How to Form a Marketing Plan

How to Form a Marketing Plan

A good marketing plan is the pillar of any business marketing strategy.

It provides an honest view of the strengths and failings of your business, and ensures you consider the market as a whole, what your competitors are providing, and what customers really want.

It should outline all of the tools and tactics that you will use to achieve your sales goals, and act as a continual point of reference as to what it is that you are going to be selling, who will want to buy it and the strategies that you will use to achieve those all-important sales.

This article will show you how to write a thorough marketing plan including:

  • Situational analysis
  • Competitor analysis
  • Marketing goals
  • Marketing budget

Situational analysis

Before you start considering the future of your business, you have to look at its current position. A situational analysis enables you to investigate your firm’s position from new angles.

Simple questions, such as ‘what is your product?’, ‘what position in the market does your product occupy?’ and ‘what are your sourcing choices/options?’ force you to analyze in detail how your company is run, and whether you feel it is streamlined or not.

The SWOT analysis considers your business’ Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats; it is only by assessing the internal factors (strengths and weaknesses), that the external factors (opportunities and threats) can be considered.

SWOT can be used to make informed decisions, and as Linda Pophal, owner and CEO of Strategic Communications says, this is actually ‘…the area of strategy development where organizations have an opportunity to be most creative and where innovative ideas can emerge, but only if the analysis has been appropriately prepared in the first place.’

Competitor analysis

Competitor analysis is inherent to situational analysis, but to really understand your market and prepare for changes, you need to understand your competitors. This can be achieved through a ‘competitor array’, an example of which can be seen below:

 

Key Industry Success Factors

Weighting

Competitor #1 rating

Competitor #1 weighted

Competitor #2 rating

Competitor #2 weighted

1 - Extensive distribution

0.4

6

2.4

3

1.2

2 - Customer focus

0.3

4

1.2

5

1.5

3 - Economies of scale

0.2

3

0.6

3

.6

4 - Product innovation

0.1

7

0.7

4

0.4

Totals

1.0

20

4.9

15

3.7

 

A competitor array allows you to consider the factors most important in your industry, and then lets you rank your competitors based on these factors, showing you their strengths and weaknesses. As such you can perceive gaps in the market.

To predict the future strategies of your competitors, you may have to extend your analysis into what their strategies are and have been; try contacting suppliers, or former business partners of that company, but make sure that all information is obtained legally.

Marketing goals

Companies often set the bar too high or too low; a good situational analysis will help you pitch achievable goals. The key is not to overburden yourself; obviously you want to see growth in your company, but too many goals in your strategy, will spread your skills too thinly and dilute your strengths.

Shanelle Mullin, Director of Marketing at Onboardly suggests to ‘…choose 1-2 core goals that impact the bottom line and 3-5 supporting goals’. Your marketing plan should be for the whole year ahead, so break down these goals into daily or weekly targets. This will ensure the people working for your business feel a sense of achievement, and morale will stay high.

Marketing budget

To set a marketing budget, look at your company’s revenue, and be realistic about what money you have to spend. Issues to be taken into consideration include:

  • How quickly you want to grow, and by how much
  • Turnover and outgoings
  • Whether you are introducing something new to the market, or marketing existing products
  • How much your competitors are spending on the market.

While each business has its own budget priorities, market research suggests that firms should spend about 5-10% of their turnover on marketing (and this percentage should be higher on companies with a lower turnover).

As outlined by co-founder and VP of marketing at E2M, Pratik Dholakiva, measuring the effectiveness of your marketing campaign can be tricky, especially when trying to glean ROI from something as apparently ethereal as social media. Ultimately, all your strategies need to boil down to real numbers, especially where leads, profits and sales are concerned.

Among other key steps to take, Dholakiva says it is important to keep ROI analysis simple regarding money coming in and going out so that you can place a financial cost of putting a new strategy in place. It sounds a no-brainer, but it’s easy to get bogged down in details and it's far more important to stay focused on the bigger picture.

Be sure to define your strategy and understand what you’re trying to do. Isolate the differences compared with previous campaigns, and work to improve those former strategies.

Furthermore, many marketing strategists fail to analyze to the right depth. While marketers may not have access to all company data to be able to account for a seemingly inexplicable peak in web traffic, an effort should be made to access all information available that could be used to glean insight. Consider what other factors are influencing revenue and traffic and integrate these into your model.

It is important to consider ways in which you can easily cut costs. Social media is an amazing way to market your business and is in many cases completely free; having a hands-on approach to social media will also allow you to keep your business relationships strong.

Using social media correctly

Coke is an FMCG (fast moving consumer goods) company, paving the way for social media innovation. Their multi-faceted approach to guiding consumers back to brand is both inspirational and informative to any marketer.

Who can forget Coke’s ‘name-on-a-bottle’ campaign, which encouraged us to #shareacoke? Feeling in need of a friendship top-up, we dutifully searched for our names on our favorite soft drink bottles and Coke sales increased by 2.75% in the UK alone. The drive was recognized by the 2013 Cannes Lions as “the most successful campaign in decades.”

Creating a detailed but focused marketing plan for your company is hard work, and takes time. However, with one in place, you will be able to make smart, informed decisions and concentrate on the growth of your business.

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