Thursday, March 11, 2010

Tips for Preparing Effective Marketing Plan

In starting a business, you’re going to find that there are many different plans that you’ll have to put together. While it may seem tedious, having a well-formed plan is crucial towards helping guide the direction of the company. The most obvious is a business plan, but you should also develop a marketing plan that will be a guide on how you reach out to your audience – what’s your selling point? Communication strategy? Budget?

A marketing plan is a written document that details the necessary actions to achieve one or more marketing objectives. It can be for a product or service, a brand, or a product line. Marketing plans cover between one and five years. A marketing plan may be part of an overall business plan. Solid marketing strategy is the foundation of a well-written marketing plan. While a marketing plan contains a list of actions, a marketing plan without a sound strategic foundation is of little use.

Now let’s look at what goes into a marketing plan:

First you’re going to need to research the market. This goes into your situational analysis, which is basically research of your competitors, any trends in the industry, sentiment, market forecast, segmentation, customer information/demographics and a market needs analysis. Perhaps the biggest part of this section of your plan is the SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis. By doing a SWOT analysis, you’re going to be able to assess what advantages and disadvantages you bring to the table and look at what opportunities & threats await you in the industry.

It should be noted that at this point, you should be looking at the 8 P’s of marketing:

  1. Price – The amount of money needed to buy products
  2. Product – The actual product
  3. Promotion (advertising)- Getting the product known
  4. Placement – Where the product is located
  5. People – Represent the business
  6. Physical environment – The ambiance, mood, or tone of the environment
  7. Process – How do people obtain your product
  8. Packaging – How the product will be protected

After the situational analysis, make sure you cover the marketing strategy. This section of your marketing plan focuses on your mission statement, objective and focused strategy, including market segment and product positioning. While this may be similar to the situational analysis, one thing to keep in mind is that this area centers on the company internally. The situational analysis will examine your industry and external factors. The marketing strategy should be focused on what YOU can control and bring to the table. It’s all about your company and brand here.

Your sales forecast will be the next section in your marketing plan. Perhaps more mathematical in nature, this area will be devoted to track sales month by month and follow up on plan-vs.-actual analysis, specific sales by product, by region or market segment, by channels, by manager responsibilities, and other elements.

Lastly, you’re going to have to include an expense budget, which will be a gauge on your total marketing spend to promote your product. It includes a plan-vs.-actual analysis which looks at what you think you’ll spend versus the actual amount spent after a project/product is completed. It also includes specific sales tactics, programs, management responsibilities, promotion, and other elements.

While this may seem rather tedious to include in a single document, rest assured that if you have this, you’ll be fully prepared for what lies ahead and that you won’t be surprised about anything that comes up. Being prepared is a great strategic goal and you’ll be able to account for any issue over the long-term.

Source:http://unintentionalentrepreneur.com/entrepreneur/entrepreneurship-101-the-essential-marketing-plan-for-a-small-business/

2 comments:

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