How to Write a Marketing Plan
A marketing plan is a strategic document that presents a set of actions and recommendations to achieve company goals. Many entrepreneurs don’t pay enough attention to marketing. They often understand it as something that requires a lot of costs and advertising promotions. However, a marketing plan is much more than advertising.
A marketing plan is often required when writing a business plan and helps you set realistic, measurable and clear objectives for your business. A successful marketing plan can help you reach target customers, boost your client base, and increase your bottom line. Now, when you understand the importance of marketing plan writing, you can move straight to tips on how to write a marketing plan.
Tips for Writing a Marketing Plan
- State the mission of the company. Describes the nature of the business and services offered in a few sentences. List company goals.
- Write a product or service description. Determine new services or products you wish to provide.
- Identify your target market. List your potential customers and groups of clients. Describe their needs and segment your target market into the primary market on which you focus most of your costs and energy.
- Know your present and potential competitors. Explore their strengths and weaknesses. Identify how to position yourself in relation to them.
- A SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) is an external and internal analysis of the business. This will help you to list opportunities and decide the ways to overcome obstacles. A SWOT analysis is very important. It will definitely help you to write a marketing plan for the company.
- List the objectives. Remember to use the SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, time-bound) principle when setting objectives.
- Define the marketing strategy. Include the information of the “4 Ps of marketing” – product, price, place and promotion.
- Write the tactical programs and plans. You need to make the plan of actions to meet the marketing strategy. Be sure to include a schedule of key tasks to your plan in order to avoid losing sight of the objectives.
- Define your budget. How to write a marketing strategy without knowing your budget? It’s impossible. You should list the tactics you have identified in the plan with the costs for each kind of action. Typical categories of marketing expenses are market research, marketing communications, public relations, advertising and promotions.
- Spread the responsibility for the implementation for each marketing activity.
- Sales and cash flow projections. This will help to plan a better performance in future and control the effectiveness of marketing activities.
- Monitor your results. Control the process of realization of the marketing plan. Identify strategies that generate sales and leads. Make changes, stay flexible.
Mistakes to Avoid While Writing a Marketing Plan
- Copy someone’s plan. You are writing a marketing strategy for a specific business that is separate from others. Someone’s plan could be not suitable for your business situation.
- No time schedules and deadlines have been set. Your plan should contain a defined time frame for performing specific tasks. Remember to monitor the timeline during the implementation.
- Not making a marketing budget. The general rule is that at least 10% of the revenue should be invested into your marketing efforts.
- Not stating objectives. A marketing plan might have negative effects on customers.
- Lack of research. Market research should be done before starting a marketing plan. Make sure to determine the performance of every marketing tool.
- Lack of focus on the target market. Make sure that you’ve identified your target market. That will help you choose the appropriate marketing techniques to reach potential clients.
- Not developing a consistent and clear marketing message. Make your message and its image represented in your products and services.
- Not defining your products’ or services’ benefits. Defining the benefits of your products or services will help customer’s identify your product among competitors.
- Limiting marketing tactics. Make sure to choose a wide variety of marketing strategies and tactics.
A marketing plan will not guarantee an improvement in sales, but a well-researched and coherent marketing plan will give you a much better chance of building long-term, profitable relationships.