Marketing, like parts of a business, can move in unintended and even unwanted directions. Sometimes marketing messages get altered as they pass through multiple iterations during the creative phases, and sometimes the costs get out of control. Because marketing plays such a crucial role in bridging the gap between a business and customers, instituting controls into the marketing plan makes sense financially and in terms of protecting the business’s competitive position.


Budget can serve as marketing plan control in two ways. If a business can only devote a fixed dollar amount to marketing, that dollar amount automatically limits the scope of marketing efforts. The marketing plan must then divide that money across desired activities or excise activities that cannot be accomplished within the budgetary limits. The other approach sets no up-front limitations, but instead allocates money based on estimated costs for the full range of marketing activities. In these cases, the budget provides control by holding the marketing team to the budget or requiring significant justification for additional money, such as a higher than expected return on investment.


Building a review system into the plan can also function as a control method, since the marketing plan serves as a guiding document before and during implementation. The review system should ideally include checklists for assessing progress, as well as mechanisms for adjusting the marketing plan to accommodate unforeseen setbacks in schedule or budget. Built-in reviews help to prevent marketing plans and implementation from drifting too far away from strategic goals. The assessment checklists provide shorthand guidance for teams, while the plan itself provide in-depth guidance.

Consumer Feedback

Consumer feedback can operate as another powerful market plan control method. Because marketing efforts seek to influence consumer behavior, positive or negative responses to marketing messages by customers offer a front-line snapshot of where the plan succeeds or fails. Negative feedback through informal channels, such as emails or phone calls, or more formal assessments, such as surveys, can indicate where the business might want to withdraw resources. Positive feedback, on the other hand, can indicate places the business might want to allocate more resources, either financial or staffing.

Competitor Analysis

A competitor analysis should expose which market segments competitors pursue and the strategies those businesses use to capture market share. Understanding where competitors have competitive advantage can help control the marketing plan by narrowing the marketing effort to focus on a specific market segment where competitors lack advantage. This helps to channel funds and the creative direction of marketing efforts toward more profitable market segments while avoiding destructive competitive practices, such as price wars.