A good marketing plan will help you answer key questions about your business, and act as a reference document to help you to execute your marketing strategy. It will also help you to develop a structured approach to creating services and products that satisfy your customers’ needs.
When writing a marketing plan, we need to be clear about our marketing objectives and how we’re going to achieve them. Use our marketing plan to set realistic and measurable objectives, includes budgets and action plans, and allocate responsibilities.
Any marketing plan should illustrate that one has carefully considered how to produce a product or provide a service that is innovative, unique and marketable. Some marketing plan may vary but a good marketing plan captures basically the same information.
The contents of your plan should include:
A background analysis: Give some background about your business. Detail the opportunities and challenges that your business has come across along the way. This helps you define your business's capabilities and identify opportunities within the market. It will also play a key role in helping you to meet your customers’ needs.
Your marketing objectives: What do you want your marketing plan to accomplish? Be specific. Your objectives may be financial, with a goal to increase sales, or marketing focused to build your brand, and increase awareness of your product.
The most effective way to define your marketing objectives is to follow the ‘SMART’ acronym:
Specific: have clearly outlines objectives
Measurable: indicate what you intend to use as a measure of success
Achievable: are the objectives attainable for the business?
Realistic: do you have the knowledge of resources to achieve your objectives?
Timely: be clear about the time-frame in which you intend to achieve your objectives.
A marketing strategy and marketing mix: An effective strategy will help you to define the overall direction for your marketing program. It will also detail how you are going to bring your products and services to market in ways that will satisfy your customers.
The elements that make up your marketing strategy are often referred to as the marketing mix. In this case your mix will include the 7P’s of marketing - product (or service), pricing, position, promotion, people, process and physical environment.
Actions plans and budgets: Strategies and marketing goals are theoretical objectives. It’s your action plans and budgets that will bring them to life. Your action plans and budgets are your key tools for implementation. To ensure that they are successful they should be detailed, definitive and revisited regularly.
The organizational implications: Organizational implications are often overlooked when business owners tackle a marketing plan. For example, if your goal is to increase your customer base by 15% and therefore your staff by 10% - will you be able to house them in your current offices? Could you outsource some tasks? It’s important to consider and document these decisions in your plan.
An evaluation and monitoring plan: To ensure ongoing improvement it’s critical to test and measure the results of your marketing activities. Whatever method or technology you choose to use - formal methods of evaluation and monitoring will help you to understand the effectiveness of your marketing and return on investment.
A summary of your plan and supporting documentation: Your marketing plan summary should summarize the key components of your marketing plan. Think of it as a quick reference tool that you can refer to at any time to keep your goals on track.
Use this section of the marketing plan to reference and attach documents supporting the claims or assumptions made within the marketing plan.
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