How To Write a Marketing Plan and What to Include
Marketing plans are an essential part of a successful marketing strategy. This article discusses the importance of a marketing plan, what needs to be included in a marketing plan and how to create a successful marketing plan.
What is a Marketing Plan?
A marketing plan is a detailed, organized, and strategic process for achieving business goals. It includes researching the target audience, developing a budget, identifying a potential solution, and implementing a campaign to grow your company.
How to Write a Marketing Plan
First, start with an analysis of your current situation. What is the current state of your business? Where are you in your product lifecycle? How much funding do you have (if any)? Etc. Next, brainstorm all the marketing channels that would be most appropriate for your company right now. Then, outline how you can acquire new customers across each channel. Finally, create a budget and timeline for the marketing plan.
One of the most important components of an effective marketing plan is a detailed competitive analysis. This should include information such as your differentiation, your competitors’ weaknesses, competitive pricing, product availability, and how you stack up against each competitor.
Target audience is a very important part of your marketing plan, and it should be the first thing that you decide. You should always know who your target audience is and what they need. To have a successful marketing plan, you have to consider your target audience carefully. You have to give them what they want and need.
After you have considered your target audience, the next step is to do good research on what they like and dislike. You can do research by talking to them, doing surveys or even just by observing people. From the research, you will know what they are looking for and what are the problems that they are facing. Make sure that you will not only look at the problems but also what solutions they are looking for.
How does planning work?
The marketing planning process ensures the strategy can be implemented successfully, and that the infrastructure required to achieve corporate and marketing objectives has been put in place.
You can achieve a competitive advantage by planning a clear direction, activities, and timetables. Consider it as a series of events.
Today, planning seems to be more important than ever for organizations.
An analysis of the market through planning is a structured process that takes into account the market’s dynamics and the need for managers to question their actions. Quite often, we tend to take these things for granted.
People can provide insight into the development of a strategy when they are involved in planning. By participating in the planning and implementation of the company’s overall goals, employees can contribute to the company’s success.
The plan communicates the proposed actions/activities the organization will undertake to meet its objectives.
An organized plan offers a solid basis for control and enables regular evaluation of progress toward goals.
Although the focus will be on marketing planning, it is still important to understand how it all fits together, including the issues and implications of planning.
What Are The Typical contents of a Marketing Plan?
- Analysis of the market
- The market needs
- Segmentation, size, and growth of the market
- Who the target audience is
- Criteria for buyer purchases
- Analyse of competitors
- The sources of competitive advantage
- Definition of a product
- Pricing strategy and sales strategy
- Support and delivery
- Communication strategy for marketing
- New/revised product launch plan
How to write the overview
The introduction should describe the purpose of the document, including its scope and objectives, as well as the business context of the products and services that will be covered.
How to write the analysis of the market
It is important to define the market forces that will affect the proposed products and services in this section. Porter’s five forces concept is a very useful tool for analyzing the market:
· the threat of new entrants – the barriers that will prevent future entry into the market
· the bargaining power of customers – whether there is any alliance in place that will make it difficult to ensure profitable business in the market
· the bargaining power of suppliers – whether suppliers will join together to pose a threat to your market penetration strategy
· the threat of substitutes – how easily will customers be able to find alternatives for your products and services
· how intense the competition is.
How to write about the market needs
It should describe the business needs that are to be addressed by the proposed products and services in the target market and should include the following elements:
All segments of the target market have general business needs
If applicable, business requirements specific to international markets, e.g., different countries may have different regulatory requirements
Technical requirements for the products or services offered, e.g. technical integration with other products or services.
Market size, growth and segmentation
This section should define the market opportunity in terms of size, growth and segmentation:
· the size of the market in revenue terms for the products and services to be offered, by market segment
· how the market is segmented vertically and whether there are many horizontal products and services available in the target segments
· growth trends in the target market and, in particular, which segments have good growth potential and should therefore be targeted
· the proposed percentage share of the target market segments for the products and services to be offered.
How to write about the the target audience
In the marketing communications strategy (see below), all those who can be targeted through one or more of the marketing communications channels should be identified.
Those within the target companies who are involved in making decisions about your products and services will be included in this list. This will vary depending on the expected size of bids, but is likely to include director level decision makers for the business Product or service targets, such as Finance, Logistics, HR, IT etc..
How to write about the competitor analysis
Provide a competitive analysis of the products and services offered in the target market segments. The analysis should include the following elements:
· a list of the major competitors and the products and services they offer
Each major competitor is profiled, including information on ownership, structure, markets, customers, revenues, products and services, and alliances
· market share by target market segment, user base, competitor strengths and weaknesses relating to buyer purchase criteria.
How to write about competitive advantage
The following aspects should be considered as part of identifying the principal sources of competitive advantage attributable to the proposed products and services:
· resources and skills – the ability to use skills and capabilities to develop new products and services, including access to development tools that will deliver technologically superior products and benefits to customers, etc.
· productivity benefits that lower costs and create synergies with other products and services
Pricing performance attributes of the products and services in terms of their ability to provide a breadth of functionality and a level of richness of features that will deliver significant cost savings for the customer
The ability to establish market share quickly and a credible track record
· how the key buyer purchase criteria outlined above can be used to gain a competitive advantage.
How to define the Product
Product plans should specify the functionality of the product to meet market needs, as well as the services needed to support its sale, implementation, and support. Functionality should include:
· the business processes that the product will cover
· the features of the product
A product’s technology, e.g. hardware platforms, databases
The services provided to the customer in order to maximize the benefits of the product
· how the product will be sourced – internally or through partnerships
· development schedule for future products.
What to write on the Marketing communications strategy
In a marketing communications strategy, the objectives should be outlined, the promotional channels to be used in each territory, and the budget to be allocated.
Describe the proposed marketing channels, e.g. direct marketing, exhibitions, conferences and seminars, advertising, etc., as well as the target audience. If the product or service is international, then the channels proposed may differ for different territories.
Expenditures on marketing communications should be included in the annual budget.
A pricing strategy is crucial for your success. If you don’t have a clear understanding of the market, choose one strategy and give it your all. Explore other strategies later after you become an expert in the market.
Consider how your company’s branding strategy will fit in with the marketing plan. If you are using a service to write content for your online marketing, you should consider how it aligns with your branding strategy.
Obstacles and barriers to be overcome
Even though planning has many positive aspects, it can also create many barriers within an organization. The majority of people and organizations have experienced significant changes as a result of newly defined strategies and have been challenged to cope with some of the major consequences associated with such a degree of change.
Change is almost always accompanied by cost cutting and downsizing.
Barriers to successful planning include:
Marketing plans may not work with the existing culture, particularly if
Marketing is not a priority for the organization.
Organizations are subject to internal politics. Therefore, strategic planning often becomes a boardroom battleground where vested interests compete for resources and influence.
Most organizations spend time and energy analyzing data and developing rationales for action, but fail to take action as a result. Furthermore, too much information may result in ‘paralysis by analysis’.
After years of downsizing and attempting to become more efficient, many organizations are now resource-starved. Consequently, corporate objectives will not be met.
It is essential that organizations consider realistically the resources necessary to attain their corporate targets.
Resources and skills are closely related. The importance of highly skilled employees cannot be overstated.
An unskilled workforce could seriously impact the implementation of marketing plans and ultimately reduce overall service and performance levels.