Arriving At A Marketing Plan
Most people make plans for special events like a weekend away, a party or a vacation. Why, then, are many business people so uncomfortable planning for their products? marketing? How do you get beyond thinking of a plan as a four-letter word?
Writing a strategic marketing plan is critical because it provides your company with a guide to growing profits. It is very important that you do not see your marketing plan as just an academic exercise. Look at it as your plan for profitability, a guide for your employees, and your payback for work well done.
Don?t worry about the formalities of planning. You won?t need special software or a ?killer? format. Use the back for a napkin or a paper bag if you must-just start putting your marketing plan in writing. What you learn about your company and put in writing during the planning process is the most valuable part of creating the document?plus capturing all those ideas floating in your head and putting them on paper will help you organize your thinking.
To illustrate the contents of a marketing plan, the chart below compares the typical segments of a marketing plan with the activities necessary to organize a vacation. Everyone likes taking a vacation, and planning them is often part of the fun?the travel shows, brochures, and books, thinking of what you?d like to do and the way you?d like to get there and what you?d like to do when you are there. A marketing plan offers your company the same opportunity-where do you want to go, how will you get there, what do you need to do to reach your destination. The example should move you past ?planning phobia? and get you started enjoying the profits that come from a well designed and executed marketing plan.
Marketing Plan Vacation Plan
A. Background Information Diving Trip to Barrier Reef
Strengths (what are the specific strengths of your company) Beautiful beaches, water and diving
Weaknesses (What are the weaknesses in your company-organization, market, environment, people, products) It is a long way to go
It?s relatively expensive
My spouse doesn?t like diving as much as I do
Threats (Are there competitive or environmental threats that can disrupt your company) The flight could be cancelled
Opportunities (Are there opportunities in your company-new audiences, new products, changes in the market) New places, new faces, new foods, new sports
Market Segments People who like exotic places
Target Markets My Spouse
B. Marketing Goals Trip Goals
Increase revenues by 10% I want to go to the Barrier Reef with my spouse for a relaxing time for a price within my budget Increase market share 7%
C. Strategies (How will you get to where you want to be) Strategies (How will you get to where you want to be)
Product: Development plans, packaging, brand names, line additions Product: What town, what resort?
Pricing: Value, Cost-Plus, Competitive, discount, payment schedules and terms Pricing: What price range? Use cash or credit card?
Distribution Channels: Direct, sales force, online, distributors, value-added resellers, catalogs, etc Getting There: Which airline, which route, what schedule?
Promotion: Communications Objectives, target, message, media (TV, magazine, radio, online), events
Convincing: What message will generate excitement? In what way-email, card, face-to-face?
D. Tactical Action Plans (What needs to be done, time lines, staffing, budgets) Tactical Action Plans (Things To Do List)
Product: Design, package, brand/logo design, warranty, customer service/satisfaction process
Product: Reservations, pack clothes, confirm reservations again, arrange activities
Pricing: Schedule, payment terms, discounts Pricing: Get travelers checks, check credit limit, get cash
Distribution: Incentives, materials, sales tools, prospect lists Getting There: Reservations for airline, re-confirm airline, arrange taxi to/from airports
Promotion: Type, quantity, time line, PR, trade shows list, direct mail production, online
Convincing: Leave literature around house, get travel documentary, check weather website
About the Author: Deborah Henken, founder of Highland Team, served as VP of Marketing in Silicon Valley start-ups and in senior marketing at Hewlett Packard, Informix and BEA Systems. Susan Henken has directed marketing at consumer and health care companies for more than 15 years. She's currently Director of Marketing for Consumer Products at Compex Technologies.