How to Write a Marketing Plan
Your marketing plan is one of the biggest pieces of your business plan. Your marketing plan puts you in the minds of your customers, so you can take action toward delivering your product or service to them. The plan should address both short-term and long-term strategies.
After you’ve conducted thorough market research, you can put the information you gathered into your marketing plan.
Use the executive summary to focus on your key strategies, including the budget allocated for each strategy. Keep the executive summary short, and use bullet points and concise sentences to convey your points.
Market Situation Analysis
The first in-depth section of your marketing plan is the market situation analysis. This section looks at your target market, your products and services, and your sales and distribution.
Start by describing the current state of the marketplace; describe its growth over the past several years and the forecasted growth in the upcoming years. Describe any competitors and their current products and sales.
After you’ve discussed the market and your competitors, analyze your own products and services.
Start by describing your target audience – be specific. Describe their demographics, their geographic area, and their income levels.
Then, describe your products and services. If you’ve already started selling your products and services, include how well they’ve sold in the past.
A SWOT analysis allows you to take an honest look at your company and products or services. S.W.O.T. stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.
Analyzing your strengths and weaknesses focuses on your internal factors, including human resources, physical resources, financial aspects, and past experiences and activities. Analyzing your opportunities and threats focuses on external factors, including future trends in the market, the economy, funding sources, your competitors, and demographics.
- What are your company’s strengths?
- What advantages do you have over your competitors?
- Which unique resources do you have access to?
- What do customers say you do well?
- What could you improve about your products or services?
- Which areas do your competitors handle better than you?
- Where do you lack knowledge?
- What trends in the marketplace favor your company?
- What is the market currently missing?
- Are your competitors failing to satisfy your target market?
- What trends in the marketplace are working against your company?
- How well are your competitors’ products or services doing in the market?
- Can you keep up with changes in technology?
- Are government regulations going to negatively affect you?
Marketing Objectives & Strategies
After you’ve completed your S.W.O.T. analysis, use your findings to develop your key marketing objectives and strategies.
Each objective should include a detailed description of what you plan to accomplish, including S.M.A.R.T. goals. S.M.A.R.T. goals are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound.
Typical marketing objectives include introducing new products, extending the market of an existing product, or boosting sales for a particular product.
After you’ve identified your objectives, develop strategies for achieving those objectives. There are four primary types of strategies you can develop using your S.W.O.T. analysis:
- opportunity-strength strategies, which use your strengths to exploit opportunities;
- opportunity-weakness strategies, which exploit opportunities to overcome your weaknesses;
- threat-strength strategies, which use your strengths to avoid threats; and
- threat-weakness strategies, which minimize your weaknesses and avoid threats.
It’s important to allocate a portion of your marketing budget to each planned strategy, so you don’t overspend. Make sure to review your marketing plan regularly to make sure that you’re staying under budget and achieving your objectives.