I’ve done some research into marketing planning systems. Let me show you what I found.

Our research suggests that marketing planning systems should:

  • Set clear goals
  • Describe a situation
  • Choose a clean and unique proposition
  • Set a differentiated strategy
  • Choose promotional tactics
  • Set action plan
  • Detail the resources and financials
  • Allow you to consider using a framework, using data, and using consultants or facilitators.

These are good headings for marketing plan, but that isn’t what I was looking for. I’m looking for marketing planning systems. Let me show you what I found, and then I want to tighten it up a bit and show you what I think should be in marketing planning systems.

The five reviewed articles:

The first article we found for marketing planning systems was from ZenWorks. It’s a pretty thin page, and if I was after marketing planning systems, I’d be disappointed, but I might be tempted to inquire about their workshops. No pricing included, so really not much to share with you.

Next was Wikipedia. Now, this is really a marketing plan rather than marketing planning systems, which is what I was looking for. I also think it’s describing an academic framework and not a really actionable one. I get why you need to know your situation, but analysis of your situation and your competition is the interesting background rating that can’t be ignored, but it’s not a plan. A plan describes what you’re going to do, not where you’re stuck at the moment. So again, I think it’s not helpful in understanding marketing planning systems.

Now we’re getting somewhere. The third article is by C&C Group. This is narrow in two regards. The market is specifically pharmaceutical, and the scope is branding, not demand, or sales, or channel readiness, all of which I think matter in most B2B context. And that’s why you’re listening to this blog, and so that stuff matters. Despite that narrowness, that doesn’t mean that this article isn’t super relevant.

It looks like the narrowness has allowed them to create some very specific functionality and use their experience and their expertise well, so firstly, if you’re in pharmaceuticals, I’d say go check this out. But even still, I’d say it’s a useful article for anyone to checkout.

Then we moved onto another narrow description. I was hopeful based on the last one that the narrowness might serve me well, but the narrowness is an example about approaches to marketing. Frankly, it’s a 30 year old view, maybe even 40 year old view on why a marketing orientation is a good idea, and it’s written by somebody who looks like they’ve never written a marketing plan in their life, and they’ve certainly never stuck around to see it through to execution. I’m not against academics. I often make fairly negative comments about academic persons.

This was the most shared article. That’s why it got up. Buzz Sumo told us it had been shared about 130 times on Facebook, so it’s pretty good, and it’s a pretty high level insight into setting goals and building plans. Again, it’s not really much on market planning systems. I guess that’s why we’re looking at them today, because there’s not a lot of content.

Their views:

Overall there are a couple of different approaches that you can take to planning, but they all largely center around having a clear goal and having clear strategy to effect that goal.

Largely these sources are valued when you

  • Describe a situation,
  • Choose a clean and unique proposition,
  • Set a differentiated strategy
  • Choose promotional tactics,
  • Set action plan,
  • Detail the resources and financials
  • Allow you to consider using a framework, using data, and using consultants or facilitators.

I could go on for hours about marketing plans, and what needs to be in them, but that isn’t what I was looking for today. I’m looking specifically for marketing planning systems, so let me tighten it up a bit and offer a view about what’s needed in good marketing planning systems.

Our views:

  • Marketing planning systems should begin with the goals. What are you trying to achieve?
  • They should force you to use a logical framework for thinking, and this is where I have a very strong view, not just off of headings.
  • That should make it easy for you to collaborate.
  • They should be byer-centric – fundamentally what problem are you trying to solve, and for whom?
  • They should set a strategy for the market, the channel product and competition.
  • Stress test your numbers, inputs as well as outputs, shape your tactics, not just ask you to list them.

Well, you already know that your Funnel Plan is a marketing planning system. It’s designed specifically for B2B, and so that’s shaped it a little bit, but it encourages you to follow the bouncing ball on good, proven logic, to answer strategic questions, and gives you a lot of guidance to do that. Then it lets you measure what’s actually going on, and it gives you coaching to optimize it.

If you don’t already have a funnel plan, you can at https://funnelplan.com.