Macdonald (1995) suggests that several stages have to be completed in order to arrive at a strategic marketing plan. These are summarised in the diagram below:

Marketing Planning Process (Macdonald)

The extent to which each part of the above process needs to be carried out depends on the size and complexity of the business.

In a small or undiversified business, where senior management have a strong knowledge and detailed understanding of the overall business, it may not be necessary to formalise the marketing planning process.

By contrast, in a highly diversified business, top level management will not have knowledge and expertise that matches subordinate management. In this situation, it makes sense to put formal marketing planning procedures in place throughout the organisation.

From the diagram, the main components of a marketing plan can be summarised as:

Main Stages of Marketing Planning
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