How to write a marketing plan
Several steps need to be taken to write a proper marketing plan. The wonderful thing is that they all build upon each other. For the most part, the goal is to recognise the current market situation and the current companies situation to act on it.
It is impossible to make decisions when there is not sufficient information. The first few steps in a marketing plan aim to summarise as much information as possible.
So let’s jump right in.
Mission and goal of the company
To properly make a plan for the future of a company, you first have to get to know the company. For this, I would use the model of the companies or Brand-DNA. This Image identifies the Background, Values, Purpose, Vision and Strategy to combine those things.
Inner and outer situation
Here we want to define where the company currently is regarding the market segment it is in. They are basic questions on how the business is doing competition-wise.
The most basic questions to find that out are:
Where are you now? How did you get here? Where do you want to go?
These questions all direct to the resources of the business. The bigger the resources, the better the advantage over the competition. This directly leads us to the SWOT-Analysis.
The SWOT-Analyses builds upon the identified inner and outer situations. The information gathered is now being used and analysed. This tool is used to strategically evaluate the business positioning.
In the SWOT-Analysis we focus on four important factors.
Strengths and weaknesses of the company and opportunities and threats of the market.
Once identified we can try to convert the weaknesses of the company into strengths. This is called the conversion strategy.
By knowing possible opportunities in the market, we can try to match them with our strengths and protect our weaknesses from possible threads. The strategy of meeting an opportunity of the market with strength is called matching strategy.
Segmentation, Targeting and Positioning
The first step is to identify the different groups of people you could target with the business offer. This division is made by categories such as sex, age, culture, needs, wants and behaviour.
When you have divided specific segments, you can see which segment makes the most sense to target.
The implementation is of course the positioning. Thereby you want to be as they are. This means that you want to communicate exactly as they do. You have to see your target group as your peers. The peers that behave like you and have the same interests as you have.
Strategic marketing planning
After having gathered all the important information the strategic marketing plan can be written. Marketers have different tools to be able to fulfil the set goals and reach the set segment of customers. Those tools are called the 4p´s.
Many things can be done based on just the product. New products can be introduced, old ones could be removed, new features could be added to existing products or the packaging and design can be changed.
The decision about pricing the product is not as easy as it seems. The price can be strategically set to reach specified goals.
If the goal is to reach maximum market penetration in a short amount of time, the price needs to be lower than the price of the already established competition.
If the goal is that the product creates a certain luxurious image, the pricing maybe needs to be set higher but not too high to lose trust when the expectations of the customers are not met by the product.
This is the decision about where and how the product should be offered or sold.
This is the most obvious of all. In the strategic marketing plan, it gets decided where and in what quantity the product is promoted.
Tactical marketing planning
The tactical marketing plan is the implementation of the strategic marketing plan. To meet all the set goals and to be able to adjust over time if something does not work the way it is supposed to, every step and its timing needs to be planned. The tactical marketing plan normally shows the runway for one year.
Now that everything is planned out, budgeting is the almost final step. The goal is to calculate possible earnings against spending. That way priorities can be set more easily. Budgeting is the most important step for efficient resource management.
implementation and efficiency measurement
This is the final implementation of the marketing plan. For the management team, there are different ways to go about this.
The management team sets the required tasks and directs them to the different teams. While the management team can decide very quickly here, the time the information needs to reach all different teams might be a bit longer.
All the different teams set their own goals and plans so that the management team only has to greenlight them. This type of planning can lead to creative and unexpected ideas but at the same time lead to problems in coordination.
This is the most common approach. The management team sets the goals and the different teams work on the planning in their specific area. Those plans also need to be then greenlighted by the management.
The measurement of efficiency is crucial, otherwise, the campaign could not be adjusted or the next campaign could not be of any improvement. Gathering data is crucial to understanding the business and the customers better. Your campaign is the best way to gather primary data of your customers, a chance nobody should give away.
The first step of a marketing plan is to figure out what the business is, the 1. Mission and goal of the company. What are the business’s goals for the future? What is its DNA?
Secondly, you need to know the 2. Inner and outer situation the business is in. Where are we? How did we get here? Where do we want to go?
The competition never is asleep, therefore you need to always watch what they are doing without losing your grasp on customers‘ needs and wants.
The 3. SWOT analysis helps you with this.
The fourth step is to look around you and find potential customers. The 4. Segmentation, Targeting, and Positioning are the way to go.
Now that you have set your target group, you need to build a plan based on what needs to be achieved. This is the 5. Strategic marketing planning. Here, the tools that need to be used get defined.
After the strategic planning, the 6. Tactical marketing planning gets important. This is a plan over one year where everything that is going to be done is planned and timed beforehand.
When everything is set, the resources of the company need to be taken into account. The 7. Budgeting helps to prioritise different actions within the campaign.
The last step is the 8. Implementation and efficiency measurement. This is the step where the different departments need to be informed about what they got to do. There are different approaches to this. The measurement of the campaign is important because primary gathered data gives you important insights into your customer’s behaviour. This also ensures that while the campaign is running, you can adjust over time if something does not work out the way it is supposed to.
Writing a marketing plan is easier as it sounds. It requires some work to properly do it and to plan everything out to the last detail, but in the end, it is crucial to maintain control over everything you put out there.