What is a marketing plan? A marketing plan is a structured implementation of various marketing strategies, in order to accomplish the overall company objectives. Marketing plans are used to bring the business by following through required tasks in terms of time and cost required, to make sure set goals are achieved effectively.

Whether your business is large or small, marketing can make an enormous difference to your bottom line. Simply put, a marketing plan defines how you are going to sell your products or services. It is an organized approach to leverage resources toward profitable growth of your business. Let us help you develop a workable marketing strategy that makes sense for you and positions you for success.

What Is a Marketing Plan?

A marketing plan is an operational document that outlines an advertising strategy that an organization will implement to generate leads and reach its target market. A marketing plan details the outreach and PR campaigns to be undertaken over a period, including how the company will measure the effect of these initiatives. The functions and components of a marketing plan include the following:https://4741f17e36ead970c79a5d31a1891542.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

  • Market research to support pricing decisions and new market entries
  • Tailored messaging that targets certain demographics and geographic areas
  • Platform selection for product and service promotion: digital, radio, Internet, trade magazines, and the mix of those platforms for each campaign
  • Metrics that measure the results of marketing efforts and their reporting timelines

A marketing plan is based on a company’s overall marketing strategy

Understanding Marketing Plans

The terms marketing plan and marketing strategy are often used interchangeably because a marketing plan is developed based on an overarching strategic framework. In some cases, the strategy and the plan may be incorporated into one document, particularly for smaller companies that may only run one or two major campaigns in a year. The plan outlines marketing activities on a monthly, quarterly, or annual basis while the marketing strategy outlines the overall value proposition.

Purpose of a Marketing Plan

The purpose of a marketing plan includes the following:

  • To clearly define the marketing objectives of the business that align with the corporate mission and vision of the organization. The marketing objectives indicate where the organization wishes to be at any specific period in the future.
  • The marketing plan usually assists in the growth of the business by stating appropriate marketing strategies, such as plans for increasing the customer base.
  • State and review the marketing mix in terms of the 8Ps of marketing – Product, Price, Place, Promotion, People, Process, Physical Evidence, and Performance.
  • Strategies to increase market share, enter new niche markets, and increase brand awareness are also encompassed within the marketing plan.
  • The marketing plan will contain a detailed budget for the funds and resources required to carry out activities indicated in the marketing plan.
  • The assignment of tasks and responsibilities of marketing activities is well enunciated in the marketing plan.
  • The identification of business opportunities and any strategies crafted to exploit them is important.
  • A marketing plan fosters the review and analysis of the marketing environment, which entails market research, customer needs assessment, competitor analysis, PEST analysis, studying new business trends, and continuous environmental scanning.
  • A marketing plan integrates business functions to operate with consistency – notably sales, production, finance, human resources, and marketing.

Structure of a Marketing Plan

The structure of a marketing plan can include the following sections:

Marketing Plan Objectives

This section outlines the expected outcome of the marketing plan with clear, concise, realistic, and attainable objectives. It contains specific targets and time frames.

Metrics, such as target market share, the target number of customers to be attained, penetration rate, usage rate, sales volumes targeted, etc. should be used.

Market Research – Market Analysis/Consumer Analysis

Market analysis includes topics such as market definition, market size, industry structure, market share and trends, and competitor analysis. Consumer analysis includes the target market demographics and what influences their buying decisions – e.g., loyalty, motivation, and expectations.

Target Market

This defines the target customers by their demographic profile, such as gender, race, age, and psychographic profile, such as their interests. This will assist in the correct marketing mix for the target market segments.

SWOT Analysis

A SWOT analysis will look at the organization’s internal strengths and weaknesses and external opportunities and threats. SWOT analysis includes the following:

  • Strengths are the organization’s competitive advantages that are not easily duplicated. They represent the skills, expertise, and efficiencies that an organization possesses over its competitors.
  • Weaknesses are impediments found in the operations of an organization, and they stifle growth. These can include outdated machinery, inadequate working capital, and inefficient production methods.
  • Opportunities are prospects for growth in the business through the adoption of ways to take advantage of the chances. They could include entry into new markets, adopting digital marketing strategies, or following new trends.
  • Threats are external factors that can affect the business negatively, such as a new powerful competitor, legislative changes, natural disasters, or political situations.

Marketing Strategy

The marketing strategy section covers actual strategies to be included according to the marketing mix. The strategy centers on the 8Ps of marketing. However, firms are also at liberty to use the traditional 4 P’s of marketing – product, price, place, and promotion. The 8 P’s are illustrated below.

The correct marketing mix is determined by the target market. The most expensive options are advertising, sales promotions, and PR campaigns. Networking and referrals are less costly.

Marketers also need to pay attention to digital marketing strategies that make use of technology to reach a wider market and have also proven to be cost-effective.

Digital marketing channels, which became popular in the early 21st century, may eventually overtake traditional marketing methods. Digital marketing encompasses trending methods, such as the use of social media for business.

Other strategies within the marketing strategy include pricing and positioning strategy, distribution strategy, conversion strategy, and retention strategy.

Marketing Budget

The marketing budget or projection outlines the budgeted expenditure for the marketing activities documented in the marketing plan. The marketing budget consists of revenues and costs stated in the marketing plan in one document.

It balances expenditures on marketing activities and what the organization can afford. It’s a financial plan of marketing activities to be carried out – e.g., promotional activities, cost of marketing materials and advertising, and so on. Other considerations include expected product volume and price, production and delivery costs, and operating and financing costs.

The effectiveness of the marketing plan depends on the budget allocated for marketing expenditure. The cost of marketing should be able to make the company break even and make profits.

Marketing Plan - Performance Analysis

Performance Analysis

Performance analysis aims to look at the variances of metrics or components documented in the marketing plan.  These include:

Revenue variance analysis: An analysis of positive or negative variance of revenue. A negative variance is worrisome, and reasons should be available to explain the cause of deviations.

Market share analysis: An analysis of whether the organization attained its target market share. Sales may be increasing whilst the organization’s share of the market is decreasing; hence, it is paramount to track this metric.

Expense analysis: An analysis of marketing expense to sales ratio. This ratio needs to be compared to industry standards to make informed comparisons.

The ratio enables the organization to track actual expenditures versus the budget. It is also compared to other metrics, such as revenue analysis and market share analysis. It can be dissected into individual expenditures to sales to get a clearer picture.

Conclusion

The marketing plan is a written statement of a set of marketing objectives. While some people may use the terms plan and strategy interchangeably, a marketing strategy is an overall philosophy, direction or position adopted by a business toward the market. A marketing plan, on the other hand, is a statement that includes a series of tactical steps a business will execute to achieve its strategic goals.

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