There is no set format that every marketing plan must adhere to. Different texts and instruction manuals give different formats. If it is important for you to have a specific set of components, you might want to check your text to be sure that you include all the right ones. That said, there are clearly some things that need to be in a marketing plan. Let us look at these.
- A summary of your target market. You have to identify who your potential customers are so that you can target your advertising to those particular segments of the market.
- A statement of what makes your company unique. You need to be able to specify what it is that sets you apart from other companies that might compete with you.
- Your positioning and pricing. What part of the market do you want to position yourself in? Make sure that your prices are conducive to the positioning that you desire.
- Distribution plan. How are you going to get your product to the customers? Will it be online, in a store, through independent retailers, or what?
- Special offers. Are you going to have new customer discounts? Will you have a loyalty program? How are you going to make sure you can get new customers and bring back previous customers?
- How are you going to advertise? Will you do it online, in magazines, etc? If you are online, how will you optimize your website to get it onto the front page of results when consumers search for a product that you carry?
In order to have a good marketing plan, you will need to have these components. If you have these components, you will know what sort of product you are going to sell and to what segment of the market. You will know how you are planning to distribute the product and how you are going to get people to be aware of that product. All of this will be necessary if you are to move forward successfully with your business. Again, though, please be sure to check your text to see if you are supposed to use specific terminology for the various components of the marketing plan.
Marketing plans function to provide organization and direction to marketing efforts as a business takes a new service, product or even the business itself live.
Marketing Plan Basics
1. Market Research
Collect, organize, and write down data about the market that is currently buying the product(s) or service(s) you will sell. Some areas to consider:
- Market dynamics, patterns including seasonality
- Customers - demographics, market segment, target markets, needs, buying decisions
- Product - what's out there now, what's the competition offering
- Current sales in the industry
- Benchmarks in the industry
- Suppliers - vendors that you will need to rely on
2. Target Market
Find niche or target markets for your product and describe them.
Describe your product. How does your product relate to the market? What does your market need, what do they currently use, what do they need above and beyond current use?
Describe your competition. Develop your "unique selling proposition." What makes you stand apart from your competition? What is your competition doing about branding?
5. Mission Statement
Write a few sentences that state:
- "Key market" - who you're selling to
- "Contribution" - what you're selling
- "Distinction" - your unique selling proposition
6. Market Strategies
Write down the marketing and promotion strategies that you want to use or at least consider using. Strategies to consider:
- Networking - go where your market is
- Direct marketing - sales letters, brochures, flyers
- Advertising - print media, directories
- Training programs - to increase awareness
- Write articles, give advice, become known as an expert
- Direct/personal selling
- Publicity/press releases
- Trade shows
- Web site
7. Pricing, Positioning and Branding
From the information you've collected, establish strategies for determining the price of your product, where your product will be positioned in the market and how you will achieve brand awareness.
Budget your dollars. What strategies can you afford? What can you do in house, what do you need to outsource.
9. Marketing Goals
Establish quantifiable marketing goals. This means goals that you can turn into numbers. For instance, your goals might be to gain at least 30 new clients or to sell 10 products per week, or to increase your income by 30% this year. Your goals might include sales, profits, or customer's satisfaction.
10. Monitor Your Results
Test and analyze. Identify the strategies that are working.
- Survey customers
- Track sales, leads, visitors to your web site, percent of sales to impressions
By researching your markets, your competition, and determining your unique positioning, you are in a much better position to promote and sell your product or service. By establishing goals for your marketing campaign, you can better understand whether or not your efforts are generating results through ongoing review and evaluation of results.