Key Elements of a Successful Marketing Plan

                                                                                   Article published by Home Business Magazine   

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.

After completing the research you are ready to develop the “KEY OBJECTIVES”.  Use this opportunity to think through the
macro course of actions that will lead your company to reach your numeric targets.  Maybe you want to nurture differentiation
through superior services, increase online sales in the channel mix, or enlarge your geographic coverage.  List a minimum of three
but no more than six or seven key objectives for the year, which should be aggressive but achievable.

The “STRATEGIES AND ACTIVITIES IN SUPPORT” are the means to realize your objectives.  Start with the “communications
message”, the sentiment you want associated with your brand.  This should be reflected in all points of contact with customers
such as brochures, advertising, website, call center, locations, press releases, etc.  Brainstorm with your team and consolidate it in
a single powerful message, related to your objectives.

Then, develop the “key strategies”, supported by tactics and programs to execute them. In essence, strategy is how resources
are distributed and utilized to achieve your key objectives. Tactics and programs are important to make the strategies action-

Envision it as an umbrella:
Main Objectives:
    -Key Message related to the Objectives
    -Key Strategy 1 to achieve the Objectives:
            Tactics and Programs to execute Key Strategy 1
    -Key Strategy 2 to achieve the Objectives:
            Tactics and Programs to execute Key Strategy 2

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.

As the competitive environment evolves, so should your set of strategies.  Revisions are necessary periodically.  In addition to the
numeric targets, it is important to establish parameters to measure the effectiveness of your tactics and programs.  Determine
what to evaluate, and establish standards of performance.  That will allow you to take corrective action, adjusting your strategies
along the year.

These are the basics of an effective marketing plan.  Make sure you involve your team through the process; it is a very rewarding

© Lima Lerch Consulting 2006-2007. All Rights Reserved.


Renata L.Lerch, founder and managing director of Lima Lerch Consulting, has worked with strategic marketing for over 16
years. Before starting Lima Lerch Consulting, she managed marketing and business development in large multinationals, covering
the US, European and Latin American markets. She holds 2 MBAs

Lima Lerch Consulting ( provides leading marketing consulting services to companies in the US
and Latin America.