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To maximize the return on a marketing plan, there needs to be controls in place to monitor the plan’s progress. As a marketing plan moves along, the controls are constantly analyzed to determine how the plan’s actual performance compares to the projections. Any changes that need to be made are done based on the analysis of marketing controls.
Control involves measurement, evaluation, and monitoring. Resources are scarce and costly so it is important to control marketing plans by setting measurable standards for evaluation and monitoring. The marketing manager will than compare actual progress against the standards. Corrective action (if any) is then taken. Understanding what the controls in a marketing plan are will help you develop effective performance measurement indicators.
Below are some common types of marketing plan controls:
- Customer Feedback
- Marketing is designed to persuade consumers to purchase a product or invest in a service. One control put into place in any marketing plan is the monitoring of customer feedback through polls and surveys. You can reach customers indirectly by hosting online polls on the Internet that ask specific questions about your latest marketing plan. Conversely, surveys can be done with marketing groups or via individual interviews by phone or in person. Adjust your marketing plan according to the results of your research. For example, if your marketing campaign includes a new company mascot and customer feedback indicates that the mascot is not popular, then the mascot should be removed from the marketing plan.
- Target Market Sales
- Sales can be measured in units sold, revenue generated or profit amount. Each marketing plan sets out to determine the effect of the plan on the target market. Once again, this is done through market surveys or at the point of sale with the assistance of retail partners. Actual sales in the target market are compared to the marketing plan projections to see if any changes need to be made. For example, if the target market for a marketing plan is males ages 15 to 21, then the target market sales reports would monitor sales made to that group. If sales are down, then further market research needs to be done to see why the target audience is not responding to the marketing. In some cases, analyzing a demographic breakdown of sales may indicate that the initial target market was inaccurate and a new target market may emerge based on sales data.
- A marketing budget is a balance between the cost of generating the advertising materials and the revenue created by the marketing plan. There are several controls in place that can be used to monitor a marketing budget, including print advertising expenses, travel expenses for trade shows, the cost of market research studies and internal personnel costs for the company’s marketing department. All of these costs need to be closely monitored to minimize spending and maximize profitability. By examining expenses, you are able maintain your budget and see exactly where spending increases come from.
- Market Share
- Market share is that percentage of consumer sales dominated by your product. For example, you may have several competitors in a particular industry, with your product sales making up 15 percent of all products sold into that marketplace. In most cases, market share is broken down by product to get a comprehensive look at consumer patterns. A marketing plan outlines the market share of a product before the plan is in place, and then projects the changes to the marketplace when the plan is over. For example, your marketing plan may call for increasing market share of your newest product from 10 percent of all products sold to 15 percent. During the plan’s timeline, there will be milestone percentages you will want to reach on your way to the 5 percent increase. For example, you may want to see a 3 percent market share increase at the halfway point of the marketing plan. If your analysis does not show a 3 percent increase by that point, then you need to analyze why the plan is falling short and what can be done to correct it.