Skip to content

Implementation and control: Kotler on marketing

There is a constant debate about whether strategy or execution is more important. Peter Drucker observed that “a plan is nothing unless it degenerates into work.” Yet a poor plan with great implementation is no better than a good plan with poor implementation. The truth is that both are necessary for success.
Implementation snafus are legion. Kodak’s ads for a new camera drew people into stores only to find that the cameras hadn’t arrived. A major bank announced a new savings plan in the newspapers but hadn’t explained the plan to its branch managers. An engineering firm made a decision to sell its services in the Middle East but could not find any capable person who spoke Arabic and would be willing to transfer there. A hotel decided to make service its major value proposition but let service be run by a weak manager with a small budget and an insufficient staff.
Good implementation needs buy-in from those who are to carry out the plan. The best way to get their buy-in is to have them participate in the plan’s development. Thus salespeople are more likely to accept the marketing plan if a sales representative participated in its development and if the target volumes and prices are plausible. So the planner’s first need is to sell the plan inside, not outside.
Control is the way that we catch failures in implementation or strategy. The company may have implemented poorly, set the wrong marketing mix, aimed at the wrong target market, or done poor initial research. Control is not a singular thing but a host of tools for making sure that the company is on track. The tools fall under four types of control shown here.

Types of marketing control

Type of Control Prime Responsibility Purpose of Control Approach
Annual-plan control Top management; middle management • To examine whether the planned results are being achieved • Sales analysis
• Market-share analysis
• Sales-to-expense ratios
• Financial analysis
• Market-based scorecard analysis
Profitability control Marketing controller • To examine where the company is making and losing money
• To evaluate and improve the spending
Profitability by:
• Product
• Territory
• Customer
• Segment
• Trade channel
• Order size
Efficiency control Line and staff management; marketing controller • Efficiency and impact of marketing expenditures Efficiency of:
• Sales force
• Advertising
• Sales promotion
• Distribution
Strategic control Top management; marketing auditor • To examine whether the company is pursuing its best opportunities with respect to markets, products, and channels • Marketing effectiveness rating instrument
• Marketing audit
• Marketing excellence review
• Company ethical and social responsibility review

The processes of planning, implementation, and control constitute a virtuous feed forward/feedback system. If your company is not achieving its goals, either you are implementing your plan poorly or your plan has become irrelevant and needs fixing.
Copyright© 2003 by Philip Kotler. All rights reserved.
Published by John Wiley & Sons., Hoboken, New Jersey