This book is in its seventh edition and it’s easy to see why. It has sold half a million copies and is used as the standard text on university courses. Both authors are on the faculty of Cranfield University School of Management, which gets thorough referencing throughout.
While being very practical, this book is based upon PhD research which gives it reassuring grounding in empirical science. It offers the opportunity to fast track but you are expected to read it all – it’s NOT a manual!
Particularly interesting and useful reading for the practitioner can be found in its models and templates, for example in strategy forming; matrices and models to discipline thinking; template and process for extended SWOT analysis; communication model ; 6 Is of e-marketing; the 10 S approach to marketing planning and many more. It is also helpful in core definitions and the need for clear and tangible objectives. Chapter 3 , removing the myths, is a notably comforting chapter, setting the difficulties marketers might experience in the context that many have experienced before – we are not alone!
However, be warned, not everything is fully or clearly explained and some charts are so obscure as to defy interpretation. And two big issues worry me in reading this book – one is its exceedingly numerical, left brain, quantitative approach to its subject. Many exercises use numerical rating/weighting of options to help make decisions, which can be helpful, but my concern is the implication that all decisions are susceptible to quantification – this is not always true and can give a false and dangerous sense of quantified accountability.
The other is – and here I would hate to be accused of special pleading as a brand communications strategist – I was dismayed to find the first mention of brands not appearing until p 46 and thereafter, when mentioned at all, described in very limited terms in the context of product audit, with a later cursory couple of pages on company brands that limit brands to their external identity aspects. This seems like a missed opportunity as it fails to chime with the worldview of most marketing organisations and also could provide an important perspective on the value of brands.
With those caveats, I would argue this is a useful and practical addition to the marketing bookshelf.
Karen Davies, Director at Triniti Marketing, reads Marketing Planning and finds it generally helpful but lacking in certain areas.
This is the 7th edition of Malcolm MacDonald’s Marketing Plans, this time co-authored with Professor Hugh Wilson, a multi channel strategy and CRM specialist.
The first thing to say is that, for a text book of 550 odd pages, it is pretty user friendly. The authors recognise that few people, with the exception perhaps of marketing students, are likely to read this book cover to cover, so they make it easy to dip in and out. Each chapter opens with a succinct bulleted summary of what it will cover, so you can see quickly if it has what you need.
The theory is brought to life with case studies, which are mainly good, although I would have liked to see even more of them. The chapters close with a series of practical application questions to bring it back to the reader’s own business and exercises to help build the individual’s skills.
My main criticism of what is, in the main, a well written and useful guide to Marketing Planning lies in some important content gaps. I was disappointed with the space given to one of the biggest challenges facing today’s marketer – the effective use of digital media, and especially social media.
So many brands are spending fortunes on unfocused digital media presence, because they are afraid of getting left behind, but with little idea of how to make it an effective and integrated part of their marketing plan. Whilst this topic is covered briefly as part of integrated communication, there was an apparent reluctance to commit to concrete guidelines, with the get out that ‘practice is developing fast in this area’.
There were no specific application questions or exercises at the end of the chapter, a real missed opportunity. There is also no mention of the role of cause marketing or marketing’s broader role in the CSR agenda when developing marketing plans, which is an increasing challenge with many of our clients.
In summary, this book does the fundamentals of marketing planning well, but is not as informative as I would have expected about some of the hot topics of marketing planning today.
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