The marketing plan is the most reliable document for business growth. This goal-driven document helps you achieve corporate goals and objectives. The plan contains a list of actions that must be taken to achieve your company vision. Developing a well-written marketing plan enables you to easily define marketing solutions.
Furthermore, the marketing plan is like a cheat sheet or a guide to solving internal and external marketing problems. It can be used to support your business plan.
What is a Marketing Plan?
The marketing plan is based on where an organization plans to be futuristically. This comprehensive document provides a rundown of concrete actions that must be taken over time to achieve the desired marketing initiatives. Therefore, the plan should include;
Description – A description of the product(s) and its features.
Competitive analysis – an analysis and evaluation of the strengths and weaknesses of competitors.
Situational analysis – a series of methods used to analyze an organization’s internal and external environment with hopes of understanding organizational capabilities, customers and business environment.
Marketing plan budget – reports that predict the companies futuristics sales along with strategies save money (sales forecast, marketing budget).
Marketing strategies – identification of strategies and techniques to influence customers (advertising and promoting).
Pricing strategy – a tactic used to determine to establish a productive price for products and services.
Market segmentation – a process that involves dividing or grouping the target market into smaller categories to identify high yielding customers.
What is the difference between the marketing plan and marketing strategy?
The strategy maps out the directions of an organization. This document describes what is needed to achieve marketing efforts. It details the approach for organizational sustainability futuristically; usually, 3 – 5 years in advance.
Whereas, the marketing plan details how you will achieve your marketing efforts. The plan is a bit more detailed. It’s a goal driven document that outlines your marketing efforts
A firm marketing strategy is the foundation of an eloquent marketing plan. It enables organizations to identify competitive strategies to attain long term stability.
Marketing Plan Components
Before you jump into planning, you must understand, the plan is only as good as the people behind it. You can have the best plan in the world, if you don’t have proper components, it won’t work. For this purpose, it’s essential to identify valuable components for your marketing plan.
1. Situational Analysis
The situational analysis involves 3 major processes: SWOT analysis, 5 C’s analysis, and Porter’s five forces analysis. It enables you to examine your business from an internal and external perspective. From this analysis, you can identify hidden opportunities and threats. In the end, the situation analysis helps you to address the current state of your business: Where do you stand now?
2. Competitive Analysis
The competitor analysis is one of the most effective elements of marketing. It’s a. process that involves examining your rivals. Conducting the competitive analysis will help you uncover deep insights about your competitors. However, if you’re seeking to gain a sustainable competitive advantage, you must study your rivals. This analysis helps you uncover valuable information.
For example, let’s say you want to expand your web presence. Therefore, you analyze your rival’s websites or blogs for keyword percentages, back-links, and on-page optimization strategies. Uncovering this data can help you out-rank your rivals on major search engines.
The competitive analysis examines your competitions:
- Background information with a detailed examination of the owners, location, and the organization’s structure.
- Financial data involves investigating dividend policy, profit margin, and growth strategies.
- Goods and services entail you examining new products and the existing ones being sold.
- Personnel and number of employees, this includes their skill set, management style, and more.
In the long haul, you can increase your competitiveness by obtaining knowledge about your competitors.
3. Marketing Mix
The original marketing mix refers to a set of tools that helps businesses pursue market objectives. You can use these tools to influence consumers to purchase your products or services. Even more, you can utilize the mix to make better decisions concerning your price, place, product, and methods of promotion.
The original mix or 4 P’s of marketing stands for price, place, product, and promotion.
Effectively implementing the mix will help you improve your market position. It will also help you differentiate your organization from your competitors. Ultimately you can drive sales to your business by differentiating your organization from your competitors.
4. Market Research
Understanding the market is vital as a small business. To tell the truth, it’s actually critical for all businesses. Research is one of the most important aspects of marketing. Therefore, market research should be on your to-do list.
Even though the two terms are similar, they are not the same. More importantly, they are used for different reasons. Market research is an examination method that helps you develop an understanding of the market. It’s used to understand your customers, competitors, and your company to increase competitiveness.
Whereas, marketing research involves finding business opportunities and problems related to products, consumers, or services. The process entails fine-tuning your skills, monitoring performance indicators, and evaluating marketing actions.
You can use marketing research to gather and record data concerning your marketing mix. The data you gather allows you to identify how changes in your marketing mix affect the behavioral patterns of your audience.
Ultimately, you can make better marketing decisions with the information you collect from both methods of research. In other words, sound information permits you to address findings from research in a productive manner.
5. Market Segmentation
Market segmentation should be the next aspect of your plan. Segmentation encompasses dividing customers into groups or segments. Organizations divide customers based on their characteristics which include common interest, lifestyle, and demographics.
The main objective of segmenting the market is identifying the most profitable segments. By the same token, each segment gives you a better understanding of the purchaser’s needs and motivations. Therefore, it’s important to establish long term relationships with your customers. It will give you the ability to learn from your customers on an ongoing basis.
6. Pricing Strategy
It’s virtually impossible to generate profits without establishing a price for your products and services. For this purpose, you need to develop a pricing strategy.
There are a few reasons why you must establish your prices. Firstly, establishing a balanced pricing strategy helps you prevent market loss. Secondly, setting your prices will enable you to improve your profit margin. Thirdly, effectively pricing your goods can enable your organization to gain more customers. You can achieve this by setting your prices below others in your market.
7. Sales Forecast and Budget
The sales forecast is an estimate of future sales. It provides you with short-term and long-term performance metrics. These metrics help you make better decisions about financial elements which include; cash flow estimation, cash budgeting, capital budgeting, capital structured analysis, and validation.
Sales forecasting is the backbone of financial planning. It helps your organization manage inventory. In addition, it helps you determine how much manpower you’ll need. All in all, estimating future sales will help your finances proceed much smoother.
The budget is a critical document that depends on accuracy. Every business institution must develop a budget plan. The objective for your budget entails the combination of expenses from all business endeavors into one comprehensive document. Your budget represents an unequivocal projection of actions and expected results.
The total budget differs for newer companies vs existing companies. Startup companies are in the process of getting their businesses up and running. Therefore, newer companies will need to spend more revenue on their marketing budget. For instance, newer companies (under 4 years of experience) should devote around 1/4 of their annual revenue to the marketing budget.
Typically, established companies (over 4 years of experience) don’t need an enormous budget, unless they’re seeking to expand. Popular business institutions can get away with using around 1/5 of their annual revenue on budgeting.
8. Marketing Strategy
It’s impossible for your establishment to endure without profits. A business must produce profits to stay in business. However, you need customers to sell your product and services. For this reason alone, it’s urgent to develop a solid strategy.
Keep in mind your strategy must reach its intended audience. More importantly, it must address your market plan goals.
The strategy serves as a strategic roadmap or blueprint for your marketing plan. It helps you identify internal/external market opportunities and obstacles. More importantly, a solid marketing strategy will give you the ability to identify effective methods of advertising and promoting. Consequently, you can boost profits.
Above all, the amount of money you spend merely depends on your marketing experience. If you know how to create promotional campaigns on social media platforms or social video platforms you can save money. However, you’ll need to determine if the money you save is worth the time you’ll spend.
9. Analysis and Examination of Plan
Now that the business has a plan intact, it’s time to analyze and measure your results. Therefore, you must delegate duties to competent members of your organization to examine your performance indicators to track your growth. These team members will collect data about market dynamics, sales volume, milestones, and profitability.
Typical elements that are analyzed and measured include:
- Evaluate existing marketing efforts
- Examine performance indicators
- Examine marketing channels
- Measure effectiveness of current marketing strategies
- Analyze and measure new strategies
This observation allows you to determine the strengths and weaknesses of your plan. It’s advised to analyze and measure your marketing plan on a quarterly basis.
10. Performance Indicators (Measure and Monitor)
Last but not least, you must monitor the marketing plan. You must continuously monitor your plan to identify areas where you can improve. Bear in mind, the end goal is to gain a sustainable advantage over your rivals. Therefore, you must continuously find ways to improve your business.
Hence, strive to stay two steps ahead of your competition. Don’t worry about the things you can’t control, instead focus on outworking your rivals and developing a long-term relationship with your customers. Keep in mind, backbreaking work always beats talent.
You can find several tracking systems on the internet that specialize in analytics: tracking website data, measuring conversation rates and testing promotional campaigns, etc. As noted, you can use the data you collect to improve areas of need.
Staying on track is the key to attaining long term success for your business. Focusing on these issues helps your organization stay in line with your corporate mission.