Marketing control refers to the process by which a company manipulates its marketing plans to reach its original goals. This process is achieved by setting up performance standards that will ideally be reached at each step of a marketing campaign. If these standards are not being met, corrective action needs to be taken. There are many methods of achieving marketing control, which can include but are not limited to market research, analysis of financial signposts like market share, sales, and cash flow, and customer relations information gleaned from customer feedback and service levels.
Few effective marketing campaigns are achieved through random action. Successful marketing is usually achieved through a general process within which many variations are possible. The basic blueprint involves drawing up goals that the campaign is designed to meet and then drawing up the plans and strategies that are intended to achieve those goals. If those plans start to fall short of the desired standards, they then need to be adjusted to get the campaign once again pointed in the right direction. Marketing control involves the analysis of where the original plans are falling short and the steps taken to correct those problems.
At the point at which the campaign's desired and actual effect begin to diverge, strategies must be put into place to rectify the situation. The problems need to be identified before any action can be taken, lest more damage be done. Once the problems are identified, then the proper method of marketing control may be exerted in an effort to bring about the desired goals.
Research is the most obvious tool for identification of how well the marketing campaign is proceeding. This can be done through customer surveys or product testing. Focus groups are another popular way of ascertaining if the product is hitting its desired target audience or if the marketing techniques are getting across the desired message.
Measurables such as sales reports or cash flow totals are a concrete way to determine what type of marketing control needs to take place. Marketing managers can use these numbers to figure out whether they are receiving the desired return on their marketing investment. If not, corrective action needs to take place. This may come in the form of pricing changes to the product or service in an attempt to boost sales or profit, additional promotional initiatives to increase the visibility of the product or service, or, if drastic action is necessary, a complete overhaul of the marketing campaign.