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Marketing plans are an imperative part of starting any business. They are used as a blueprint for mapping out the manner in which you will be able to achieve your business goals.
A marketing plan is not only necessary for new businesses, as it can be used to help existing programs incorporate the strengths their company currently enjoys in an effort to implement necessary changes or improvements.
A marketing plan can be implemented for a new product or service in which case it is meant to pull together all of the needed elements for an effective marketing start. It is important to have a marketing plan so that you can determine where you are, where you are headed, and how you will get there. It is especially important to have a marketing plan so that you can submit it for things such as loan considerations.
As a whole, you should see your marketing plan as a process for which you have a team whole goal is keeping it simple, developing a time--frame, providing feedback, implementing necessary revisions, and remaining consistent with the mission statement.
Reason for Having a Marketing Plan
Your marketing plan is a small subsidiary of your business plan. The business plan is responsible for spelling out what your business does and does not do as well as the ultimate business goals. It is more than merely marketing as it discusses your locations, financing, staffing, and strategic alliances. It also includes your vision.
Overall, think of the business plan as the cornerstone for your business. For new marketing or business measures, you need to alter the business or marketing plan. Your business plan should encourage an environment where your marketing plan can grow, thus both should reflect well on one another.
There are many components to a marketing plan. The first component is a mission statement. Following this should be an executive summary. After the executive summary should be an internal or external analysis. You should include objectives after this point, followed by marketing strategies. Once you have determined your marketing strategies you should identify your resources, an implementation plan, a marketing budget, and evaluation methods.
The mission statement should contain a clear description of the organizational identity, for what the business is meant, as well as which results your organization seeks.
The mission statement should do more than just describe who is a part of the organization. It should reflect upon the internal and external perception in a manner which is understood by all.
The mission statement should speak to what drives the organization and how things are accomplished within the organization. Overall, the mission statement should be simple.
The executive summary acts as an overview which is readable and concise and summarizes the main objectives of your marketing plan.
The internal analysis provides the background of the company, the current states, future directions, current resources, as well as the strengths and weaknesses of the company. The external analysis includes the economy, the demographics, trends, competition, and target markets. As far as opportunities and threats are concerned, you should understand that the environment will produce both. You should estimate the probability therein based on severe to not severe, as well as likely to very unlikely.
The Executive Summary should be brief, a single page, and located at the front of the marketing plan. It should use short sentences, bullet points, as well as bullet points for the major issues. It should spell out what someone reading your marketing plan needs to know in order to make sense of it all.
The summary should provide readers with a concise description of the upcoming plans for your company while also boiling down your main thoughts. Generally, this summary is written after the completion of the marketing plan.
You should also list who your competition is, what their products and/or services feature, their pricing, their packaging, and their promotion. You should list the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors and how you are different.
The customers and target markets section should include the current and potential customers, the requirements of the customer as well as the market clusters.
For the marketing strategies you should include the customers, target markets, programs, services, packaging, pricing, and promotion.
The implementation strategies should include the steps, responsibilities, deadlines, and budget. The marketing budget should include the advertising, media, direct mail, databases, printing, production, and possible mailing.
When you are evaluating your market plan you need to understand your success measure, the completion of action dates, accomplishment of goals and strategies, the results, as well as new customers, repeat customers, the average size of your contracts, and revenue.
The size of your marketing plan is dependent upon the size of your company. If you run a small company, you can generally create a marketing plan that is no more than a handful of pages, whereas a large corporation might have a marketing plan that runs over one hundred pages. In either case, the marketing plan should be placed in a binder where it can be referred to at least quarterly, but hopefully monthly. A section can be placed in the marketing plan for monthly reports on things such as sales and manufacturing for the sake of tracking performance as you follow your outline.
A marketing plan should cover the length of one year. This is because markets will evolve, people will change, customers will leave, as will people.
It is helpful to include a section in your marketing plan that addresses two or four year segments. Whether or not you do this, the majority of your marketing plan should address the coming year.
You should make sure that you have a couple of months to write the plan before finalizing and publishing it, even if the marketing plan is only a few pages in length. The development of the plan is the hardest part. Executing the plan will bring with it challenges, but the biggest challenge is deciding what your company should do in the market and how to do it. Generally a marketing plan will begin with the first of the year or with the opening of the fiscal year if they are not the same.
Everyone in your company should see the marketing plan. There are many companies who like to keep their marketing plans secret because they are ashamed of them, or they think that the information contained therein provides them with a competitive advantage. However, marketing cannot be done without getting people involved. Whatever the size of your company might be, you need to ensure feedback from every aspect of your company including finance, personnel, supply, manufacturing, etc…
Getting every facet of your company involved in the process is important for many reasons.
Part of having a decentralized company is that you can seek decision making processes that facilitate every member of the organization, in an attempt to ensure that all members feel as though they are a part of the organization.
By allowing every employee to contribute in some fashion or another, they all feel as though they are a better part of the organization and as such work harder to see projects to which they contributed through. Since our company is not facing a crisis, there is no need to employ centralized decision making.