Where does your marketing plan begin?
It’s been said that “vision without action is simply a dream”. And this is certainly true with marketing. A brilliant idea will just sit there stagnant and unformed until you actually move it into action. The process of moving your idea into ‘action’ by giving it a distinct direction is called a plan.
A marketing plan sets out a ‘framework of actions’ required to achieve one or more marketing objectives and can be put in place for products, services, brands or product lines.
What is the life of a marketing plan?
Normally a marketing plan covers a period of one to five years. However, most organisations annually review their strategy and only focus on planning one year in advance.
How should your marketing plan be displayed?
Your marketing plan needs to be formalised into a written document. This allows you to navigate the ‘formal marketing plan’ from broad organisational objectives down to individual action plans for each marketing campaign.
Be aware that this is a highly interactive process which will involve many drafts and revisions. This allows the impact of each stage to be reviewed and amended accordingly.
The sections of a marketing plan
A marketing plan contains several sections. In ‘PART A’ we discuss the first two components of a marketing plan.
Executive Summary and Challenge
The executive summary always comes first. It is a high-level summary of the marketing plan written in an easily digestible format. The executive summary doesn’t delve too deeply into the specifics – it only outlines the overarching theme and eventual result of the plan.
The next section is the ‘Challenge.’ This usually involves a brief description of the product being marketed and outlines specific goals and targets. For example, a target may be to achieve 1,200 sales for the financial year 08-09.
This is where you conduct a detailed SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis.
You first look internally at an organisation’s strengths and weaknesses. This also includes analysing the organisation’s goals, focus, corporate culture and market share.
Then you must focus on the wider external environment and become aware of all the opportunities and threats operating in this arena.
Ask yourself – who is this marketing plan aimed at? Then analyse your customers in terms of demographics and core values so that you can determine their key buying behaviours.
Remember, you cannot afford to take your eyes off the competition. Make sure you understand your competitors’ market position, market share, strengths and weaknesses. On a more complex level, be mindful of collaborators such as subsidiaries, joint ventures and distributors.
Finally, there is the macro view – don’t forget to consider the political and legal environment, economic conditions, sociocultural situation and advances in technology. Look at how these current conditions will affect your product and customers.