The central point in planning for marketing decisions is the Marketing Plan. As we note in the highly detailed How to Write a Marketing Plan Tutorial, the plan serves several functions including:
- Forcing marketing personnel to look internally in order to fully understand the results of past marketing decisions.
- Forcing marketing personnel to look externally in order to fully understand the market in which they operate.
- Setting future goals and providing direction for future marketing efforts that everyone within the organization should understand and support.
- Serving as a key component in obtaining funding to pursue new initiatives.
For companies operating separate units in different international markets, a different Marketing Plan is often needed for each market even though the same product is sold in each location. This is often necessary since the conditions for one market may be significantly different than another market and, because of this, require a different marketing approach.
Whether the marketer is creating a short plan intended to cover just a few months or a full-blown document that guides it for a year or more, nearly all plans require the undertaking of significant marketing research to gain stronger insight on the market. With knowledge of the market, the marketer can then begin to build the plan, which will include the key components discussed in the next section.