The heart of your business success lies in its marketing. Most aspects of your business depend on successful marketing. The overall marketing umbrella covers advertising, public relations, promotions and sales. Marketing is a process by which a product or service is introduced and promoted to potential customers. Without marketing, your business may offer the best products or services in your industry, but none of your potential customers would know about it. Without marketing, sales may crash and companies may have to close.
There are five steps to writing a marketing plan. Step one is to analyze the market. This is where you explore important issues about market conditions, your potential customers, and the competition. This part of your plan is called the situation analysis. Once you’ve analyze the market; you need to describe your strategy for achieving success. Here, you lay out your approach to segmenting the market, targeting specific customers, and how you will position your products and services in the marketplace.
Next, is the tactical section, which includes your product or service programs, your pricing approach, your promotion and marketing communications programs, and your channel design. These are often called the four P's of your marketing plan. A good marketing plan explains how you will implement the various tactics described in the last step. It’s here where you describe what steps you need to take, when those steps will happen, and who’s responsible for getting the job done.
And finally, is the financial section of your plan. You need to describe a budget that outlines the financial and other resources needed to implement your marketing plan. Here, you also lay out your forecasts of what you expect in terms of future revenues, or other business goals.This section of the plan may also describe how you will measure success. You can start the marketing planning process anytime, but an important consideration is how and when your company does it’s annual business planning process.
That’s where the company develops financial forecasts, investments, budgets, and so on.Generally speaking, there are two ways to connect the marketing planning with us business planning. Some companies start marketing planning process first, right around the middle of the fiscal year. Each marketing team developes their own sales revenue forecasts for their assigned products. They also develop a budget to spend on marketing programs that they think are needed to achieve those revenue forecasts.
Those forecasts and budgest are combined into a company-level revenue forecast and budget, and that’s fed directly into the annual business planning process. But some companies do just the opposite. They start with the business planning process where they develop an overall revenue goal and spending target. Those are divided and given to the individual marketing teams, those teams now have to take those targets and develop the best marketing plan they can to achieve those goals.
So talk your finance partner to find out which approach your company uses. Another good idea is to create a calendar of when you’ll write each section of the plan. A good marketer is disciplined, and doesn’t cut corners in writing a marketing plan. It takes time and lots of work,but in the end it’s worth it.