Behind every successful product or service is a well-researched marketing plan. A marketing plan guides a company step-by-step how to market its product or service to a specific target market and it helps a company remain focused on its marketing objectives.
By not preparing a marketing plan, you are leading your company to certain failure. Attempting to market your product without first creating a marketing plan is like trying to build a house without a blueprint. Anyone with common sense knows that building a house without a blueprint is very foolish and will lead to disastrous results. The same holds true for preparing a marketing plan. A marketing plan is your company’s blueprint for properly marketing your product to the audience who is most willing to buy it. By not preparing and following a marketing plan, you will be flying blind and you are going to make a lot of marketing mistakes and lose a lot of money.The Marketing Plan defines all of the components of your marketing strategy. You will address the details of your market analysis, sales, advertising, and public relations campaigns. The Plan should also integrate traditional (offline) programs with new media (online) strategies.
The Primary Topics You Need to Discuss in Your Marketing Plan Include:
1. Market Research
Collect, organize, and write down data about the market that is currently buying the product(s) or service(s) you will sell. (From now on we’ll refer to your products or services as “product.”) Some areas to consider:
- Market dynamics, patterns including seasonality
- Customers-demographics, market segment, target markets, needs, buying decisions
- Product—what’s out there now and what’s the competition offering?
- Current sales in the industry
- Benchmarks in the industry
- Suppliers-vendors that you will need to rely on
- Target Market-Find niche or target markets for your product and describe them
2. The Product (or Service)
Describe your product. How does your product relate to the market? What does your market need, what do they currently use, what do they need above and beyond current use?
3. Your Competition
Describe your competition. Develop your “unique selling proposition.” What makes you stand apart from your competition? What is your competition doing about branding and positioning?
4. Your Mission Statement
Write a few sentences that state:
- Key market – who you’re selling to
- Contribution – what you’re selling
- Distinction – your unique selling proposition
5. Your Marketing Strategies
Write down the marketing and promotion strategies that you want to use or at least consider using. Strategies to consider include:
- Networking – Go where your market is, Chamber of Commerce, BNI, etc.
- Direct marketing – Sales letters, brochures, postcards, flyers, etc.
- Advertising – Print media, directories, billboards, yellow pages, radio, TV
- Training programs – Seminars and webinars that you give to increase awareness
- Online videos on your website, youtube, etc.
- Write articles/blogging, give advice, become known as an expert
- Direct/personal selling
- Publicity/press releases
- Trade shows
- Website / Internet marketing – SEO, Banner Advertising, PPC, retargeting
- Social media marketing (Facebook, Blogs, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.)
- Referral programs
- Co-marketing with businesses that share your target market
- Barter exchanges
6. Your Pricing, Positioning and Branding
From the information collected, establish strategies for determining the price of your product, where your product will be positioned in the market and how you will achieve brand awareness.
7. Your Marketing/Advertising Budget
Budget your dollars. What strategies can you afford? How much can you afford to spend per month?
8. Your Marketing Goals
Establish quantifiable marketing goals. This means goals that you can turn into numbers. For instance, your goal might be to gain at least 10 new clients each month or to generate 100 leads per month.
9. Monitor Your Results
Test and analyze. Identify the strategies that are working.
- Survey your customers
- Track sales, leads, visitors to your web site, percent of sales to impressions
- Determine which marketing strategies are producing the most customers and which are producing the least customers
- Measure Return on Investment per each marketing activity
Good plan Peter. Plans are so critical but often ignored in the rush to just get it done. I believe the marketing plan is one of five key plans every business needs. The others are brand plan, customer plan, content/message plan and social media plan. If you’re interested, you can download my plans, called 5 Easy Pages at http://5easypages.com/5-easy-pages-the-essential-marketing-system.