Marketing? Plan.


Marketing? Plan.

When marketing your business, it pays to plot your course.

Without a blueprint, a contractor would never deliver building materials to an empty lot and then tell the crew, “Let’s build a house.” Doing so might incur the loss of thousands of dollars in materials and worker productivity. Similarly, a business that arrives – or stays – in the marketplace without a marketing plan can lose thousands on misguided promotional efforts and ineffective employee action.

A marketing plan enables a business to:

  • Communicate effectively with ideal customers
  • Overcome competitive challenges
  • Spend marketing dollars efficiently and effectively
  • Help employees understand their roles in creating and selling products and/or services
  • Track success and make improvements when necessary

Situation Analysis

Use SWOT to list your business’ …

STRENGTHS – How is your company and its offerings superior to the competition?

WEAKNESSES – Include anything from competing in a highly saturated market to inexperienced staff

OPPORTUNITIES – Things like product line expansion or new services to fulfill an arising need

THREATS – Include other companies entering the market, emerging technologies that may duplicate what you do or even environmental issues

You’ll use this information to capitalize on strengths and opportunities, improve upon weaknesses, and then define steps necessary to overcome threats.

Analyze your customers

What you should know about your ideal customers and why:

  • The number of people who could potentially use your product or service indicates near-term revenue potential and whether there’s room for market growth.
  • Knowing key demographics of your customer base (e.g., age, social class, gender, etc.) helps you plan product line extensions for new or changing consumer groups and aids in media planning to reach your target client.
  • The value your product and/or service delivers to customers so you can evaluate if a product or service exceeds or underperforms a competitor’s, plus it helps you hone your marketing message and value proposition.

Analyze your competition

What you should know about competitors and why:

  • Market position. What company is the biggest, smallest and how invested are they? This helps evaluate competitor dominance.
  • Strengths and weaknesses. Use this information to exploit weakness and determine what steps (e.g., product improvements) can help your company overcome their strengths.
  • Market share. Knowing this allows your company to increase its share of the market (e.g., product improvement, increase sales force, gain shelf space, increase media dollars), either through marketing or acquisition.


The marketing mix

The FOUR P’s described here form the backbone of your marketing plan and are derived from the information above.

PRODUCT – What is it, how it satisfies a need, what it’s called, how it’s branded, and how it’s different from the competition

PRICE – Based on the value delivered, cost of production and delivery, discounts to wholesalers/ resellers, how much competing products cost and return on investment

PLACE – Where the product is delivered, channels of distribution and sales force

PROMOTION – The marketing message and how it’s delivered (i.e., media choices)

Are we there yet?

Writing a marketing plan can take a couple of months or longer. Allow time to gather necessary information and time to focus on writing it.  

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