A marketing plan is a thorough roadmap which outlines the overall marketing efforts of an organization and highlights the steps that will be taken so you retain its marketing objectives. This plan can have a lifespan of between a few months to three years.
Like a business plan, a marketing plan is a very important business document that entails regular review and revision. In particular, three-year marketing plans should be revisited periodically – at least once a year – for the purpose of addressing changes in market conditions, demand, pricing issues, etc.
In today’s fast-changing business world, we are witnessing a lot of changes in the customers’ consumption and behaviour patterns. It is essential that we stay up to date with the trends and changes.
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There are many components to a successful marketing plan. Five key components include:
Conducting SWOT and PESTND Analyses
Start with conducting a rigorous SWOT analysis with the objective of realizing your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats, in comparison with your competitors’.
Also, analyze the political, economic, socio-cultural, technological, natural, and demographic (PESTND) factors, to better understand the environment in which your business operates. Both analyses are essential to successful marketing planning!
Analyzing the competition, and understanding differentiated points of value
You can generate a list of your competitive alternatives, and define your unique value proposition(s) that can help you stand out in the face of fierce competition.
It is extremely important to articulate what differentiates your offering(s) from others; whether it be in technology, features, pricing, delivery options, ease of use, time to value, etc.
Knowing the product(s), and defining target market(s)
Understand the features and benefits of your goods or services, pinpoint the particular group(s) of customers at whom you will be aiming your products.
Your target market could include individual consumers, other businesses, or both, and segment based on variables such as gender, age groups, regional areas, educational backgrounds, occupations, average incomes, social classes, lifestyles, interests, activities, etc.
Setting marketing goals and metrics
Establish quantifiable marketing goals such as increasing customer acquisition by X%, selling X number of products, or boosting income by X%, within a given timeframe.
In addition, highlight the tracked measures that are associated with these goals. Remember that a good marketing plan is part of an ongoing process that involves setting goals, measuring results, tracking performance, reviewing and revising on a regular basis. It should be scoped and managed like any other project.
Budget your money, and determine the strategies that can be afforded, what can be done in-house, and what will be needed to be outsourced! Quality must not be jeopardized in order to save a buck.
The Marketing Manager must own the budget, and fight for every dollar he can get from management. However, in the end, it is the dollar (marketing expenditure available) that dictates the direction of your marketing campaign.
Marketing planning success doesn’t come easy, just like anything else. It will require your hard work.
For success, continue reviewing the status of your marketing campaigns against set objectives, comparing your marketing plan with actual results. Then take corrective actions as per the need, to enhance your marketing initiatives on an ongoing basis, and facilitate future planning.
This will ultimately put you in the driving seat of helping achieve your marketing goals, thus pushing you to reach your sales objectives, and hence, bumping up your bottom line (profits).