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During my almost two-decade career in strategic marketing I’ve seen numerous marketing cases involving different products and services. A common element in all successful marketing stories has been an organized and effective marketing plan, which serves as the backbone for the product or service life cycle.
A marketing plan should be a reference for all individuals involved with the project, including both employees and contractors. It should contain the core elements that keep launch and implementation in synch with the strategy. Obviously, it is not a static document. Revisions should be made at a minimum on a quarterly basis to incorporate key learnings during the process.
Starting with a good research plan
The “OVERVIEW” of your plan should include trends and key changes in the macro environment, from the economic and social aspects affecting your audience to important industry information. Find useful estimates and forecasts that will help you make decisions. Next, compile key information about the audience you want to reach: gender, average age and income, geography, preferences, decision and purchasing process, etc. Your entire team should be familiar with the details of your target clients.
The analysis of the competitive environment, or “SWOT”, should be worked subsequently. At this time, investigate all public information available about your top competitors, and get a clear understanding of their Strengths and Weaknesses. With this information in hand you will be able to compare and elaborate on your Opportunities and Threats. You want this section to be clear and objective, with straight bullet point lists.
Bringing it all together
The next step is your numeric “TARGETS”. Include in this page your target revenue and transaction volume for the year, and broken down by quarter, especially if your product involves seasonal variances. If possible, also break it down by distribution channel such as online, in store, through intermediaries, etc. Make a comparative chart with columns for the previous year and the year in question.
As you work through your six or seven strategies, focus on delivering distinctive value to your customers through your programs. You don’t have to limit the number of programs and tactics under each strategy. Keep them focused and well organized, with implementation facts and time schedules. Bear in mind the resources and marketing funds available throughout the year.
Finish your plan with a detailed “BUDGET” chart, breaking it down by activities and costs. A year-over-year comparison is always helpful to evaluate the results and calculate return on investment.
These are the basics of an effective marketing plan. Make sure you involve your team through the process; it is a very rewarding exercise!
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