The Elements of an Effective Marketing Plan

Writing a Marketing Plan

Whether your business is a start-up or existing, marketing plans are a crucial component to sustained financial success. Careful planning will ensure successful implementation, leading to intended financial results for your organization. This planning begins with the development of a marketing plan.

Before you begin, it is important to establish a completion date for the initial draft, to identify important parties that will contribute ideas for the plan as well as the responsibilities of individuals to implement the plan and the annual marketing budget. Once you have set the stage for writing and completing your plan, you can begin its creation.

Follow these 7 steps when writing a marketing plan:

1. Setting the Objectives– What are your organization’s marketing objectives? What is required to achieve your annual revenue goals? How many customers do you need to acquire? How much revenue should be generated from existing customers? For existing businesses, a beneficial exercise to complete is a S.W.O.T. analysis. Identify your organization’s current strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. This analysis will enable you to develop key insights into the drivers of your business and what changes need to occur to reach your annual targets.

2. Research-Conducting market research and market analysis can allow your business to understand where your customers are currently coming from. This information can allow you to set focus areas for new client acquisition as well as up-selling opportunities for your current customer base.

3. Define Strategies-How will your business compete against your competition? What are your target markets? What price offerings will give your business the greatest competitive edge?

4. Develop a promotion plan- Outline which marketing communication tactics are needed to achieve your strategies such as advertising, PR, search engine marketing, events, etc. Choose a few tactics under each strategy to implement.

5. Build Measurements for Each Tactic-Outline how you plan to measure the results achieved for each tactic. How will you track and measure ongoing results? What metrics are crucial for your results to be obtained? I.e. # clients acquired, total sales volume, product mix.

6. Develop a Strategic Plan- Outline step by step the concepts and ideas that are needed to achieve results. Set weekly, monthly and quarterly goals, identifying the individuals responsible for each task, as well as which metrics will be achieved and tracked.

7. Implement, Track and Modify the Plan- Now is the most important piece of the marketing plan- implementation. As you implement your marketing plan, be sure to track all results. If you have a team working on the marketing plan, be sure to update them to results experienced by the entire team. As things require attention or modification, be sure to change the plan accordingly.

By following the steps outlined above, you will have created a well thought through marketing plan and have the tracking mechanisms needed to analyze / modify the plan as needs / results change over time.