The starting point of a good marketing plan is research, data and thinking. This relates to the strategic bit of the marketing plan which needs to:
- Lead on from the business plan and translate business objectives into marketing and sales objectives. These are likely to overlap with those of the business.
- Take into account financials for last 2 years, especially any noticeable increases/decreases and reasons for that
- Product and service development in the future, propositions and market attractiveness
- Look at a product strategy for the existing product or service portfolio
- Build on existing strengths and opportunities and address weaknesses and threats
- Analyse the competitive and market landscapes, and plan to respond
- Include a customer strategy to protect and develop your relationship with them
- Articulate a pricing strategy
Once this has been done, then a marketing plan can be developed. This is usually over a one-year horizon.
The plan for a plan
The main ingredients of a marketing plan are:
- Key objectives: linked to the business objectives, but specifically around marketing and sales
- Strategy: an overview of the marketing strategy to provide a context for the plan
- Assumptions: any you are making with regards to resources, access to information, timescales or budgets
- Product or service proposition: A brief outline of what it is your offering and what the value is to customers, pricing and how it will be serviced post-sale.
- Target audiences: who are you targeting with this product or service? What would the profile be of your ideal customer? Don’t forget you might have internal targets too – other teams or divisions through whom you could sell this product or service.
- Positioning: what do you want to be famous for? How would you like your customers to describe your company and what it sells?
- Key messages: what are your main messages? Have a key one and then some subsidiary messages which support it. Ensure these messages are consistent across activities.
- Review and measurement: how often will you review the plan and who with?
- Activity plan: giving details of what activities when, how they link to your objectives, who is responsible, timing and budget.
Active review is key
Avoid anything too complicated. If it’s more than 2-3 pages, your marketing plan will get left on a shelf somewhere and then dusted off when someone remembers it! It needs to be regularly reviewed, and may well evolve over time. And, if you’re a small business or work in a company where non-marketers need to be involved, then it needs to be short and clear.
Of course, being agile is important too. If you’re regularly reviewing it, then you can be alert to market or client changes which will mean a change in your plan.
If you want to be sure your marketing is repeatable, sustainable and future-proofed, check out the Expert Guided Watertight Workgroup.
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