By Kristen Thomas,2014-05-10 02:18
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    How to Write a Marketing Plan

    The Marketing Plan is a highly detailed, heavily researched and, hopefully, well written report that many inside and possibly outside the organization will evaluate. It is an essential document for both large corporate marketing departments and for startup companies. Essentially the Marketing Plan:

    forces the marketing personnel to look internally in order to fully

    understand the results of past marketing decisions.

    forces the marketing personnel to look externally in order to fully

    understand the market in which they operate.

    sets future goals and provides direction for future marketing efforts that

    everyone within the organization should understand and support.

    is a key component in obtaining funding to pursue new initiatives.The Marketing Plan is generally undertaken for one of the following reasons:

    1.Needed as part of the yearly planning process within the marketing

    functional area.

    2.Needed for a specialized strategy to introduce something new, such as

    new product planning, entering new markets, or trying a new strategy

    to fix an existing problem.

    3.Is a component within an overall business plan, such as a new

    business proposal to the financial community.

    There are many ways to develop and format a marketing plan. The approach taken here is to present a 6-Part plan that includes:

    1.Purpose and Mission

    2.Situational Analysis

    3.Marketing Strategy and Objectives

    4.Tactical Programs

    5.Budgets, Performance Analysis and Implementation

    6.Additional Consideration

    This plan is aimed at individual products and product lines, however, it can be adapted fairly easily for use in planning one or more strategic business units (SBU). The page length suggested for each section represents a single-spaced typed format for a plan focused on a single product. Obviously for multi-product plans lengths will be somewhat longer.

    It is assumed that anyone developing a Marketing Plan possesses a working understanding of marketing principles. If you do not, it is suggested you spend considerable time learning about basic marketing through the previous sections of the Principles of Marketing Tutorials.

    Note, throughout the plan the word "product" is used. However, the information presented in the Marketing Plan tutorials applies to both products and services.

    Part 1: Introduction

    Part 1 of the plan is designed to provide the reader with the necessary information to fully understand the purpose of the marketing plan. This part also includes organizational background information, which may be

    particularly important if the audience for the plan is not familiar with the company, such as potential financial backers.

    This part of the plan contains two key components:

    1.Purpose of the Marketing Plan

    2.Organization Mission Statement

    Some of the information, in particular the mission statement, may require the input of upper-management. The information in this part will prove useful later in the plan as a point of reference for material that will be introduced (e.g., may help explain pricing decisions). In cases in which there are separately operated divisions or SBU, there may also be mission statements for each. Purpose of the Marketing Plan

    The main body of the Marketing Plan often starts with the planner providing the rationale for the plan. The tasks associated with this section are to (Length: 1 paragraph):

    Offer brief explanation for why this plan was produced

    oe.g., introduce new product, enter new markets, continue growth

    of existing product, yearly review and planning document, etc.

    Suggest what may be done with the information contained in the plan

    oe.g., set targets to be achieved in the next year, represents a

    departmental report to be included in larger business or strategic

    plan, etc.

    Organization Mission Statement

    For larger firms this may already exist in a public way (e.g., found in annual report, found on corporate website) but for many others this may need to be formulated.

    The organization mission statement consists of a short, finely-honed paragraph that considers the following issues (Length: 1 paragraph):

    Identifies a stable (i.e., not dramatically changing every year), long-run

    vision of the organization that can answer such questions as:

    oWhy is the company in business?

    oWhat markets do we serve and why do we serve these


    oIn general terms, what are the main benefits we offer our


    ;e.g., a low price software provider may state they offer

    “practical and highly affordable business solutions”

    oWhat does this company want to be known for?

    oWhat is the company out to prove to the industry, customers,

    partners, employees, etc.?

    oWhat is the general corporate philosophy for doing business?

    oWhat products/services does the company offer?

    In developing the vision presented in the mission statement consider:

    oCompany History

    ;How company started and major events of the company,

    products, markets served, etc.

    oResources and Competencies

    ;Consider what the company currently possesses by

    answering the following:

    ;What are we good at?

    ;What is special about us compared to current and

    future competitors (in general terms do not need to

    mention names)?

    ;What do we do that gives us a competitive


    ;Consider the questions above in terms of:

    ;people, products, financial position, technical and

    research capabilities, partnership/supply chain

    relations, others


    ;Consider the conditions in which company operates


    ;physical (e.g., facilities), equipment, political

    regulatory, competitive, economic, technological,


    Part 2: Situational Analysis

    The situational analysis is designed to take a snapshot of where things stand at the time the plan is presented. It covers much of the same ground covered in the Preparing a Market Study tutorial, so those preparing a Marketing Plan should check this out as well.

    This part of the Marketing Plan is extremely important and quite time consuming. For many, finding the metric needed in this section may be difficult, especially for those entering new markets. Anyone in need of numbers should look the Data Collection: Low-Cost Secondary Research

    tutorial, which may offer ideas for inexpensively locating the numbers Marketing Plan writers may need. For those who can afford to spend to locate marketing metrics, the Data Collection: High-Cost Secondary Research

    tutorial will also be of value.

    The situational analysis covers the following key areas:

    Current Products

    Current Target Market

    Current Distributor Network

    Current Competitors

    Financial Analysis

    External Forces

    Analysis: Current Product(s)

    May be able to skip this section if plan is for a new product and no related products exist.

    Provide detailed analysis of the company’s product(s). (Length: 1-2 pages).

    Describe the company’s current product(s) offerings in terms of:

    oProduct Attributes

    ;Describe the main product features, major benefits

    received by those using the product, current branding

    strategies, etc.


    ;Describe pricing used at all distribution levels such as

    pricing to final users and to distributors, incentives

    offered, discounts, etc.


    ;Describe how the product is made accessible to final

    users including channels used, major benefits received

    by distributors, how product is shipped, process for

    handling orders, etc.


    ;Describe promotional programs and strategies in terms of

    advertising, sales promotion, personal selling and public

    relations, how product is currently positioned in the

    market, etc.

    oServices Offered

    ;Describe support services provided to final users and

    distributors before, during and after the sale

    Analysis: Current Target Market(s)

    Examine in detail the company’s current target market(s). Obviously to do this

    section correctly takes a great deal of customer-focused research. (Length: 2-

    3 pages).

    Describe the target market approach:

    oWhat general strategy is used to reach targeted customers?

    Generally approaches include:

    ;mass market – aim to sell to a large broad market

    ;segmentation approach – aim to selectively target one

    (niche) or more markets

    Describe demographic/psychographic profile of the market: oProfile criteria may include:

    ;gender, income, age, occupation, education, family life

    cycle, geographic region, lifestyle, attitudes, purchasing

    characteristics, etc.

    Describe the following characteristics of targeted customers: oNeeds/benefits sought by market

    oProduct usage

    ;Consider answers to these questions related to

    customers using the product such as:

    ;who is using the product?

    ;why do they use the product?

    ;when do they use the product?

    ;how is the product used?

    oProduct positioning

    ;Evaluate how customers perceive the product in relation

    to competitor’s products or to other solutions they use to

    solve their problems


    ;What is the target market’s attitude regarding the

    company’s product?

    ;What is the target market’s attitude regarding the general

    product category?

    ;i.e., exam the general attitude regarding how

    products from all companies serve the target

    market’s needs

    Describe the purchasing process:

    oHow does the target market make their purchase?

    ;What does the decision-making process involve?

    ;What sources of information are sought?

    ;What is a timeline for a purchase (e.g., impulse vs.

    extended decision-making)?

    oWho makes the purchase?

    ;Does user purchase or is other party responsible (e.g.,

    parent purchasing for children)?

    oWho or what may influence the purchase?

    Provide market size estimates:

    oKeep in mind these are estimates for the market not for a

    specific product

    ;Provide size estimates for the potential market

    ;What is the largest possible market if all buy?

    ;Provide estimates of size for the current target market

    ;What percent of the potential market actually


    ;Provide estimates of future growth rates

    ;At least through the timeframe for the plan (e.g., 1

    year) but most likely longer (e.g., 3-5 year


    Analysis: Current Distributor Network(s)

    This may not apply if company does not use distributors.Evaluate how the

    company’s product(s) is distributed. Clearly marketing plans for a service

    company may not have much detail here but this section will most likely have

    some relevance even for service firms (e.g., package delivery services, online

    legal service, etc,). (Length: 2 pages).

    Describe the channels/supply chain employed to sell and deliver the

    product: (Note: internal sales force discussion should appear under

    company promotion in Current Product Analysis above.)

    oOptions may include:

    ;direct to customer

    ;indirect via a distributor

    ;combination of both

    What are the needs/benefits sought by distributors?

    Describe the product’s role within the distributor network:

    oHow is this product used within the distributor’s business?

    oHow important is product within the distributor’s strategy?

    oHow is product positioned?

    ;e.g., how does distributor view product in relation to


    oAttitudes and perceptions about company's product(s)

    Purchase process

    oHow does distributor network make their purchase?

    oWho or what influence distributor’s purchases?


    oWho makes up the distributor network?



    ;geographic region

    ;markets served

    Analysis: Current Competitor(s)

    Examine the main competitors serving the same target market. For much more detail on analyzing competitors see the Preparing a Market Study

    tutorial. This section may also benefit from the use of comparison tables. (Length: 3-4 pages).

    Describe direct competitors in terms of:

    oTarget markets served

    oProduct attributes



    oDistribution including the distributor network

    oServices offered

    Discuss competitor’s strengths and weaknesses:

    oMay need to consider much more than just marketing issues

    such as:

    ;financial standing

    ;target market perception

    ;R & D capabilities

    Discuss competitive trends:

    oMay need to include discussion of future competitive threats Analysis: Current Financial Condition

    Much of this information can be handled within a graphical format, such as tables and graphs, though a paragraph explanation of each is generally required. Make sure to include total dollar (or other currency) amounts as well as percentage market share. For more detailed marketing plans or for plans for seasonal products, providing monthly or even weekly sales figures may be required. Provide a spreadsheet-style layout showing detailed breakdown of marketing revenues and expenses. (Length: 2-4 pages).

    Current Sales Analysis

    oOverall industry sales and market share (for at least the last


    ;total market sales

    ;total for company’s product(s)

    ;total for competition

    oBy segments/product categories

    ;total for segments/product categories

    ;total for company’s product(s)

    ;total for competition

    oBy Channels of Distribution

    ;total for each channel

    ;total for company’s product(s) by channel

    ;total for competition by channel

    oBy Geographic Region

    ;total for each region

    ;total for company’s product(s) by region

    ;total for competition by region

    Profitability Analysis


    ;For highly detailed plans break out into categories as

    shown above in the Current Sales Analysis section. oMarketing Expenses


    ;Direct – those expenses that can be tied to the


    ;Indirect or Proportional – generally administrative

    or broad marketing expenses that may be

    assigned to a product based on some established

    criteria (e.g., a product’s percentage of overall

    company sales) Note: not all companies follow this


    ;For highly detailed plans break out into categories as

    shown above in the Current Sales Analysis section.

    Analysis: External Forces

    Describe trends, events, conditions that are external (usually uncontrolled by

    the company) that may impact the company’s product(s) or the market.

    (Length: 1-2 pages)

    Areas of consideration:

    osocial and cultural





    olegal, regulatory, ethical

Analysis: Summary

    In an effort to provide an easy to visualize summary of the product(s) consider using one or more of the following commonly used product/market analysis tools. (Length: 1 page)

     Planning With the Product Life Cycle

     Boston Consulting Group Growth/Share Matrix

     General Electric Market Attractiveness Matrix

    Finally, summarize all information in the Situational Analysis. (Length: 1 page)

    Provide a SWOT analysis for the company’s product(s) that includes:





    Part 3: Marketing Strategy and Objectives

    Those reading a marketing plan need a clear picture of the direction the product will take. Also, they want to see that some accountability has been built into the plan so that the plan is not just fluff but results in measurable actions. The best way to provide this information is through a section devoted to identifying the key strategies and objectives for the product(s). This section consists of three major issues:

    Marketing Strategy

    Financial Objectives

    Marketing Objectives

    Identify Marketing Strategy

    In this section identify the general marketing strategy under which this plan is being developed. It is very possible that a product will follow more than one strategy (e.g., sell more of same product to current customers but also find new customers in new markets). Plan developers may get some guidance and also rationale for strategy by examining results from the Situational Analysis. In particular, planners may look to strategies that are suggested within the scope of Product/Market Analysis Tools. Additionally, planners should refer to the Mission Statement in Step 1 to insure strategies are in line with how the company views itself. (Page length: less than 1 page)Strategies generally fall under one of the following (or in some cases more than one) ideas:

    Market growth (see ansoff matrix)

    oHigher market penetration

    ;Sell more to same market (i.e., get current customers to

    buy more or buy more frequently)

    ;If overall market is growing this may not

    necessarily mean a growth in overall market share

    ;If overall market is not growing this means a

    growth in overall market share

    oFind new markets

    ;Sell to markets or market segments not previously


    oDevelop new products for existing customers

    oDevelop new products for new customers

    Market stability

    oTechniques to keep the status quo

    ;Primarily used in times of economic decline or market


    ;Generally requires the taking of market share from others

    in the industry

    Cost control

    oTechniques to contain costs or operate more effectively

    ;Can work in combination with market growth or market


    Market exit

    oTechniques to depart a market

    Determine Financial Objectives

    For many organizations the ultimate goal of the marketing plan is the effect it will have on the bottom line. Measures reflect income statement items and common ratios. (Page length: less than 1 page)

    Customer sales

    oby volume and growth percentage

    oby segments

    Channel sales

    oby volume and growth percentage

    oby channel




    ouse common financial ratios and other metrics associated with

    marketing in the industry

    Determine Marketing Objectives

    Marketing success can be measured on several non-financial market metrics. These measure are important since these often shed light on underlying conditions and circumstances facing the company that are not easily seen within financial measures. For instance, a company may report strong sales for a product but market share information may suggest the product is losing ground to competitors. The marketing objectives section will indicate targets to be achieved across several marketing decision areas. To add additional strength to this section include marketing metrics where possible. (Page length: less than 1 page)

    Target market objectives

    omarket share


    ;by segments

    ;by channel



    ;number/percentage new

    ;number/percentage retained


    ;rate of purchases

    ;size/volume of purchases

    Promotional objectives

    olevel of brand/company awareness

    otraffic building

    ;(e.g., store traffic, website traffic)

    oproduct trials

    ;(e.g. sales promotions, product demonstrations)

    osales force

    ;(e.g. cycle time, cost per call, closing rate, customer

    visits, etc.)

    Channel objectives



    ;number/percentage new

    ;number/percentage retained

    oorder processing and delivery

    ;on-time rate

    ;shrinkage rate

    ;correct order rate

    Market research objectives

    ostudies initiated

    ostudies completed

    R&D objectives

    oproduct development

    Other objectives

    opartnerships developed

    Part 4: Tactical Marketing Programs

    This is the heart of the marketing plan. It contains descriptions of detailed

    tactics to be carried out to achieve the objectives and goals established in

    Step 3. It is typically the longest section of the plan, often representing 50% or

    more of total page count.

    In this section details and timetables are presented for six key decision areas:

    Target Markets





    Other Areas

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