A marketing plan is a key to success.
Planning means mapping a road before you, then you will know with which foot to step and where, otherwise you are wandering aimlessly.
Knowing where you are going and how you plan to get there is critical to long-term sustainability and competitive success. One of the most important plans a business needs to have is a marketing plan … and that is more than just plans for advertising. Marketing has 5 P’s and is not only about promotion, but the products that are offered, the price, and the place, with the most important part being the “people” (customers) whose needs you are trying to serve. A marketing plan aligns with the company’s vision, mission, and objectives, charting a path for the company to achieve its purpose for being. If you do not have a marketing plan, then you may well be missing the single most critical key to your success.
Elements of a marketing plan: To formulate a comprehensive marketing strategy, the first step is clearly knowing the company’s vision and mission to assure alignment, followed by a careful assessment of the internal and external environment (known as a SWOT analysis). From there objectives can be shaped and a target market strategy can be developed that utilizes product, place, promotion, and price with the customer (people) at the center. After the clear aligned strategy is formulated, implementation is needed with evaluation and control. This is a continuous process, looping through the process continually to insure alignment with the competitive environment and changes needs of consumers and organization.
Why a marketing plan? A marketing plan will specify objectives and define actions needed to obtain those objectives. It is true that marketing can be one of the most complicated business activities, but it becomes a road map to the future. A solid well-developed marketing plan will afford management a means to seize opportunity and prepare for environmental threats. The marketing plan is far more than just a determination of where to advertise and when. A marketing plan clearly defines strategy based on a comprehensive environmental assessment, internal and external, and aligns with a company’s vision and mission, then describes the marketing mix needed to achieve that vision and mission to answer the needs of consumers. “People” (the consumers) have to be the center of all strategy.
An additional note and word of caution: With a marketing plan, a marketing budget needs to be developed. So often when businesses are struggling they will cut their marketing budgets. Most of the time this is the exact opposite of what they need to do in order to fight through the difficult times. Keeping or adding to marketing budgets becomes critical to survival, instead of just fading away. However, in very difficult times, buying smart is ever more important. Understanding marketing options and skillfully allocating resources to successfully reach targeted markets is paramount. Do not simply cut advertising expenditures because times are tough. That could result in the nail in the coffin. There are many promotion options that can be implemented and represent frugal spending strategies. A marketing plan requires continuous review and should evolve with the changing needs and situation of the company.
Written by Sabrina Pack-Professional Marketing Consultant