Typical steps in completing a marketing plan
A marketing plan is a comprehensive document or blueprint that outlines business advertising and marketing efforts for the coming year. It describes business activities involved in accomplishing specific marketing objectives within a set time frame.
The plan also includes a description of the current marketing position of a business, a discussion of the target market and a description of the marketing mix that a business will use to achieve their marketing goals.
Start with the identification of customer needs through a market research and how the business can satisfy these needs while generating an acceptable return. This includes processes such as market situation analysis, action programs, budgets, sales forecasts, strategies and projected financial statements.
The Plan can also contain a full analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of a company, its organization and its products.
The Plan should show the step or actions that will be utilized in order to achieve the plan goals. For example, a marketing plan may include a strategy to increase the business's market share by fifteen percent.
The marketing plan can be used to describe the methods of applying a company's marketing resources to fulfill marketing objectives. Marketing planning segments the markets, identifies the market position, forecast the market size, and plans a viable market share within each market segment. Marketing planning can also be used to prepare a detailed case for introducing a new product, revamping current marketing strategies for an existing product or put together a company marketing plan to be included in the company corporate or business plan.
These are some of the most important things that companies need when developing a marketing plan:
Market research: Gathering and classifying data about the market the organization is currently in. Examining the market dynamics, patterns, customers, and the current sales volume for the industry as a whole.
Competition: The marketing plan should identify the organization's competition. The plan should describe how the organization will stick out from its competition and what it will do to become a market leader.
Market plan strategies: Developing the marketing and promotion strategies that the organization will use. Such strategies may include advertising, direct marketing, training programs, trade shows, website, etc.
Marketing plan budget: Strategies identified in the marketing plan should be within the budget. Top managers need to revise what they hope to accomplish with the marketing plan, review their current financial situation, and then allocate funding for the marketing plan.
Marketing goals: The marketing plan should include attainable marketing goals. For example, one goal might be to increase the current client base by 100 over a three-month period.
Monitoring of the marketing plan results: The marketing plan should include the process of analyzing the current position of the organization. The organization needs to identify the strategies that are working and those that are not working.
One of the main purposes of developing a marketing plan is to set the company on a specific path in marketing. The marketing goals normally align itself to the broader company objectives. For example, a new company looking to grow their business will generally have a marketing plan that emphasizes strategies to increase their customer base. Acquiring marketing share, increasing customer awareness, and building a favorable business image are some of the objectives that can be related to marketing planning.
The Plan also helps layout the necessary budget and resources needed to achieve the goals stated in the marketing plan.
The process of developing the plan is a general responsibility from company leaders and the marketing staff to take the company in a specific direction. After the strategies are laid out and the tasks are developed, each task is assigned to a person or a team for implementation. The assigned roles allow companies to keep track of their milestones and communicate with the teams during the implementation process. Having a marketing plan helps company leaders to develop and keep an eye on the expectations for their functional areas. For example, if a company's marketing plan goal is to increase sales growth then the company leaders may have to increase their sales staff in stores to help generate more sales.
The plan offers a unique opportunity for a productive discussion between employees and leaders of an organization. It provides good communication within the company.
It also allows the marketing team to examine their past decisions and understand their results in order to better prepare for the future. It also lets the marketing team to observe and study the environment that they are operating in.
The structure of the facts book will be designed to match the specific needs of the organization, but one simple format may be applicable in many cases. This splits the material into three groups:
Review of the marketing environment. A study of the organization's markets, customers, competitors and the overall economic, political, cultural and technical environment; covering developing trends, as well as the current situation.
Review of the detailed marketing activity. A study of the company's marketing mix; in terms of the 7 Ps - (see below)
Review of the marketing system. A study of the marketing organization, marketing research systems and the current marketing objectives and strategies. The last of these is too frequently ignored. The marketing system itself needs to be regularly questioned, because the validity of the whole marketing plan is reliant upon the accuracy of the input from this system, and `garbage in, garbage out' applies with a vengeance.
* Portfolio planning. In addition, the coordinated planning of the individual products and services can contribute towards the balanced portfolio.