Marketing plan plays a key role in business management. The essay would explain and cover what is a marketing plan, its role and nature, structure of marketing plan, the relationship between a marketing plan and a business plan, the uses of marketing plan, elements of marketing plan, the purpose of each element, the links between marketing plan elements and their independence, the misconception between marketing plans and the conclusion.
The role and Nature of Marketing Plan
The role of marketing plan is to clarify the key marketing element in a business and it plans the objectives, directions and activities of the business and employees. Marketing plan broadens the perspective which is outlined in a business plan. The role of marketing plan is to focus on four issues, i.e. promotion, price, product and the place. A marketing plan has its nature. It is a written document that states the key actions to achieve the marketing objectives. The marketing plan covers a period of one to five years. It can be part of the entire business plan. A Marketing plan which has no strategic foundation is not that effective. The importance of this is to specify the plan from the general objectives to single action plan of one marketing program (Fifield, 2007). The formal marketing plan is very critical as it provides an unambiguous reference point for the activities to be performed in the planning period. The benefit of these plans is in the planning activity itself.
This process gives a unique opportunity and focused discussions between the persons involved. The marketing plan and the associated discussions then provides an agreed plan for the subsequent management activities including those not described in the plan itself. A classic marketing plan appears in the form of budgets. Since they are quantified, they are very essential (Ferrell, 2008). Therefore, they represent the projection of actions and the expected results. The main role of marketing budgets is to put together all costs and revenues which were involved in marketing into a single comprehensive document. Marketing plan is used to monitor the performance in practice. A marketing plan should start with a brief summary of the recommendations and the main goals. This summary helps the senior management to get the major thrust. The table of contents then follows and it outlines the plan and the supporting rationale and operational detail follows the executive summary (Luther, 2011).
Discussion of what is a marketing plan? What is the relationship between a marketing plan and a business plan? What are marketing plans used for? A marketing plan can be defined as a business document which is written with the aim of describing the market position of the business and its marketing strategy for a given time in the marketing plan. The marketing plan describes the advertising efforts for the coming years, and it includes a statement of the situation of marketing, the discussions of markets targeted, the position of the company and the description of plans which intend to be used to reach marketing goals (McDonald, 2007).
The relationship between marketing plan and business plans
Business plan are written so as to prove the value and feasibility of new ideas of the business. A business plan is drafted when opening a new business and the plan should be reviewed and adjusted especially when the operations have expanded or diversified. The business objectives and the strategy of value creation are included in the business plan (Jain, 2009). The business plan also provides a wide overview of the business like, operations, information of staff, marketing, location and financial aspects. Sometimes, business plan is used as a financial tool where it provides the lenders with the necessary information if the business is viable, financially stable and able to repay. Business plan does not only help in developing competitive strategies, but also it determines if the business activity matches the forecasted plans (Burrow, 2012).
In marketing plans, it analyzes the potential customers of the products and explains what motivates them to buying. This enables the organization to fine tune their products or services to attract and keep customers. Then marketing plan also includes the nature of the competition, market size, potential price and the potential strategies for reaching the customers. Market plan identifies price points, competition and target markets. It tries to explain how the organization attracts customers through trade show participation, advertisements and new referrals. It also explains how the business will overcome the competitive problems from other businesses (Pride, 2012).
Uses of marketing plans
The market plan can be very important when introducing a new product or service or even a line of new products. These plans should have details that will ensure the product would be successful in the market and to the intended customers. The company should write a market plan for each new services or products since each product needs a different approach to sell it (Jain, 2009). The market plans can also be drafted when a certain company has a plan to seek gestures from new market. For instance, a company in a particular state and planning to move into another state and compete with another market may need ways on how to market their services and products in the new location.
Therefore, the market plan is written before the company is migrated (McDonald, 2007). Market plan is set to help the business set and achieve their goals. This plan includes information of the products offered in the company and how they will help the company achieve its goals. A market plan is also set to direct, establish, and coordinate a company’s sales. First the market plan defines the purpose of the specific plan, which is then followed by specific and clear directions of putting the plans in place (Ferrell, 2008). The other plan tries to explain and coordinate the methods for marketing task.
Structure of Marketing Plan
The structure of business plan can be designed in different ways. The plan can be a few thought scrawled on a bar napkin or it can be a high PowerPoint show. The most commonly used structure is the AOSTC format. This format stands for analysis, objective, tactics, and control. All these sections act differently in an organization (Fifield, 2007). Analysis- this section deals with the situation of the company at the time the plan is drafted. It is made of two subsections which are external audit and internal audit. The internal audit handles and talks more about the situation and what goes on in the company that affects marketing, like sales history, budgets and structure. On the other hand, external audit focuses on the outside environment in response to its effect on the plan. The outside considerations include competition, opportunities industry news and events (Luther, 2001). The other is the strategies and Tactics- it is used to outline the ways of achieving the objectives one by one. The strategies deal with the big picture and tactics handles the details.
For instance, increase internet presence is usually a strategy. Establishing a face book page or a web page presence would be tactics in that strategy (McDonald, 2007). For good strategies and tactic, they take in account both analysis and objectives sections of the plan. Control- this is how you measure progress in the achievement of the objective. This section is controlled by the timed and measurable nature of the set objectives. The control process is made up of key benchmarks, which set sub goals to rate the progress towards the objective. For instance, 12 percent sale increase in six months objective should be analyzed on monthly bases. If the progress states that the sales have increased by 2 percent in a month, which means the company is on the right track for goals accomplishment. Fall in sales means that the strategies and tactics should be reviewed (Ferrell, 2008).
Elements of Marketing Plan
The elements of a marketing plan are a rough guide of documents of plans to be done and why it should be done. For a market plan to be good it should contain the following: Defining what to achieve- goals should be set to provide an overarching statement on what to achieve. Some of the goals are: raising awareness of the school, increasing the products in the business and introducing new products or services in the business. One should also know there objectives. The objectives should be SMART i.e. specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timed (Luther, 2011). Situation analysis- this is a very good idea to analyze the current situation and the outlook in terms ways which will influence the strategies and plan. Then one should know the strategies to use. The strategies usually describe how the objectives are achieved. This plan should contain ways which tries to address elements addressed by the SWOT analysis (McDonald, 2007). Segmentation- at this section, one should understand the segments and love what is been offered and why.
If one doesn’t love it, then they are not ready to build and manage a marketing plan and they should go back and find what to offer and a set of markets. In this section, one documents with much details from segments one is targeting. Who are the groups, their characteristics and on how to identify them (Luther, 2011). Competitive Alternatives- this is a drafted list of the alternative of the products the customers would consider from the ones been offered. This section helps one to articulate what differentiates the products one is offering from the others in the same field. They are usually micro and not detailed features (Jain, 2009). Differentiated points of value- for this section, you should ask yourself the top 3 or 4 differentiators which you are offering and it differs from the other. This should not be about the features or technology. It includes services like delivery options, pricing, ease of use, and time to value among others.
Messaging and positioning is another which involves working on the previous segments. It creates a lot of messages for the sections. In this segment, you should create not more than 3 or 4 messages that cross your main points (Pride, 2012). Marketing goals and measures- this is about the goals one has for the marketing plan. This section is set for marketing goals in a period covered in the marketing plan. The objectives states were one need to be. For an objective to be effective, it must be specific and detailed. Many of the companies use the term SMART to define a well defined objective. This term in objectivity means smart, measurable, achievable, realistic and timed. One should also ask about the metrics they would use which are related with the drafted goals. For, instance one can decide that the increase of the customer by a certain percentage is the main goal. This acquisition can be tied by visiting product signups, blog signups emails, abandon rates and many others (Fifield, 2007).
Tactical plan, owners, budget- this are the plans which are used to implement the strategies. The plans should be detailed sufficiently to allocate, budget, resource, and to monitor progress. They should have timeframes and also allocate responsibilities. In regard to the above goals and measures, this is where you set the marketing plans so that they can drive those results and the cost which are related to those tactics. This tactics are divided into discreet items of work and assigned to an owner. And lastly is the timeline which needs to be broken down into plotted on timeline and work items hence they can be tracked on a regular basis (McDonald, 2007). Links between Marketing Plan Elements Clearly discussion of links and/or independence between marketing plan elements The marketing plans elements can be linked through its objectives and goals. The objective and goals of the marketing plan should be SWOT (Strengths, weakness, opportunities and threats).
Strengths- when listing the marketing plan, you should list the main strengths of that company and products/services. This section should not only include the strong holds of your business or products but also its profit margins, similar strengths and the successful current marketing campaign. These strengths are only related to your business only because they are internal factors (Jain, 2009). Weaknesses- for this section, the weakness of the business and products/services should be listed. The plan includes the areas that you feel need improvement in the business or the challenges which are limiting the expansions of the business. Weakness is also internal factors and addresses your business only (Burrow, 2012). Opportunities- when drafting the business plan, you should list the best opportunities which you believe would change your business or a new business which you believe your business can succeed. One should always know that a weakness can be an opportunity.
If the weakness in a business is fixed, quality is maintained and faster delivery to customers is achieved. The section of opportunities is always external but they rely on the internal strengths (Burrow, 2012). Threats- what is believed to be the threat to business should be listed. Some of them include the government regulations, competitors, and changes in customer attitude towards the products or services and others. Threats are from external but also they rely on internal weakness or external factors which limit your resource or strengths (Luther, 2011). Assumptions Discussion of common misconceptions relating to a marketing plan Most of the companies have misconceptions about marketing which hinder them from promoting their products and services incase of competitive market. Some of the misconceptions are as follows. “The company is too small and does not need a marking plan”- marketing plan is always the blueprint on how to market your business. Its main purpose is to outline your messages, target audience, tactics, channels, budgets and offers. Without this plan, one can confuse prospects with wasting money.
Every business even the small ones need a plan so as to run effectively (Ferrell, 2008). “We know what the customers want”-your currents customers are the best prospects and it’s very important to understand customers. What they think, why they like buying from you etc. Many marketers usually think that they know what the customer think but they might go wrong (McDonald, 2007). “We need to market only so that we can prospects, but not the customers”- as a marketer you should not assume a customer. Every customer needs to be reinforced regularly so as to continue buying from you and not the competitor. As you promote to prospects, remember to promote to customers (Pride, 2012).
“Though we can’t afford, we would like to market”- many marketers make wrong assumptions about the cost of marketing especially advertising in the media. One should never rule out a certain channel because they think it’s expensive. You may find that channel you ignored you could have accessed affordably (Burrow, 2012). “We don’t have to be on the social medial”- whatever you sell, you can attract your customers. If you can’t market your products, your competitors are actively been engaged in the media (Jain, 2009).
Marketing plan plays a key role in business management. It is the core blueprint which states the company’s overall marketing efforts. Marketing plans usually draw inputs from the functions are team initiated. Marketing planning is usually a continuous process which responds to changing market conditions. Marketing plans analyzes the potential customers and products and explains what motivates them for buying. Then marketing plan also includes the nature of the competition, market size, potential price and the potential strategies for reaching the customers. This enables the organization to fine tune their products or services to attract and keep customers. Market plan identifies price points, competition and target markets. It tries to explain how the organization attracts customers through trade show participation, advertisements and new referrals. It also explains how the business will overcome the competitive problems from other businesses.
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