Following the widely read series on crafting your own marketing strategy (from February 11 to March 18, 2018), I am coming up with a new series of articles that will discuss the fundamentals of a marketing plan.
What is a marketing plan?
A marketing plan is a comprehensive document, founded on a solid marketing strategy, that contains detailed action plans for a one-year period aimed at attaining specific marketing objectives.
It covers all key areas in the execution of your marketing strategy.
Aside from you as the business owner, key people in your business like the individuals in-charge of marketing and sales, finance, production, logistics, HR, and other personnel involved in value creation should be involved in drafting your marketing plan as these same people will have respective roles in carrying it out.
How does it differ from a marketing strategy?
As mentioned in my previous article, “A simple distinction: a marketing strategy is what you want to do to achieve your marketing objectives while a marketing plan is how you want to do it. The marketing strategy identifies the various market-centric pathways or options you want to follow to achieve your marketing objectives. It is the big picture of your company’s marketing functions. The marketing plan lays out the different tactical plans you will execute to propel your marketing strategy. It provides the details of the big picture.”
Can you run your business without a written marketing plan?
A written marketing plan is important as it is your blueprint that serves as:
- A starting point for documenting your action plans going forward on your marketing strategy;
- It embodies your thinking as a business owner as well as those of your key personnel regarding the marketing functions of your business and subsequent changes in the organization will be guided by it;
- As an overarching document, it will serve as the basis for the formulation of marketing campaigns and projects as well as marketing policies, systems, and processes.
The essential elements of a marketing plan
A marketing plan can be long and complicated as what big companies do but it can be short and simple as what suits a small business.
Let us focus on the small business.
You can develop a workable marketing plan taking into consideration these essential elements:
This includes the gathering of demographic and psychographic data about your target market, determining your buyer persona, compiling market size, potential, and growth trend figures, and qualitative data that can impact your current and future markets.
Knowing who your competitors are and their strengths, weaknesses, major customers, products, pricing, promotion, and distribution strategies.
As discussed in my article, “Competitive advantage is the edge you have versus your competitors in terms of cost (comparative advantage ) and differentiation (differential advantage). It puts you notches above the competition and drives the profitability of your company.
Having sustainable competitive advantages will enable you to craft a marketing strategy that will give you market leadership and at the same time improve your profit margin and operating income.”
The marketing plan aims to achieve within a one-year period the stated marketing objective/s.
The marketing plan begins with a statement of the specific marketing objective/s for your target market.
The marketing objectives should be formulated based on an evaluation of results of the research and study of the target market, competition, and your value proposition.
These are the pathways you have chosen to follow to attain your marketing objectives. I discussed this topic in more detail in the recently concluded series on marketing strategy.
Marketing action or implementation plan
I will discuss this in another series of articles starting this month.
These are key performance indicators (KPIs) used to gauge how effective the business is in the execution of its marketing plan.
At the end of each review period, you can analyze results against targets and measures. You can determine which action shall have contributed positively to attaining your objectives and which would not. You can then make the necessary iteration and tactical adjustments.
This is the amount of money that you are capable and willing to spend in the process of implementing your marketing plan. Ideally, this sets your limits to every item of expense you expect to incur.
Together with the sales forecast, these figures will tell you how effective you are in generating returns on the resources used in marketing and sales.
While many marketing plans that I have seen usually do not include this, I consider the contingency plan an essential part.
The contingency plan gives you a foresight of probable competitive reactions as your marketing plan eventually unfolds. With this foresight, you can line up the corresponding action plans to mitigate counter moves by competition.
The forthcoming series on marketing plan
In the marketing plan series, I will focus our discussion on the implementation plan, performance indicators, budget, and contingency plan. I invite you to follow it all throughout.
The new series will use the same case project – the furniture marketing business.
Market research, competition, competitive advantage, marketing objective, and marketing strategy were discussed already in previous articles and in the marketing strategy series.
At the conclusion of the upcoming marketing plan series, I will consolidate it with the marketing strategy series to come up with a unified case study – the strategic marketing plan.
I enjoin you to give comments or suggestions on the past as well as on the coming marketing series.
You may also review other marketing and business concerns you may want to bring up.