After I recently completed a survey for an international network, I decided to re-address the subject of a marketing plan. The questionnaire was sent to many college graduates who majored in Business Administration. The question we asked was, “What are the things they never taught you in college about being successful in business?” The response concerned itself with the fact that they didn’t learn enough about people skills, relationship building and running a business. Most of the responses I received indicated that they were never taught how to write or understand a marketing plan. Whether they worked for a company or planned to go into their own business, writing and understanding the marketing plan is essential.
The marketing plan is an integral part of the company’s strategic plan. It is the guide to the organization’s directions and objectives and is instrumental in planning a course of action to accomplish these objectives. The plan can be compared to a road map that indicates the various routes to take to reach a destination. Small and big businesses will find the trip easier, safer and faster to reach their goals with this “road map.”
Don’t minimize the importance of this plan. It’s considered necessary to acquire financing, keep the business focused on its direction, provide a measurement and evaluation of the organization’s progress and provide guidance to employees in helping them reach their goals.
Before you write a plan or revise your existing plan, ask yourself the following questions:
1. Who is your target market? Define the demographics which are a set of characteristics of a certain group that describes its background, economic status, education and other social factors. Define the psychographics which is a set of characteristics of a certain group that describes the behavioral and psychological structure, (Sherman & Perlman, 2007)
2. Is there or can you create a want or need for your service or product?
3. What is the message you should send to this target market to get a reaction?
4. What is the best way of reaching your target market? Can it be online, events, mailers, TV or radio or a combination of some of them?
Answers to all of the above should be taken into account and periodically updated in the marketing plan which will consist of customer analysis, business concept, description of the service or product, company structure, market summary, competitive activities, sales and marketing analysis, financial plan, goals and objectives. You can look at the marketing plan as a barometer of the activities and determine the status of your company as it relates to your plan.
The Marketing Plan must include the following:
· Executive Summary — an overview that summarizes the key areas of the plan
· Mission Statement — the organization’s reason for existence
· Company Summary — the history of the organization
As I have always said, “When you plan your work first; you will never come out last.”