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What is a Marketing Plan?

We are often asked by starting clients, What is a marketing plan? or, What does a marketing plan consist of?

Marketing-planning-compositA marketing plan is created to help your business or organization achieve its marketing objectives, which usually include increasing sales and establishing or improving your brand reputation. Neither of these is a mechanical process which can be output like widgets, but rather are complex results of human relationships and transactions.

Although it may vary by the type and size of organization, in general a marketing plan consists of:

1. CONTEXT—What steps or actions has your company taken in recent years to improve its success in the marketplace? This can be any type of planning, marketing or other external-oriented strategy designed to increase your success. In brief, what are the internal and external strengths and weaknesses your company has to deal with or manage as it strives to be more successful?

2. HIERARCHY OF PURPOSES—What are you trying to accomplish moving forward?  Start with the company as a whole, work down to include your marketing objectives, then what you want to achieve personally.  For every purpose you give, ask yourself, “Why are we trying to do that?” This will get at other underlying purposes.

3. PROCESSES AND PRODUCTS—What are the primary processes or activities which the company uses to create value for customers, including the main products or services you sell?

4. CUSTOMERS—Divide your existing customers into the segments or groups which you commonly use to describe them, or which would be logical divisions.  Describe the characteristics of each segment specifically enough that someone outside of the company can understand.  Be specific enough that it’s also clear what groups you are not interested in.

5. PROSPECTS—Describe the market segments which you would like to have as customers but do not have now.  If the target market segments are the same as your customer market segments given already, clearly explain what is different about the prospects, and why they are not already customers, to the best of your knowledge.

6. OTHERS – Are there any other groups of people who can or might influence your success that you want to communicate with as a part of this plan?

7. CUSTOMER VALUE PACKAGE—Describe what your primary customers want from you in their own language.  Try to use the words your customers would use themselves.

8. COMPETITIVE POSITIONING—How does the company want to be perceived in the marketplace versus your competitors?  This has two dimensions:

a)  Your desired brand image; use adjectives to describe the image you want.

b)  The most positive statement you can make about your company which is literally true, so true that even your competitors would not disagree about the statement.  Obviously something like “we’re the best” is too simplistic.  Be very realistic.

9. DISTRIBUTION CHANNELS—Describe how and where your product or service is or is going to be distributed or delivered to your customers.  It may be your place of business, or you may have outlets all over the world, or you may have a network of distributors who are not part of your company but distribute your products for you, etc.

10. PRICING – How do you price your products or services, and how does that compare to your competition?

11. COMMUNICATIONS – What forms of communications and marketing will you use to reach each target audience – both online and offline?

12. ACTIONS – What other actions besides communications and marketing need to be taken to accomplish your objectives?

13. BUDGET – What are your various communications, marketing activities and other actions going to cost in terms of a realistic budget?

13. TIMING – When will each action be taken? What key events or deadlines need to be included?

14. RESPONSIBILITY – What actions is the client organization going to be responsible for, and what is the marketing agency going to be responsible for?

16. MEASUREMENTS – How will you measure success, both short-term and long?

17. IMPROVEMENT – How will you learn from experience and facilitate continuous improvement?

To learn more about your marketing planning options, please contact us.





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