While a marketing plan contains a list of actions, without a sound strategic foundation, it is of little use to a business.
It also lets the marketing team to observe and study the environment that they are operating in.
Though it's not clear, behind the corporate objectives, which in themselves offer the main context for the marketing plan, will lie the "corporate mission," in turn provides the context for these corporate objectives.
On the other hand, it should not be too wide or it will become meaningless; "We want to make a profit" is not too helpful in developing specific plans.
Jacob Zimmerem suggested that the definition should cover three dimensions: "customer groups" to be served, "customer needs" to be served, and "technologies" to be used.
Marketing plans start with the identification of customer needs through a market research and how the business can satisfy these needs while generating an acceptable return.
This includes processes such as market situation analysis, action programs, budgets, sales forecasts, strategies and projected financial statements.
This "corporate mission" can be thought of as a definition of what the organization is, or what it does: "Our business is ...".
This definition should not be too narrow, or it will constrict the development of the organization; a too rigorous concentration on the view that "We are in the business of making meat-scales," as IBM was during the early 1900s, might have limited its subsequent development into other areas.
It describes business activities involved in accomplishing specific marketing objectives within a set time frame.
A marketing plan also includes a description of the current marketing position of a business, a discussion of the target market and a description of the marketing mix that a business will use to achieve their marketing goals.