifiable projections, based on explicit, systematic, and thoughtful assumptions.
I will address the other four categories of benefits (from the 15th to the 30th) in a coming post, but I’m sure that, looking at benefits n. B1 and B2 above, you must have thought at the famous SWOT analysis: I have always been critical about the way its meaningful logic is normally translated into practice, but I’ll talk about that in another occasion. (continued in a coming post)