A marketing plan is the very foundation that lays the exact roadmap to guide you to accomplish your business objectives. It outlines in detail your market strategies, activities, tactics, expenditure and expected results over a period of time. Below are the essential components of effective marketing planMarketing Goals: Great marketing plans are built on a foundation of sound goals that represent company’s most pressing business needs. Be it a small business or a big enterprise clear and realistic marketing goals are very essential. They determine your course of action for resource management, operations and other business related activities. Marketing goals must be achievable, time-bound, measurable, and realistic and in collusion with company’s financial objectives.
Market analysis: Once you have set your market goals the next step is to take up market analysis. This refers to quantitative and qualitative assessment of your market. It should encompass size of the market (volume and value), customer segmentation, competitors and other environmental challenges like economic rules and regulations.
- Market overview: As a marketer, in-depth market research and sound understanding of the business trends is a must. There are several questions that you need to answer in order to have a flawless market overview like: What is the size of the potential market? What are the trends, growth and needs of the market? How is the market segmented (by pricing, age, income or product usage)? Who is the target audience? Who are your real competitors? A clear understanding of these vital aspects will help you develop your plan effectively.
- Competitive Analysis: Having identified your main competitors, it’s now time to go for a sturdy competitive analysis which is a critical part of your company marketing plan. This evaluation will enable you to establish factors that make your product or service unique in the market and can provide potential competitive edge over your competitors.
- 3 C’s: It brings all the three variables customer, competitor and company together in the light of their dynamic relation and interdependence. By thorough analysis of each component in relation to others you will be able to understand your relative strengths and flaws and hence accordingly work to improve the equations. While you can start with any of the 3C’s it is highly recommended that you first understand your customer, then competition in the market and finally the company.
SWOT analysis is the evaluation of company’s opportunities, strengths, weaknesses and threats. It is an internal evaluation which includes understanding company’s competencies in various aspects of business like organizational structure, staff, operational capacity and efficiency, financial resources etc.
Customer Segmentation: Can you hit a target when blindfolded? The answer is an obvious NO. Similarly, you cannot think of a perfect market strategy with right execution without knowledge of your target customers. Customer segmentation helps to have a better understanding of the target customers. Segmentation is done on basis of different variables like age, income group, demography, cultural preferences, lifestyle etc. Such segmentation will help you identify segments with more opportunities and scope. Thus, with clear customer segmentation you can make more focused and effective market messages.
Positioning Statement: Positioning system promotes your brand for a selective target audience. All you need to do is identify the needs of the group and list the brands benefits that distinctively meet the needs of the target. A powerful positioning statement that clearly communicates your products unique value to the customers can do wonders in a highly competitive market environment.
4 P’s: Once the positioning statement for the target segment is established, marketers develop tactical marketing tools referred to as 4P’s that are used to get desired response from the target audience. It’s a marketing mix of four major variables product, price, place and promotion that directly influence the market demand. All the components are interdependent and are key factors that promote your product’s Unique Selling Points and differentiate it from its competitors. Each of these determinants when focused and dealt in the right manner can lead to positive market growth.
How you plan to execute your marketing tactics and campaigns is also an important part of marketing plan. Since it is very important that your strategies and tactics fall in line with the company’s budget, you need to review and outline your brand strategy, pricing, roll-up timelines and estimated distribution channels.
- Communication Strategy: Draft your communication strategy to convey our message to the audience. This will include communication objectives, methods to achieve the objectives, benefits of messages, channels of communication etc. A well-drafted communication strategy sets the tone and direction for the marketing activities to achieve desired goals. It also enables the stakeholders to provide inputs so that constructive, unified actions may be taken.
- Channel strategy: It is a tactical plan focused specifically on delivering a product or service to an end customer. A well-planned channel strategy and value propositions enable marketers to create their desired reach and increase access to their target customers. You could decide to go direct to consumer or through intermediaries or through mix of both.
- Budget Allocation: How well you execute your marketing strategies depends largely on how well you have planned your budget allocation. Your budget should be tied to campaigns which directly serve your marketing goals and have a high ROI.
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