Everyone knows the importance of a business plan, but many entrepreneurs don’t understand that marketing plan is also vital. In contrast to a business plan, marketing plan focuses on acquiring and retaining customers. It is a strategic plan that includes facts, numbers and objectives. A marketing plan is an action plan.The steps includes:
Carrying out a your business/company situation analysis: This first step describes your company, its products or services and values/benefits that sets you apart from your competitor.The situation analysis also involves looking at or developing the positioning of your product. Positioning your product involves analyzing your product features, differentiation from others in the market, type of customer to buy your product and the value you are selling (i.e. quality, convenience, low price etc.} This steps also provides a succinct overview of your company’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. Strengths and weaknesses are internal characteristics within the business/company while opportunities and threats refer to outside factors. For example, determining your company strength can be looking at what you can do better (lean management) or superior products that gives competitive advantage. Weaknesses, on the other hand, can be lack of experience in handling your distribution channel. External opportunities could include market expansion for your product while threat could include huge barrier to market entry or unfavorable government policy.
Carrying out Marketing Analysis: This involves looking into the market and determining the market share your product has and also the market segment that your product fits into, market location and consumer behavior in that market as well as analysis of your competitors in the market.
Identifying and defining your Customer Behavior/Target Audience: This step involves looking at prospective customer or target audience through various variables. This can be done in terms of demographics (i.e. age, sex, family composition, earnings and geographic location), lifestyle (conservative, luxury, innovative) personality (extroverted or introverted) and buying pattern (frequent buying or rare buying), culture or religion etc.
Developing Marketing strategy: At this step, you consider the major 4ps of marketing and develop your strategy around it. The 4ps are Product, Price, Place and Promotion. Product strategy could be with the Size variance, quality, convenience, usage or color. The price strategy could be skimming, premium, cost plus or penetration strategy. Place strategy would be looking at accessibility, ambience, layout etc while Promotion strategies would involves the means of communicating the company message to the targeted customers such as sales promotions, product awareness (social media promotion, discount, exhibition, product launch etc) product testing and personal shopper support.
Planning of Marketing Budget: Finally, all mentioned above cannot be achievable without having or planning a budget for your marketing activities. As a business owner, you have to have a projected return on marketing investment and projected cost and sales. Also, break-even point has to be determined.