Developing, writing and implementing a successful marketing plan starts with solid industry and market analysis and concludes with an implementable marketing strategy and program. A marketing plan is not developed and implemented independently; rather, it should be developed in close coordination with your company’s products and services and ultimately implemented through a strategic plan.
There is a certain approach and building-block process to developing a marketing plan. The place to start is analyzing your industry: its current state; who the major participants are; changes in the industry; opportunities; economic modeling forecasts; and examining who else may enter the industry. Then move toward determining how distribution works in your industry and how technology affects its distribution systems.
After your analysis on the industry level is complete, it is time to narrow your focus to analyzing and defining your market segments. Some example determinants are demographics, geography, customer needs, buying pattern and psychographics. With these segments defined and analyzed, analyze each market segment and determine how the market needs lead these identified groups to buy your products and services. Focus not on what you have to sell but more importantly, on the buyer needs you satisfy. Determine why customers buy from you.
You can now narrow down your target markets, determining what market groups are more important to your operation, along with, the market niches you can effectively target. It is vital to determine what your target customers’ needs and characteristics are, along with, what makes certain target groups more advantageous to market than others.
The next step in the marketing plan development process is to analyze market trends from a strategic standpoint. Look at market trends as a way to get ahead of the market direction, knowing with a probability of certainty where it is going. You can now realistically project your market growth and specific growth rates. The growth rate projections should identify in detail the relationship between your potential customers, sales, revenues and ultimately, profits.
Explain the nature of your competition, why customers choose one provider over the other, and why customers will buy from your company instead of these competitors. Provide a detailed competitive summary of your products’ and services’ variables, ranking them in comparison to your competition. Example variables include pricing, sales, trends, positioning clarity, quality, value, reputation, packaging, advertising, customer service, target market focus, innovation, brand awareness and so forth. Determine your top five competitive strengths and weaknesses, as well as, identifying your top competitive gap threats. Finally, determine how competitively positioned your company will be in the market.
Two parts remain: your marketing strategy and marketing program. The marketing strategy consists of positioning statements, pricing strategy, promotion strategy and distribution strategy. These are closely linked as your marketing programs will implement the marketing plan’s underlying strategy- the program puts the strategy into action, bringing “life” to your marketing plan.
A great marketing plan development process understands it is a companywide endeavor between product and service development, market analysis, marketing strategy, marketing programs, the marketing plan, the strategic plan and the sales plan. This all adds up to happy customers and financial success.
Consider hiring a marketing pro to help you develop the best marketing strategy and plan for your company and don’t forget the online marketing component! Online marketing can be highly targeted and cost effective per customer acquisition, with high profit margins and tremendous growth possibilities.