Marketing is a key part of business success. You need to decide which customers to target. You need to work out how you will reach and win new customers. You need to make sure that you keep existing customers happy. And you need to keep reviewing and improving everything you do to stay ahead of the competition.
Your marketing plan should be the reference document you use as a basis to execute your marketing strategy. It sets out clear objectives and explains how you will achieve them. Perhaps most importantly it looks at how you can ensure that your plan becomes reality.
Remember that marketing in itself will not guarantee sales, but by adopting a well-researched and coherent plan, you have a much better chance of building long-term, profitable relationships.
It is funny, when you start writing a series like this you start with the Summary section because it is first in the document. However, it is usually the last thing you write.
So how can you write a summary without knowing the content you are summarizing?
The approach that you should use is that you should keep this section up as a separate document during your overall plan writing to take notes and capture important points that will be used when you submit this to your management and/or board. Everyone will read the intro and summary, some will read various parts they want to dig into more, and very few will read the whole thing
I know that might sound depressing but keep this in mind. If your intro and summary do their job, they won’t have to read further and that is a credit to you. However, for those that read the entire plan it will be a critical roadmap to help you reach your sales goals and guide your team as it builds marketing momentum.
Logically, the names intro and summary should speak for themselves as to what they should have but it is important to elaborate on what key information it should contain.
Elements of the Summary Section
Your marketing plan should start with an executive summary. The summary gives a quick overview of the main points of the plan. Writing the summary is a good opportunity to check that your plan makes sense and that you haven’t missed any important points.
It’s a good idea to introduce the main body of the plan with a reminder of your overall business strategy, including:
what your business is about (your business mission)
your key business objectives
your broad strategy for achieving those objectives
This helps to ensure that your marketing plan, your marketing strategy and your overall business strategy all work together. For example, suppose your business strategy is based on providing premium quality products and service. Your marketing strategy and plan will need to take this into account, targeting customers who appreciate quality, promoting your product in ways that help build the right image and so on.
Strategic Focus and Plan
To connect readers with your overall business plan and strategy, you use this section to connect it with your business unit and/or company strategy, depending on your company size. You should address your vision and mission, the environment in which you are marketing, and the results you expect from a marketing plan.
The vision statement is something that you will pursue over an extended timeframe. It is not
quantitative in nature and should be one or two sentences at most. The mission statement contains the ideas attainable in a five to seven year range. This is a general statement shared in one or two sentences. You want it to be something that can define your unit/company and its purpose. The best mission statements are those that staff””and eventually constituents””use as a guide for where you are heading.
You should also include your objectives at a high level. These are general statements about what you hope to accomplish through marketing. You will provide more specific marketing strategies and quantitative goals later in the document. These will also be a guide for setting priorities as you develop strategies for reaching target audiences. You may choose to include unit objectives with general program goals listed under each.
Next you should have a summary paragraph on your competition. This should show how your awareness of the competition will make you stronger. Outline the competitive environment of your market, including both direct and indirect competition. You should describe the competition, their strengths and weaknesses, how you are alike or different, and how you plan to effectively market with the competition in mind.
The last paragraph should capture a SWOT Analysis: Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. Within this analysis provide information about current marketing efforts, programs and services, client reactions and any other details that may be helpful as you develop marketing strategies.
In this sub-section, you will describe all of the objectives you wish to attain through your marketing program. You will start with measurable marketing goals and a detailed description of how you will accomplish each one. Based on your Marketing Goals, list markets that you plan to target. Include research about target marketa and reasons that you plan to direct marketing at this area. If you do not
have valid research or information regarding the target audience/market for your goals, this is
a good time to develop focus groups to learn more about the market.
Generally, your overall marketing plan will focus on promotion strategies, although you will want to keep an eye on the product, price and distribution. Including all four factors in the marketing plan, provides you with opportunities to reach your target market more effectively. As for promotion strategies, it is one of the most important sections of the marketing plan and is your action plan based on your goals. You need to identify your target audience, channels for reaching them (advertising, media/ public relations, events, strategic alliances, direct contact, internet, etc.) and the consistent message and other branding techniques you will use to engage your target audience. You will need to prioritize these strategies, tie them into your marketing budget, assign tasks and set deadlines.
In this section, explain how you plan to gather data to show that your plan has worked. You may need to look for resources that already exist or develop surveys that can give you baseline data for comparison over a period of time. This is your proof of success, so you must work closely with your team and include key stakeholders to ensure this follow-up effort is completed.
Marketing Financial Strategy
As with all plans, the seem to hold the financial stuff for the big finale. The end of the summary is going to bring the full impact of the strategy laid out to bear in terms of costs and return on investment (ROI) for those that are the hard core numbers people. You will need to include the high level information on the various market share amounts each product and/or service line will garner over the life of this plan. You will also need to include a few sentences on break even, which is when the investment in this marketing strategy will start to pay for itself. Last should be how you will handle cash flow and when and how much you might need to dip into the well for the strategy you have laid out.
Other Summary Sections You Should Include?
Did I miss anything? Is there a critical section that you have included in your summary that is missing here and should be added to the list? Do you have a different opinion on what should go in the summary? Please let me know in the comments.
Next Time – Part 2 – Situational Analysis
Situational Analysis lays out the overall marketplace you are competing in and the various environments your business will have to address. We will discuss the market and the various types of environments that your marketing plan will need to address for your products and/or services.