Article by Susan Pascal Tatum
At first glance, a marketing plan seems to be a no-brainer. Every text book, every do-it-yourself marketing program, every marketing expert will tell you: Youve got to have one.
But do you?
A marketing plan for all its virtues is actually a double-edged sword. Done right, marketing planning will help you define your goals and your target customers; and the plan will provide a roadmap for getting from where you are now to where you want to be. The key phrase in that previous sentence is done right.
Creating a marketing plan especially the first one is time consuming. It often requires at least a moderate amount of research and it always requires a substantial amount of thinking.
Thinking, in particular, is something busy business owners often have trouble finding time to do. Theyd rather be taking action. And the marketing plan often becomes a huge obstacle standing between the owner and the action.
In most small and even mid-sized companies the reality is that this planning never gets done. Discussions with business owners point to the fact that its just too much too much time, too much expertise required, too much distraction from activities that directly increase revenue.
Even when a marketing plan does get completed, it often doesnt get followed. So what was the point?
An annual marketing plan can also lead you down the wrong path unless you realize it must be dynamic. If youd created an annual plan at the beginning of 2008 and executed it to the letter without adjusting for economic changes youd probably be in big trouble now.
But this article is not for those who are successful at marketing planning. This article is for company leaders who havent gotten around to creating a marketing plan or who have created one that sits on a shelf.
Is the lack of a marketing plan keeping you from moving forward with your marketing? Then stop worrying about the plan and try this:
Figure out the single most important thing you need to accomplish with your marketing this year. It shouldnt be too hard to do. Most business owners want more leads. In a down economy, you may also need to cut costs, but you want to do it without lowering marketing effectiveness.
Focus single-mindedly on this objective and youll protect yourself from being distracted by marketing programs and tactics that you think you should be using. (For example, social media is very hot right now, but its ability to quickly drive leads for business-to-business firms is still in doubt).
You can achieve tremendous success just by asking yourself these questions:
What do you need to accomplish most?How are you going to do it?Who is going to be in charge?How much are you willing or able to invest in the program?When do you want it launched?How will you evaluate its success?
If you dont have all the answers yourself, thats good. Youll be forced to seek expert help whether from the inside (internal staff) or the outside (outsourcing).
Involving the experts is not a bad thing. Neglecting to launch a marketing program because you dont have a plan is.
© 2009 Tatum Marketing Inc.
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Marketing Plan Blueprint for Action
The purpose of the marketing plan is to define your market, identify new customers, new products and services, competitors, outline strategies for attracting new/existing customers and identify or anticipate any change that will impact the market.
Developing a marketing plan involves four stages of action:
Researching and analysing your business and the market Planning and writing the plan Implementing the plan Evaluating the results
1. Situation Analysis
1.1 Market analysis
1.2 Competitive analysis
1.3 Customer analysis
1.4 SWOT analysis
1.5 Analysis of marketing activities
2.1 Corporate objectives
2.2 Marketing objectives
3.1 Market segmentation strategy
3.2 Targeting strategy
3.3 Product life cycle
3.4 Strategy formulation
3.5 Core strategy
4.1 Marketing mix
4.2 Loyalty programs
4.3 Customer service & support
4.4 Market research
4.5 Personal selling
4.6 Trust and credibility
4.7 Trade promotions
5.1 Product design and development
5.2 Marketing & sales
5.4 Resource requirements
6.1 Monitoring ad campaigns
6.2 Sales analysis
6.3 Profit and loss statements
6.4 Meeting schedule
6.5 Customer profiling
6.6 Sales force evaluation
6.7 Compensation plan
7.4 5 year financial projections
Drawing from our experience as a Marketing Services company consulting with various clients to create marketing plans and communication strategies and from keeping abreast of industry trends we have outlined ten steps to developing an effective marketing plan for you to consider:
Describe your product/service and mission in simple terms
Emphasise your USP “Unique Selling Proposition”
Communicate intrinsic benefit/value to your customer
Your audience refers to the people you aim your sales effort at, otherwise known as your “target market”. You may have more than one target market.
This includes two factors:
Who needs your product/service? What is the profile of your ideal customer and what are their habits?
Target markets are described in terms of their shared characteristics
For example, if your product/service is aimed at individuals, you can describe them by age, income, geographic location, and lifestyle.
If your product/service is aimed at organisations, you can describe them by number of employees, sales, geographic location, and industry
Set the bar as to what you want to achieve.
Measure your success against your own efforts, not your competitors.
Two types of goals:
Quantitative – those with specific, measurable results and numbers. Qualitative – bring increased value, like improving image or visibility.
Focus your message by identifying 3 to 4 “key messages” to be woven through all marketing materials.
There is a lot of “media clutter” customers are bombarded daily with hundreds of sales and marketing messages about numerous products and services.
To succeed, focus on a particular market and emphasise features/benefits to them.
A guidepost for setting price involves estimating the monetary value your customer will receive, and understanding your financial goals and objectives.
Remember to price the product/service at a rate higher than your fixed and variable cost.
Set aside a specific dollar amount either per quarter or per year. You need to make the best marketing decisions possible to maximise the return on your marketing dollars invested.
Evaluate marketing decisions such as advertising in the yellow pages, hiring sales reps or conducting a PR program based on the amount of business a particular initiative generates.
Track each initiative and evaluate what worked and what didn’t.
Strategic marketing tools to deliver your message to the target audience. Brainstorm ideas to reach target market. Be creative – don’t sensor wild ideas.
Divide into paid, non-paid and non-traditional media.
Paid media: direct mail, newspaper, radio, TV, billboards, direct sales.
Non-paid media – referred to as public relations because it is exposure through traditional media without paying for advertising in that media.
Non-traditional media: includes everything else — sponsorships, ad specialties, shows/events, electronic media and the Internet.
List out specific action steps to achieve each strategy.
Include deadlines and key dates for executing all of your marketing activities.
Establish a specific timetable for each tactic.
Track results of your marketing efforts on an ongoing basis, using tracking devices such as ad codes, call-in logs and reply cards (if the budget allows).
Evaluate at the end of the year or plan period to see if the results matched your stated goals.
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Every business needs a marketing plan that surely works for a business to become a hit. However, not all marketing plan would succeed, sometimes, it’s the other way around. So the question is, if marketing plan’s goal is for the business to succeed then how come, at times, it fails? What will be written below are the reasons as to why it happens.
1. Choosing the wrong market. Naturally, marketing programs are made to please its market. As a business man, you need to consider your product’s positioning. You need to ask yourself if it’s the right market you are trying to please otherwise you are definitely on the wrong track. You need to consider the fact that most companies have the inclination to focus on their brand and superiority more than the needs of their market.
2. Generality. There is a failure in most marketing strategies because it tends to cater just the general masses.
For sure, it is good to have more customers but we need to bear in mind that each customer is different from the other. Allowing yourself to cater to more specific niches will give you a more specific and perhaps more effective marketing technique.
3. Too much for not much. The common mistake committed by most budding online businessmen is their tendency to do so much with their limited resources. This may not be that bad but this could be quite unrealistic. Bear in mind that your marketing plan must flow with what you have, what you can afford and what you can do for a certain period. It’s like doing things according to your means.
4. Out of sight, out of mind. Marketing plans tend to fail because businessmen tend to file it away once done. What one must do is make a hard copy of your goals and the things that you wanted to achieve and post it somewhere you can see it everyday.
Budget not goals. It may be important to stick to your budget but remember that marketing plan would fail if it is driven by budget and not by goals anymore. This not only stops the success of your business but also your ability to aim high and dream big as well.
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If you have strategy to establish a business specially in online marketing you will need to understand about effective marketing plans and how to market your business. The idea behind a marketing plan is to position what you are selling, be it a product or services, so that people looking for it can have access to it and purchase it with ease. To be successful with internet marketing, you will need to be very determined and persistent.
Initially you will need to set goals that you would like to achieve. Then set a timeframe that works for you and break down larger goals into timeframes that are smaller. With that done, you will need to set a schedule that you will follow in order to achieve the said goals. You will need to be very serious about this and spend a certain amount of time marketing your business every day.
Stay focused and do not give up. Tenacity is the name of the game.
Secondly, drive traffic to your website. Obviously, you will not make a sale unless somebody gives your site a visit. To do this you can begin blogging on what you do and on the product you have on offer giving reviews of the same. Additionally, you could begin writing a newsletter to send out to any subscribers that sign up on your blog or website.
Third, List building it’s very important that you build ongoing communication and later on, relationship with your prospects. If you do not believe in what you are selling it will show, therefore promote only those products or services that you believe in and give your views about the product and why it is so good.
The fourth step is to keep in touch with your prospects by simply sending them with valuable newsletters at least once a week.
It is not enough that they come to your site and take a look. You want them to click on the ‘buy’ button and make the transaction. To be effective in this endeavor have clear descriptions of every product and a few reviews to go with it.
And final step is to ensure that the clients come back to buy more. The best way to ensure this is to accord them great service the first time. Deliver the product on time and in good condition. Keep in touch and offer discounts where possible. This will ensure that your online marketing business is a thunderous success.
Conducting market research involves investigating a specific group for a specific reason. Find out how to conduct market research with tips from a marketing professional in this free video about creating a marketing plan. Expert: Peggy Morgan Collins Contact: www.powercurvecommunications.com Bio: Peggy Collins is a marketing executive with more than two decades in the media. Filmmaker: Christopher Rokosz
Video Rating: 4 / 5
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Article by James Copper
What is a marketing plan? If you have heard that these plans will help you in your business plan, then you are absolutely at the right place. An advertising plan is a detailed and documented strategy that is needed to achieve you business goal. This is usually a part of your business plan. Outstanding marketing strategy is direct result of well researched and details marketing plan. In marketing a product, research of every aspect of product and its environment is done. The research is done to the atomic levels.
Plans are mainly made of five basic parts:
1. Marketing and environment analysis2. Fixed marketing target3. Setting marketing strategy4. Marketing mix5. Marketing controlling
Marketing plans are made up of above five parts. First is marketing and environment analysis. As the name suggests, in this you have to know the product and environment i.e. customer. Knowing the product and how it will be shown to the customer and how the customer will react to that. These plans consider this step as the basic and one of most important step. You have to know how to present your product in a specific environment in best suited and accepted way. For this you have to know your product. Next in marketing plan is fixing marketing targets. This is direct result of the marketing and environment analysis.
While setting targets of marketing, you can’t neglect the facts of your previous study. This has to be set so, that you reach your targets and even keep its demand alive for future. You can not over flood the market with your product knowing that it will be absorbed. This always results in sudden fire back of the product and the market dies out for that product. Targets are set now you need to think how to sell the product. This step can actually ruin you whole work and efforts if you don’t get it right.
Advertising plans depend a lot on setting marketing strategy. The way you present the product in the market will help you achieve you target that you have set. This is taken as pivot of the whole advertising plan. This process is what will be seen as by your environment or what we call are consumers. In marketing plan we have to consider this very carefully. We can’t make it a thing for short period.
We have to shape it in a manner that it always has a hope to extend its capacities. Promotion plan then comes down to marketing mix. In this marketing plans have to be executed and all marketing strategies are to be mixed and selected in such a way that the marketing plans works out just fine. Strategies have to be mixed up in such a way and perfectly balanced that they just backup each other. Next comes, market control in marketing plan. In this you have to rely on your research of product and environment. This does directly affect the marketing plan. This is how these plans has to be documented and structured.
Almost every company creates a marketing plan each year, and many spend hundreds of employee hours researching, preparing and presenting their tomes to senior executives. But most marketing plans are a waste of time; they are too long, too complicated and too dense. They end up sitting on a shelf, unread and unrealized.
Breakthrough Marketing Plans is an essential tool for people who create marketing plans and people who review them. The book provides simple, clear frameworks that are easy to apply, and highlights why marketing plans matter, where they go wrong and how to create a powerful plan that will help build a strong, profitable business.