Marketing is a key part of business success. You need to decide which customers to target. You need to work out how you will reach and win new customers. You need to make sure that you keep existing customers happy. And you need to keep reviewing and improving everything you do to stay ahead of the competition.
Your marketing plan should be the reference document you use as a basis to execute your marketing strategy. It sets out clear objectives and explains how you will achieve them. Perhaps most importantly it looks at how you can ensure that your plan becomes reality.
Remember that marketing in itself will not guarantee sales, but by adopting a well-researched and coherent plan, you have a much better chance of building long-term, profitable relationships.
This guide outlines the key areas to look at and what to include in an effective marketing plan.
- Marketing plan summary and introduction
- External and internal analysis for your marketing plan
- Your marketing objectives
- Marketing strategy for your marketing plan
- Plan your marketing tactics
- Implementation of your marketing plan
- Tips for writing a marketing plan
Your marketing plan should start with an executive summary. The summary gives a quick overview of the main points of the plan.
Although the executive summary appears at the beginning of the plan, you should write it last. Writing the summary is a good opportunity to check that your plan makes sense and that you haven't missed any important points.
It's a good idea to introduce the main body of the plan with a reminder of your overall business strategy, including:
- what your business is about (your business mission)
- your key business objectives
- your broad strategy for achieving those objectives
This helps to ensure that your marketing plan, your marketing strategy and your overall business strategy all work together. For example, suppose your business strategy is based on providing premium quality products and service. Your marketing strategy and plan will need to take this into account, targeting customers who appreciate quality, promoting your product in ways that help build the right image and so on.
Understanding the environment your business operates in is a key part of planning and will allow you to discern the threats and opportunities associated with your area of business. A STEEPLE analysis helps you to identify the main opportunities and threats in your market:
- Social factors such as changing attitudes and lifestyles, and the ageing population
- Technological factors such as new materials and growing use of the Internet
- Economic factors such as interest rates, exchange rates and consumer confidence
- Environmental factors such as changing expectations of customers, regulators and employees on sustainable development
- Political factors such as changes to taxation, trading relationships or grant support for businesses
- Legal factors such as changes to employment law, or to the way your sector is regulated
- Ethical factors such as ethical and moral standards governing policies and practices
You also need to understand your own internal strengths and weaknesses. For example, the main strengths of a new business might be an original product and enthusiastic employees. The main weaknesses might be the lack of an existing customer base and limited financial resources.
A SWOT analysis combines the external and internal analysis to summarise your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. You need to look for opportunities that play to your strengths. You also need to decide what to do about threats to your business and how you can overcome important weaknesses.
For example, your SWOT analysis might help you identify the most promising customers to target. You might decide to look at ways of using the Internet to reach customers. And you might start to investigate ways of raising additional investment to overcome your financial weakness.
You can find out more about strategic analysis in our guide on how to review your business performance.
Your marketing objectives should be based on understanding your strengths and weaknesses, and the business environment you operate in. They should also be linked to your overall business strategy.
For example, suppose your business objectives include increasing sales by 10 per cent over the next year. Your marketing objectives might include targeting a promising new market segment to help achieve this growth.
For more information on how to identify the best opportunities, see the page in this guide on external and internal analysis for your marketing plan.
Objectives should always be SMART:
- Specific - for example, you might set an objective of getting ten new customers.
- Measurable - whatever your objective is, you need to be able to check whether you have reached it or not when you review your plan.
- Achievable - you must have the resources you need to achieve the objective. The key resources are usually people and money.
- Realistic - targets should stretch you, not demotivate you because they are unreasonable.
- Time-bound - you should set a deadline for achieving the objective. For example, you might aim to get ten new customers within the next 12 months.
Your marketing plan is how you put your marketing strategy into practice. It should therefore be a practical reflection of your strategy.
If you understand the market well, you can probably break it down into different segments - groups of similar customers. For example, you can break the business market down into businesses of the same sector and of a similar size.
For each segment, you need to look at what customers want, what you can offer and what the competition is like. You want to identify segments where you have a competitive advantage. At the same time, you should assess whether you can expect high enough sales to make the segment worthwhile.
Often, the most promising segments are those where you have existing customers. See what you can do to expand sales to these customers. If you are targeting new customers, you need to be sure that you have the resources to reach them effectively.
Once you have decided what your target market is, you also need to decide how you will position yourself in it. For example, you might offer a high quality product at a premium price or a flexible local service. Some businesses try to build a strong brand and image to help them stand out. Whatever your strategy, you need to differentiate yourself from the competition to encourage customers to choose your business first.
Once you have decided what your marketing objectives are, and your strategy for meeting them, you need to plan how you will make the strategy a reality.
Many businesses find it helpful to think in terms of the four Ps:
- Product - what your product offers that your customers value, and whether/how you should change your product to meet customer needs.
- Pricing - for example, you might aim simply to match the competition, or charge a premium price for a quality product and service. You might have to choose either to make relatively few high margin sales, or sell more but with lower unit profits. Remember that some customers may seek a low price to meet their budgets, while others may view a low price as an indication of quality levels.
- Place - how and where you sell. This may include using different distribution channels. For example, you might sell over the Internet or sell through retailers.
- Promotion - how you reach your customers and potential customers. For example, you might use advertising, PR, direct mail and personal selling.
For a more comprehensive approach, you can extend this to seven Ps:
- People - for example, you need to ensure that your employees have the right training.
- Processes - the right processes will ensure that you offer a consistent service that suits your customers.
- Physical evidence - the appearance of your employees and premises can affect how customers see your business. Even the quality of paperwork, such as invoices, makes a difference.
Your marketing plan must do more than just say what you want to happen. It must describe each step required to make sure that it happens.
The plan should therefore include a schedule of key tasks. This sets out what will be done, and by when. Refer to the schedule as often as possible to avoid losing sight of your objectives under the daily workload.
It should also assess what resources you need. For example, you might need to think about what brochures you need, and whether they need to be available for digital distribution (by email or from your website). You might also need to look at how much time it takes to sell to customers and whether you have enough salespeople.
The cost of everything in the plan needs to be included in a budget. If your finances are limited, your plan will need to take that into account. Don't spread your marketing activities too thinly - it is better to pick a handful and make the most of them. You may also want to link your marketing budget to your sales forecast.
As well as setting out the schedule, the plan needs to say how it will be controlled. You need an individual who takes responsibility for pushing things along. A good schedule and budget should make it easy to monitor progress. When things fall behind schedule, or costs overrun, you need to be ready to do something about it and to adapt your plan accordingly.
From time to time, you need to stand back and ask whether the plan is working. What can you learn from your mistakes? How can you use what you know to make a better plan for the future?
It is important for a marketing plan to:
- set clear, realistic and measurable targets - for example, increasing sales by 10 per cent
- include deadlines for meeting targets
- provide a budget for each marketing activity
- specify who is responsible for each activity
Make sure you think through each of your objectives logically. For example, you might set a target for the number of new enquiries. But if you don't provide the resources and training to turn these enquiries into sales, you will have increased costs without any benefits.
Link to your strategy
Assess the business environment to identify the opportunities and threats that you face. Look for where you can capitalise on your strengths or where you need to overcome a weakness.
All parts of your business must work together. For example, if you have limited cash flow you should avoid seeking large orders from customers who demand extended credit or that will involve you in heavy, up-front costs.
Remember to focus on your long-term strategy. Reducing customer service might boost short-term profits, but next year you might not have any customers left.
Make it happen
A plan will not happen by itself. You need to make someone responsible for monitoring progress and chasing up overdue activities. Reviewing progress will also help you learn from your mistakes so that you can improve your plans for the future.
Original document, Write a marketing plan, © Crown copyright 2009
Source: Business Link UK (now GOV.UK/Business)
Adapted for Québec by Info entrepreneurs
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It's called the seven Ps of marketing and includes product, price, promotion, place, people, process, and physical evidence.How do I create a simple marketing plan? ›
- Analyse your market. Market research can help you to understand your strengths, weaknesses and the opportunities that you can take advantage of. ...
- Set your goals and objectives. ...
- Outline your marketing strategies. ...
- Set your marketing budget. ...
- Keep your marketing plan up-to-date.
The 5 P's of marketing – Product, Price, Promotion, Place, and People – are a framework that helps guide marketing strategies and keep marketers focused on the right things.What is marketing plan explain with an example? ›
The marketing plan identifies the target market for a product or brand. Market research is often the basis for a target market and marketing channel decisions. For example, whether the company will advertise on the radio, on social media, through online ads, or on regional TV.What makes a good marketing plan? ›
Create an actionable marketing strategy.
A good marketing plan is nine parts execution for every one part strategy. Make sure you can track progress via objective measurements. Avoid generalities like "be the best." Include who does what and when they do it. Make tasks and budgets clear.
What are the 4Ps of marketing? (Marketing mix explained) The four Ps are product, price, place, and promotion. They are an example of a “marketing mix,” or the combined tools and methodologies used by marketers to achieve their marketing objectives. The 4 Ps were first formally conceptualized in 1960 by E.What is a basic marketing plan? ›
A marketing plan outlines your intended marketing/advertising activities for a specific period, usually over the next 12 months. It describes how you'll reach, attract and persuade customers to buy your products or services, with clear goals, actions and accountabilities.Why is a marketing plan important? ›
With a well-designed marketing plan, you can design more effective promotions and impactful campaigns, reach your customers with targeted advertising, and track your business success with analytics. Without one, you might as well throw your marketing budget down a well and hope for the best.What is a marketing plan PDF? ›
It contains some historical data, future predictions, and methods or strategies to achieve the marketing objectives. Marketing plans start with the identification of customer needs through a market research and how the business can satisfy these needs while generating an acceptable level of return.What are 5 examples of marketing? ›
- Get on the Phone and Cold Call. Whether they call current customers or members of the general public, companies often simply call people up on the phone and offer them services. ...
- Send a Punchy Newsletter. ...
- Search Engine Marketing. ...
- Meeting Customers at Trade Shows. ...
- Product Placement in Entertainment.
- SEO. ...
- Influencer marketing. ...
- PR and affiliate marketing. ...
- Email marketing. ...
- Social media marketing.
The Most Important Piece of a Marketing Plan Is Your Targeted Customer. Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own. Knowing your target customer is the single most important job of any marketer, and it's a job that never ends.What is the best type of marketing? ›
Content marketing is one of the best types of marketing strategies and its ultimate goal is to keep an audience engaged. And when someone is ready to buy something that you offer, they'll think of you first because you were already a useful resource for them. It enhances their customer experience.What are main types of marketing? ›
- Outbound marketing. When a marketing strategy is referred to as "outbound," it's focused on how the message is being delivered. ...
- Personalized marketing. ...
- Direct mail. ...
- Partner marketing. ...
- Telemarketing. ...
- Public relations (PR) marketing. ...
- Word of mouth marketing. ...
- Stealth marketing.
- Section 1: Demographics.
- Section 2: Psychographics.
- Section 3: Audience Needs.
- Section 4: Unique Selling Proposition (USP)
- Section 5: Marketing Channels.
- Section 1: Digital Marketing Strategy.
- Section 2: Traditional Marketing Strategy.
- Section 3: Referral & Retention Strategy.
There are nine major steps required to develop a well-crafted, strategic marketing plan: set your marketing goals, conduct a marketing audit, conduct market research, analyze the research, identify your target audience, determine a budget, develop specific marketing strategies, develop an implementation schedule for ...What are the marketing objectives? ›
What Are Marketing Objectives? Marketing objectives are the outcomes a brand wants to generate from its marketing activities. They should be measurable (and realistic) so that you can map out your efforts in a strategic and focused way.What is the most important element of marketing plan? ›
Budget. One of the most important elements in your marketing plan is going to be your budget. The size of your marketing activities is going to be determined by the budget you can spend on different campaigns.What are the 8 P's in marketing? ›
The 8 Ps of marketing is product, price, place, promotion, people, positioning, processes, and performance. The goal is to get them working together for your marketing mix. If you can you'll have a much better chance to attract and convert your potential customers.What is the basic outline and elements of a marketing plan? ›
|Plan Element||Course Module Reference|
|Marketing Information and Research||Marketing Information and Research|
|Customer Decision-Making Profile||Consumer Behavior|
|Positioning and Differentiation||Positioning|
The marketing mix, also known as the four P's of marketing, refers to the four key elements of a marketing strategy: product, price, place and promotion.Why is a marketing plan important? ›
What is the purpose of a marketing plan? A marketing plan lays out your business strategy for acquiring new customers and selling more products and services. But it also serves as a way of analyzing exactly how successful your marketing efforts have been so far.What is a successful marketing? ›
Successful marketing is anything that changes brand perception or product perception that leads to higher sales, profits or market share.How long should a marketing plan last? ›
Overall Marketing Plan — usually spans 1-5 years, a top-level document that will tie into the company's business plan. Inbound Marketing Campaign/Outbound Marketing Campaign — A yearly plan of marketing activity that allows you to be more specific about what you want to achieve.What are 7 C's of marketing? ›
In contrast to other marketing models, the 7 Cs Compass Model considers both the marketing strategies as well as the segment to which the strategies are being targeted. The seven Cs are Corporation, Commodity, Cost, Communication, Channel, Consumer and Circumstances.What are the 4 C's of marketing management? ›
The 4Cs (Clarity, Credibility, Consistency, Competitiveness) is most often used in marketing communications and was created by David Jobber and John Fahy in their book 'Foundations of Marketing' (2009).What are the 7 P's and 7 C's in marketing? ›
The 7 P's of marketing include product, price, promotion, place, people, process, and physical evidence. Moreover, these seven elements comprise the marketing mix. This mix strategically places a business in the market and can be used with varying levels of force.What is a marketing plan PDF? ›
It contains some historical data, future predictions, and methods or strategies to achieve the marketing objectives. Marketing plans start with the identification of customer needs through a market research and how the business can satisfy these needs while generating an acceptable level of return.What is 5 C's in marketing? ›
The 5 C's of Marketing Defined. The 5 C's stand for Company, Collaborators, Customers, Competitors, and Climate. These five categories help perform situational analysis in almost any situation, while also remaining straightforward, simple, and to the point.What is the main objective of marketing? ›
Marketing objectives are measurable goals that are set up by an organization to promote its products and services to prospects with an aim to maximize profits and achieve customer satisfaction.