Marketing Plan

What exactly is a marketing plan? A marketing plan is a technique used by firms to organize, implement, and track their marketing strategy over time.

Marketing plan - Ingredients to build a market profile

For any business, what else could have a high price tag as a recurring expense apart from employee's salaries? Marketing, of course! However, when you are paying salaries, you are already aware of the outputs from the employees. It's already crystal clear at the very moment you recruit them.  

But, on the other hand, when we talk about marketing, most businesses cannot meet up the expected amount of success in return for the amount spent. Well, this is because of the lack of a marketing plan. Without a proper plan, marketing might opportunely give good returns, but it won't be the same in the long run. Relatable?  

While any business owner would undoubtedly crave fruitful pay-off behind every penny spent on marketing, the question is how to do so? Well, to help you with this, this article is armored with all the pieces to make a successful marketing plan. Here we go!  

A short description of the marketing plan  

A marketing plan is a documentation that highlights the marketing strategies for a certain period in layman's words. Generally, it is prepared for a year but can also be entitled to a quarter or month. The key aspects covered are the promotional, strategically, and advertising activities to be incorporated throughout the designated period. A well-formed marketing plan includes the following.  

  • The outline of a business's marketing goals.
  • Analyzing and jotting down the current position of advertising.
  • A timespan of completion of the planned strategies for marketing.
  • Understanding the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to be tracked.
  • A brief description of the target audience.
  • A focus on the needs of the customers and how to resolve them.
  • Competitor analysis
  • Marketing budget

Objectives of a marketing plan  

There's a purpose behind every decision made concerning the operations of a business, and the same applies to a marketing plan. Mentioned below are the objectives.

  1. A true definition towards the marketing inspirations of an organization that sequences with the vision and mission of the business. It's a clear indication of the position an organization wants to hold in a specified period.
  2. A well-designed marketing plan plays a vital role in a company's growth by specifying top-notch marketing strategies—for example, customer acquisition, retention of customers, and so on.
  3. To scale up in the long run, any business needs to acquire additional market share, stepping into various niches with vertical and horizontal integration, and creating brand awareness. A marketing plan covers all these aspects and helps decide the modus operandi.
  4. A marketing plan puts focus on the funds required and the sources available to carry out the marketing techniques.
  5. It clearly states the marketing mix is composed of 8Ps of marketing: Product, Price, Place, Promotion, People, Process, Physical Evidence, and Performance, respectively.
  6. It indicates an end-to-end briefing of the tasks and responsibilities of the marketing/advertising planned.
  7. Figuring business opportunities and creating strategies to attain success for the available ones.
  8. It's a deep dive into understanding the current marketing environment, including analysis of competitors, needs of the customer, market research, PEST analysis, and gaining knowledge on the latest marketing trends.
  9. Marketing plans focus on the consistent operation, especially production, human resources, finance, sales, and marketing.

Any marketing plan, irrespective of the nature of business, should always consider the 80:20 rule. To unleash the maximum output, the focus should be inclined to 20% of the services or products that account for 80% of volumes and the 20% of customers that bring in 80% of revenue. Now that you are clear with the purpose of a marketing plan let's delve into the structure.

Marketing Plan - The Ingredients  

Apart from the decision to have a precise marketing plan, structuring the same is equally important. Mentioned below are the ingredients that you should consider while preparing a fruitful marketing plan.  

Analyze the current state  

A common yet pivotal practice that any growing organization chooses to carry while preparing a marketing plan is the SWOT analysis. The process helps to figure out the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. This also gives an idea about the modus operandi of competitive businesses and understanding their strengths and weaknesses. To help you understand, listed below are brief details of how it works.  

  • Strengths:

It's the skills, proficiency, or various other unique factors which can give a certain organization to stand high against its competitors. Therefore, when you analyze your organization's strengths, you get a clear picture of the competitive advantage that you carry, which in return helps you attain a sustainable position in the market.  

Besides, these are such factors that are difficult enough for others to copy. Let's say, for example; you have a top-notch sales team with a justified salary. This can be considered one of the organization's core strengths, and there are many more you could discover with a SWOT analysis.  

  • Weakness:

The factors that are responsible for decreasing your organization's ability to achieve its goals independently. Some of the most prominent examples of weakness include outdated production tools, inadequate marketing efforts, poor planning, and unreliable delivery.  

  • Opportunities:

The means that allow your business to grow and achieve more profitability can be defined as opportunities. From managing technological changes, addressing new customer trends to seeking and expanding new markets - all are mere examples of opportunities.

  • Threats:

These are the barriers to step into your primary market. Inadequate workforce, detrimental financial or political developments, and legislative challenges are seen as the most common threats.  

Build a target market profile

  • Demographic portrait:

When you intend to show that you know your customers inside and out and are well-acquainted with their whims and expectations, you can say that you're drawing a demographic portrait. It should include a clear profile of your customers, featuring their age, gender, career or profession, level of education, income, and geographic location.  

  • Purchase motivation:

It's of utmost importance to figure out what provokes your customers to buy the product or service you are offering. Do they want to simplify their lives, or is it just about shopping for pleasure? Take out some time and ask yourself why they would buy your product or service. Are you sure they are tagged with a justified price? Do they lack a unique perspective? When you get these insights, developing products or services that can outline the competition will look far more accessible to you.  

  • Demand estimation:

By providing research that talks about the demand estimation for your product or service, and the rate of the expected growth in demand, you can work more confidently. You will stay within the financial institutions that your business is not lacking on the growth potential parameters.  

  • Fixing transparent marketing objectives:

Figuring out how your marketing plan will help you achieve your target within a stipulated time frame. The most viable approach is to utilize marketing metrics. To clarify things, the given example can help! Your marketing objectives may include -  

  1. Total count of your clients
  2. Retention rate
  3. The average volume of purchases
  4. Market penetration rate
  5. Total market segments and share
  • Sticking to a robust marketing strategy

When you manage to determine your goals, the next step is to focus on the promotional efforts to give your business the right exposure. A reliable marketing strategy usually cover the four Ps of marketing -

  1. Price
  2. Product
  3. Place
  4. Promotion

Your choice of marketing vehicles will be driven by the profile of the market you target. Hence, it's imperative to make out how different modes can let you reach different audiences. It's not at all recommended to believe in the assumption of spending insensibly on costly advertising. If you have managed to gain a niche audience, low-cost marketing strategies like email, SMS, and more can turn out to be a game-changer.  

On the other hand, if you have targeted the premium class, investing in costlier options like sales promotions, public relation campaigns, vigorous content marketing, and social media promotions will add a cherry to the cake.  

  • Design a financial plan that caters to the need of your marketing plan

A marketing plan without financials is a piece of bread without butter. In addition, financials should also be included in the generic business strategies. You need to create a budget and sales forecast. There is no need to make them complex. Simplistic content with proper insight is enough to design a result-driven financial plan. You can consider including the following questions in your financials.

  • What's the expected sales figure?
  • What is the cost you bear for production?
  • How much basic operating expenses are you carrying?
  • How much capital do you need to keep your business operations smooth?

When you find out the answers to these questions, determining your projected income and expenses looks far handier. Apart from that, a break-even analysis is another vital step in developing a stout marketing plan that includes social promotions and other effective marketing channels. This analysis unveils exactly how much you require to sell to cover up your expenses.

When you can surpass your break-even point, you make the way to bring in more than the amount of sales revenue required to meet your expenses. Eventually, this increases the chances of making a profit.  

Conclusion

Once you have done all of the said vital homework, you are all set to find an expert who can help you put together an optimal and strategic marketing plan that tailors to your business need to the fullest. 

About the author

has been working as a web developer and in online marketing since 1998. After building up a marketing agency and the exit in 2013, he consulted international groups as a freelance consultant. Since 2020, he and his team now offer staffing services in this field.

Dennis Hoinkis CEO, FSOM Group Corp.

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