You don't hear much about the good old fashioned marketing plan lately. By lately, I mean in the last 10 years. Instead, we hear about digital marketing, content marketing, social media and inbound marketing to name a few. Fundamentals like the 4 P's, value proposition and positioning statement are often perceived as quaint in modern marketing circles. Some would even say these concepts are obsolete.
Let's start with the marketing plan. Creating a proper marketing plan for your business creates a number of positive benefits. A thorough marketing plan helps you define why your business is unique and forces you to create aligned messaging. It helps you to be more efficient and focused by defining a target audience and their problems and needs. The marketing plan is a strategic agreement between the different business components that ensures everyone is aligned and pulling in the same direction.
If you don't have a marketing plan, get started today! Here is a list of topics that should be included in your formal marketing plan and some examples of the specifics:
- Executive Summary - this is at the front, but usually written last.
- Current Situation Analysis - covers areas like resources, offering, key success factors, economic environment, socio-cultural, technology trends, etc. Should include macro and micro analysis.
- Market Summary - size, growth trend, regional differences, market needs, market trends, market position of the firm
- S.W.O.T. - remember that 'strengths' & 'weaknesses' are internal to the firm; 'opportunities' & 'threats' are external and reflect the target market.
- Competitive Analysis - market share, market positions of competitors, strengths and weaknesses of competitors; don't forget your customer's choice to 'do nothing' as a competitor.
- Critical Issues - these are make-or-break issues like the need for a marketing automation platform or content development strategy.
- Marketing Strategy - how will the marketing strategy support the business strategy and/or corporate strategy? objectives, target market definition, positioning, value proposition? Will you use inbound, outbound, content, or combination?
- The Offering - describe the product or service.
- Price - describe the pricing strategy.
- Promotion - budget, tactics, messaging, regional differences
- Sales Channel - how will you move your product or service to the market so it can be purchased; direct, distribution, re-sellers, agents, licensing, other?
- Financial - describe the important financial data, net sales growth, EBIT, targets, regional breakdown if applicable.
- Controls & Measurement - how will you measure the marketing ROI and marketing spend, KPIs, planning milestones
This is not the only way to construct a formal Marketing Plan, however, it is a fairly comprehensive outline of a standard plan. There are many, many textbooks, references and templates available and most of them are pretty good. This Amazon page shows a few good references to get you started just in case you don't already have a marketing plan in place. Today is a great day to get started on a plan or to update your existing plan. These documents are not meant to be written and then ignored. A good marketing plan is a dynamic document meant to be referred to and updated as your business environment lives and develops.
If you are the only manufacturer in your competitive space to take the time and devote the resources to create a proper marketing plan, this step alone will give you a significantly better business leading to a sustainable competitive advantage.