We will address the following questions

■ How is strategic planning carried out at the corporate, division, and business-unit levels?

■ What are the major steps in planning the marketing process?

■ How can a company effectively manage the marketing process?

How do companies compete in a global marketplace? One part of the answer is a commitment to creating and retaining satisfied customers. We can now add a second part: Successful companies know how to adapt to a continuously changing marketplace through strategic planning and careful management of the marketing process.

In most large companies, corporate headquarters is responsible for designing a corporate strategic plan to guide the whole enterprise and deciding about resource allocations as well as starting and eliminating particular businesses. Guided by the corporate strategic plan, each division establishes a division plan for each business unit within the division; in turn, each business unit develops a business unit strategic plan. Finally, the managers of each product line and brand within a business unit develop a marketing plan for achieving their objectives.

However, the development of a marketing plan is not the end of the marketing process. High-performance firms must hone their expertise in organizing, implementing, and controlling marketing activities as they follow marketing results closely, diagnose problems, and take corrective action when necessary. In today's fast-paced business world, the ability to effectively manage the marketing process—beginning to end—has become an extremely important competitive advantage.

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