Sample Marketing Plan – 6 Steps For Creating a Marketing Plan

Sometimes finding a sample marketing plan to use as a guide for writing yours can be a challenge. The problem is that there is no “one-size-fits-all” plan that you can specifically use for your business without some kind of modification.

In this article I will outline the 6 necessary elements you need in your marketing plan and some applications that will help illustrate each element. The six things you must include: an evaluation of your marketplace, the profile of your ideal customer, what you want to accomplish as a result of your marketing, the big picture view of media tools, an accountability structure that will aid in implementation, and strong financial proof that your plan will work.

Evaluate your marketplace

No matter what format you use the concept of evaluating your market is always the first step. In this part of the plan you research your top 5-10 competitors and come up with a list of strengths and weaknesses for each. You do the same exercise on your own company. This will help you create a clear picture of how you are different from everyone else.

It is on this foundation that your marketing efforts should be built. In the car rental business Hertz has always been the number one company. This made Avis come up a slogan that could help set it apart… “We’re #2 but we try harder.” This helped position Avis as a company that would work harder for you by giving you that extra level of service.

Profile of your ideal customer

The worst thing you can say about your product or service is that, “everyone has a need for it.” Segmenting your market and defining a specific profile of your best customers will help build your marketing plan in strong and healthy ways. The benefit of clearly defining your target market will not only make your job of creating and choosing marketing materials easier, but it will also save you money because you can focus your efforts on a very specific market segment.

What do you want to accomplish as a result of your marketing?

You can’t measure the success of your plan unless you have clearly defined benchmarks for comparison. Every marketing effort needs goals. They can be long-term or short-term but need to be measurable. Also, part of your plan should include evaluation points to gauge progress of your efforts.

Getting the big picture view of media tools

Before choosing what media tools you are going to use in your campaign it is essential to evaluate each tool based on the information you gathered in the first three sections of your plan. Can you effectively deliver the message of how you are unique through a particular tool? Does the tool clearly reach the ideal target market? Can it help you achieve your goals without making you go broke.

If you have done the appropriate research these questions are typically easy to answer. It is only when you decide on your desired media tool first before evaluating it’s attributes on a big picture level that you can get yourself into trouble.

Creating an accountability structure that will aid in implementation

All of the best laid plans are for nothing if you don’t have a proper implementation system. In most sample marketing plans you can see how a typical marketing calendar is laid out. It really doesn’t have to be that difficult or pretty. You simply need a week-by-week list of the specific marketing activities you want to accomplish in order to complete your overall plan. This involves taking each marketing strategy and tactically dividing it into weekly chunks. The marketing calendar should also contain the evaluation points we discussed before to help measure the progress of your goals.

Having strong financial proof that your plan will work

The final element of any plan should include a budget that gives strong financial proof that your plan will work. This is accomplished by projecting sales as a result of your marketing efforts, accurately costing out the various pieces of your marketing mix and then doing an ROI analysis (Return On Investment). Your ROI analysis should clearly show that your marketing efforts will produce a return. If your company has a long sales cycle then sometimes this will involve simply a break-even on the marketing costs up-front with the promise of larger future sales.

These six necessary elements should be included in any sample marketing plan format you are evaluating: an evaluation of your marketplace, the profile of your ideal customer, what you want to accomplish as a result of your marketing, the big picture view of media tools, an accountability structure that will aid in implementation, and strong financial proof that your plan will work.

Down and Dirty – Creating a Marketing Plan That Works

Wouldn’t it be great if you could follow the Field of Dreams approach to business? What do I mean by that? I mean simply open the doors of your business, then sit back and wait for the people to come. Unfortunately, it’s not a very realistic approach to doing business for most entrepreneurs. What is realistic is putting together a detailed plan for promoting your business, and that approach takes the form of a marketing plan.

Many people cringe at the idea of creating a marketing plan because they have never done one before. Luckily, marketing is not rocket science. True, it is a skill, but it can be mastered over time. That’s good news for anyone who worries about putting together the right marketing plan for their business. Follow these easy steps and you can get started on creating a successful marketing plan in no time at all.

Research Your Market

This is an extremely important part of your marketing plan. Chances are you have already completed a lot of market research beforehand from when you created your initial business plan. Therefore, it should not take much to identify your market segments and what will make your products and/or services stand out from the competition.

Pulling It All Together

The research on your market is just one important piece you need. Other information that will prove helpful in writing your marketing plan includes:

  • Latest financial reports (operating budget, profit and loss statements, etc.) for the current and past three years, if available.
  • A list of all products and/or services you offer, along with the target market for each.
  • Your understanding of the marketplace, i.e. competitors, types of customers you sell to, latest and most relevant demographic data and any information on trends in your markets.
  • Input from sales staff as to what the most important points, in their opinion, that should be included in the plan.

Plan Draft – Define

  • Market Situation – The market situation will contain your best description of the current state of the marketplace. There is no room for guessing here. You need to know how big your potential market is, who you are going to sell to, and just what your potential customer is (demographics, income level, etc.). A lot of this information is probably in your head, but you’ve never committed it to paper. Now is your chance.
  • Threats & Opportunities – This is a continuation of the market situation, as it focuses on the good and bad aspects of the current market. List out what threats and opportunities you see facing your business in the next year. Ask yourself, what trends in the market are working for and against you? Are there competitive trends working in your favor or against you? Do the market demographics favor you or are they against you?
  • Marketing Objectives – Here you begin to “paint a picture” of what you see for the future of your business. You want to define what marketing objectives you want to achieve over the coming year (marketing plans are generally one year in length). Each objective should include a narrative description of how you intend to accomplish it, along with concrete numbers. Remember to make your objectives simple, concrete, countable, ambitious, but definitely achievable.
  • Implementation – Each objective defined above should have several goals and tactics for achieving each, i.e. the “what” and the “why” of the marketing tasks ahead. In this section, focus on the practical side of each objective: the who, where, when and how it’s going to happen. Create an activity matrix (timeline) so you can plot out when each action needs to be taken.
  • Budget – Each planned activity needs to be assigned a dollar amount in a budget. If you are new to calculating a cost of something, give your best estimate and add 25% to be safe. Be sure to consider both internal costs, such as staffing, and external out-of-pocket expenses when creating your marketing budget.

Finally, regular review of your marketing plan is important. At a minimum, you should be reviewing quarterly, and more ideally, you should be reviewing monthly. Your marketing plan is a work-in-progress so expect it to be adjusted often depending on the results you achieve. To be truly successful, a marketing plan takes time to create and implement, but the effort and time will definitely be worth it.

7 Essential Things Your Marketing Plan Needs

Last week we talked about taking responsibility for ourselves and our business. So, with that said to also ensure we are taking responsibility and on the road to great success I want to make sure you have all the tools you need to do that. Today we will discuss the basics you need in any marketing plan.

Every marketing plan you have should include these 7 things:

Your plan should have and know it’s segmentation. Segmentation is perhaps the most important because segmentation is your audience, who you are going to market to? Don’t know your segmentation, then start doing research as quick as possible. Again, you need to know your audience so you know who to market to and how to market to them successfully.

A marketing plan needs to have a back up plan. From a competitive standpoint having a back up plan is ideal. Having a back up plan should also include you doing a little research on your competition. Your back up plan should include responses or comebacks to competitor campaigns as well as alternative marketing you can carry out when needed.

A marketing plan needs to feature your points of value. Why should the consumer buy from you instead of the competition. Your points of value will be what sets you apart from the competition. Your points of value will be the benefits of buying products from you and/or using your services. So, be sure to have strong points of value and let your audience know what they are?

Your plan needs to have a strong message and positioning. Be clear with your message. The worst thing you can have is confused potential clients and clients, so BE CLEAR. Use your points of value to create and send a strong message to your potential clients and position yourself on top.

A marketing plan needs to have goals with set deadlines. When developing your successful plan be sure to set different benchmark goals to reach. Also, when setting goals set deadlines for reaching the different goals. We all know having personal and business goals are important and for those same reasons having marketing goals is important too. Goals with deadlines help you to stay focused.

An effective plan needs a plan of implementation. So, you’ve developed the perfect marketing plan,so? That marketing plan can’t be successful if you don’t implement it. So, on top of developing your marketing plan you need to also have a plan for implementing your marketing plan and getting your message out to your audience in a successful way.

A marketing plan needs a budget. You want to develop and implement a marketing plan you can afford. So, set a budget and keep all your marketing within that budget. Need ways to market on a budget check out my blog called 6 Ways To Market On A Budget for tips as well as I did a whole series on free marketing outlets you can use to market.

Having a marketing plan with these elements will put you on the road to success. So, be sure your plan includes these 7 essentials things today, your marketing and business success depends on it.

A Marketing Plan Template That Works For Any Business

This article will give you the six parts of a basic marketing plan template that will work for any business. Those parts, or sections of the template, are: Situation Analysis, Target Audience, Goals, Strategies, Tactics, and Budget.

The first section of the marketing plan is the SITUATION ANALYSIS.

In this section you look at your challenges, your competition, and how you are unique in the marketplace. The situation analysis lays the foundation for your goals, strategies and tactics. This is accomplished through a thorough analysis of your self and your specific situation or market. In this section you create your Unique Selling Proposition (U.S.P.).

The second section of the plan defines your TARGET AUDIENCE. Here is where you uncover who has a NEED for your product or service. This involves profiling you existing customers and finding common attributes. The purpose of the exercise is to ultimately create an “ideal customer profile”

In the Target Audience section of the document you decide which customers you are going to approach with your marketing efforts.

The third section of the marketing plan is GOALS.

This is where you lay out exactly what you want to accomplish with your marketing efforts. Without goals you will never have a benchmark to compare to. If your marketing plan is a one year plan, how will you know if you were successful or not at the end of the year of marketing activities?

Another critical element of the Goals section is to schedule evaluation points throughout the duration of your plan. Having these points predetermined will allow you to continually assess the effectiveness of your efforts.

The fourth section of the plan is where you develop your STRATEGIES.

This is where you choose which tools (media) you will use to reach your target audience. With many marketing tools available for businesses, choosing the right ones can make a big difference in your bottom line.

Using the information gathered in the first three sections of the marketing plan template will make the step of deciding which media tools to use easier.

The fifth section of the marketing plan is TACTICS.

Here you lay out the logistics of how you are going to use your marketing tools. When will your marketing tools be implemented? What happens when? In this section you will create a Media Rationale and a Marketing Calendar.

The media rationale justifies the use of a particular tool by outlining specific reasons why that tool is a good choice and the specific way it will be implemented within your plan.

The marketing calendar is simply a week-by-week calendar of your marketing activities.

The sixth section of the marketing plan is BUDGET.

In this part of your plan you look at whether or not you can afford certain marketing efforts and devise a way to keep track and monitor the responses to your marketing activities. You can also determine what kind of funds it will take to accomplish certain marketing priorities.

If you use these six sections when creating your marketing plan template; Situation Analysis, Target Audience, Goals, Strategies, Tactics, and Budget, you will have everything included to launch your new marketing initiatives to the marketplace.

Marketing Plan: Importance to Small Business Enterprises

Are you planning to open a small business? Are you aware of the significance of marketing plan to your business?

Despite the small size of the company that you intend to establish, you need to formulate your own marketing plan to guide you in your operation and to become competitive. Apart from capital, equipment and manpower, marketing strategy is needed especially if your business is engage in selling products and services. To become successful in your marketing endeavor, you need to have an effective marketing strategy. Remember that large companies devote hours of planning, researching, convening and discussing just to have an effective plan. If these big companies know the importance of these proposals, why not follow their steps and formulate your own marketing strategies. Bear in mind that if you do not have any plans, you are doomed to failure.

What is Marketing Plan?

It is a structured selection of advertising and marketing opportunities built to utilize your small business marketing spending budget to its greatest edge. It includes itemized charges for production and media buys for your chosen advertising venues. Additionally, it includes a work schedules for the launch of promotions, advertisements and in-house logistics needed for the execution, monitoring and follow-up of marketing and advertising campaigns. The most effective plans are those that incorporate breakdown of its target markets, products and services to be promoted.

Reasons why small business enterprises need marketing plans:

  • To maximize your advertising budget

By preparing in advance for the right marketing and advertising opportunities, you can make the most of your budget, no matter how little it is. It helps you satisfy your key services and products with appropriate marketing venues and you can evaluate the return on your investment. Moreover, when you arranged your marketing calendar in advance, you can benefit from discounts and special programs given to repeat advertisers and expanded benefits may not be available to firms that book advertisements at the last minute. Planning ahead enables you build positive interactions with associates of mass media outlets which could mean free marketing opportunities such as article features and preferred placement.

  • To get the benefits of cross-promotional possibilities

When creating your advertising plan, you have the chance to schedule advertising promotions in multiple sites as well as overlap messages to create repeated impressions with consumers. When your plan is set, you not have to wait when advertising representatives might contact you because you have the time to put cross-promotional support paraphernalia like flyers or coupon charge cards. You can also mobilize your employees to take part in marketing and track response.

  • To maintain a consistent message with consumers

By planning in advance, your marketing plan will assist you in tweaking your message for each targeted promotion. Marketing elements like logos, slogans, placing statements and phone calls will remain continual throughout the promotional venues you have chosen. Because you know your own schedules and your specific marketing venues, you have enough time to work with design professionals or the publication art employees to generate consistency in the layout and wording of the advertising or promotional parts. This uniformity will make your ads and marketing materials much more memorable to potential customers and will increase your rate of reaction.