The marketing department must act as a guide and lead the company's other departments in developing, producing, fulfilling, and servicing products or services for their customers. Communication is vital. The marketing department typically has a better understanding of the market and customer needs, but should not act independently of product development or customer service. Marketing should be involved, and there should be a meeting of the minds, whenever discussions are held regarding new product development or any customer-related function of the company.
Don't get the idea that marketing should make these plans and recommendations alone. It is very important that the marketing department get input from many people within the company. Not only does providing input help the rest of the company understand and support the marketing efforts, it also provides some invaluable insights into what customers want and new ideas that may have slipped past the rest of the company. For example, your service technicians and your customer service reps will have great insights into customer opinions and needs. Get everyone involved and you'll have a more cohesive effort.
Because the goals and guidelines set by the marketing department should, by design, be in line with the vision and mission of the company, upper management should be involved in and endorse cooperation by all departments in following and implementing the plan and integrating a consistent message into all communication channels. If this isn't the case, the efforts to market the company's products will fail. It's that simple.
Reinforce the idea among your employees that marketing is a team effort. Individuals may have their own goals and priorities, but if they don't also consider the goals and greater need of the company, they may hinder efforts and make your carefully planned marketing efforts fail.
To illustrate this, assume a company has implemented a direct mail program and has placed key codes on the mailing labels to track the source of the mailing lists from which customers who place orders are coming. If the employees who take the orders don't ask for and record those codes, then the marketing department has no way of knowing which lists are working and which lists are bombing. Cooperation among departments and support of upper management to enforce necessary procedures is often critical.
So, the marketing department studies the market and the customers, determines the best way to reach those customers, and works with the rest of the company to help determine the new product needs of the market and represent the company in a consistent voice.
Next, we'll begin going over the steps for putting together your marketing plan. This process involves four stages of action:
- Researching and analyzing your business and the market
- Planning and writing the plan
- Implementing the plan
- Evaluating the results