Implementation of the marketing plan

At a company-wide level the McKinsey 7S framework is useful in implementing the marketing plan.

The first three elements – strategy, structure and systems – are considered to be the hardware of successful management and as such can be implemented across international markets without the need for significant modification. The other four elements – style, staff, skills and shared values – are the software, and are affected by cultural differences. Often it is the management of these aspects of the business which highlight good management in the best firms and relatively unimpressive management in poorer performing firms. It is quite obvious too that it is these elements of the framework which can vary considerably from country to country.

The characteristics of these four software elements are:

Style: employees share a broadly common way of thinking and behaving. In organizations such as Marks and Spencer and McDonald’s, it is the consistency across the world of the management and operational style that is one of the distinguishing features of the companies.

Skills: Because the levels and quality of education vary considerable between countries, employees need to be fully trained in the sorts of skills that are needed to carry out the strategy.

Staff: The people that are recruited around the world need to be capable, well-trained, and given the jobs which will best allow them to make use of their talents. Recognition of the contributions of the staff, the criteria for advancement, acceptance of appraisal and disciplinary processes vary considerably between countries.

Shared values: Despite the fact that staff come from different cultural backgrounds there is a need for employees to share the same values, understand where the organization is going and what it stands for.

Consumers will buy products that are priced high if they are demonstrated to be an improvement over what they are currently using, but only if they can be convinced through a well prepared and implemented plan. It is also quite evident that it takes time to change the strategic direction of a company and obtain a genuine improvement in its performance. A checklist of the essential elements of the international marketing plan are :

Does the marketing plan contain:

  • assumptions about the world economy and the environmental trends in the principal markets?
  • details of historical performance (sales, costs, profitability)?
  • forecasts of future performance based on (a) an extrapolation of the past (b) alternative scenarios?
  • identified opportunities and threats;
  • analysis of the company strengths, weaknesses and future capabilities in comparison with local and international competition?
  • long-term aims and objectives and the strategies to achieve them?
  • one year marketing objectives and individual strategies (for example, budgets, brand objectives and development of personnel)?
  • detailed country by country forecasts and targets?
  • detailed country by country plans for all marketing activities and coordination with other functions (for example, manufacturing)?
  • an explanation of how country plans will be integrated regionally or globally if appropriate?
  • a summary of the critical factors for success?
  • an assessment of the likely competitor response?
  • a contingency component for when things do not go to plan?
  • a control process for feedback, evaluation and taking corrective action?

One of the most significant challenges is to obtain effective coordination between the company’s various operating Strategic business units around the world. The objective is to achieve a high level of effectiveness through the cooperation between managers and staff transfer of knowledge and skills.

The following methods may help:

  • An incentive system that links a managers’ rewards to multiple performance targets, for example, Proctor and Gamble incentivise international managers both on country and product performance.
  • The firm might give high visibility to individuals who achieve results through collaboration.
  • Formal rules and procedures such as common terminology, language and routine distribution of reports might be used to enhance communication between managers.
  • Creation of cross functional teams, such as for brand or category management.
  • Use of executive development programmes to bring together managers from many locations.