Marketing Plan

What is a marketing plan?

A marketing plan is a comprehensive document which details a business’ marketing strategies and efforts for the coming year. It outlines their means of achieving set objectives and the timeframe for doing so. A typical marketing plan will also reflect a business’ present position in the market and how they have been performing so far. This gives a clear foundation on where the plan is going. It is also the document that contains what a business’ target market is.

The nature of the document is thorough, as it seeks to give a clear picture of what is actionable as far as sales objectives are concerned. Therefore, it has to reflect the situation of the target market and forecast sales for the coming year using the market situation analysis and marketing strategies set out.

How do you start a marketing plan?

The first thing you have to do when you want to draw up a marketing plan is to do a quick analysis of your product or service with the goal of understanding how it is different from those of your competition. Also, take into account its shortcomings. This will determine how you structure your marketing strategy. This is referred to as a situation analysis, which also takes into account your company’s opportunities and threats. All of these are easy to arrive at. For instance, determining your strength is simply understanding what your competitive edge is in the market.

What are the key elements of a marketing plan?

There are a few factors that serve as the key elements of a marketing plan. Their presence makes for a comprehensive overall plan. Therefore, they should serve as the structure of your plan when you are first drawing it up.

  • Market research: This includes knowing what is trending in the industry, consumer behaviour, market growth and decline.
  • Target market: This is a concise description of who your potential customers are.
  • Budget: This is an overall plan of what you are going to spend on marketing during the year. In the plan, you will break it down month by month.
  • Market strategy: This contains your strategy for marketing your products and services.
  • Competitive analysis: You need an understanding of who your competition is, how they are selling their products and the strategies they are employing.

What should be included in a marketing plan?

While the marketing plan’s key elements show you what you need to know before drawing up your plan, your marketing plan outline is different. It includes your target market, swot analysis, positioning statement, pricing strategy, value, goals, launch date and budget.

Why do I need a marketing plan?

Marketing is an essential part of any business. So, you need to have a detailed plan related to how you are going to enter the market place if you hope to achieve success. A marketing plan keeps you focused and makes sure your activities are geared towards achieving your goals. Never enter your target market without a clear marketing plan which every member of your team has understood.

Where can I find information on business plans?

Developing a solid marketing plan involves extensive research. So, you need to ensure you get your figures from the right source and have them as varied as possible. Your information can come from government agencies, financial institutions, the library, and so on. The idea of participating in developing your marketing plan and using as much information as possible is so that you have a firm grasp of all marketing elements.

Is marketing to businesses different from consumer marketing?

The nature of the marketing plan you will have to draw up for B2B marketing will be different from that of B2C marketing. Business-to-business marketing is more targeted, since you already know who you are marketing to. So, a marketing plan for this model focuses more on building networks and relationships than generally determining market behaviour.

What are the typical marketing methods I can use?

In marketing, you will need to understand two things, namely, the needs of your target market and how best to meet them. If that is the case, the method you use should be a swot analysis. Make a list of every element of your target market, especially in relation to demography. Then research what they need specifically. Determine how to reach them and how much you are going to sell to them.

How often should I audit my marketing and update the plan?

Your marketing plan is designed to determine your marketing activities over a period of one year. However, there are variables in the plan which are subject to change. Therefore, to better achieve your goals, there is a need to periodically carry out checks on the plan and see if any updates are needed. This can be done monthly or bi-annually, depending on how unstable market elements are.

What is the difference between a marketing plan and an advertising plan?

These terms can be a bit confusing, but they are not the same. Advertising itself is a part of the marketing process. It is the paid effort a business puts into getting the word out about their products and services, while marketing involves selling those products. A marketing plan reflects what a business’ target audience is and how to reach them and make sales. Your advertising plan focuses on how to get your brand name across to that target market and make them loyal customers.

What am I most likely to get wrong?

Always assume everything in the plan will take longer to happen in real life and consequently adjust your terms. These delays will also translate into incurring extra costs, so you can go ahead and reflect that in your budget. Another area you likely to get wrong in your marketing plan is your pricing. This is more likely to happen when you are just starting. It is advised you have you price on the higher side and come down with time, since it will be more difficult increasing it later.