How to write a marketing plan either as a stand alone document to launch new products or get new customers, or as part of your business plan you submit for bank loans.
A marketing plan does not need to be 100 or more pages and 20-30 pages should be enough to fully describe the products you are developing, their market potential, the target customers, why they will sell and a summary and analysis of your financial statements to show return on investment (ROI) for the stakeholders.
What is a Marketing Plan ?
A marketing plan is a document that describes the actions to be taken to satisfy customer needs with products or services through research and communication activities at a profit. It will outline your marketing strategy and cover why people will purchase from you and how you are going to promote to your target audience.
The marketing mix
A marketing plan should include all elements of the four p's from the marketing mix - the four p's are product, place, promotion and price. These are all areas of a plan that cover what your products are and how they relate to your customers, the location (location, location) of where customers are going to purchase the products from, the pricing (relative to the market and competitors) and how these are going to be communicated or promoted to your end user (and decision maker as appropriate).
Market research is the process undertaken to not only find out if people want what you are offering (in reality this should be the other way around in that you have develop something that satisfies customer needs but most people don't start this way) and to find out if there is enough demand to generate the profits you need from your business. Some companies publish market research online so have a search through Google to see if you can get up to date research this way. You should of course carry out your own primary research by asking your potential customers directly what their thoughts are.
Marketing Plan Structure
Most marketing plans are in fact business plans! The structure is almost identical and has the following sections
- Plan summary
- External Analysis (leading to opportunities and threats)
- Internal Analysis (leading to strengths and weaknesses)
- SWOT Analysis (from the above internal and external analysis)
- Overall marketing objectives
- Tactical Plans
- Financial Analysis
The SWOT analysis matrix covers strengths and weakness from your internal analysis and opportunities and threat highlighted from your external analysis of your market and competitor insights. Internal analysis you are in direct control of because it's all happening within your organisation - External factors you are not in control of at all but you can influence these areas by your marketing and investment tactics. In general a simple 2 by 2 matrix is sufficient to develop and your tactical plans will cover how you intend to :
- Capitalise on your strengths
- Overcome any weaknesses (if required)
- Invest in market opportunities
- Mitigate any threats