BUSS3 - The Marketing Plan in fewer than 1000 words

For my first blog of 2012/13 I decided to jump right in at the deep end and tackle, what I consider to be one of the key topics on the BUSS3 syllabus.  The examiner loves marketing planning so it comes up on the paper all the time.  Even if they don’t ask you about this topic directly, if you are one of the few students that really grasps it, you’ll be on the road to the big marks and examination stardom!  Fancy a slice of success?  If so, read on!

The BUSS3 paper is essentially asking you to consider a business experiencing difficulty, review the pressures and constraints it faces and analyse and evaluate the options available to them to overcome the problems and be successful.  In a nutshell which strategies a specific business should use for success.

It doesn’t take a genius to work out that effective marketing is essential if any business is to exploit market opportunities, maximise their performance and outperform its rivals.  Although various models of marketing planning exist they can all essentially be simplified into 4 clear and concise steps. http://tutor2u.net/business/marketing/planning_process.asp

Step 1: Outline the Aims and Objectives

The starting point for any good marketing plan is for a business to consider its broader organisational vision/mission and their corporate aims and objectives.  The corporate aims and objectives refer to what the business wishes to achieve in the future.  They are a statement of purpose which outlines the aspirations of the business e.g. international expansion or to grow domestic market share.  Any marketing plan must support these broader and overarching objectives, otherwise the business runs the risk of being distracted from what it originally set out to achieve or performing poorly.

Step 2: Analyse the Environment

This is where so many businesses often get it so wrong.  Analysing the environment, or to use another expression ‘environmental scanning’ (Johnson and Scholes), simply refers to the process of exploring the external environment (the market) and attempting to further understanding your specific strengths and weaknesses.  This is essential if a business it to truly grasp the competitive pressures of the environment in which they operate (e.g. the UK Coffee shop market – see specimen paper) and how they can best exploit the opportunities that exist.  A good environmental analysis will take account of both internal and external factors.

Internal Analysis

Essentially this is a consideration of their specific strengths (S) and weaknesses (W) from the marketing tool SWOT analysis.  For example a business like Starbucks is likely to identify its Brand name as a strength, whereas they may consider their fixed costs to be a weakness. Considering these internal factors will help a business to identify which features to focus upon when developing their marketing strategy as well as helping them to identify areas for improvement

External Analysis

This is much trickier than the above as when dealing with the external marketplace you are essentially dealing with the unknown.  With this in mind a business needs some models to help them get to grips with what is really occurring in the marketplace.  The following tools do this:

1.  Consider the opportunities (O) and threats (T) of the market.  For example, if market demand is growing this is a wonderful opportunity.  If the level of competition is on the increase this is a huge threat.

2.  Conduct a PEST analysis.  This encourages businesses to consider the political, economic, social and technological factors which are shaping the market in which they operate.  For example if the economy is in recession this is an economic factor which must be considered, especially when it comes to pricing decisions.

3.  Use Porter’s 5 Force Model of market analysis. This model helps businesses to judge the attractiveness of a market based on 5 competitive forces and therefore figure out if it is worth trying to compete in.   

4.  Review the market data.  For example consider market demand, review levels of consumer spending, calculate moving averages and investigate the number of rivals.

Step 3: Devise an appropriate marketing strategy

Armed with a thorough understanding of the marketplace and their specific strengths and weaknesses a business is now much better placed to adopt a relevant strategy in order to be successful.  Marketing strategies usually involve adopting one or more of Ansoff’s marketing strategies or one of Porter’s generic strategies. At this stage, businesses will outline their SMART marketing objectives e.g. to grow domestic market share in the Northwest of England by 5% by 2014.  Such forecasts will allow the business to monitor their progress and judge the effectiveness of their plan when implemented.

Stage 4: Implement and review the plan

This stage is concerned with the real nitty gritty of putting the marketing plan into action.  To keep things short and sweet I’ve put a few examples of typical constraints and considerations likely to arise for businesses below:

-  Does the business have the necessary funds to enact the plan?

-  Is the timeframe outlined by the business realistic?

-  Does the business have the HR skills and operational capacity to deliver the marketing plan?

Businesses must review whether or not their strategy is successful.  If not they must be bold enough to change course or risk continued failure.

The following specimen paper is perfect exam practice if you want to test your new knowledge http://store.aqa.org.uk/qual/gce/pdf/AQA-BUSS3-W-SMS-07.PDF.

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