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.

Business Planning Documents – How to Create a Great Marketing Plan

A marketing plan is essential to the overall development of any company. Before beginning, make sure the project is well-researched. It is easy to figure out how to put together a business plan or a sales plan simply from a basic Google search, but a marketing plan requires a little more investigation. A trip to the local book store or even a near by university research library can be very advantageous in this task. Take care to ensure you understand the components of how each section is put together and get a full understanding of terms and where to find supporting data. The plan will rest on how realistic the data is inside of it and the content that is presented.

The basic components of a marketing plan are as follows:

Contents
Having a simple table of contents will be beneficial to both the composer of the document as well as the audience. It serves as a basic guide for how detailed the contents of the document are and where to quickly find desired information.

Lists of Tables
While it is not mandatory, providing a list of tables to supplement the table of contents adds to the the credibility of the author as well as the professional presenting the plan. It is also a great way to quickly guide readers to the plan’s empirical data.

Executive Summary
This section should be written last. It is best put in place when all of the research and planning is complete to provide insight on what is housed in the plan. Although it may be tempting to complete this section before the others, keep in mind that any research and planning may lead to conclusions not originally considered or expected. Also, this section improves on communication levels and encourages involvement from staff members by crystallizing the key goals and plan details for the team to understand what role marketing plays in the company as a whole.

Company Strategy
Providing a link to overall strategy and illustrating marketing’s contribution to achieving the company’s goals is what this segment of planning allows for. It is a substantial section that looks at the overall company mission.

External & Internal Analysis
This section of the plan allows for an unbiased evaluation of the company’s competitive standing. Looking to factors both inside the company walls as well as factors that come from the outside world, this section assists the writer in understanding how realistic the plan is overall.

Marketing Objectives
In addition to outlining the goal that is trying to be accomplished, this portion of the marketing plan assists in defining financial targets and translating those into specific measurable marketing objectives such as, but not limited to market share, sales volume and customer retention. Such items can easily be translated into a CRM package if the plan is feasible.

Marketing Strategy
The actual marketing campaigns and programs are discussed in this section by way of the promotional mix: what will be sold, where it will be sold, what makes it a great item to sell and at what price it will be sold. While this task may seem like the most simple of the entire plan, it truly is the most difficult and requires the most research. In order to develop an effective strategy, the marketer must be fully aware of what competitor’s marketing strategies are as well as the marketing trends for the specific industry; address those two items and still somehow find a way to differentiate the company’s product. Be certain to give this section of the plan adequate time, thought, investigation and discussion.

Implementation
Break the specific programs down into lists of activities with time scales and assign responsibility to each task. A contingency (e.g. funds or time) may be set to cover any unforeseen problems. The best way to do this will be through a project management system or by requesting the support of a Project Manager.

Control & Forecasting
In this section, discuss how the system will work and how success of the marketing plan will be tracked. Also, based on the research that has been previously collected, make educated assumptions regarding how much the program will cost and how much revenue it will generate.

Appendix
Use this section to place any charts, tables, graphs and the like that may distract the reader from the content of the plan, but still supports the overall thesis of the work.

Here is a sample of how the table contents should turn out:

I. Content

II. List of Tables

III. Executive Summary

IV. Company Strategy
Goals & Objectives
Summary Overall Position & Company Strategy

V. External & Internal Analysis
Internal
SWOT Analysis
External
Market Overview
Competitor Analysis
Future Trends

VI. Marketing Objectives
Financial Objectives
Marketing Objectives

VII. Marketing Strategy
Market Segmentation
Competitive Advantage
Segmentation Strategy
Promotional Mix
Product
Price
Place
Promotion

VIII. Implementation
Schedule of Key Tasks
Resource Allocation
Budgets
Contingency

IX. Control & Forecasting
Key Assumptions
Critical Success Factors
Established Benchmarks
Measurement Tools
Financial Forecasts
Costs
Revenue

X. Appendix

Booklet A: Sales Plan

Once the writing is complete, it is important to ensure that the marketing plan is in a presentable format. Consulting a Technical Writer or Graphic Designer to assist you in putting the document in a well-presented template will add to the credibility of the work as well as the audience’s receptiveness. Take the time to select a delivery method that not only looks great but suits the audience as well. Some options to choose from are: bound manual, web page, PDF or a flash presentation on a CD.

Once the content is complete and the company has selected how the material will be presented, set it aside for a few days or even weeks and come back to it with fresh eyes to check for grammatical or formatting errors. When it is done to full satisfaction, it is then time to distribute the marketing plan as desired and rest assured that the comprehensive marketing plan that will support the company endeavor!

5 Steps: How to Create a Marketing Plan

The marketing plan is an integral part of the future success of any marketing department. Whether it is a large corporation or a small business just starting out, the marketing plan is a detailed analysis of: the internal components of the business, the external forces exerted on the business to understand the market in which it operates, and set goals that provide direction for future marketing incentives. Marketing plans are usually conceived to offer a specific strategy of how to introduce a new product, enter new markets or to fix a current problem. The following assertion discusses how to draft a five part marketing plan. The five parts include, but are not limited to:

  1. Purpose + Mission
  2. SWOT analysis
  3. Marketing strategy objectives
  4. Strategical marketing objectives
  5. Budget analysis + implementation

Purpose + Mission Statement- The purpose of the marketing plan, while seemingly somewhat self explanatory, should be a concise statement of why this plan was drafted and allude to how the information in the plan could, or should, be used. Mission- If a new business is creating a marketing plan a mission statement may not exist and thus need to be devised. The mission statement needs to be a specific and clearly worded paragraph that embodies a stable and lucent long-term vision of the organization. A good mission statement should be able to answer such questions as: What is the business’s creed, or standard for doing business? What services does it provide? Why is the company in business? It is a strict guideline of what the business stands for, and what the business offers to its customers.

SWOT Analysis- This section of the plan analyzes is great detail the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of, and to, the company. Strength- ex: Current Products (features, benefits, pricing, incentives) Weaknesses- ex: Current financial condition (could potentially be strength) Opportunities- ex: Target markets (mass market? Segmentation, demographics, psychographics, needs of market) Threats- ex: Competitors

Marketing Strategy and Objectives- This section is crucial to the development of the proposed services or products future. This part consists of: identifying the marketing strategy, financial objectives, and overall marketing objectives. This gives a specific direction the product will take and creates accountability in the plan so efforts and results can be measured in relation to these starting objectives.

Strategical Marketing Programs- This is typically the longest part of the plan and is deeply detailed in respect to the strategy to achieve the designated marketing objectives in part three. These programs include descriptions of: Product, Price, Promotion, and Place. Ex: Define current market, and the planned changes. Define how these changes will be accomplished, and explain why these changes must take place (use evidence of research or due to competitors).

Budget Analysis + Implementation- This final section scrutinizes the business’s financial ability to carry out its marketing plan. Defining the extent of the marketing budget will help determine the financial impact and capabilities of the projected plan. As a precursor to the actual implementation of the products or services a performance analysis presents the expected results of the plan. It is an educated estimate of the potential overall success of the plan and helps to prepare for the future. The last step in the marketing plan is to organize an implementation schedule that shows timelines and identifies those responsible for certain tasks. This keeps the marketing team involved and held responsible for timely work and effort.