Marketing Plan 101: A Comprehensive Guide
Like any worthwhile endeavors, preparation is key to its success. Even the great former president Abraham Lincoln was a staunch advocate of this idea with the saying, “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the ax.” That’s more than half of the total allowable hours of work preparing and not doing the actual job itself.
Of course, that was a statement that is meant not to be taken literally but rather figuratively. Meaning, any particular work is most accomplished when a lot of time is invested carefully preparing for its task.
Whether you are to do physical work such as—taken literally—lumbering a tree with an axe or setting up a marketing plan for your business, having to prepare for it is first and foremost of critical importance.
Plan That Works
But not all plans are made alike. Some plans can only be just concepts and ideas but whose actual implementation is disastrous in the result. If you are part of a business, let alone its owner, you do not want that.
Real effective plans have to be carefully designed and with one specific goal in mind: make it an integral element to the business’ success over time.
Here is how you should structure your marketing plan:
1.List out your goals
Many may find starting out a marketing plan by listing out target goals to be unconventional—which it is—by doing so is crucial in laying out the next important steps in your schematics.
You could take this initial step as laying out the guideline which has the power to alter where you marketing plan is headed.
2. Finds ways to explain your research
In a kind of business where your disposition is always not secure, it pays to know what the competition is like and how you can level your play with it via the so-called competitive analysis. Essentially, this is a “my business versus your business” outlook at things which necessitates the need to compare and contrast at how your business performs against others.
The process of gauging your opponent versus your own is a true-to-label statement about “competition” and may require you to resort to spying your competitors for your business’ distinct advantage.
But competition is not always just about looking at your competitors and highlighting their flaws, it is also about understanding the totality of your business on 4 elements: strength, weakness, opportunities, and threats via the SWOT Analysis.
The SWOT Analysis is a realistic view of your business by identifying two polarities, namely strength and weakness, and opportunities and threats. The positive polarities, strength, and opportunities, are factors to look upon as good qualities for your business which you could either maintain or improve. Conversely, the negative polarities, weakness, and threats act as indicators to look after in order to either eradicate or, at least, improve upon.
Lastly, do not neglect the fact that your target consumers have their own habits and interest in buying. Knowing the personality of your buyers and spending habits are very important in driving up sales for your business.
3. Rationalize your strategy
When you already a clear grasp of the landscape of the business and the people that are integral in its ecology—the consumers—designing a strategy with these factors in mind is also important.
This phase could include various steps such as solidifying the business’ brand, formulating a unique selling proposition, building the right network, establishing an effective platform, and producing contents as a hook to your target consumers.
There is no one way of doing all this and how your strategy ultimate shapes depend on your business’ ecology and the elements that interplay in it.
This part of the making of a marketing plan may seem simple enough to do, but in reality, the scope and the magnitude of this task are rather broad and intensive and could entail as many individuals or supporting strategies to one another.
4. Set your metrics and choose the right method
Having a business is more than just about counting the revenue versus the overall expenses. That may be one thing but is not the sole basis of a business’ success. You would also have to consider its performance in the market, too, as gauged by certain data it generates.
To be able to do measurements, however, you would need a baseline to compare future key performance indicators (KPI) with. This might mean using pre-existing data before launching the strategy and then comparing it with future results. The variance in the collective data should signify whether the business is performing better or worse based on the set strategies for it.
If the business did not perform better than the previous, then there is something wrong with the plan which necessitates a change in the strategy. If it went better, then it implies that a sound strategy is developed which you could either maintain or improve upon over time. This is how businesses grow.
5. Highlight dominant strategies and maneuvers
With many strategies and plans in the pool, it may be hard to implement on everything at once. Instead, pick 4 or 5 in the list and take them collectively as your overarching strategies along with their corresponding tactics for execution.
Take the scenario this way: better have four or five standing goals as strong pillars to your plans than to erect six or more goals but lack the capacity to implement them. Or, they may be implemented, but may not produce the expected outcome because they are either insignificant or too weak to be a part of your overall goals to begin with.
Take note that goals and tactics are not supposed to be taken interchangeably but rather one being a complement to another—they are mutually inclusive. You can never attain a goal without the right maneuver towards it and you can never have a tactic without a goal for it.
Marketing Plan Template
Here you provide a title of your marketing plan (where you want to focus in your business), your department, your school, your course, name, and date (month and year).
Table of Contents
List the various chapters and sub-headings and the page number.
Executive Summary (One-pager)
Keep in mind that not everyone will read every page of your marketing plan. It’s an overview of your marketing plan, putting together the pertinent points in the various chapters of your plan.
By writing the executive summary the very last, you will be able to provide a holistic overview of your marketing plan. It presents the challenge or problem, your solution, and your strategies. It is recommended that you include the following points (no need for sub-headings):
What is it in your situational analysis, weaknesses, and threats which you consider as the main concern of your business? Are you threatened by competition?
Primary Goal and Main Strategies
What is your main goal why you need this marketing plan? Do you need to expand? Are you introducing a new product or brand? How will you get to your goal? Are you going to launch a campaign? This basically provides a preview of the strategies you want to use to achieve your objectives.
Chapter 1. Introduction
This chapter gives an overview of your business when it began, where it is at present, and where you want to take it in the future. Here, you show “where your business needs to be.”
Background of your business
Provide a brief history of your business and description of your products or services. What does your brand stand for? How many years is your business in existence? Was there a high point or low point in your business history that is remarkable? Where is it now?
Business Vision and Mission
What is your vision for your business 10 or more years from now? Do you want it to be big? Do you want it to be focused and known in its niche? Are you for expansion or do you want to be the leading brand in your industry? Example: Jollibee to be the leading fast food chain in the Philippines.
Describe the aims of your Marketing Plan that will help you attain your business vision. Working on the Jollibee example, a marketing goal could be: “to be present in all provinces of the Philippines.”
Your objectives outline how you are going to achieve your goals. They should be easy to quantify, measure and evaluate. They have to be in support to your marketing goals and should be able to contribute to your sales performance at a given period of time. For example, a goal can be: “To increase market share of fast food consumers by 10% in the next 2 years” or “Double net revenues within a year.” (If you are to put market share or revenue in your specific goals, be sure to provide information or data in your plan.)
Chapter 2: Target Market and Market Segmentation
Target market/segment characteristics
Identify the main segment which can provide the highest sales to your business. They are the biggest bulk of your buyers/consumers/clientele. They are the primary target of your marketing plan. This can be geographic, sectoral, or demographic.
When you look closely at your market you’ll find that your consumers fall into different groups or ‘segments’. Although all of your customers use your product or service they will value different aspects of it such as price, design, or ease of access. You can segment your market by customers that have shared values. For example, if you were selling electronic calculators your market could be segmented by how consumers use it eg: scientific, office, student, and general use. Each of these segments will have different requirements and may vary in price they are willing to pay.
By understanding the needs of the segment you can tailor your marketing mix to deliver what your customer values. Each segment will offer growth and profit opportunities so the trick is to deliver the best offer to the best segment. You can present this in table format. Include any market research findings, if there are any.
You can profile your market segments using four categories:
Geographic: eg: location, population size or climate.
Demographic: eg: age, gender, family size, family life cycle or income.
Psychographic: eg: social class, lifestyle, motivation or personality.
Behavioral: eg: product benefits, the frequency of use or brand loyalty.
Table format example:
|Attributes||Primary Market||Secondary Market||Tertiary Market|
|Population Size||e.g 5,000||3,000||2,000|
|Concerns & Priorities|
|How often they use your product/service|
|How much they are willing to spend on your product|
Chapter 3: Market and Situational Analysis
This chapter presents the realities in your business, your industry and your scope of work, whether it is geographic or sectoral.
Here you should look at the factors that affect your consumers’ purchasing power and spending patterns. What is the economic environment that you are operating in (which can be geographic or sectoral)? Is it a growth, recovery or recession? Provide reference on the facts or data you provide.
What are the social and demographic trends? What are your consumers’ behaviours? How does your market decide on their spending habits that are related to your business? Are there rising concerns in society that can affect your business or the industry where you are operating?
The technological environment changes rapidly. You need to make sure that you are aware of trends in your industry and other industries could affect your business. New technologies create new markets and can influence your consumers and competitors. What technological advancements are there in the industry you are operating?
Who are your closest competitors (it can be geographic, similar product/service offerings, pricing, etc.) What are your competitors doing? What is your advantage over your competitors? Is the market large enough to support you and your competitors? Provide a table comparing your business/brand to those of your competitor.
|(Whatever is applicable below)||Your business||Competitor A (specify)||Competitor B (specify)||Competitor C (specify)|
|Unique Value/Selling Proposition*|
|Brand identity or brand positioning**|
|Others (include anything that will be relevant to your marketing plan.)|
*Unique Value Proposition (UVP) or Unique Selling Proposition (USP) is a “clear statement that describes the benefit of your offer, how you solve your customer’s needs and what distinguishes you from the competition.”
**Brand Identity is how you want to be perceived by your consumers. Brand positioning are the benefits you want your consumers to think of when they hear about your brand.
SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats. It scans your internal and external settings.
|Internal (within your control and must be existing)||Strength
· (Provide the assets or positive points of your brand, your products, services, processes, human resource, etc.)
· (Enumerate the areas of your business or brand that you find lacking and needs to improve on.)
|External (beyond your control)||Opportunity
· (List the areas which can be helpful to your business – whether it is a rising trend, a situation, or an area that still needs to be tapped.)
· (Specify a trend, situation, or an area outside your business that can affect your brand standing or sales performance.)
Chapter 4: Marketing Strategies
This chapter is basically the part where you specify “how to get there.” It provides a roadmap on how you will bring your business or brand to achieving your marketing goals and objectives, which will ultimately lead you to attain your vision. You can describe in 2 to 3 sentences what you are currently doing and what will be the new ideas you will inject to help you towards your goals.
To craft your strategies, use to TOWS Analysis:
Guide in doing the TOWS Analysis:
(Maxi-Maxi Strategies) SO- Strength/ Opportunity. Question: How would you use your strengths so that you can exploit your opportunities?
(Mini-Maxi Strategies) WO- Weakness/Opportunity. Question: How would you overcome your weakness to take advantage of the available opportunities?
(Maxi-Mini Strategies) ST- Strenght/Threat. Question: What will you do to take advantage of your strengths to overcome possible threats?
(Mini-Mini Strategies) WT-Weakness/Threat. Question: How will you minimize or eliminate your weaknesses to avoid the possible damaged that the threats may bring?
After completing your TOWS Analysis, classify the various strategies you have created as follows:
When developing your pricing strategy consider the following:
- your customer’s sensitivity to changes in price;
- what revenue you need to break even; and
- what the price says about your product eg: value, quality, and prestige.
When developing your product strategy consider the following:
- what level of quality and consistency does the product/service have;
- how many features does it have and can they be removed or added; and
- does the design and/or service deliver what the customer values?
When developing your place/distribution strategy, consider the following:
- what distribution channels and methods you will use;
- if you will have a retail outlet and where it will be located; and
- the geographic area your product/service will be available in.
Your promotional strategy will ensure that consumers find out about your product or service. There are four main promotional tools:
- sales promotion; and
- public relations
Think about the people who sell your product or service and are involved in its delivery. Your people strategy is not just about your internal staff, it also covers associates and strategic partners, channel partners and suppliers. How do you utilize them to achieve your goals? Also, include your consumers and clientele.
Your process strategy is concerned with the planning, development, implementation, documentation and review of the systems that help you achieve the other aspects of your marketing strategy. If you have the right processes you’ll have the right product, in the right quantity to the right place at the right time. Which areas in your process will you improve on?
Priorities, Responsibilities, and Timeframes (what/who/ when)
Assign responsibilities to yourself and staff to make sure your strategy gets implemented. Make sure you set timelines so that everyone knows when action points need to be achieved. You can use the GANTT chart for this.
|Plan of Action/Activities based on your strategies:||Person responsible||Timeframe|
Chapter 5: Projected Sales and Marketing Budget
Sales, Expenses and Projection/Forecast
You can show graphs of your sales growth for a specific period of time. You can show your actual sales vis-à-vis your projected sales, whether daily, monthly or yearly, based on the strategies and tactics you will implement above.
Provide specific items and the cost you will allocate for each item. Your budget is good for one year. IF there are items that you need to do on a monthly basis, indicate them.
Contingency Plans and Risk Management
You should consider the possible risks to your business and make contingency plans to address them. You will have noted some possible risks under the “weakness” and “threats” sections of your SWOT analysis. Or, they can be the result if strategies or activities do not go as planned. Try to identify all of your risks and work out what you can do to either reduce them or work around them if they occur.