A marketing plan is a written document backed up with facts that shows how you’ll get customers to buy your products in the coming year. It includes doing a current situation analysis, developing a target market profile, setting marketing objectives, determining market strategy and analysing financials. A marketing plan is is to be used daily in order for you to reach your marketing and profitability goals without much hassles. The marketing plan components are as follows :
1. Your Business’ Current Situation
What is your product or service? Who are your competitors? What USP separates you from them and vice versa? What are the difficulties you are encountering with your customers? What are your strengths and weaknesses? Your strengths may include having an excellent sales team, having high value clients and a qualitywise better output than your competitors. Examples of weaknesses may include irregular transportation, insufficient raw materials and a lack of bonhomie among the production team.
What are the opportunities you have and threats you may face in the next one year? Opportunities can include lifting of a trade embargo from a certain country where you can sell large quantities of your product, importing a new and modern machine or lowering of excise duty by the government. Threats include entry of a major competitor in your product category, rising prices of imported raw material or fluctuating economic conditions.
2. Who Is Your Target Market
Who would be keenly interested in what you’re offering? You might have various groups within your target market, often known as market segments, having different requirements. Understanding your target markets and their requirements helps you create precise messages for them and place them where they have the maximum visibility and effectiveness.The profile of your customers should include the basic demographic traits like age group, gender, career, income level, qualification level, geographic location etc. Regarding B2B marketing, you should segregate your audiences by category such as doctors, engineers, chartered accountants, fashion designers etc.
Once you have defined your target customers, you must learn about their requirements and preferences.
- Which of their problems can you resolve?
- What are their wants and expectations from your product ?
- What do they spend their money on?
- Where all do they go for shopping?
- How do they make their spending decisions?
3.Set Realistic Goals
Write your company’s marketing goals for the coming year. The goals must be realistic and measurable so that the performance can be evaluated easily. “Considerable increase in sales in the coming year” is an example of an immeasurable and ineffective goal whereas “Increase in sales by 25% in the coming year” is an example of a measurable and effective goal.
4.Determine Your Marketing Tactics and Strategies
Let your target market and goals guide you in deciding what marketing strategies you’ll be using. You should know, for example, what social media your target market uses the most. Based on that, you can frame your messages or advertisements for that social media in order to reach that particular market segment. Thus you can take advantage of this low cost marketing strategy. You can also take advantage of e-mail for a niche audience as it is low cost.
You should specify all the steps you plan to take for advertising & public relations, direct mail, trade shows & exhibitions and promotions. What is more important is to sincerely follow your schedule and adjust it for any minor changes here and there.
5. Budget Breakdown
A marketing plan without financials finds little use. So, you’ll need to make a simple budget and sales forecast. It may help to ask yourselves the following questions:
- What is your sales forecast and at what price per unit?
- What will be your cost of production per unit and transportation costs?
- What will be your basic operating expenses including recruitment costs and salaries ?
- How much financing will you need to run your business?
Answers to the above questions will help you determine your projected income and expenses.
The next step in marketing planning is break-even analysis This analysis shows exactly how much you need to sell to break- even with your costs of doing business. If you can exceed your break-even point and easily bring in more money than the break-in amount, you stand a great chance of making a net profit.
Marketing Planning Conclusion
A Marketing plan is not a one time effort. It is an ongoing marketing planning activity. It should be updated regularly to incorporate the changing needs of your business and customers. This makes the marketing planning process easy. Analyzing the results of your efforts and changing your marketing strategies in the face of changing competitive scenario and other technical issues is an important task in keeping your marketing plan up to date, thus leading you to your planned goals.