Marketing plans are an essential part of starting a business or starting a nonprofit and creating a business plan as it can almost single-handedly determine the success of your business. Despite the ingenuity or need for your product, you may never experience a single sale if you don’t discover the proper way to get it in front of the eyes of consumers: that’s where marketing comes in.
Below is an outline for what your marketing plan should consist of. It provides a list of the key elements to include, as well as a description of each.
9 Key Elements of a Marketing Plan
1. Executive Summary
2. Current Situation Analysis
3. SWOT Analysis
4. Marketing Goals and Objectives
5. Marketing Strategy
6. Financial Analysis
7. Implementation Plan
8. Evaluation and Control
This section serves as an overview of your marketing plan. Think of it as a snapshot of your plan where you briefly answer all the marketing questions a potential investor may ask. Your executive summary must introduce the reader to your product, your company’s goals and objectives, the audience you are trying to reach, action plan, a summary of your marketing budget and the expected outcome and ROI.
Keep in mind that this is an overarching summary of your plan, so don’t get into the specifics, but highlight its key components of it. Write this portion of the marketing plan at the end and keep it as short as one and a half pages in length.
Current Situation Analysis
The current situation analysis is a look into the current state of the business, its customers, and the market as a whole. This analysis is important as it will help you determine if your business has a chance at succeeding given the current environment.
This portion can be divided into three sections:
- Internal environment
- customer environment
- external environment.
The internal environment covers the current state of your business or company. Provide information on your marketing goals and objectives, current marketing strategy, organizational resources, and cultural/structural issues.
The customer environment segment refers to the characteristics of the company’s target market and customer base. It should answer the classic “Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How” of customers and their decisions.
The external environment section covers all external factors influencing the current state of the market. Topics like competition, economic growth, political and social trends, should all be included to capture how the market looks and how it may look in the future.
SWOT is an acronym for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. This is a quick way to examine internal aspects that you face as a company such as your strengths and weaknesses, and the external factors to account like opportunities and threats.
Take your analysis to the next level by including ways in which you can use your strengths to take advantage of the opportunities, creating a competitive advantage – a condition that enables a business to create goods better than its competition, whether it be at a lower cost, higher quality, or other beneficial factors.
Marketing Goals and Objectives
This section outlines your goals or objectives of your proposed marketing plan. Briefly describe your product or service followed by your goals. Present these in a SMART format – an acronym that stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. Each goal or objective must contain a specific and measurable outcome, a time frame for completion, and identify the entity responsible for achieving it.
This describes the game plan for your company to bring awareness of the product to the audience and every step you will take to turn them into consumers. There are many marketing strategies you can focus one such as paid advertisement, digital marketing, cause marketing and more. Choose one and then focus on the four key components of the marketing strategy:
The 4 P’s of marketing
● Product: Includes aspects of your brand, your packaging, presentation of
services. Ask, what problem do you solve with your product/service?
● Place: Ask yourself how can potential customers find your
product/service? What means of distribution will you use?
● Price: Describe the product pricing you will use, if you will sell by units,
wholesale, subscription, offer discounts or deals.
● Promotion: What kind of advertising you will use? How will you raise
Include in your plan a description for each P and how your chosen strategy will help you target your desired audience. Include a 5th P, for positioning, which allows you to elaborate on how you want the customer to perceive your business in comparison to any competitors.
At the end of the section, outline alternative strategies that you may consider in the future.
Use this section to get into the budget you will allocate to your marketing needs followed by the financial projections after implementing the proposed marketing strategy. Include the immediate effects, expected long-term impacts, and any special actions needed to achieve these projections.
The implementation plan is split into two sections:
- Tactical marketing activities.
The structural portion discusses the overall plan for the marketing strategy implementation. Outline any changes needed in the organization’s structure and any necessary internal marketing activities such as: employee training, overcoming resistance to change, internal communication, etc.
The tactical marketing activities portion specifically details the steps of executing the marketing strategy. It outlines all information in terms of who is responsible for tasks, the required budget for each activity (price, product, promotion, place, etc.), and a timeline of when these strategies should be implemented
Evaluation and Control
Discuss the formal controls such as financial resources, research and development, management training, evaluation systems, and any other physical adjustments to be made before implementation.
Next, discuss the informal controls such as employee satisfaction, commitment, organizational values, workgroup relationships, and other non-physical adjustments that will best set up the business for success.
Following the controls, discuss marketing audits. These encompass the process in which marketing activities will be monitored. Name the specific profit- and time- based measures that will be used to monitor marketing activities in terms of how they will be measured. Then, specify what corrective actions could be taken to improve performance if the marketing strategy does not meet expectations.
Lastly, include a schedule and timeline for how the activities will be implemented. This will provide a nice guideline for the future.
As with most conclusions in writing, this should sum up your marketing plan as a whole. Explain how the plan supports the key objectives and goals previously established.
If a person were to only read your conclusion and executive summary, they should have a general idea of your overall suggestions and recommendations.