The formal marketing plan is the symbol and essence of purposeful management, in the view of many marketing executives surveyed by The Conference Board. “Formulation of a written plan to guide the future operations of the marketing function, some marketers contend, links in a practical way the customer oriented marketing concept and the principle of management by objectives. What is more, in the words of one executive, such a plan puts an end ‘to the intuitive approach to decision?making and to informal planning to meet day-to-day challenges.
Those supporting use of a formal marketing plan applaud especially the discipline of spelling out future intentions in a written document. Several acknowledge that the element of ritual in preparing a written plan may, on occasion, degenerate into ‘busy work’ or ‘gold-plating.’ Yet they themselves do not see this as sufficient reason to settle for anything less formal. Unless all the key elements of a plan are written down, they say there will always be loopholes for ambiguity and misunderstanding.
The notion that formalized marketing planning can become something of a straitjacket, leaving too little flexibility for future marketing, action, is not borne out by the experience of most of the marketers reporting. Many emphasize that for them, formal planning is not mere adherence to standardized techniques sure to yield standardized plans.
As they see it, marketing planning in each company is a search for logical goals for the component elements of the marketing function and for logical ways of implementing these goals in the marketplace. This search, it is felt, leaves plenty of room for diversity and adjustment to individual marketing situations and management styles. (Hopkins 1972; 1)