Marketing Plan for Your Business Success

A quote that I use on a regular basis is “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail” by Benjamin Franklin. In business, the most important plans to have are a business plan and a marketing plan. Today we will discuss the marketing plan. The marketing plan shows the direction of all marketing and advertising efforts. Remember, marketing is the total efforts of getting together buyers and sellers, whereas advertising is the types of communication used in marketing. Advertising includes TV, radio, online, print, and other mediums. Let’s go over some important parts of the marketing plan that will help your business succeed.

Situation Analysis – This is the current state of your business. It is where the question of why you are in business is answered. What products do you offer? What problem are you trying to solve? Also, how is your business different than others? The situation analysis is a look at the inner-workings of your business to identify product and service offerings, differences, and the main reason why you exist. Business owners can build a firm foundation for their mission and vision statement with this information and are better able to communicate their value to customers.

External Environment -The next part of the marketing plan is the external environment. What is going on outside of your business? Business owners should take a look at what is going on in the external environment or industry. Are other businesses in your industry succeeding or closing shop? Is the industry in a growth or declining phase? Could there be threats that could jeopardize your business operations? Industry information can be found online at http://www.sba.gov.

Target Market – Based on research, the target market section defines the ideal customers for your business. Who and where are your ideal customers? It defines income, gender, and level of education for your target market. When defining your target market, business owners should look at census, demographics, and other secondary information. A clearly defined target market enables business owners to better use resources to obtain new customers.

Advertising Mediums – There are many options available in advertising mediums. For example, TV, print, billboards, email, flyers, social media, and radio are some common mediums. Business owners should consider different advertising mediums to reach their target market. If your target market has high usages of the Internet, then use online advertising mediums. Take into account your marketing budget as well when choosing mediums.

Marketing Budget – The marketing budget explains how business owners will pay for marketing efforts. A marketing budget should be based on a percentage of gross sales, advertising mediums utilized, and other factors. Some marketing expenses to include in the marketing budget are tradeshows, events, and sponsorships.

The marketing plan is an important part of growing a successful business. Essentially, you are planning how customers get to know your business. A marketing plan doesn’t have to be 20 pages long to help your business grow. I have found some that are one page long that are just as effective. Click the link to download one or both one page marketing plans http://smallbiztrends.com/2008/06/one-page-marketing-plan.html.

Annual Marketing Plan

2013 is well and truly here and many of us have already planned our marketing plan for 2013. For others, marketing is just now coming into focus. Often not knowing what to implement into the marketing plan can cause procrastination. Below are a few good points to touch base on when building your marketing plan for the New Year.

Customer Focus

Customer focus should be one of the first things to keep in mind when building a strategic marketing plan for 2013. Keeping budgeting, resources and a direct timeline of implication should always follow suit after gathering detailed information about your customers. Having a solid campaign of adequate customer information not only keeps the marketing strategy on target but also will help save time and money. Many times proper planning and management of marketing practices will help increase sales and definitely help in building brand awareness with the targeted audience.

Reviewing 2012 for 2013 Marketing Plan

Once you have your customer information and research in place, the next best step to take is to look back over all efforts made in 2012. A few questions to ask are;

• Did your sales objectives meet your expectations from a result of your marketing strategies?

• Did you connect with the important people-customers and prospects.

• Did your website connect with the target audience and help bring more awareness about your company?

• Were you able to set more prospect meetings to encourage doing future business together?

These are important pieces of the marketing strategy to take note of what parts of the planning from the previous year worked and what ones did not work. It is at this stage you can start to make adjustments to your marketing planning for 2013.

You may decide that your current marketing plan is highly successful and determine if major or minor adjustments need to be made going forward.

Businesses often find themselves on each side of the coin, but often many businesses fall somewhere in the middle. Many times some techniques worked well and produced decent results, where others were not effective at all.

Often small businesses do not have a marketing strategy at all, and find that without a detailed program, they often just try things as they come, and seem to be flying by the seat of their pants so to speak.

When this is the case, some companies often purchase newspaper advertisements for a short term, advertise on the radio, and even try a low budget TV campaign; because they think they have spotted a good deal at the time. Often this results in low disappointing results that end up a cycle of repeating similar tactics looking for the magic formula.

Marketing Plan Focus

In 2013 companies should focus on marketing plan initiatives that start with foundations that are solid to help attract more customers. In order to do this, companies should understand the demographics and needs of the purchaser.

If it’s a business to consumer sale, it is often easier to make up the customer base by using ready available resources; charge cards, sales receipts and email lists that help narrow down where the customer base is driven from, age group, frequency of purchase and the most popular service rendered or item purchased.

However, business to business marketing can be a little more complex in nature and may need to be a little more creative. Often small businesses face situations where a client sets aside a small portion of their budget to that specific firm, but may be spending a larger amount with a competitor. Misconceptions of products or services, or lack of knowledge of the business offerings often is the cause of this. The business to business marketplace can be more challenging.

By researching the client/customer, you will be able to uncover areas of concerns and successes with your existing customers/clients. By doing a little more background research, you possibly will uncover more important information such as spending habits of purchasers, age, location, and even reading habits. Many times this alone can help form a profile of potential clients by bringing you into new markets or business segments. All this would go a long way in helping you with qualified lead generation.

Customer background alone can help a company create and solidify a business marketing plan. Putting the plan in place with well thought out details is the best practice for creating success in 2013.

Marketing Plan To Copy – A Marplan Is Like A Map To Your Profits

Have you asked a Marketing Agency to quote you for drawing up a Marketing Plan recently? If, like me, you own a small business, then it is hard to justify spending the £600 a day I was asked for here in Britain. I have to watch my bottom line like a hawk, especially in the difficult-trading-conditions we seem to be in. But here is a dilemma! A Marketing Plan is a really essential tool that will show a small business owner where their business is and map out where it needs to go. It is vital in today’s competitive environment that even small business should have one.

When you overdraft or financing facilities come up for renewal and your bank manager has to justify lending the bank’s money to your business, think how much easier it would be to convince him to continue backing you with a plan laid out in neat systematic form.

It is probably the case that far too many small companies don’t have a Marketing Plan, or the owner has it locked in his head. A place of storage that is really difficult to access when you need to show it to the potential investor or the bank manager. And inevitably this event usually occurs when you are really busy and committing your plan to paper, or computer file, is added pressure that you really could do with out. I run a small retail business – an independent bookshop and a Collectables gift business on the Internet.

Recently I studied for, and obtained, the UK’s Chartered Institute of Marketing’s “Professional Diploma in Marketing” by doing a convergent learning course on the net and in four intensive workshop days in my local town. It brought home to me that what we did in our own business was fine up to a point. As the course was very practical, with the chance to use any organisation of the student’s choice in the assignments that we had to submit, I ended up formally setting down the Marketing Plan on paper, that had been up there in my head for no one to see!

So what is a Marketing Plan for?

Well, its purpose is to lay down, direct and co-ordinate all your marketing activities and events. Think of it as a map. With a map it is easier to get some place. With a marketing plan it is easier to get the business to where you want it to head. This is, hopefully, to huge profits!

Perhaps you are the owner or director of a company seeking backing or further investment? Well a good marketing plan can be really important in attracting new investment or better bank facilities.

Perhaps you need help in making choices regarding which parts of the market to focus on and how to compete in that target market (Marketing Strategy)?

Often the mere process of preparing a marketing plan will help you to develop a successful marketing strategy through the discipline and process that you go through.

A good marketing plan will describe all the marketing actions to be carried out within a specific time period. It will contain details of your company, its products or services, its marketing objectives and strategies and information on how to measure the results of the marketing activities.

It might help if I give you a framework of basic elements that a Marketing Plan should include.

Basic Elements of a Marketing Plan

So what do you need?

1.Executive Summary – introduces and explains the major features and recommendations to executives (or your bank manager).

1.1 Introduction – a brief description of your organisation, its products and or services.

The context and objectives of the plan should be described and a description of what your business activities are. You should include current revenues, customers and your market position. You can also blow your own trumpet here! Note your accomplishments and successes to date.
If it is a new market entry or entirely new markets you are going for, then here is the place to describe any experience, training or competencies that your company has.

1.2 Vision, Mission Statement and Objectives

Mission statements focus on the long-range purpose of your marketing plan.
“To educate entertain and enlighten our clients so that they become more successful Marketers.”
Company objectives should be more specific and oriented towards action.
“We will deliver a balanced range of Marketing Solution Publications to the U.K. and Europe through mail order and Internet.”

1.3 Team description

Who will deliver the plan? What are the resources and structure of the team who will do so?
Management skills and capabilities. List any Marketing knowledge, sales skills, copy-writing ability, etc.
Agencies – Include any Marketing consultants, PR agencies you are using.

If there are any gaps honestly point them out and do a Training Needs Analysis.

1.4 Main marketing objectives

You need only give a brief statement of these here to close the Executive summary.

2.1 Current market conditions

What are the trends in your market?
What are the dynamics facing businesses such as yours?
Who are your target customers?
What competition do you face?

2.2 Market trends:

You should describe the macroeconomic trends that directly affect the target market that your marketing plan is aimed at.
This is where the PEST Framework is useful to include. (Sometimes referred to as PESTEL, SLEPT or PESTE) the components are:
Political
Economic
Social
Technological
Environment
Legal

2.3 Target market

It goes without saying that you should be aiming all your marketing efforts precisely at a target market or you are heading for a disaster.

All good marketing planning should follow from a very detailed segmentation of the market.
Size? Is it growing, staying the same, or shrinking?
Customer characteristics e.g. age, sex, income level, location, marital status, number of children etc.
Habits, patterns and values of target customer.
What are their wants, needs and desires?
What are their buying habits? – How do they spend their disposable income and when do they buy and how do they buy? How many times and when?

2.4 Competition analysis

In the micro environment analysis of a Marketing Audit you will hopefully have identified your present and potential competitors. What are their key products / services? How do they differentiate them selves? You should briefly explain the actions that you will take to oppose or overcome your competitor’s offerings.

I highly recommend you use Professor Michael Porter’s Five Forces Model for this and the four other threats he identifies. Space does not allow me to go into detail here although I have written a more comprehensive report in which I include a diagram of the Five Forces Model available from my own website.

2.5 Issues analysis

You should briefly list such key external issues as government legislation affecting your business, or new technological development that impinges on your product.

3.1 SWOT analysis

Strengths
Weakness
Opportunities
Threats

A major component of any marketing plan is the SWOT analysis. Strengths and weaknesses are born of internal elements while opportunities and threats come from outside.
When opportunities and threats are recognised they can then be examined from the point of view of your product strengths and weaknesses.

What could we change or improve about our product to make it easier for the customer?
What are our customers’ wants and desires? – We may possibly find new opportunities by thinking about such questions.

It is worth remembering that a threat can also be an opportunity to you, while a strength may also be a weakness depending on your point of view!

A business offering a vast selection of products may see this as one of their strengths. But for the customer, confused by the bewildering array of options as they try to find what they need, sees it as a weakness.

4. Positioning Strategy

Decide how you want your clients to perceive you in your marketplace.
Lowest price?
Best service?
Highest quality?
This is all part of the differentiation process.

5. Differentiation

You want to ‘stand out from the crowd’ so you need to make some decisions on segmentation and the positioning of your business. Combine this with your competitive analysis and you should be able to differentiate yourself from the competition.

6. Key messages

Thinking about differentiation should also help you to decide on your ‘Key messages’. Be warned that it usually takes time for these to make an impact, to ‘sink in’, as it were. This means it is important to keep repeating your consistent messages throughout any marketing campaigns.

7. The Marketing Mix

The 4 P’s.P is for:

Product – List your companies products and services. Include their key features. Is there something unique about them? If you are launching a new product or service include it here.

Price – There are many ways to set a price, some more scientific than others are! Remember that pricing is an integral part of the marketing strategy. Ask yourself is the customer willing to pay the price proposed and will it give you any profit? Some prices may be set on a cost-plus basis – adding a profit on to the costs of producing the goods or services. A better way is the ‘market-based’ price because it takes into account what your competitors are charging.

Place – where do you sell? Direct, through an intermediary? Bricks and mortar or virtual outlet?

Promotion – what activities are you going to use to create awareness of your product or service to generate sales? This is also referred to as Marketing Communications and includes direct selling, corporate events, brochures, web-sites, advertising. You should be warned that many inexperienced marketers think that the promotional plan is the entire marketing plan. It is, as you can see, but one component of the marketing plan.

7a. Integration of Promotional activity

Have you got a consistent look and feel to all your marketing mix? It is wise to make sure all your communications, brand positioning, propositions, messages, etc are derived from a single brand position so it is not confusing to the consumer by being fragmented. Also are there cross selling opportunities for you to exploit?

Only 4 Ps? – Funny, I thought I heard there were 7!

Before leaving the marketing mix I need to tell you about the Extended mix, which adds People, Process and Physical evidence to Product, Price, Place and Promotion.

If you are a service, or a not-for-profit organisation, then the extra three Ps are most important for you. But don’t just assume that because you are not, that they don’t apply!

People oriented organisations have to consider how their personnel make the marketing activities more, or less, effective when dealing face to face (or on the phone) with their public.

Process makes it easy for you to deal with the organisation. If it is a charity, for example, today people expect to be able to go on-line, set up direct-debits, pay by card and not just put money in the street collectors tin.

Physical evidence is expected to result from paying for a service or donating to a charity. You expect to see some physical evidence of the use your money has been put to.

8. Marketing Budget

You need a detailed budget for the next year showing the budgeted costs for each of your promotional items.

9. Measurement

Results and feed back must be gathered each month and compared with the marketing plan. When they are going astray you need to take corrective action.
Another tip is to ask your customers how they found you so that you can monitor what parts of your communications plan are working. Note this and include this in your measurements.

10. Milestones

It is a good idea to announce in the plan some marketing milestones you will strive to achieve. When you pass them celebrate!

So there it is a step by step process to create yourself a professional Marketing plan.