Marketing plans are vital to marketing success. They help to focus the mind of companies and marketing teams on the process of marketing i.e. what is going to be achieved and how we intend to do it. There are many approaches to marketing plans. The key stages of the plan described as follows :
Stage One – Situation Analysis (and Marketing Audit).
- Marketing environment.
- Laws and regulations.
- The current state of technology.
- Economic conditions.
- Sociocultural aspects.
- Demand trends.
- Media availability.
- Stakeholder interests.
- Marketing plans and campaigns of competitors.
- Internal factors such as your own experience and resource availability.
Tools for internal/external audit:
- Porter’s Five Forces.
- Marketing Environment.
Stage Two – Set marketing objectives.
- Specific – Be precise about what you are going to achieve.
- Measurable – Quantify you objectives.
- Achievable – Are you attempting too much?
- Realistic – Do you have the resource to make the objective happen (men, money, machines, materials, minutes)?
- Timed – State when you will achieve the objective (within a month? By February 2010?).
If you don’t make your objective SMART, it will be too vague and will not be realized. Remember that the rest of the plan hinges on the objective. If it is not correct, the plan may fail.
Stage Three – Describe your target market
Which segment? How will we target the segment? How should we position within the segment?
Why this segment and not a different one? (This will focus the mind).
Define the segment in terms of demographics and lifestyle. Show how you intend to ‘position’ your product or service within that segment. Use other tools to assist in strategic marketing decisions such as Boston Matrix , Ansoff’s Matrix , Bowmans Strategy Clock, Porter’s Competitive Strategies, etc.
Stage Four – Marketing Tactics.
Convert the strategy into the marketing mix (also known as the 4Ps). These are your marketing tactics.
- Price Will you cost plus, skim, match the competition or penetrate the market?
- Place Will you market direct, use agents or distributors, etc?
- Product Sold individually, as part of a bundle, in bulk, etc?
- Promotion Which media will you use? e.g sponsorship, radio advertising, sales force, point-of-sale, etc? Think of the mix elements as the ingredients of a ‘cake mix’. You have eggs, milk, butter, and flour. However, if you alter the amount of each ingredient, you will influence the type of cake that you finish with.
Stage Five – Marketing Controls.
Remember that there is no planning without control. Control is vital.
- Start-up costs.
- Monthly budgets.
- Sales figure.
- Market share data.
- Consider the cycle of control.
Finally, write a short summary (or synopsis) which is placed at the front of the plan. This will help others to get acquainted with the plan without having to spend time reading it all. Place all supporting information into an appendix at the back of the plan.