What are the different levels of marketing planning?
The term marketing plan is defined in many different ways. Some see a marketing plan as a strategic document in which the mission, vision, proposition and target segment of the company are defined. Others define a marketing plan as a concrete document which defines what has to be done to realize a specific short-term marketing goal.
In essence, five levels of marketing planning can be distinguished:
- Company strategy plan: First a company needs to define its mission, vision, goals and overall plan on how to accomplish its goals. To create a company strategy plan the company often needs to determine its SWOT for which an analysis of competitors and outside trends needs to be identified.
- Marketing strategy plan: Based on the overall strategy, the overall proposition of the company can be defined. In what markets/marketplaces does the company want to be active, offering what products and at what prices? How can these products best be promoted and what service levels should be offered. This can be a complex exercise as a company has multiple brands and product lines, for multiple consumer segments, in multiple countries (see also: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marketing_plan).
- Marketing program plan: A marketing program goes one level deeper and sets goals for a specific product (line) in a specific market for a specific customer segment. It usually encompasses the period of one year. It often includes multiple marketing goals, like a new product launch, increasing product awareness, increasing sales towards different customer segments and increasing repeat purchases
- Marketing campaign plan: Part of a marketing program plan can be several campaigns to realize specific marketing goals (increasing brand awareness, upselling additional services, entering a new market, etcetera). Usually a campaign only has one goal and message. The time lines are often shorter, from a few months to only a week. Different marketing campaigns can also overlap. For example many supermarkets work with a bi-monthly loyalty campaign (collecting sport cards, glassware) and weekly sales-increasing deals (e.g. 25% discount on all Coca-Cola products).
- Marketing media plan: Within a marketing campaign, media has to be bought to communicate the chosen message. A media plan describes what media have been chosen (and why), describes how the overall message is fine-tuned to the different media (on Twitter you have less space to communicate your message than via a TV commercial) and when what message is communicated via what media. The schedule is often also important for other departments within the organization like inventory management (making sure enough inventory is available to handle peaks in demand) and customer service (answering an increase in product-related questions).
The levels described above are not based on any scientific model. Often different aspects of different levels are combined into one plan depending on the needs of the company. Before you start writing a plan, you need to determine what actually has to be further defined. Are the questions of a more strategic level or are the needs very concrete on a campaign or media plan level (or somewhere in between)?