Reviewing marketing plan examples is a good way to begin the process of writing this type of document for your own business. Examples can provide you with ideas about how to format a marketing plan.
Anatomy of a Marketing Plan
While there is more than one "right" way to create a marketing plan, the best documents of this type include similar information. The types of data you will need to include in your marketing plan include:
Target Audience Definition
Every marketing plan should begin with a clear definition of the target market. Clearly identify your primary target market, as well as any secondary groups that represent potential customer groups. The best target audience statements specify who makes up each desired customer group in terms of demographic and psychographic characteristics. After reading this part of your marketing plan, it should be easy to visualize exactly who it is that your company plans to target with its marketing efforts.
When it's time to create a marketing plan, you should spend some time reflecting on the internal and external factors that are relevant to what you need to do to promote your business effectively. The best way to do this is with a SWOT Analysis. Start out by reviewing the strengths and weaknesses of the products or services you need to market. This is an internal process that involves looking at what ways you are at an advantage, and identifying potential disadvantages that need to be overcome.
Additionally, you must also look outside of your organization. Identify opportunities for growth that exist in the marketplace, as well as potential threats to your ability to be successful. If one of your competitors is having product quality issues, there is an opportunity for you to capitalize on that. Alternately, if one of your competitors has developed a new production technology that allows them to undercut your prices while maintaining quality, this is a potential threat that you need to be aware of and prepared to deal with.
Unique Selling Proposition
In addition to knowing who you are going to market to and conducting a SWOT Analysis, it's also essential to understand the nature of the product or service you are tasked with selling. This involves much more than just being able to identify features and benefits of items you are marketing. The best marketing plans include an overview of the company's unique selling proposition (USP). This part of your marketing plan should describe what it is that makes your firm's products or services unique from those of your competitors.
In order to draft a thorough marketing plan, you have to consider what competitors are doing and how their actions may impact your organization. Your plan should identify major competitors and provide an overview of how their offerings compare to those of your company, as well as a brief description of the marketing approaches being used to promote competitive offerings to the people you are also trying to reach.
Stating your marketing goals is an essential step in writing a marketing plan. Think about what you hope to accomplish through your marketing efforts and create goal statements for each desired accomplishment. Once your marketing plan is implemented, you will begin the process of tracking results so you can determine to what extent your efforts are allowing you to make progress toward your goals.
In order to be useful, goals should be specific and measurable. For example, simply stating "to sell more widgets" is not an appropriate goal. An appropriate goal may be: "To increase widget sales by 25% over the previous year". This gives you something concrete to strive to accomplish and states what you are trying to do in terms that are measurable.
Clearly define your overall approach to marketing in the marketing strategy portion of your plan. Write a clear paragraph that specifies exactly how you are going to approach accomplishing the defined goals. You may need to refine product development, improve your distribution channels, launch an image and issues management campaign -- or use other approaches -- to reach your goals.
Once you have defined your strategy, you will need to decide what tactics will support it. The tactics section of your marketing plan will form the basis of the action plan that will be implemented once the plan has been completed and approved. It should be written in a list format, with tactics carefully selected to support one or more of the stated goals and your overall strategy.
You will need to select general tactics that you want to use, with specific action steps in support of each one. For example, you may want to use Internet marketing as a tactic. The plan should state specific actions that will be taken in support of this technique. Spell out what types of Internet marketing you will implement, such as website optimization, pay per click advertising, article marketing, and other actions.
No marketing plan is complete without a budget. You have to know how much money you have to fund the strategies that you want to implement, and the available funds must be allocated appropriately to the different marketing activities you will use. You must also consider the seasonal nature of the business you are in so that you can make wise decisions about when to invest funds in certain strategies and to reach various segments of your target audience.
Where to Find Marketing Plan Examples
There are a number of places where you can find marketing plan examples and templates to use as guides to help you draft an effective document of your own. A few sample documents you may want to review are: