Published on November 23, 2009
Writing a marketing plan Table of contents Write a marketing plan 2 Introduction 2 Marketing plan summary and introduction 2 External and internal analysis for your marketing plan 3 Your marketing objectives 3 Marketing strategy for your marketing plan 4 Plan your marketing tactics 4 Implementation of your marketing plan 5 Tips for writing a marketing plan 6 Here's how I developed and implemented a marketing plan 6 Related guides on businesslink.gov.uk 8 Related web sites you might find useful 8 Created by Business Link on 23 November 2009 10:47 You can personalise content from the Business Link website and download it in PDF format. This is a free service Writing a marketing plan | Created by Business Link on 23 November 2009 10:47 Ã#Â¨ Crown copyright 2007 Page 1
Write a marketing plan Subjects covered in this guide Introduction Introduction Marketing is a key part of business success. Marketing plan summary and introduction You need to decide which customers to target. You need to work out how you will External and internal analysis for your reach and win new customers. You need to marketing plan make sure that you keep existing customers happy. And you need to keep reviewing and Your marketing objectives improving everything you do to stay ahead of the competition. Marketing strategy for your marketing plan Your marketing plan should be the reference Plan your marketing tactics document you use as a basis to execute Implementation of your marketing plan your marketing strategy. It sets out clear objectives and explains how you will achieve Tips for writing a marketing plan them. Perhaps most importantly it looks at how you can ensure that your plan becomes Here's how I developed and implemented a reality. marketing plan Remember that marketing in itself will not Related guides on businesslink.gov.uk guarantee sales, but by adopting a well-researched and coherent plan, you Related web sites you might find useful have a much better chance of building long-term, profitable relationships. This guide outlines the key areas to look at You can find this guide by navigating to: and what to include in an effective marketing plan. Home > Sales and marketing > Marketing > Write a marketing plan Marketing plan summary and introduction Your marketing plan should start with an executive summary. The summary gives a quick overview of the main points of the plan. Although the executive summary appears at the beginning of the plan, you should write it last. Writing the summary is a good opportunity to check that your plan makes sense and that you haven't missed any Writing a marketing plan | Created by Business Link on 23 November 2009 10:47 Ã#Â¨ Crown copyright 2007 Page 2
Write a marketing plan attitudes and lifestyles, and the important points. ageing population • Technological factors such as new Business strategy materials and growing use of the internet It's a good idea to introduce the main body of the plan with a reminder of your overall business strategy, including: You also need to understand your own internal strengths and weaknesses. For example, the main strengths of a new • what your business is about (your business might be an original product and business mission) enthusiastic employees. The main • your key business objectives weaknesses might be the lack of an existing • your broad strategy for achieving customer base and limited financial those objectives resources. This helps to ensure that your marketing A SWOT analysis combines the external plan, your marketing strategy and your and internal analysis to summarise your overall business strategy all work together. Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and For example, suppose your business Threats. You need to look for opportunities strategy is based on providing premium that play to your strengths. You also need to quality products and service. Your marketing decide what to do about threats to your strategy and plan will need to take this into business and how you can overcome account, targeting customers who important weaknesses. appreciate quality, promoting your product in ways that help build the right image and so on. For example, your SWOT analysis might help you identify the most promising customers to target. You might decide to External and internal analysis for look at ways of using the internet to reach customers. And you might start to your marketing plan investigate ways of raising additional investment to overcome your financial Understanding the environment your weakness. business operates in is a key part of planning and will allow you to discern the threats and opportunities associated with You can find out more about strategic your area of business. A PEST analysis analysis in our guide on how to review your helps you to identify the main opportunities business performance. and threats in your market: • Political and legal changes such as Your marketing objectives new regulations Your marketing objectives should be based • Economic factors such as interest on understanding your strengths and rates, exchange rates and consumer weaknesses, and the business environment confidence you operate in. They should also be linked • Social factors such as changing to your overall business strategy. Writing a marketing plan | Created by Business Link on 23 November 2009 10:47 Ã#Â¨ Crown copyright 2007 Page 3
Write a marketing plan For example, suppose your business probably break it down into different objectives include increasing sales by 10 segments - groups of similar customers. For per cent over the next year. Your marketing example, you can break the business objectives might include targeting a market down into businesses operating in promising new market segment to help the same sector and/or of a similar size. For achieve this growth. more information, see our guide on how to segment your customers. For more information on how to identify the best opportunities, see the page in this For each segment, you need to look at what guide on external and internal analysis for customers want, what you can offer and your marketing plan. what the competition is like. You want to identify segments where you have a Objectives should always be SMART: competitive advantage. At the same time, you should assess whether you can expect high enough returns to make the segment • Specific - for example, you might set worthwhile. an objective of getting ten new customers. • Measurable - whatever your Often, the most promising segments are objective is, you need to be able to those where you have existing customers. check whether you have reached it See what you can do to expand sales to or not when you review your plan. these customers. If you are targeting new • Achievable - you must have the customers, you need to be sure that you resources you need to achieve the have the resources to reach them objective. The key resources are effectively. usually people and money. • Realistic - targets should stretch Once you have decided what your target you, not de-motivate you because market is, you also need to decide how you they are unreasonable. will position yourself in it. For example, you • Time-bound - you should set a might offer a high quality product at a deadline for achieving the objective. premium price or a flexible local service. For example, you might aim to get Some businesses try to build a strong brand ten new customers within the next 12 and image to help them stand out. Whatever months. your strategy, you need to differentiate yourself from the competition to encourage customers to choose your business first. Marketing strategy for your marketing plan See our guide on how to create your marketing strategy. Your marketing plan is how you put your marketing strategy into practice. It should therefore be a practical reflection of your Plan your marketing tactics strategy. Once you have decided what your If you understand the market well, you can marketing objectives are, and your strategy Writing a marketing plan | Created by Business Link on 23 November 2009 10:47 Ã#Â¨ Crown copyright 2007 Page 4
Write a marketing plan business. Even the quality of for meeting them, you need to plan how you paperwork, such as invoices, makes will make the strategy a reality. a difference. Many businesses find it helpful to think in terms of the four Ps: Implementation of your marketing plan • Product - what your product offers that your customers value, and Your marketing plan must do more than just whether/how you should change your say what you want to happen. It must product to meet customer needs. describe each step required to make sure • Pricing - for example, you might aim that it happens. simply to match the competition, or charge a premium price for a quality The plan should therefore include a product and service. You might have schedule of key tasks. This sets out what to choose either to make relatively will be done, and by when. Refer to the few high margin sales, or sell more schedule as often as possible to avoid but with lower unit profits. Remember losing sight of your objectives under the that some customers may seek a low daily workload. price to meet their budgets, while others may view a low price as an indication of quality levels. It should also assess what resources you • Place - how and where you sell. This need. For example, you might need to think may include using different about what brochures you need, and distribution channels. For example, whether they need to be available for digital you might sell over the internet or sell distribution (by email or from your website). through retailers. You might also need to look at how much • Promotion - how you reach your time it takes to sell to customers and customers and potential customers. whether you have enough salespeople. For example, you might use advertising, PR, direct mail and The cost of everything in the plan needs to personal selling. be included in a budget. If your finances are limited, your plan will need to take that into For a more comprehensive approach, you account. Don't spread your marketing can extend this to seven Ps: activities too thinly - it is better to concentrate your resources to make the most of your budget. You may also want to • People - for example, you need to link your marketing budget to your sales ensure that your employees have the forecast. See our guide on how to forecast right training. and plan your sales. • Processes - the right processes will ensure that you offer a consistent Control service that suits your customers. • Physical evidence - the appearance As well as setting out the schedule, the plan of your employees and premises can needs to say how it will be controlled. You affect how customers see your need an individual who takes responsibility Writing a marketing plan | Created by Business Link on 23 November 2009 10:47 Ã#Â¨ Crown copyright 2007 Page 5
Write a marketing plan for pushing things along. A good schedule together. For example, if you have limited and budget should make it easy to monitor cashflow you should avoid seeking large progress. When things fall behind schedule, orders from customers who demand or costs overrun, you need to be ready to do extended credit or that will involve you in something about it and to adapt your plan heavy, up-front costs. accordingly. Remember to focus on your long-term From time to time, you need to stand back strategy. Reducing customer service might and ask whether the plan is working. What boost short-term profits, but next year you can you learn from your mistakes? How can might not have any customers left. you use what you know to make a better plan for the future? Make it happen A plan will not happen by itself. You need to Tips for writing a marketing plan make someone responsible for monitoring progress and chasing up overdue activities. It is important for a marketing plan to: Reviewing progress will also help you learn from your mistakes so that you can improve • set clear, realistic and measurable your plans for the future. targets - for example, increasing sales by 10 per cent • include deadlines for meeting targets Here's how I developed and • provide a budget for each marketing implemented a marketing plan activity • specify who is responsible for each Andrew Smith activity Escherman - Opens in a new window Make sure you think through each of your Andrew's top tips: objectives logically. For example, you might set a target for the number of new enquiries. • "Keep your prospective customer top But if you don't provide the resources and of mind when planning any marketing training to follow up these enquiries and turn activity." them into sales, you will have increased • "Incorporate the online environment costs without any benefits. into your marketing mix. These days, it's a necessity, not an optional extra." Link to your strategy • "Make the most of free research Assess the business environment to identify resources." the opportunities and threats that you face. Look for where you can capitalise on your Escherman is a digital public relations (PR) strengths or where you need to overcome a and marketing consultancy based in weakness. Richmond, Surrey which launched in January 2008. Owner Andrew Smith All parts of your business must work identified a gap in the market for measurable, integrated digital PR and Writing a marketing plan | Created by Business Link on 23 November 2009 10:47 Ã#Â¨ Crown copyright 2007 Page 6
Write a marketing plan marketing programmes that combine new styled themselves as digital communications techniques such as web analytics and social experts." media with traditional PR content development skills. Here Andrew describes Define overall strategy how he devised the company's own "Because I'd researched thoroughly, the marketing plan. marketing strategy to some extent wrote itself. The perceived value of the business' What I did offering was clear from talking to potential clients. However, I had to be realistic about Research and analyse the volume of business the company could "When I first had the idea of starting the cope with in its first year. I was confident of company, I had over 20 years experience in gaining clients, but didn't want to risk PR, primarily promoting technology under-servicing because of limited companies. I had a shrewd idea that there resources. It was therefore clear that the was a gap in the market for the kind of PR marketing strategy should focus on higher service I intended to offer. The proposed margins and lower volumes. business strategy was to bring together innovative online PR solutions under one "I identified a select handful of potential roof and offer highly accountable results that customers and included topline financial would have a measurable impact on objectives based on an analysis of fee customer sales. The initial step in writing the income throughout the industry. I also marketing plan was research and addressed the resourcing issue by planning SWOT/PEST analysis. to outsource certain marketing activities, such as document preparation." "First, I analysed the current position of Plan tactics and implement them existing PR agencies against the wider economic, technological and social "I planned marketing tactics to support the background. This confirmed that traditional strategy, including detailed pricing and how 'non-digital' agencies were in decline, with to publicise the business to the defined only one third making a profit. target market. Obviously a website and online presence was essential. Because we "I also talked to search marketing agencies would be selling ourselves on our ability to (at the time the most advanced area of reach the media and consumers in digital solutions) to get a glimpse of how innovative ways, we had to practice what we other new methods I intended to base the preached. In particular I looked at ways to agency around might evolve. On top of all exploit my LinkedIn profile and the website's that, I talked to potential customers, blog so as to maximise the possibility of including ex-clients and industry leaders, to being picked up in internet searches carried ascertain their current PR and marketing out by potential customers. needs. "Another key tactic was to identify a series "Last, but not least, I undertook competitor of networking events that I would attend to analysis, looking closely at the operation spread the word about the company. We and cost bases of other PR agencies that also planned for growth by instigating Writing a marketing plan | Created by Business Link on 23 November 2009 10:47 Ã#Â¨ Crown copyright 2007 Page 7
Write a marketing plan e-marketing plan | Prepare a business dialogue with other, non-competitive PR plan | Know your customers' needs | agencies with a view to partnering with Understand your competitors | Market them. Marketing our services as a seamless research and market reports | Review add-on to their own is already proving your business performance | Reach your successful and provides a valuable customers effectively | Sales & additional route to market. marketing: the basics | Segment your customers | Branding: the basics | "We revisit the marketing plan regularly and Selling and promotion overseas | Identify monitor our progress against a set of Key and sell more to your most valuable Performance Indicators to keep us customers | Generate business from focussed. The proof of the pudding is that your e-marketing plan | Price your we met our annual target in the first six product or service | Here's how I months of being in business." developed and implemented an e-marketing plan | Here's how I got my What I'd do differently great new product in front of customers | Here's how I increased my sales through Set a deadline advertising | Here's how Web 2.0 technology benefited my business (Flash "While it's crucial to research thoroughly video) | when preparing a marketing plan, I probably spent too long agonising over every possible outcome. Setting a firmer deadline for Related web sites you might find writing the plan might have speeded up the implementation." useful Accept that not everything will work Marketing e-course on the learndirect business website - Opens in a new "When it came to implementing the plan, window parts of it didn't work as expected and had to be adapted as we went along. Accepting the element of risk and having confidence in Marketing planning tool on the Chartered your idea at the planning stage is ultimately Institute of Marketing website - Opens in more useful than striving to produce the a new window 'perfect' plan." Download a marketing tactics guide from the Chartered Institute of Marketing website (PDF, 190K) - Opens in a new Related guides on window businesslink.gov.uk Download a guide to researching your Manage your personal list of starting-up market from the Institute of Directors tasks with our Business start-up website (PDF, 132K) - Opens in a new organiser | Create your marketing window strategy | Forecast and plan your sales | Advertising: the basics | PR: the basics | Direct marketing: the basics | Develop an Writing a marketing plan | Created by Business Link on 23 November 2009 10:47 Ã#Â¨ Crown copyright 2007 Page 8
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