A marketing plan is a written assessment of the current marketplace and how a business intends to spend its marketing and advertising dollars in the future. It identifies customers and establishes how to sell a product or service to those customers. It identifies clear and actionable strategies for a marketing department. The plan is often used in conjunction with development or business plans in order to help a company achieve its growth potential. The timeline for a marketing plan is typically from one to five years.
How to Get Started
First, consider your marketing attitude early on in the process. Many companies will begin with a basic SWOT analysis: covering the strengths, weaknesses, outcomes, and threats for their given product and market. With SWOT analysis, the internal abilities and shortfalls of a company are weighed against market conditions and competitor performance. Accordingly, every company needs to have a thorough understanding of its competition and customer base and that means market research. That research then forms the foundation for a marketing strategy on how and where to spend a marketing budget.
The Initial Stages
A business owner no longer has to start from scratch when attempting to devise a marketing plan; but instead can rely on outside companies and online resources. In establishing a strategy, a small business may choose to include its marketing analysis as part of an overall business plan. Templates, software, and sample plans are available online as well. Marketing plan courses are also offered to help new businesses. Some companies choose to completely outsource the entire process.
The Purpose of a Marketing Plan
A clear marketing plan is a blueprint that lays out the steps a company must take in order to achieve marketing goals. The act of defining the Seven P's: product, price, promotion, place, packaging, positioning, and people; assists corporations in continually reevaluating where a product or service stands in the market. Businesses use marketing plans to establish the value proposition to potential customers. In addition, it allows companies to make use of competitive advantages in pricing, timing, or exclusivity. It can also help provide direction to employees.
Structuring the Plan
The marketing plan should cover several major areas, that can be added to according to the product or service a company is selling.
- The company's product with competitive advantages defined.
- The size of the marketing budget.
- An assessment of the company's advantages and disadvantages concerning marketing.
- A detailed breakdown of product and market pricing.
- A look at the various market segments.
What to Include
The marketing plan defines the positions of competitors and the potential market size for a company's product or service. It is often an offshoot of a mission statement, a written document that summarizes a company's purpose.
The plan should always be based on extensive market research:
Assessing the market research data is known as market analysis:
The final part of the plan is marketing strategies:
Implementing the Plan
The success of that plan can be measured based on the return on investment. The key is often diversification, having the right marketing mix. Many companies look to integrate Internet marketing and social media techniques to complement traditional campaigns. Businesses with smaller budgets often turn to strategic partnerships or highly targeted plans to make sure a marketing plan has the greatest impact. By continually reassessing consumer preferences and a budget, companies can have effective marketing during a recession.
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