A business is not about just buying and selling. Though sales is a vital goal of any business, a successful business is built on the foundation of many processes that make the sales happen. While sales are often interchangeably termed marketing, both are different. Marketing is the blood that streams through every part of a business organisation. Even before a product comes to life, the marketing will start.
However, good marketing is in itself a task that is a combination of many actions that form up to be a marketing strategy. Just like we make an itinerary of our travel plans, marketing has to be done strategically through a marketing plan.
Meaning of a Marketing Plan
A marketing plan is a guide that helps to bring the marketing strategy into action. It is a written document that sets forth the marketing goals of a business organisation and acts as a route to achieve those goals for the given period. It will also provide the timeline for the micro-tasks of marketing that needs to be achieved. Also, it will give a clear idea of the vision for which the marketing plan has been made.
We always strategise our plans, don’t we? Before going for an interview we make mental notes of how we will respond to questions or even make a study plan. We make a timetable so that we don’t lose track of our goals and systematically adhere to them. Similarly, when we make a marketing plan, we need to plan it strategically, so that we can derive maximum results from the efforts put in.
A marketing strategy helps us achieve the marketing goals to the best of our potential.
“Marketing Strategy is a process that can allow an organisation to concentrate its resources on the optimal opportunities with the goals of increasing sales and achieving a sustainable competitive advantage.”
– David Aaker, An American Marketing Specialist
Purpose of a Marketing Plan
While the main aim of a marketing plan is to successfully achieve the end marketing goals, there are many other objectives to be taken care of.
1. As discussed above, marketing flows through all parts of an organisation and therefore, the marketing plan should be aligned with the mission and vision of the organisation.
2. The marketing plan also ensures that the marketing strategies do not contradict the ethics, morals and code of conduct set forth by the organisation.
3. The marketing plan helps to ensure that the marketing activities are in line with the product or services, their features, their description etc.
4. The marketing plan is not only about successful marketing techniques but also paves the way for creating a product into a brand.
5. A marketing plan reviews the marketing activities, provides a scope of flexibility in the executions, it also provides room for more ideas and opportunities that can help in enhancing the marketing strategies.
6. A marketing plan also sets forth the budget of the marketing activities, the amounts of funds that are available to carry out those activities, and how those funds will be used in the best interest of the marketing goals.
7. A marketing plan will ensure that the marketing activities are integrated with the other segments of the business, such as sales, product development, business development, finance etc.
Types of Marketing Plan
A marketing plan can be of different types depending upon the goal, the resources and other factors. Listed below are a few of them,
1. Advertising and Promotion
2. Social Media Marketing
3. Content Marketing
4. Digital Marketing
5. Product Launch
Key Elements of a Marketing Plan
1. Executive Summary
An executive summary is a summary of the marketing plan that gives an overview of the important aspects of the marketing plan such as its goals, vision, the outline of the plan etc.
2. Marketing Strategy
The marketing strategy defines the mission of the marketing plan and the ways to achieve it. It specifies the methods and techniques to carry out the marketing goals.
3. Situation Analysis
It is an analysis under which SWOT is carried out. SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. It is a kind of market analysis under which the strength, weaknesses, scope of opportunities and possible threats are analysed to arrive at decisions.
4. Marketing Objectives
The marketing plan should state the objectives of the marketing goals. It should lay down the expected results from the marketing activities.
5. Target Audience
The marketing plan should define the target audience of the marketing strategy. One cannot randomly target masses. It needs to be filtered who the marketing strategy aims at. It can be sorted based on age, gender, geographical area, taste and preferences, buying behaviour etc.
6. Market Analysis
Market analysis is the study of marketing trends, the behaviour of the target audience, the demand and supply behaviour concerning the market. It will provide an insight into how the marketing strategy may work.
7. Marketing Budget
The marketing plan should state the organisation’s fund that is available to use for the execution of the marketing plan. It should describe funds allocated to various marketing activities.
8. Product Description
The marketing plan should provide a detailed description of the product or services for which the marketing is carried out. It should list out the features and benefits, any instructions that are needed to be followed while using the product, warranty or guarantee of the product and all other details. Also, it should describe the customer support contact details regarding the product.
9. Product Pricing
A marketing plan is incomplete without the pricing strategy and pricing details of the product or service. The price of the product or the charges of service should be set in such a manner that the target audience would buy it at the given price. The marketing plan should contain the details of the pricing. The rates at which products or services will be priced to the audience should be mentioned.
10. Unique Selling Proposition (USP)
The market nowadays is a very competitive place for all kinds of products and services. Alternatives are easily available to the public. In such a scenario, having a USP is very important. The marketing plan should describe how the product stands out amongst many of the same categories available in the market and how it will benefit the target audience more than any other.
11. Sales Forecasting
The major goal of a business organisation, overall, is sales. Marketing is a process that helps induce the sales of an organisation. So when a marketing plan is made it should describe how the marketing plan will help increase the sales or how the sales will boost. The analysis of the projected sales with the marketing plan should be included.
12. Market Segmentation
The marketing plan should determine the segments in which it wants to sell. It can also segment as B2B or B2C or both. The marketing strategy must be made following the market segmentation. There are various groups of people and businesses that can be target consumers. Defining who can be the potential customer amongst them and how they can be convinced to buy our products is an important thing to analyse.
The bottom line is that a marketing plan is an important tool that is needed for the successful execution of marketing activities. It can be executed through advertisements, promotions, social media or any manner. No matter the type of marketing, certain factors form a part of it. The marketing plan’s goals and objectives should be clear. It should be designed in such a manner that serves the purpose of a marketing vision. A good marketing plan paves the way for creating a brand name for any product or service.
Keywords – marketing strategy, market analysis