Managing the Marketing Cycle


Tim J. Smith, PhD
Founder and CEO, Wiglaf Pricing

Published December 11, 2002

The Deming Constant Improvement Cycle for business management can be simplified to measure, analyze, plan, and do. Sales and marketing, like other business processes, are continuous. As such, sales and marketing managers can also take a similarly structured approach to generating revenue.

While there are many variants on the Deming Constant Improvement Cycle, I would like to present a basic one that individual CEOs and VPs of Sales and/or Marketing can implement. This process can be implemented for other business efforts or for individual sales and marketing campaigns. The variant of the Deming Cycle for Marketing can be stated as Measurement & Analysis, Strategic Planning, Implementation, and Market Response.

Measurement & Analysis

Facts, Data, and Information are the key to making clear business efforts. In the absence of informed decision making, opportunistic business plans are as successful as strategic business plans. Means to collecting data include: primary market research, customer surveys, analysts reviews, front-line sales force reports, end user conferences, focus groups, competitor documentation and web sites, and analyst reports. These facts clarify management intuition and can be used to rally the team in undertaking a new effort. The charge of the Measurement and Analysis step is to collect these facts and convert them into meaningful information.

Strategic Planning

Strategic planning for sales and marketing efforts is similar to other project plans. Executives balance scope, resources, and time in selecting goals and determining the action plan. Given the profit and revenue goals of businesses, tradeoffs are inevitable. Like other areas of management, these tradeoffs are monetarized to determine the most cost efficient means of managing the marketing process. A strategic market plan addresses each of the sales and marketing steps: creating awareness, qualifying prospects, communicating the sales message, closing single sales opportunities, and creating profitable customer evangelists, and driving repeat business. It address addresses the key market communication issues of Message, Medium, and Channel. Lastly, the strategic marketing plan forecasts demand, sets price guidelines, and demonstrates revenue and profit potential.


One of my early mentors used to say that “the devil is in the details”. The implementation stage addresses the details. Delivering results requires a strong execution of the strategic plan. In implementation, teams will undoubtedly uncover issues that were not foreseen in the strategic plan. Fortunately, the goals outlined in Strategic Planning and the facts gathered in Measurement and Analysis will enable executives to make rational decisions in the face of uncertainty.

Market Response

Market Response is the guide to determining the effectiveness of each of the above stages. The main difference of sales and marketing efforts versus other business processes is that the key decision point is not made by the company, only influenced by the company. The market votes on the successfulness of a business’s value proposition and sales and marketing plan by selecting where to spend their dollars. Each of the above steps is accomplished in order to influence this critical decision point. While revenue and profits are the ultimate metrics for the success of a strategic marketing plan, other metrics can be used to guide the company for intermediate steps. These metrics can be classified as quality, quantity, time, or money.

Once complete, the Marketing Cycle must begin anew. Furthermore, distinct efforts within the overall sales and marketing plan can be made subject to the same structured process.

While even the best laid plans can go wrong, a failure to plan often ensures a planed failure.

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About The Author

Tim J. Smith, PhD, is the founder and CEO of Wiglaf Pricing, an Adjunct Professor of Marketing and Economics at DePaul University, and the author of Pricing Done Right (Wiley 2016) and Pricing Strategy (Cengage 2012). At Wiglaf Pricing, Tim leads client engagements. Smith’s popular business book, Pricing Done Right: The Pricing Framework Proven Successful by the World’s Most Profitable Companies, was noted by Dennis Stone, CEO of Overhead Door Corp, as "Essential reading… While many books cover the concepts of pricing, Pricing Done Right goes the additional step of applying the concepts in the real world." Tim’s textbook, Pricing Strategy: Setting Price Levels, Managing Price Discounts, & Establishing Price Structures, has been described by independent reviewers as “the most comprehensive pricing strategy book” on the market. As well as serving as the Academic Advisor to the Professional Pricing Society’s Certified Pricing Professional program, Tim is a member of the American Marketing Association and American Physical Society. He holds a BS in Physics and Chemistry from Southern Methodist University, a BA in Mathematics from Southern Methodist University, a PhD in Physical Chemistry from the University of Chicago, and an MBA with high honors in Strategy and Marketing from the University of Chicago GSB.