Marketing Plan To Copy – A Marplan Is Like A Map To Your Profits

Have you asked a Marketing Agency to quote you for drawing up a Marketing Plan recently? If, like me, you own a small business, then it is hard to justify spending the £600 a day I was asked for here in Britain. I have to watch my bottom line like a hawk, especially in the difficult-trading-conditions we seem to be in. But here is a dilemma! A Marketing Plan is a really essential tool that will show a small business owner where their business is and map out where it needs to go. It is vital in today’s competitive environment that even small business should have one.

When you overdraft or financing facilities come up for renewal and your bank manager has to justify lending the bank’s money to your business, think how much easier it would be to convince him to continue backing you with a plan laid out in neat systematic form.

It is probably the case that far too many small companies don’t have a Marketing Plan, or the owner has it locked in his head. A place of storage that is really difficult to access when you need to show it to the potential investor or the bank manager. And inevitably this event usually occurs when you are really busy and committing your plan to paper, or computer file, is added pressure that you really could do with out. I run a small retail business – an independent bookshop and a Collectables gift business on the Internet.

Recently I studied for, and obtained, the UK’s Chartered Institute of Marketing’s “Professional Diploma in Marketing” by doing a convergent learning course on the net and in four intensive workshop days in my local town. It brought home to me that what we did in our own business was fine up to a point. As the course was very practical, with the chance to use any organisation of the student’s choice in the assignments that we had to submit, I ended up formally setting down the Marketing Plan on paper, that had been up there in my head for no one to see!

So what is a Marketing Plan for?

Well, its purpose is to lay down, direct and co-ordinate all your marketing activities and events. Think of it as a map. With a map it is easier to get some place. With a marketing plan it is easier to get the business to where you want it to head. This is, hopefully, to huge profits!

Perhaps you are the owner or director of a company seeking backing or further investment? Well a good marketing plan can be really important in attracting new investment or better bank facilities.

Perhaps you need help in making choices regarding which parts of the market to focus on and how to compete in that target market (Marketing Strategy)?

Often the mere process of preparing a marketing plan will help you to develop a successful marketing strategy through the discipline and process that you go through.

A good marketing plan will describe all the marketing actions to be carried out within a specific time period. It will contain details of your company, its products or services, its marketing objectives and strategies and information on how to measure the results of the marketing activities.

It might help if I give you a framework of basic elements that a Marketing Plan should include.

Basic Elements of a Marketing Plan

So what do you need?

1.Executive Summary – introduces and explains the major features and recommendations to executives (or your bank manager).

1.1 Introduction – a brief description of your organisation, its products and or services.

The context and objectives of the plan should be described and a description of what your business activities are. You should include current revenues, customers and your market position. You can also blow your own trumpet here! Note your accomplishments and successes to date.
If it is a new market entry or entirely new markets you are going for, then here is the place to describe any experience, training or competencies that your company has.

1.2 Vision, Mission Statement and Objectives

Mission statements focus on the long-range purpose of your marketing plan.
“To educate entertain and enlighten our clients so that they become more successful Marketers.”
Company objectives should be more specific and oriented towards action.
“We will deliver a balanced range of Marketing Solution Publications to the U.K. and Europe through mail order and Internet.”

1.3 Team description

Who will deliver the plan? What are the resources and structure of the team who will do so?
Management skills and capabilities. List any Marketing knowledge, sales skills, copy-writing ability, etc.
Agencies – Include any Marketing consultants, PR agencies you are using.

If there are any gaps honestly point them out and do a Training Needs Analysis.

1.4 Main marketing objectives

You need only give a brief statement of these here to close the Executive summary.

2.1 Current market conditions

What are the trends in your market?
What are the dynamics facing businesses such as yours?
Who are your target customers?
What competition do you face?

2.2 Market trends:

You should describe the macroeconomic trends that directly affect the target market that your marketing plan is aimed at.
This is where the PEST Framework is useful to include. (Sometimes referred to as PESTEL, SLEPT or PESTE) the components are:
Political
Economic
Social
Technological
Environment
Legal

2.3 Target market

It goes without saying that you should be aiming all your marketing efforts precisely at a target market or you are heading for a disaster.

All good marketing planning should follow from a very detailed segmentation of the market.
Size? Is it growing, staying the same, or shrinking?
Customer characteristics e.g. age, sex, income level, location, marital status, number of children etc.
Habits, patterns and values of target customer.
What are their wants, needs and desires?
What are their buying habits? – How do they spend their disposable income and when do they buy and how do they buy? How many times and when?

2.4 Competition analysis

In the micro environment analysis of a Marketing Audit you will hopefully have identified your present and potential competitors. What are their key products / services? How do they differentiate them selves? You should briefly explain the actions that you will take to oppose or overcome your competitor’s offerings.

I highly recommend you use Professor Michael Porter’s Five Forces Model for this and the four other threats he identifies. Space does not allow me to go into detail here although I have written a more comprehensive report in which I include a diagram of the Five Forces Model available from my own website.

2.5 Issues analysis

You should briefly list such key external issues as government legislation affecting your business, or new technological development that impinges on your product.

3.1 SWOT analysis

Strengths
Weakness
Opportunities
Threats

A major component of any marketing plan is the SWOT analysis. Strengths and weaknesses are born of internal elements while opportunities and threats come from outside.
When opportunities and threats are recognised they can then be examined from the point of view of your product strengths and weaknesses.

What could we change or improve about our product to make it easier for the customer?
What are our customers’ wants and desires? – We may possibly find new opportunities by thinking about such questions.

It is worth remembering that a threat can also be an opportunity to you, while a strength may also be a weakness depending on your point of view!

A business offering a vast selection of products may see this as one of their strengths. But for the customer, confused by the bewildering array of options as they try to find what they need, sees it as a weakness.

4. Positioning Strategy

Decide how you want your clients to perceive you in your marketplace.
Lowest price?
Best service?
Highest quality?
This is all part of the differentiation process.

5. Differentiation

You want to ‘stand out from the crowd’ so you need to make some decisions on segmentation and the positioning of your business. Combine this with your competitive analysis and you should be able to differentiate yourself from the competition.

6. Key messages

Thinking about differentiation should also help you to decide on your ‘Key messages’. Be warned that it usually takes time for these to make an impact, to ‘sink in’, as it were. This means it is important to keep repeating your consistent messages throughout any marketing campaigns.

7. The Marketing Mix

The 4 P’s.P is for:

Product – List your companies products and services. Include their key features. Is there something unique about them? If you are launching a new product or service include it here.

Price – There are many ways to set a price, some more scientific than others are! Remember that pricing is an integral part of the marketing strategy. Ask yourself is the customer willing to pay the price proposed and will it give you any profit? Some prices may be set on a cost-plus basis – adding a profit on to the costs of producing the goods or services. A better way is the ‘market-based’ price because it takes into account what your competitors are charging.

Place – where do you sell? Direct, through an intermediary? Bricks and mortar or virtual outlet?

Promotion – what activities are you going to use to create awareness of your product or service to generate sales? This is also referred to as Marketing Communications and includes direct selling, corporate events, brochures, web-sites, advertising. You should be warned that many inexperienced marketers think that the promotional plan is the entire marketing plan. It is, as you can see, but one component of the marketing plan.

7a. Integration of Promotional activity

Have you got a consistent look and feel to all your marketing mix? It is wise to make sure all your communications, brand positioning, propositions, messages, etc are derived from a single brand position so it is not confusing to the consumer by being fragmented. Also are there cross selling opportunities for you to exploit?

Only 4 Ps? – Funny, I thought I heard there were 7!

Before leaving the marketing mix I need to tell you about the Extended mix, which adds People, Process and Physical evidence to Product, Price, Place and Promotion.

If you are a service, or a not-for-profit organisation, then the extra three Ps are most important for you. But don’t just assume that because you are not, that they don’t apply!

People oriented organisations have to consider how their personnel make the marketing activities more, or less, effective when dealing face to face (or on the phone) with their public.

Process makes it easy for you to deal with the organisation. If it is a charity, for example, today people expect to be able to go on-line, set up direct-debits, pay by card and not just put money in the street collectors tin.

Physical evidence is expected to result from paying for a service or donating to a charity. You expect to see some physical evidence of the use your money has been put to.

8. Marketing Budget

You need a detailed budget for the next year showing the budgeted costs for each of your promotional items.

9. Measurement

Results and feed back must be gathered each month and compared with the marketing plan. When they are going astray you need to take corrective action.
Another tip is to ask your customers how they found you so that you can monitor what parts of your communications plan are working. Note this and include this in your measurements.

10. Milestones

It is a good idea to announce in the plan some marketing milestones you will strive to achieve. When you pass them celebrate!

So there it is a step by step process to create yourself a professional Marketing plan.

Develop An Effective Marketing Plan To Ensure Your Business Success

A successful business is raised on the foundation of a great marketing plan. Selling is the most crucial and also the most difficult aspect of any business. Marketing of a product or service is real hard work and a good marketing plan is what ensures that the hard work bears fruit. It outlines how a business will go about attracting prospects, converting them into customers and retaining these customers in the long run.

Marketing plans and strategies are ever-evolving and have to be drawn up to fit the situation and its specific needs. They are required at whatever stage a business might be. Whether you are a start-up or an established business, you must have an effective marketing plan. To have a successful marketing plan, you will have to consider the following essential elements

  • Analyzing the Market: You cannot afford to operate on the basis of assumptions about the market and customers. You need to conduct a thorough analysis of the prevailing market environments, your strengths & weaknesses and the existing competition. Study your target customers and get in-depth knowledge of their needs and preferences. Based on this, you can determine your marketing objectives and position your product suitably.
  • Creating Marketing Messages & Determining Marketing Methods: Once your product profile matches the customer profile, you have to plan how to sell the product to the target market. You have to come up creative, meaningful and compelling messages that address the expectations and requirements of your audience. Select the most effective mediums of conveying these marketing messages. A variety of online and offline marketing tools are available. For best results, you will have to use a judicious mix of conventional and online marketing techniques.
  • Planning and Monitoring the Budget: A marketing budget planned to the smallest of details is very essential in a marketing plan. You have to be realistic and exact, and base the budget on your goals. You will also have to monitor the budget, track the expenses and analyze the spending on a budgeted and actual’ basis.
  • Evaluating and Reviewing the Plan: Decide a time-frame for your marketing plan and determine the metrics on which you will measure its success. Measure the results it produces and compare them with the expected success. This will help to know whether any corrections or modifications are required to make the plan more successful.

A strategic marketing plan is the secret behind every successful business. If you are not satisfied with the results of your marketing tactics, consult a professional marketing agency that can devise a targeted marketing plan to help improve your business and increase the sales. A reliable and comprehensive online local business directory is your best source for finding a capable and experienced marketing expert servicing your area.

Marketing Plan: Why All Small Businesses Need A Solid Plan!

“Good plans shape good decisions. That’s why good planning helps to make elusive dreams come true.”Lester R. Bittel

Recently, I offered a marketing plan review as a door prize for a local business group. When I approached the winner to exchange information, she whispered that she didn’t have a written one; she had it stored in her head. She then asked it a marketing plan was even necessary.

Should Your Small Business Have A Marketing Plan?

Absolutely! In fact, as a small business consultant, I’ve encountered numerous clients who repeatedly make the same mistake… failing to have a plan ‘business or marketing’ in place.

In a recent survey, I asked 200 respondents, ‘of the many issues facing their businesses, what common road blocks hindered their business growth.’ An overwhelming 32% said ‘No Marketing Plan’ was a potential reason for lack of sales and growth.

Why Marketing Plan?

Well, a marketing plan is a road map that details a route you should take to successfully promote and expand your business. It is critical to the success of a business, in fact, to all businesses! If a small business wants to achieve its potential, a marketing plan must be implemented!

Marketing is more than just ordering business cards or creating a flyer, it’s how you communicate with your current and potential clients. It is important to get your name out in the business community and differentiate your products and services from that of your competitor. If you don’t market your products or services, how will people know that you are a serious business owner or worse, in business? With a marketing plan, you will have a game plan in place.

A marketing plan is an integral and valuable tool for determining success of your business and the overall direction that your product or service should be taking. It should:

  • Clarify the impact and results of past marketing decisions.
  • Elucidate the external market that a company is competing.
  • Include deadlines for meeting those targets.
  • Prepare a budget for all marketing activities.
  • Set objectives and provide path for future marketing efforts.
  • Require accountability and measures for all activities.

6 Key Components of a Marketing Plan

Market Research

Gather information about your target market to include competition, business and industry environment.

When researching, answer the following questions:

  1. Who are your customers?
  2. What do they want or need?
  3. What is important to them?
  4. Who are your competitors? What are their strengths and weaknesses?
  5. What is your businesses environment, locally, regionally, and nationally?
  6. Is your industry doing well?

Target Market

Potential customers who have issues that or problems which your products or services can fulfill. Generally, people in this segment possess common characteristics and a relatively high tendency to purchase a particular product or service. Included in a target market are demographic, geographic and psychographic characteristics.

Executive Summary

A brief summary which includes the main points of the plan; generally shared with people you approach with your plan, such as investors or lenders who may want to read a synthesized version to determine if they are interested in it before taking the time to read it in depth.

Situation Analysis

The evaluation of operations to determine the reasons for the gap between what was or is expected, and what has happened or will happen.

SWOT Analysis

A formal outline to identify and frame a company’s’ growth opportunities; SWOT is an acronym for an organization’s internal Strengths and Weaknesses and external Opportunities and Threats.

Marketing Strategy

A process that allows a company’s to concentrate its limited resources on the greatest opportunities to increase sales and achieve a sustainable competitive advantage.

Budget

Estimates tied to specific allocation of revenues. A budget is required to have a successful marketing plan.

  • Yearly marketing budget
  • Expected return after investment
  • Breakdown of expected expenditures

In conclusion, as you can see, a marketing plan serves as your roadmap. It is critical for the success of your business. If writing a marketing plan seems a little intimidating, click here for FREE tools to help you.