In the study of marketing management, the marketing plan is the most effective tool in which businesses can improve and further their profitability. Ultimately, the marketing plan links companies and organizations to the consumers. It is through the marketing plan that the customer is best mirrored: it reflects people's beliefs, perception, knowledge, and attitude concerning a particular product or service. The overall purpose of a marketing plan is best and concisely explicated by Cheverton (2004), wherein he stated (45):
The marketing plan turns strategy into tactics, bridging the gap between ambitions and actions, and ensuring that the business prospers. Both sides are important to that prosperity. A business that has good direction based on sound thinking (strategy) will survive even though its application in practice (tactics) is poor ... Businesses die when direction is poor and application is poor ... But the businesses that die the fastest are those with poor direction but enthusiastically applied tactics.
From the passage, Cheverton laid bare the most essential and overall purpose of a marketing plan. In it, he emphasized that a marketing plan serves as companies' and organizations' guideline in conducting their businesses, targeting a specific market in the population. It has direction because within it, the objectives, target market, strategies, and implementation steps are contained, giving businesses specific information to increase their product's or service's reach and frequency to the consumers or target market. The success of the market plan -- that is, if the objectives are achieved and strategies executed efficiently -- will, in turn, induce profitability. The marketing plan, in effect, is the company's/organization's outline of steps towards achieving profitability, the mark of success of a business.
More specifically, marketing plans function for businesses in one or more of these purposes: (1) implement timelines and decide what audiences you want to reach; (2) craft messages that target the intended audience; and (3) choose which promotional marketing tools to use to reach the audiences (Weimann, 2003:10). Given these range of purposes of marketing plans, it goes without saying that marketing plans, if carefully analyzed and created, provide a wide range of information and business data that will enable companies and organizations to not only generate profit, but also gain understanding of the business's performance from the point-of-view of the consumers.
More than identifying the purposes of marketing plans, it is also vital to determine the distinction between a marketing plan and a strategic marketing plan. What distinguishes the basic marketing plan from the strategic marketing plan is that the latter gives more emphasis on appropriating the plan to the nature and dynamics of the company or organization. This means that the strategic marketing plan does not only propose strategies that addresses the target market's needs, wants, beliefs, and attitudes, but a plan that sensitively puts into consideration the "necessary internal operational and resource requisites for effective marketing strategizing" (Dibb and Simkin, 2003:11). This means that, a strategic marketing plan integrates the daily operations of the business with the recommendations or strategies proposed in it.
Integrating the "internal operational and resource requisites" does not only mean creating a marketing that would suit the business operations of the client, but also taking note of the culture of the organization/company itself. Strategies proposed must be realistic, in that the proposed plan can be implemented. The plan should benefit or at least would not disrupt the daily operations and activities of the organization or company. As reflected in the findings of Washburn's and Petroshoius' (2004) study, marketing plans should reflect an "understanding" of organizational culture, and at the same time, determine the factors that helped create this culture -- factors that must also be present in the marketing plan (35). Thus, strategic marketing plans are more intensive in its scope, detailed, and customized than the basic marketing plan. It is beneficial for businesses because it can identify specific solutions and strategies to alleviate specific problems in the company. However, it can also be limiting because a strategic marketing plan may not be considered applicable to the company's general objective or business goal.
A strategic marketing plan is mainly composed of four divisions: the marketing objective(s), target markets, marketing mix, and implementation and control. Marketing plans are patterned after the marketing objectives, giving strategic planners an idea what are the needs and requirements of the client. The objectives also help planners re-assess…