Why Do I Need a Marketing Plan?

First, you will need to have a strong desire to be successful because all successful companies have a well planned and executed marketing plan. Many components comprise their marketing plans and they may vary depending upon whether you are a B2B company, B2C company, a manufacturer, a retailer, a service company, a reseller, a non- profit or other specialty business.

Marketing Research will be the first component for your marketing plan. You may be doing this in house or you may elect to hire a top marketing agency, a marketing consultant, or maybe a specific marketing research firm. You need to obtain and capture all data about your business along with your products and services to help you properly facilitate any potential marketing problems. You may also be able to get some marketing data from an industry trade association or from other businesses within your specific industry.

Most of your marketing research will fit into 5 or 6 categories: Surveys, Focus Groups, Interviews, Observations, Secondary Research, or Experiments/Field Trials. We will not go into specifics for each research category on this particular blog.

Regardless of the marketing research methods that are used, you need to uncover who your customers are or will be, you need to uncover what the demand is for your products or services, you need to know every competitor in the marketplace, and you need to know the market share for each company in your industry categories.

Once you have completed your marketing research, you will then be ready to start developing your marketing plan. We will discuss marketing plan components that will fall more general in scope as opposed to focusing on a specific niche category for a business.

  1. You will need an Executive Summary to give a brief synopsis to summarize your marketing plan contents.
  2. You will need to define your goals and objectives. We always encourage companies to make their goals S.M.A.R.T. which means Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time Sensitive with dates attached. Most goals are calculated on an annual basis. However, the more ambitious owners or executives will look ahead at 3, 5, and 10 year goals as well. And if you are in Japan, you will be setting 100 year goals.
  3. You will need to develop or define important information about your company. In your business plan, you should have developed a Mission Statement, a Vision Statement, and a Culture Statement. If you did not develop these three items, you must create them immediately before continuing onward. It is vitally important that everyone knows about and buys in to these three company statements with all employee staff so that every person inside the business will communicate these items correctly to all external people outside of the business. You want their belief and confidence as high as the owners or top executives.
  4. You need to know everything obtainable about your customers. This list will get you started. You will need their age, sex, marital status, income levels, education levels, geographic locations, where they shop, if they go to church, if they have kids, ages of children, political affiliation, what they like about your company, what they don’t like, why they shop with you, what they value about your products/services, what they like the most/least about products/services, and whether prospects are unaware of your brand or products/services. Customers want you to know certain things about them and if you do, they will remain loyal to you as you take time to know them.
  5. You must know your competition in and out. Keep your friends close, but keep your competitors closer. You need to know all the things that you learned about your customers except fill in the blank for each competitor on all of those above items. Learn how you are the same/ different. Learn the similarities/differences about each product and service you offer. Learn how they sell or promote their products /services.
  6. You need to define your location with a description of all advantages and disadvantages. I would include the operating hours and scheduling in this section.
  7. You must develop a unique selling point for your business. You will need to provide details about every product/service that you provide and give their features/benefits/values.
  8. You need to itemize your budget with breakdowns for advertising and promotions. Include any design, development for needed materials to facilitate the marketing. List the media outlets that will be used to execute your marketing plan and break out the online, social, e-mail marketing, e-brochures/e-catalogs, TV, print, radio, PR, tradeshows, sponsorships, philanthropic partnerships, direct-mail, telemarketing, and other outlets. I would also identify which components that will be completed in house and whether you will have an outside agency to help with your media buying and planning.
  9. You will need to develop your pricing strategies for all of your products and services. Do you want to be higher or lower versus competitors? Do you plan to include labor/overhead/materials in costs? Be sure to list your pricing strategy for each product or service

A comprehensive marketing strategy will ensure your success because it will tell you how to obtain and keep customers, how to compete in your marketplace, and what resources you will use to achieve your goals and objectives.