Business Planning Documents – How to Create a Great Marketing Plan

A marketing plan is essential to the overall development of any company. Before beginning, make sure the project is well-researched. It is easy to figure out how to put together a business plan or a sales plan simply from a basic Google search, but a marketing plan requires a little more investigation. A trip to the local book store or even a near by university research library can be very advantageous in this task. Take care to ensure you understand the components of how each section is put together and get a full understanding of terms and where to find supporting data. The plan will rest on how realistic the data is inside of it and the content that is presented.

The basic components of a marketing plan are as follows:

Contents
Having a simple table of contents will be beneficial to both the composer of the document as well as the audience. It serves as a basic guide for how detailed the contents of the document are and where to quickly find desired information.

Lists of Tables
While it is not mandatory, providing a list of tables to supplement the table of contents adds to the the credibility of the author as well as the professional presenting the plan. It is also a great way to quickly guide readers to the plan’s empirical data.

Executive Summary
This section should be written last. It is best put in place when all of the research and planning is complete to provide insight on what is housed in the plan. Although it may be tempting to complete this section before the others, keep in mind that any research and planning may lead to conclusions not originally considered or expected. Also, this section improves on communication levels and encourages involvement from staff members by crystallizing the key goals and plan details for the team to understand what role marketing plays in the company as a whole.

Company Strategy
Providing a link to overall strategy and illustrating marketing’s contribution to achieving the company’s goals is what this segment of planning allows for. It is a substantial section that looks at the overall company mission.

External & Internal Analysis
This section of the plan allows for an unbiased evaluation of the company’s competitive standing. Looking to factors both inside the company walls as well as factors that come from the outside world, this section assists the writer in understanding how realistic the plan is overall.

Marketing Objectives
In addition to outlining the goal that is trying to be accomplished, this portion of the marketing plan assists in defining financial targets and translating those into specific measurable marketing objectives such as, but not limited to market share, sales volume and customer retention. Such items can easily be translated into a CRM package if the plan is feasible.

Marketing Strategy
The actual marketing campaigns and programs are discussed in this section by way of the promotional mix: what will be sold, where it will be sold, what makes it a great item to sell and at what price it will be sold. While this task may seem like the most simple of the entire plan, it truly is the most difficult and requires the most research. In order to develop an effective strategy, the marketer must be fully aware of what competitor’s marketing strategies are as well as the marketing trends for the specific industry; address those two items and still somehow find a way to differentiate the company’s product. Be certain to give this section of the plan adequate time, thought, investigation and discussion.

Implementation
Break the specific programs down into lists of activities with time scales and assign responsibility to each task. A contingency (e.g. funds or time) may be set to cover any unforeseen problems. The best way to do this will be through a project management system or by requesting the support of a Project Manager.

Control & Forecasting
In this section, discuss how the system will work and how success of the marketing plan will be tracked. Also, based on the research that has been previously collected, make educated assumptions regarding how much the program will cost and how much revenue it will generate.

Appendix
Use this section to place any charts, tables, graphs and the like that may distract the reader from the content of the plan, but still supports the overall thesis of the work.

Here is a sample of how the table contents should turn out:

I. Content

II. List of Tables

III. Executive Summary

IV. Company Strategy
Goals & Objectives
Summary Overall Position & Company Strategy

V. External & Internal Analysis
Internal
SWOT Analysis
External
Market Overview
Competitor Analysis
Future Trends

VI. Marketing Objectives
Financial Objectives
Marketing Objectives

VII. Marketing Strategy
Market Segmentation
Competitive Advantage
Segmentation Strategy
Promotional Mix
Product
Price
Place
Promotion

VIII. Implementation
Schedule of Key Tasks
Resource Allocation
Budgets
Contingency

IX. Control & Forecasting
Key Assumptions
Critical Success Factors
Established Benchmarks
Measurement Tools
Financial Forecasts
Costs
Revenue

X. Appendix

Booklet A: Sales Plan

Once the writing is complete, it is important to ensure that the marketing plan is in a presentable format. Consulting a Technical Writer or Graphic Designer to assist you in putting the document in a well-presented template will add to the credibility of the work as well as the audience’s receptiveness. Take the time to select a delivery method that not only looks great but suits the audience as well. Some options to choose from are: bound manual, web page, PDF or a flash presentation on a CD.

Once the content is complete and the company has selected how the material will be presented, set it aside for a few days or even weeks and come back to it with fresh eyes to check for grammatical or formatting errors. When it is done to full satisfaction, it is then time to distribute the marketing plan as desired and rest assured that the comprehensive marketing plan that will support the company endeavor!