How to Write a Marketing Plan
Marketing Plan Definition
A marketing plan is a tool which gives an answer to the main question: how can income be increased with the help of marketing techniques? A marketing plan is the description of a set of decisions which will be implemented in practice in a certain period of time. As a rule, it is designed in the form of a document, which together with other plans is included in the main business plan of a company.
The marketing plan includes data of market segments research, studies on the resources of the company, and aims and tasks the company plans to achieve in a certain period of time. The marketing plan usually starts from marketing research. That’s why before you learn how to write a marketing plan and start developing it, you should do marketing research.
The Aim of the Marketing Plan
The final aim of the marketing plan is always to increase company income. However, many businessmen forget that workers of the marketing department don’t work with clients, don’t create products, and so on. That’s why your strategy in the marketing plan should envisage the strengthening of the business processes inside the company with all departments that influence the income formation. If other company workers don’t take part in the implementation of the marketing plan, then your plan will just be letters on the paper.
Don’t forget that aims of the company marketing plan should be fixed in time and space. For example, you can designate such aims:
- expansion of the clients base to (date) to (%);
- increase of volume of sales to (date) in (times);
- increase of popularity of a trademark among target segments to (date) to (%);
- expansion of partner network to (date) to (amount).
These are aims which influence the formation of the financial result. All other aims will be additional for achieving the main ones. Knowing your aims is important before you start to learn how make a marketing plan.
Peculiarities of a Marketing Plan
The marketing plan is fairly clear and logically structured, and its development is a process of more than one day. You will need a lot of time to collect detailed information about consumers, to study the features and market conditions, to determine the competitive advantages of the product, and much more. Prepare to process and summarize many different facts, and consider alternatives to the business development. Do not be afraid to spend time analyzing different strategies.
On average, the preparation of a quality marketing plan can take from 1-3 months, depending on the size of the business and the number of product groups in the company’s portfolio. And if marketing planning is to be done simultaneously with the solution of current issues, then this process can last for at least 2-4 months. Fifty percent of this time will be spent on collecting information, forty percent will be spent for analysis and consideration of alternatives, and only ten percent will be spent for compiling the marketing plan itself. But do you know how to create a marketing plan successfully?
Marketing Plan Writing Steps
- Select the best idea. Think how to present your plan in the best possible way.
- Gather the information or do an internal audit. An internal audit of marketing is implemented via interviewing key workers of the company and collecting inner information. The aim of the audit is to develop a list of gaps and problematic moments in the work of the organization of such business processes as: work with clients from attraction to retention, work of sales managers, product line, price formation, all sources of promotion (advertising, PR, internet, etc.), budget, packaging, corporate identity, personnel, automation of key processes in the company, and so on. When you do this, you will get a perfect draft for making a marketing plan.
- Describe your business.
– Mission statement. What are the main goals of your company?
– Business overview. Here you should include general information about the company.
– Products and services. Add information about all the products and services that your company offers.
- Analyze the market. When you conduct analysis of the market, you collect information about your clients (target audience), their preferences, and problems.
- Describe your competitors. Write about your competitors, prices, their advantages, marketing activities, work with clients, and market tendencies which can be used by you during promotion. At this stage, it can be helpful to become a “mystery shopper” and visit several competitive organizations to evaluate their service.
- Write your marketing plan according to the chosen term: short or medium. If you use the second variant, your plan will be strategic, which is not often used by companies of small businesses as an annual plan. When writing a marketing plan, you need to include key solutions which determine the future of the company:
– expansion/reduction of product line
– hiring/dismissal of staff
– attracting customers and partners
– advertising campaigns
– development of industrial and technical base
– strengthening of corporate culture
– opening of new offices/shops
- Write an operating plan. It includes specific programs and activities that will help achieve the goals set for the market, and knowledge and perception of the product. An operating plan is a tactical action plan for the main marketing of the product in the monthly breakdown.
- Make a financial plan. In this section, present your conclusions on the main indicators related to the forecast of sales and marketing company expenses.
- Write an executive summary. An executive summary is a summary of the key areas of the marketing plan. In this section of the marketing plan, try to outline the main findings, recommendations, and goals of the company for the next few years. You fill this section after all other sections, but when you start your marketing plan presentation, you start with this section. The practice of presenting key findings at the beginning of any presentation helps to tune the management to the required presentation format, allowing you to assess the underlying strategy and prepare questions without a detailed study of the facts. In this section of the marketing plan, the content, length of presentation, presentation format, and preferred form of feedback are very often inserted.
- Proofread your plan. After you finish writing your marketing plan, don’t forget to read it several times in order to detect all mistakes.
Marketing Plan Template Analysis
This section of our guide was designed to demonstrate how to compose your own plan according to the marketing plan example and its analysis. Such marketing plan template analysis helps to explain how to choose the right marketing strategy and write a high-quality plan. Analysis of the marketing plan sample includes all necessary information for composing a successful plan.
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Marketing Plan Writing Tips
- After you have results of marketing audit and analysis of the market, it will be easy for you to make a SWOT analysis, which is a visual representation of strong and weak features of your organization and threats of external factors. Strong and weak features from a SWOT analysis should be considered in the marketing plan: strong features are considered for promotion, weak features are considered for elimination. Possibilities and threats of the market are included in the form of separate measures in the marketing plan: possibilities can be used for enhancing your competitive positions, while threats can be used to foresee actions for leveling.
- After you have learned how to do a marketing plan, it is time to think about the presentation. Presentation of the marketing strategy is the main part of the marketing plan of the organization. Obviously, you should know how to write a marketing strategy as well. At this stage of the presentation of the marketing plan, it is important to say about the following elements of the marketing strategy:
– Description of the main and secondary target markets: key characteristics, needs, behaviors, and competitors.
– Strategy of improvement of the goods and development of assortment of the company.
– Pricing strategy.
– The strategy of building and managing the distribution of goods.
– Promotion and communication strategy.
– Presentation of key marketing programs on assortment development, product price management, strategy of promotion and knowledge building, and distribution and improvement of product distribution.
- You should make a presentation of the business model and the financial performance of marketing. Without this section, the marketing plan will not be complete and no manager will approve the developed programs of the product development and its promotion to the market. The section begins with the presentation of the business model, which shows the projected growth in sales from the programs, the necessary budget for the programs, net profit, and profitability of sales.
- Also, you may include such factors as assumptions, resources, and key risks. This section is not mandatory, but in practice it helps to take into account and solve complex issues. Planning is a difficult and painstaking process. When planning a strategy, we proceed from the current factors of the external and internal environment. But increasingly it is almost impossible to predict the actions of competitors that can significantly change the picture of competition in the industry. Therefore, if you successfully predict and present all the assumptions that were made in the development of the strategy, note the key risks and require additional resources to execute the planned projects effectively – you will be perceived as a more competent specialist and manager.
Typical Mistakes in Marketing Plans
Even if you know how to develop a marketing plan, you can make mistakes while writing it.
- The plan says that marketing, hence the company, pays too much in the network. The result of this error is very much seen by management and owners, as it is difficult to develop a company, and it is difficult to create and carry out new promotions. At some point it is difficult just to pay bonuses, resulting in the collapse of the company or “treatment” of marketing.
- The plan says that marketing is paying too little in the network. The company is happy, it saves more, or it can keep lower prices for products. Distribution partners, being free and independent people, leave these projects along with the company. With an excellent product and a good price, the buyer remains. This error often occurs, and it can be supported by the craving of management and owners to their excess money at the expense of distributors. After all, it is easier to pay more in the network and raise the turnover. This requires a competent correction of marketing.
- The plan says that marketing pays a lot in the network for inviting newcomers and pays little for repeated purchases. Surprisingly, there are such mistakes, so think that this was a strategic choice for the starting phase of a cunning company. But many companies take someone else’s marketing without understanding its essence, and make it basic. As a result, the network does not make repeated purchases, and is optimized and deformed. Then the business “dies.”
- The marketing plan does not take into account the balance of importance, usefulness, and participation in the overall work of the three main groups of the network.
- The marketing plan does not take into account the features of the company’s product. This is often seen in new companies. They take foreign marketing, which is successful in their opinion, and introduce it to their company, where a completely different product is presented. It can cause understandable system errors; for example, there is no answer in marketing to the following questions: is it a product of regular use (purchase) or one-time? Is the product or service for sale? Is it possible to resell it further? What about price, regularity? And so on.
- The marketing plan “requires” too much or too little money from partners. It is difficult to raise the company to a high level if everyone who comes to it buys something for three cents. It is difficult to earn money there – people leave, have done a decent job, and have not gotten a reward to replenish their strength, emotions, and energy. Financial demands that are too high also stop the growth and existence of the company, but, sometimes, give good statistics.
- The marketing plan is accepted by the company at the request of the network leaders. This is not always a mistake, but often those leaders just push marketing for themselves, for their skills, for their structure, their experience, and habits. Is the company itself able to use this marketing, and does it suit it according to its development philosophy, product, system of events, training system, etc.?
- The marketing plan does not support a difference in payment. Many gradations and differences can be had for differentiation in payment.
- The plan says that marketing needs constant stimulation. That is, it needs constant additional promotions and gifts for the network. It turns out that marketing is unfinished and slightly flawed, and can not live by itself. It requires the company to provide extra money, effort, and attention for its existence.
How to Do a Marketing Analysis for a Plan
Marketing analysis is an important stage in the work of the marketing manager. Qualitative market analysis allows you to quickly find free market niches, choose the most attractive target market, better understand the consumer of the company’s goods, and write a marketing plan.
Where to start the analysis of the market? Do you analyze the consumer, industrial market, or the b2b market? It does not matter. Each time composing a market survey, the marketing manager must consistently perform the following eight stages of market research:
- Define the objectives of market analysis.
- Create a consistent plan for marketing analysis.
- Determine the possible timing and maximum budget for market analysis.
- Determine the methods of market analysis and sources of information on the market.
- Carry out the necessary marketing research of goods or services.
- Prepare an intuitive analysis of all the information collected with conclusions.
- Compile a consolidated plan on the analysis of the market.
- If necessary, prepare a presentation on the marketing analysis.
There are many types of marketing analysis and market research. Before you begin to analyze, determine the objectives of studying the target market. What exactly do you want to know?
- Object of analysis – Description of the objective.
- Market structure – Analysis of capacity and market conditions, evaluation of market trends.
- Company goods – Analysis of market development and market share of the company’s goods in the segment.
- Target segment – Conducting analysis of the attractiveness of market segments in order to select a target market.
- Consumer – Conducting market demand analysis of key market needs, a detailed study of the behavior, and requirements of the target audience to the product.
- Prices – Conducting an analysis of the price positioning of competitors, and the current price structure in the industry.
- Free niches – Analysis of market segments to find free market niches and new sources of sales.
- Competitors – Carrying out competitive analysis of the market with the purpose of analyzing the competitive advantages of the goods and identifying the company’s weaknesses.
We hope that we have given you a clear answer to the question, “How to write a marketing plan?” Having an accurately-structured marketing plan, you can present the information in the best way and gain good reputation among your co-workers and bosses. Perhaps you need some samples of a marketing plan. In this case, check out our blog!