Your marketing plan does not need to be long and it doesn't have to cost a lot of money to complete. Marketing plans can be a part of your overall business plan or as a singular document. If you think of it as your "roadmap" that will provide you with detailed directions on how to reach your marketing goals.
It's important to research before completing your marketing plan, by doing so it will help you in staying organized so that you are able to achieve your goals. A thorough marketing plan will detail what you want to accomplish with your marketing strategy and assist you in meeting your goals.
A marketing plan will achieve the following objectives:
- Enables companies to look internally in order to fully understand the impact and the results of past marketing decisions.
- Equips companies to look externally in order to fully understand the market that it targets and the competition in that space.
- Set future goals and provide direction for future marketing initiatives. The goals should be understood and supported by everyone with the company's organization.
Your marketing plan should include the following:
- Summary and Introduction
The summary and introduction is a quick overview of the main points of the plan. It should be a synopsis of what you have done, what you plan to do, and how you are going to get there.
- Marketing Objectives
This section will define your marketing objectives. These objectives should be based on understanding your strengths and weaknesses, and the business environment in which you operate in. They should also be linked to your overall business strategy. It's not uncommon and is often beneficial to focus on specific targeted segments that you will be marketing to.
- Situation Analysis
Your situation analysis details the context for your marketing efforts. In this section you will take a close look at the internal and external factors that will influence your marketing strategy, this is called a SWOT analysis. A SWOT analysis combines the external and internal analysis to summarize your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats.
- Target Markets
The concept of target markets is one of the most basic, yet most important aspects of marketing. There is no such thing as the a "one message" fits all marketing message. It is unrealistic to think that you can attract everyone. Defining your target market or segmenting your market helps you decide where to commit resources and what kinds of promotional methods and messages to use.
Strategies are action steps that detail how the marketing variables of product, price, place and promotion are used to attain the marketing plan’s objectives and overall strategies.
- Tracking and Evaluation
This section of your plan should include plans and procedures for tracking each type of marketing activity you are using. Tracking helps monitor the effectiveness of each marketing activity and is especially helpful with your overall program evaluation. If you are not tracking you are not marketing.