It is important for any company to have a proper direction when walking along the road to success. If a company wants to succeed, a clearly set path and direction are important. A business plan will operate as an overall path of a business. Here we are going to talk about the road map of a marketing manager – the Marketing Plan. Simply a marketing plan is a guide map for the marketing manager to drive the marketing goals and objectives. There are some people who are against marketing plans because they believe that the mind is enough as a guide. To be frank, if you do not determine a correct path and a mechanism to measure and implement marketing activities, in the long run you will not have a clear picture about what you have done so far.
It is not too difficult to draft a simple marketing plan. Even if you are a beginner in a business, a Small business owner or a Marketing Manager in a large company, you must first think of what you want to achieve in a year of operation through marketing activities. So how do you start your marketing plan?
Let us first think about an executive summary, just to give the management an idea of what you are planning to achieve in the upcoming year. It is preferable if you write the summary once you are done with the plan. Always start off by analyzing the situation. Generally you can do a complete PESTLE analysis to see how these factors could influence you. Depending on the industry there are significant impacts by these factors. Identify how political factors might influence your marketing, depending on the country. For example, how the recent budget changes influenced businesses etc. If it is a start up business marketing plan, it is better to write a comprehensive analysis of political and other external factors. These analyses are very important because it will support you in identifying the opportunities and threats relating to your business. For example, the recent budget announcement in Sri Lanka, car racers have received a boost as the tax has been waived off. Likewise do a complete study on economic, social, legal, technical and ethical factors. Consumer behavioral aspects towards online transactions are increasing. Great importance should be given to that in terms of responding to the dynamic social changes. Once you have done with a comprehensive PESTLE analysis then you should go for a comprehensive SWOT. Generally it is important to identify your own strengths and weaknesses and you should capitalize in opportunities that exist and convert them to strengths. A good SWOT analysis will help you create proper marketing strategies.
After doing a SWOT you should then properly identify your target audience and your competitors? You can map your stakeholders based on their importance and understand to what extent they are contributing to the business. Do a Porters Five Force and analyze the competitiveness of the industry. Now it is time for you to determine the marketing objectives. Since it is a one year plan you can determine the marketing objectives you are planning to achieve. Make it SMART. Quantify with numbers. Make a check list of the objectives to monitor the progress. Your objective could be in any format. It could be market share objective, new product development objective, market expansion objective, supplier integration objectives, etc.
After objectives, you should see how you are planning to achieve these objectives, where identification of strategies comes into play. Do not forget about STP; segment your customers, so it will simplify your marketing, use proper targeting strategy, whether you are going with differentiated, undifferentiated or concentrated. It all depends on your products and the market. Then clearly determine the position strategy for the business. What type of positioning are you planning to aim for through the marketing activities? Example: Volvo positioned themselves as a car for safety after years of marketing activities. When it comes to BMW, it is performance that comes to our mind.
After determining the STP strategy accordingly you could do a model analysis for the business. It could be Ansoff matrix / GE matrix / portfoli matrix. If your company has different portfolios of products you can go for GE matrix formulation or a basic Ansoff is fine.
After formulation of strategy it is time to think of ways to implement your strategies. Think about 7ps in business. Set standards for your products in terms of quality and performance. Determine the price of your products carefully; decide the pricing method you are planning to follow. Make sure you consider all aspects when deciding the price. Also set your distribution strategy, how you are going to reach the customers. Whether it will be through the distributors / intermediaries or whether you are planning to do direct distribution. Make sure you analyze the pros and cons of the distribution strategy you propose. The next very important aspect is the marketing communication part. You should see how your marketing message will reach the customers. Depending on your marketing communication budget set the target / set the determined activities and set the budget accordingly. Make sure you use a simple and effective strategy if you are a small business owner. If it is a big company there are no restrictions at all. Mention with time frame and budget, draw a Gantt chart with task list. It will keep a clear road during implementation. Also mention the evaluation mechanism. According to the distribution plan finish the sales plan as well with the support of your sales manager.
The last step would be controlling the plan while implementing. When your budget is approved with some amendments you might start the plan. Make sure you have the final marketing plan document with you and then make sure all the members in the team are aware about it. Set the control mechanism and monitor the progress of the plan from time to time.