Components of a Successful Marketing Plan

Published: 16th November 2006
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A marketing plan is a business tool that is used to communicate how, where, and to whom a business intends to market is product and/or services. In order for a company's marketing strategy to be effective, the master plan must contain several essential components that serve as benchmarking tools and goal-planning tools for the future. The following information will help you to construct these essential components and produce a final document that is accurate, detailed, and motivating.

Part I: What is your organization's purpose and mission?
The first section of the marketing plan should give readers information that allows them to understand why the plan was written. This section of the plan should also include background information about the organization and a copy of its Mission Statement. This information will allow readers outside of the organization to become familiar with the company's operations and mission. In this section, the writer should explain why the plan was written and suggest what should be done with the information contained in the plan. The Mission Statement should explain what type of business the company is involved in, the markets it servers, the benefits offered to clients, the type of products or services offered, and what the company would like to accomplish within its industry. Background information about the organization can include a history of the company and a listing of company resources.

Part II: Analyzing the Situation

The second section of the marketing plan is a situational analysis that analyzes where the company stands at the time of the plan's completion. This analysis is comprised of eight major components. The first is an analysis of current products or services offered by the organization. This involves listing product attributes, pricing, distribution methods, promotional methods, and support services offered to consumers. The second component is a description of the organization's target markets. This section can include descriptions of the demographic profile of each target market, characteristics of target consumers, an evaluation of how customers perceive the products and services, a description of the purchasing process, and size estimates of both the current and target markets. A description of the current distributor network in place is the third component of the situational analysis. This section includes a description of the supply chain, the product or service's role within the distributor network, the purchase process, and the demographics of the distribution network. The fourth component of an effective situational analysis is a competitive analysis of the organization. This involves examining the major competitors serving the same target market. Components of this section can include a discussion of competitive trends in the industry, a discussion of major competitors' strengths and weaknesses, and a description of competitors in terms of products, target markets, pricing, promotion, and distribution. A financial analysis for a product or line of products is the fifth component of the situational analysis. This section should include a current sales analysis, a profitability analysis, and an outline of marketing expenses incurred by the organization. The sixth component of a situational analysis should include a description of the problems and opportunities present in the internal and external environments of the organization. The plan writer must consider social and cultural influences, demographics, economic factors, technological considerations, political influences, and legal/ethical issues. A listing of marketing analysis tools should be the seventh component of the situational analysis. Finally, a summary of the current organizational situation should be presented. This involves conducting a SWOT analysis to determine the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of and to the organization.

Part III: Marketing & Strategy Objectives

This component of the successful marketing plan should provide a clear picture of the direction the product or product line will take. This section should include three major components. The first is an outline of the marketing strategy under which the marketing plan is being developed. This can include market growth, market stability, cost control, and market exit strategies. The second section should outline the organization's marketing objectives and can be organized by target market objectives, promotional objectives, channel objectives, research & development objectives, and other marketing objectives. Finally, this component should include an outline of financial objectives such as customer sales, channel sales, margins, profitability, and ratios.

Part IV: Tactical Marketing Programs

The fourth component of the marketing plan contains important information about the strategies that will be executed in order to achieve the goals and objectives established in section three. Information is presented in six areas: target marketing, product, promotion, pricing, distribution, and other areas. The section on target market issues should include information about the description of the target market, product positioning, and a sales forecast for each product. The product issues section should include a summary of current product decisions, identify any planned changes in marketing strategy, and contain a description of planned changes. The promotion issues component should include a summary of current promotional issues, identify planned changes, and describe any planned changes. The distribution issues component of this section should include a summary of current distribution network decisions, identify planned changes, and describe any planned changes. Pricing issues is the fifth component of the tactical marketing programs section. This should include a summary of current pricing decisions, identify any planned changes, describe planned changes, and outline pricing options. Finally, the sixth optional section can include a listing of customer support services or an outline of current market research effort. These components follow a similar format so that the reader can easily see what has been done and what is planned for the future.

Part V: Budgeting, Performance Analysis, and Implementation

This component of the marketing plan examines three important issues. The presentation of proposed marketing expenses will outline the financial impact that the plan will have on the organization. The presentation of the performance analysis will show the anticipated results of the actions outlined in the plan. Finally, a schedule for implementation will include timelines and a listing of personnel involved in accomplishing the goals and objectives contained in the plan. The budget should outline spending requirements for each decision and include breakdowns by month and year. Expenses can also be shown by individual product, geographic area, or distribution network. The performance analysis section will detail revenue versus expenses for all marketing decisions, a break-even analysis, and a ratio analysis. The implementation schedule will discuss how the components of the marketing plan will be carried out and by whom.

Part VI: Additional Considerations

This plan component will outline the potential issues that may affect the implementation or success of the marketing plan. This can include a discussion of internal factors, external factors, and limitations on research and development.

These six components of a successful marketing plan are time-consuming to compile and may be difficult to put together. However, spending the time and effort to prepare a detailed plan will give organizations an excellent tool for benchmarking and assessing marketing effectiveness.

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