Whether you’re starting your first business or going into your fifth year, developing a marketing plan is an absolutely critical component of the operation and sustainability of your company. Your marketing plan acts as a guide to help the individual responsible for the marketing within your company implement strategies that align with the goals of your business.
At the beginning of each fiscal year, our company has a strategic plan meeting in which all employees attend. We discuss the various functions of the company (growth, operations, financials, etc.) and set goals for the year. We also discuss the steps and tasks needed to take place in order to reach our goals. Marketing plays a pretty significant role in this, so we all brainstorm ides of how to ramp up our business with various marketing strategies! From here, I craft the marketing plan which acts as a living document for the year and helps me, the Marketing Manager, stay accountable in my work; it guides me in understanding which activities must take place, when, and the cost of each.
Creating a marketing plan isn’t difficult, it just takes some time and careful strategizing. If you follow the steps outlined below that I personally use to create marketing plans, you’ll see how simple it can be! Good luck!
- Executive Summary: outlines the who, what, where, when, why of your marketing plan; briefly summarizes your entire plan; write this section last!
- Company Description: summarizes the history of your company—how it was founded, by whom, your products/services; explains why your business is unique; discusses the growth possibilities.
- Mission and Goals: describes your mission and goals of the business (both financial and non-financial).
- Core Competencies: what your company does well and how it plans to achieve a sustainable competitive advantage.
- Situation Analysis: SWOT: strengths and weaknesses (internal factors that affect your business), opportunities and threats (external forces that presently affect/can potentially affect your business).
- Competitors: Define the competitors that exist in your market (think big); define their strengths and weaknesses and how you differ from the competition.
- Target Market: Define your customers; be specific; look at the demographics and psychographics, their needs, what they value, etc.
- The Marketing Mix: the methods you take to get your product/service to market. Consider the following elements:
- Product Strategy: What is your product/service? What needs does it satisfy? How will you expand your current offering?
- Distribution Strategy: Where are your products/services currently placed? Where will you expand? How will you get your product/service to customers?
- Pricing Strategy: What is the value of your product/service to your target market? Price adjustments? Discounts? How will you increase sales?
- Promotional Strategy: How do you/will you communicate with your customers? How will you get your message across? Think of social media, experiential marketing, media advertising, networking, public relations, etc. Choose strategies that align with your brand. Include approximate costs of each, as well as when each task should occur and other pertinent information.
9. Budget Schedule & Monitoring:
- Budget: Include specific financial details (you can pull these from your business plan). Calculate the overall costs of implementing each element of your promotional strategy.
- Schedule: Lay out exactly when each element of your marketing plan will be rolled out, as well as the execution of each element. Create a chart listing each month, and insert every single marketing activity/task that will take place throughout the year in the appropriate month as well as the cost associated with each. This will help you determine how much money you will be spending on marketing on a monthly (or even weekly) basis. Check out this example I just created:
- Monitoring: List how you will keep tabs on each element of your plan. How will you improve/adjust when necessary? How will you know if your efforts are successful? What is your ROI (return on investment)?