WRITING A MARKETING PLAN
As we have discussed in a number of previous monthly business tips marketing is a vital part of business and we have identified various methods of marketing, so let’s look at the basis of the marketing plan for your business.
It needs to set out clear objectives and list actions you need to take to achieve them and ensure your plan becomes a reality.
The marketing plan should begin with an executive summary that gives you a quick overview of the main points of the plan, although this is at the beginning of your plan it is completed last and is an aid to ensure your plan makes sense.
The main part of your plan should start with the business strategy and include:-
- Your business mission
- Your key objectives
- Your strategy for achieving objectives.
Understanding the environment your business operates in is a key part of the plan and we have discussed this in the last two monthly business tips, we have looked at completing a SWOT analysis for your business. To help you understand the opportunities and threats in your market place you should complete a PEST analysis:
- Political and legal changes such as new regulations
- Economic factors such as interest rates, exchange rates and consumer confidence
- Social factors such as changing attitudes and lifestyles, and the ageing population
- Technological factors such as new materials and growing use of the internet
Your marketing objectives should be based around your strengths and weaknesses and linked to your overall business strategy and they should always be SMART:
- Specific – for example, you might set an objective of getting ten new customers.
- Measurable – whatever your objective is, you need to be able to check whether you have reached it or not when you review your plan.
- Achievable – you must have the resources you need to achieve the objective. The key resources are usually people and money.
- Realistic – targets should stretch you, not demotivate you because they are unreasonable and seem to be out of reach.
- Time-bound – you should set a deadline for achieving the objective. For example, you might aim to get ten new customers within the next 12 months.
Once you have decided what your marketing objectives are, and your strategy for meeting them, you need to plan how to make the strategy work.
A number of businesses adopt the seven Ps approach:
- Product – what your product offers that your customers value, and whether/how you should change your product to meet customer needs.
- Pricing – for example, you might aim simply to match the competition, or charge a premium price for a quality product and service. You might have to choose either to make relatively few high margin sales, or sell more but with lower unit profits. Remember that some customers may seek a low price to meet their budgets, while others may view a low price as an indication of quality levels.
- Processes – the right processes will ensure that you offer a consistent service that suits your customers.
- Physical evidence – the appearance of your employees and premises can affect how customers see your business. Even the quality of paperwork, such as invoices, makes a difference.
- Place – how and where you sell. This may include using different distribution channels. For example, you might sell over the internet or sell through retailers.
- Promotion – how you reach your customers and potential customers. For example, you might use advertising, PR, direct mail and personal selling.
- People – for example, you need to ensure that your employees have the right training.
The information achieved from all of the above will enable you to write your marketing plan. I hope that this information has been useful, but if you require assistance in writing your marketing plan please contact us.