How To Create Marketing Plan In 90 minutes
Why Marketing Needs a Marketing Plan
Always wondered what is a marketing plan, where to start writing a plan, what to include in a marketing plan, when to write a marketing plan? You are not alone.
I am a marketer and I know marketers are bursting with energy, always on the move and want to get on with work. Planning is the last thing on our mind.
Make no mistake - we are in marketing because we are always enthusiastic about our business, we have a strong vision to be a market leader, build strong brands and increase profitability. But when it comes to developing a marketing plan, we freeze in our tracks.
Remember success in business begins with a solid vision. It then needs to be translated into a strong strategic marketing plan.
Big companies may have a comprehensive marketing plan, and mom-and-dad businesses have a one page summary what they want to do to market their products or services. Big or small, each business has a marketing plan.
In this article, I will discuss:
- Why we need a marketing plan
- Marketing plan definition
- When to write a marketing plan
- Where to start when writing a marketing plan
- What are the components of a marketing plan
- What does Marketing plan include: outline, format, template
- What is marketing planning process
- How to write executive summary in marketing plan
Your business needs to make a strategic marketing plan so that:
1. You can start with your marketing plan, and let other plans be informed by it - production plan, advertising and PR plan, financing plan, staffing and HR plan and so on. Unless you have a clear marketing plan written, it is difficult to develop other plans.
2. A good marketing plan makes sure that all marketing efforts remain on track and are not sidelined in favour of other business activities.
3. You can't manage what you can't measure. With a well-developed marketing plan, it is possible to measure marketing efforts and thus manage all marketing activities.
Before you begin, have you done your homework with some good marketing ideas or understood your marketing mix? Just as in any business planning process, whether you are writing a small business marketing plan (such as dental marketing plan, law firm marketing plan or insurance marketing plan), it is important to understand your marketing mix. It is essential to have good marketing ideas. No marketing plan software, sample marketing plan or marketing plan template can help you with that.
When To Develop a Marketing Plan
Ideally, marketing planning is like career or job planning. The development of the annual marketing strategy, whether it is for an internet/ecommerce business or offline business, should be done at the end of the year - whatever your financial year is. It should be based on market research. This applies to small as well as corporate businesses and not for profit organizations.
Marketing plan is not just for the marketing department. It is for the entire company. Make your marketing plan available to every employee. If it is bound in a ring binder, it will be easier to read. Put it on the main page or side-bar of the employee website. Make sure it is referred to at least quarterly or preferably monthly in team meetings.
As the year progresses, you may want to add monthly marketing plans and marketing reports to it, so as to track progress easily.
If you involve all employees of the marketing department, and key employees from other departments in developing the marketing plan, it will be easier to get buy-in.
It is an annual marketing plan. So it should cover one year - with quarterly and monthly benchmarks identified for key activities.
One thing that stops people from writing a marketing plan is uncertainty. Every business faces uncertainty. What if demand changes, what if there are new competitors, what if government policy changes.
These concerns should not stop you from writing a marketing plan. Factors these things in, and leave scope for changing tracks.
Once you have developed yearly marketing plan, venture out to develop a three-year and five-year marketing strategy. You will find that you will get more clarity on your yearly plan, once to write a longer-term strategy.
How To Write An Annual Marketing Plan
- What is marketing planning process
- How to write executive summary in marketing plan
This guide to an annual marketing plan shows what needs to be done, how to do it and pitfalls to look out for. This marketing plan should ideally support and complement business plan.
Definition of Marketing
Marketing is a very broad term and includes all activities aimed at finding a buyer and selling our products/services to that buyer, and making sure the buyer is happy and comes back for more. That's the simplest way of looking at marketing. It includes all Ps of marketing - product, pricing, promotion and place.
What is the Planning Process?
If you work for a large organization, marketing planning process typically starts two months before the year end (in ideal conditions!). Identify key stakeholders - various departmental heads, and seek input on the following with a 12-month outlook (SWOT analysis - strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats):
Which are our strength areas internally?
What do you think are the business challenges?
What are the opportunities that we can tap into?
identify the possible threats to our business - government policies, currency rates, economic recession, major competitors
Based on feedback from various departmental chiefs and senior directors, form a SWOT analysis, and shortlist main threats, weaknesses on one vertical half of a paper, and strengths and opportunities on the other half of the paper.
This is your homework for designing your marketing strategy.
Format and Template: Components of marketing plan
An annual marketing plan ideally should have the following elements (basics of marketing):
- Mission statement
- Description of your niche markets
- Detailed description of your products or services
- List of your closest competitors
- Marketing goals
- Marketing calendar with monthly and weekly list of marketing activities to be completed
- Marketing mix - advertising, public relations, media, corporate communications, promotions, events etc
- Description of how the marketing campaigns will be monitored and measured
When you have finished doing everything suggested in this easy How-To marketing tutorial, you will have a blueprint of your marketing efforts. It will give you a lot of clarity, especially when you are working in a team. Make sure you revisit the plan every year, as well as during the year.
Now, whether you are selling watches or digital products, it is important to watch your spend to make sure that your marketing ROI (return on investment) is on track.
But Why Should You Plan?
- It gives you clarity of purpose
- You can control your expenses
- When you are working in a team, or with external agencies or suppliers, everyone involved knows who-does-what
- You can take corrective action if the marketing plan is not progressing as desired
Where To Start While Writing a Marketing Plan
Just answer the following questions, and you will have the blueprint of your marketing plan in less than 90 minutes:
- Which of my marketing and selling activities brought the most business for me last year? Was it public relations, events and conferences, social media, print advertising, Google Adwords, SEO marketing and so on
- What mistakes did I make that I should avoid this year?
- What worked well, but I can improve on this year?
- What can I learn from my successful campaigns last year?
- What can I learn from my campaign that did not perform well last year?
- What is my target market like this year? Which factors of my market changed - geography, demography, income, habits, culture etc.
- Has my competition changed? How?
- If my target market or competition has changed, what do I need to do to adopt to that change?
- Now that I know my target market, and I know what worked last year, which marketing channels will I use this year?
- How much am I willing to spend this year? What's my marketing budget? How do i intend to spend it?
- How will I monitor my campaign?
Now that we have an overview, break this strategy down into monthly marketing plan. Chart out monthly and if required weekly activities.
Identify key events that are likely to influence your marketing calendar. Is there an industry event or international trade show coming up? Are there local elections? Is there a major sporting event?
Make sure you are realistic in your marketing strategies and in your marketing plan. Try to spell out as many details as possible. Leave some scope for contingencies.
Now that you have the blueprint, don't forget the key point - action. Act on your plan, re-visit it often and change your course if required.
Your marketing plan is just that - a plan. Nothing is set in stone. If marketing environment changes be prepared to change.