What should be in a good marketing plan?
by Rachael Wheatley
The starting point of a good marketing plan is research, data and thinking. This relates to the strategic bit of the marketing plan which needs to:
- Lead on from the business plan and translate business objectives into marketing and sales objectives (which might overlap with those of the business)
- Take into account financials for last 2 years, especially any noticeable increases/decreases and reasons for that
- Product and service development in the future, propositions and market attractiveness
- Look at a product strategy for the existing product or service portfolio
- Build on existing strengths and opportunities and address weaknesses and threats
- Analyse the competitive and market landscapes, and plan to respond
- Include a customer strategy to protect and develop your relationship with them
- Articulate a pricing strategy
Once this has been done, then a marketing plan can be developed. This is usually over a one-year horizon.
The main ingredients of a marketing plan are:
- Key objectives: linked to the business objectives, but specifically around marketing and sales
- Strategy: an overview of the marketing strategy to provide a context for the plan
- Assumptions: any you are making with regards to resources, access to information, timescales or budgets
- Product or service proposition: A brief outline of what it is your offering and what the value is to customers, pricing and how it will be serviced post-sale.
- Target audiences: who are you targeting with this product or service? What would the profile be of your ideal customer? Don’t forget you might have internal targets too – other teams or divisions through whom you could sell this product or service.
- Positioning: what do you want to be famous for? How would you like your customers to describe your company and what it sells?
- Key messages: what are your main messages? Have a key one and then some subsidiary messages which support it. Ensure these messages are consistent across activities.
- Review and measurement: how often will you review the plan and who with?
- Activity plan: giving details of what activities when, how they link to your objectives, who is responsible, timing and budget.
Avoid anything too complicated - anything more than 2-3 pages will get left on a shelf somewhere and then dusted off when someone remembers it! It needs to be regularly reviewed, and may well evolve over time. And, if you're a small business or work in a company where non-marketers need to be involved, then it needs to be short and clear.
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