There is more than enough evidence to link a company's financial performance to its ability to successfully execute on a marketing plan. If marketers are to gain credibility in the boardroom, they will need to demonstrate an ability to design and deliver on a marketing plan that:
- Provides a clear direction
- Demonstrates an astute understanding of an increasingly challenging environment
- Acknowledges the complexities and opportunities presented by social media
- Acts as alignment tool within the organization itself
- Secures commitment from all the key stakeholders
For a marketing plan to really work, it needs to be developed as a result of input from as many parts of the business as possible. A marketing plan needs to answer the questions of value proposition, of key benefits, of past successes, and of potential future scenarios within a given market. A really good marketing plan asks a barrel load of questions about the organizations goals and objectives, about the company's history and about the market demographics.
Strategic marketing asks questions about current markets (primary and secondary) and looks to track trends from sales data. It examines market share, product awareness and brand loyalty. It examines, in detail, consumer buying habits, channels to market and pricing. There's nothing new here. But for the burgeoning services industry, a marketing plan will need to move beyond the traditional "4P's" of marketing and consider sustainability, corporate reputation, and corporate identity at a much more strategic level. Now that the power of viral communication is in the hands of the individual, the marketing plans of tomorrow will need to be more agile, more responsive, and certainly provide more embedded feedback from the market. More than ever, marketers have their work cut out.