Do you really need a marketing plan? With the explosion of internet popularity and mobile devices over the last several years, the marketing landscape has become quite overwhelming. We have moved way beyond a listing in the yellow pages, a few strategically-placed ads and coupons, and a press release in the local paper. Now small business owners must consider websites, social media engagement, blogs, and what customers are saying about their business online, just to start.
If you find yourself getting lost in the excess of options, the best course of action is to step back and review your approach – your marketing plan. Evaluate the plan you’ve created to remind yourself of what you determined to be important for your business and your target market.
Don’t have a formal marketing plan yet? Create one as soon as you can. It’s the only way to ensure you stay focused and not waste time and money caught up in marketing hype that doesn’t pertain to your business.
A marketing plan is defined simply as a document that outlines the specific actions you intend to carry out to interest potential customers and clients in your product and/or service and persuade them to buy what you have to offer. It should cover all of the following information. If you are wondering, how to create a marketing plan, keep reading!
The Outline of Marketing Plan Should Include
I. Executive Summary
An advanced summary of what’s covered in the marketing plan
II. The Challenge
A brief description of product/service to be marketed and associated goals, such as sales figures and strategic goals
III. Situation Analysis
- Market share
- Value drivers
- Decision process
- The concentration of the customer base for particular products
- Market position
- Market shares
- Subsidiaries, joint ventures, distributors, etc.
Macro-environmental PEST analysis
- A political and legal environment
- Economic environment
- A social and cultural environment
- Technological environment
A SWOT analysis of the business environment can be performed by organizing the environmental factors as follows
- The firm’s internal attributes can be classed as strengths and weaknesses
- The external environment presents opportunities and threats
IV. Market Segmentation
Present a description of each target market as follows
- Percent of sales
- What they want
- How they use the product
- Support requirements
- How to reach them
- Price sensitivity
V. Alternative Marketing Strategies
List and discuss the alternatives that were considered before arriving at the recommended strategy. Alternatives might include discontinuing a product, rebranding, positioning as a premium or value product, etc.
VI. Selected Marketing Strategy
Discuss why the strategy was selected, then the marketing mix decisions (4 P’s) of product, price, place (distribution), and promotion.
Product – the product decisions should consider the product’s advantages and how they will be leveraged. Product decisions should include:
- Brand name
- The scope of the product line
Price – discuss pricing strategy, expected volume, and decisions for the following pricing variables:
- List price
- Payment terms and financing options
- Leasing options
Place (Distribution) – decision variables include:
- Distribution channels, such as direct, retail, distributors & intermediates
- Motivating the channel – for example, distributor margins
- Criteria for evaluating distributors
- Logistics, including transportation, warehousing, and order fulfillment
- Advertising, including how much and which media
- Public relations
- Promotional programs
- Budget; determine break-even point for any additional spending
- Projected results of the promotional programs
VII. Short & Long-Term Projections
The selected strategy’s immediate effects expected long-term results, and any special actions required to achieve them. This section may include forecasts of revenues and expenses as well as the results of break-even analysis.
- Summarize the entire marketing plan
- Calculations of market size, commissions, profit margins, break-even analyses, etc.
Your marketing plan gives you a greater understanding of all of the aspects of how to reach your customers and convince them to purchase your products and services. Whenever marketing opportunities come your way, this plan is your guide for deciding which ones will work for your business, and which ones may be a misuse of resources.