Marketing plan is actually your how-to guide for your marketing, advertising and business development and growth tactics for any selected foreseeable future time frame. This can be a few months or a few years depending on the purpose of the marketing plan and the company strategy.
However you should be aware that not one universal marketing plan is applicable to just about all businesses and all sorts of scenarios – Instead, the particular structure for any marketing plan for a business is based around the following planning elements:
Step 1 – The prospective target market or audience and the specific marketing objectives. In other words who your ideal customer is and what would you like to achieve – start as simple as that before you go into details.
Step 2 – The type and structure of your company will set the planning horizon as well as the marketing and business growth strategies and tactics. For example, a small business requires completely different set of tactics and approaches compared to a large global corporation that markets to customers in various market segments worldwide. The small business plan might be quite uncomplicated, specific and actionable in a few months because the small business is more flexible and adaptable while the large organization needs more time to change its marketing strategies because market development, product development, etc take months for bigger business.
Step 3 – The market structure. You should carefully evaluate your key competitors and other stakeholders like vendors, legal, social influence…
Marketing plan vs. business plan
As opposed to your marketing plan, your business plan is really an overall strategic guide for the whole business organization for any selected time period, like a year or three years. An important distinction among them is usually that the business plan includes information on the financial situation, R&D, manufacturing and operations, quality management practices, sales development, major company milestones… and just about any important business activity. So the marketing plan should be focused on the go-to-market strategies, campaigns, market segments, promotion and advertising and other tools and tactics which will generate new customers and growth for the business.
External stakeholders like banks and investors look at your plan and generally try to answer the following questions in your marketing plan:
1. Can you really implement this marketing plan?
2. Do you have anything distinct or exclusive in your service or product or the way you do business compared to anyone else in your market?
3. Is there a market growth opportunity?
4. Do you have reasonable financial forecasts and what are the major assumptions?
5. Is your management capable and experienced to make this happen?
6. Is your business model scalable?
In order to help your readers evaluate your marketing plan better pay attention to the following important issues:
A – Core Competencies – This is a mix of your current and potential advantages that will help you shape your business and have an sustainable competitive edge. Your core competencies should offer something which is hard to copy for your rivals.
B – Scope of Business – Make sure you clearly define what your business is and what is not. Be clear about market segmentation and target segments you’ll go after. It is important to explain who the ideal customer is but it is also important who is not your potential customer targeted by your competitors.
C – Sales Volume and Sales Objectives In business it’s all about the numbers, results and outcomes so make sure you convert your ideas and concepts into specific measurable plans, objectives and targets you are trying to achieve.
D – Match your product and service with specific customer needs. It is crucial to show the connection and relationship between your key features and specific customer needs and preferences. Helpfully this is the place where your business differentiates from any other company in your market.
E – Milestones and timeline. It is absolutely required to have a real plan in terms of what and when – which means your marketing plan needs to show what are the major critical for success factors and milestones and show the specific timeline. Example: instead of talking about product or website development in general explain when your website will be done, how much it will cost and what is next in your timeline.
F – Marketing budget – Your budget must be a part of your plan and needs to show the breakdown of all your marketing activities costs like advertising, web design, social media, new product development, public relations, sales rep development, etc.
G – Marketing KPIs – Your marketing key performance indicators and your marketing metrics are important for your marketing plan success. What you measure shows what your focus is for your marketing. There must be a logical connection between your plan and your marketing dashboard report. For example if your marketing strategy is mostly based on growing your sales in the next 12 months by a certain percentage – your marketing metrics and KPIs must be around this goal. Example marketing metrics can be monthly growth, monthly percentage growth, sales growth by sales rep, sales growth by channel, sales growth by new services… By developing key performance indicators which are in line with your strategy you are in a position to better monitor and control your progress and adjust quickly, take advantage of opportunities and avoid activities which do not produce results as expected – how to use excel dashboard to create marketing dashboard.
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