The Need for a Marketing Plan
We’ve all heard the saying “if you don’t have a plan, then you plan to fail.” While it’s not my favorite saying, it bears some credibility when it comes to your Marketing strategy. Without a conscious marketing plan it can be easy to get swept along by one of the innumerable marketing fads that blow through every so often, or to become distracted by the shiny guarantees of your local marketing agencies.
Neither fads nor agencies are particularly bad. However, they can be distracting and lead you into marketing efforts that may not align with the mission and vision of your company. The antidote for that distraction is to have a marketing plan of your own. You can then utilize those popular marketing techniques, and agencies as tools to help you execute that plan.
Elements of your Marketing Plan
Your product description should describe the primary function of your product, as well as its features and benefits. When writing this description, there are two questions that you want to answer:
- How does your product align with your company vision
- How does your product best meet the needs of your would-be customers
Your Target Market
When describing your target market, it’s important to be as detailed and specific as possible. Some companies even create a hypothetical “ideal” customer. Think about demographic information – where your ideal customer lives, their age, gender, income range, hobbies, who they socialize with, what they do in their spare time, etc.
The more specific you can get, the more effective your marketing campaign will be.
A Competitive Situation Analysis
A competitive situation analysis helps you brainstorm about who your competition is, what they may be doing, and how they can affect you.
When completing this analysis, it may be helpful to focus on Porter’s Five Forces:
- Rivals – Competitors who are offering the same or a very similar product
- New Entrants – Competitors who may be able and motivated to release a competing product
- Substitutes – Competitors who offer products that could be used instead of yours
- Bargaining Power of Buyers – The power that customers may exert to convince you to alter a part of your marketing plan (price, quality customer service, etc.).
- Bargaining Power of Suppliers – The power that suppliers can exert on your business. They can do this by raising prices, constraining supply, etc.
A SWOT Analysis
By helping you brainstorm your product’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, a SWOT Analysis is another powerful tool to help you determine how your product will fit in the market.
This is where you begin to put your research and brainstorming into action.
These are the goals that you want to accomplish by executing your marketing plan. The timeline for these goals can vary. If you’re a new business, then starting at a year is a good place to start.
Your objectives should be specific and measurable. They should address the “Four P’s” of your marketing mix:
- Product. For example, “Sell 100,00 units by December 31, 2019”
- Price. For example, “Achieve a 20% return on investment by December 31, 2019”
- Place. For example, “Have our product in 30% of major retailers by December 31, 2019”
- Promotion. For example, “Generate 40% market awareness by December 31, 2019”
Just as you have four market objectives, you should have four market strategies.
These strategies should describe, in detail, how you intend to meet those goals. Do this by creating specific tasks for each goal that, when all completed, will result in the goal being completed.
The marketing strategies may also include the marketing tools that you will use (such as those fads and agencies I mentioned earlier), how they will be used, and the result that you expect.
Lastly, you need to outline how you plan to implement your marketing strategies. This part of your plan should include:
- The specific tasks for each goal
- Who will complete each task
- When the task should be completed
- How the results of your strategies will be monitored
Having a strong marketing plan is vital. It will help you identify and utilize marketing methods, tools, and resources that fit with your marketing strategy.