Creating and Writing an Effective Marketing Plan
As ecommerce continues to shift pressure to competitive business communication, professional writing will remain an essential fit for organizations.
The competitive global space has invoked online communication for businesses, by default. That affects marketing too, which remains a key element for business success.
It calls for intelligence to spot potential clients to win and even more to keep the existing ones satisfied. Even so, marketing alone will not guarantee significant sales.
There is need to adopt a well-documented and consistent plan of attack that involves more than just marketing. This will set out clear objectives and explain how each one of them will be achieved.
Again I say, for any successful business, writing will become crucial at almost all steps. Be it formal writing or informal writing, there is always something to be written.
Let’s see how professional writing can influence the creation of a winning marketing plan.
Create a summary of the marketing plan
Your marketing plan should begin with a summary. However, the summary should be written as the last thing after you are done with the plan.
The summary provides a quick overview of the main elements of the plan. Writing it is a good opportunity to check that your plan makes sense and that you have not forgotten any important points.
Outline Your Business Strategy
It is best to present the body of the plan along with a reminder of your overall business strategy, which should at the very least include:
- The purpose of your business (broad objective)
- The key objectives of your company (goals)
- Your overall strategy to achieve these goals
This helps to ensure that your marketing plan, marketing strategy, and overall business strategy form a coherent whole.
For example, suppose your business strategy is based on providing superior products and service. Your marketing strategy and marketing plan will need to take this into account, targeting customers who appreciate quality, promoting your product to cultivate the right image, and so on.
Define Your Internal and External Environments
Understanding the environment in which your business operates is fundamental to planning and will allow you to discern threats and opportunities in your business sector.
S.T.E.E.P.L.E. helps you identify key opportunities and threats in your market as outlined below:
- Social factors such as changes in attitude and lifestyle, as well as the aging of the population.
- Technological factors such as new technology and the increasing use of the Internet.
- Economic factors such as interest rates, exchange rates and consumer confidence.
- Environmental factors such as changes in the expectations of consumers, regulators, and employees regarding sustainable development.
- Political factors such as tax changes, trade relations or the granting of business support.
- Legal factors such as changes in employment law or how your industry is regulated.
- Ethical factors such as ethical policies and practices governing behaviour.
You must also understand your own internal strengths and weaknesses. Some major weaknesses could be the lack of a consistent clientele, high turnover rate or even limited financial resources.
Define Your Marketing Objectives
Your marketing objectives should be based on understanding your strengths and weaknesses, as well as the business environment in which you operate. They must also relate to your overall business strategy.
For example, suppose your company’s goals include a 10 percent increase in sales over the next year. Your marketing goals could include targeting a promising new segment of the market to help achieve that growth.
For that reason, your goals must always be SMART that is:
- Strategic: For example, you could set the goal of getting ten new customers.
- Measurable: Whatever your goal, you must be able to check if you have reached it when you review your plan.
- Achievable: You must have the resources you need to reach the goal. Key resources would mostly revolve around people and money.
- Realistic: Targets must drive you to excel, not demotivate you because they are unreasonable.
- Time Limit: You must set a deadline for reaching the goal. For example, you could aim to get ten new clients in the next 12 months.
Create a Marketing Strategy for Your Marketing Plan
Your marketing plan is the way you put your marketing strategy into practice. That’s why it must be a practical reflection of your strategy.
If you understand the market well, you can probably divide it into different segments – groups of similar customers. For example, you can divide the commercial market into companies in the same sector and of similar size.
For each segment, you have to study what customers want, what you can offer and what the competition looks like. You want to identify segments where you have an advantage over the competition. At the same time, you need to assess whether you can expect enough sales to make the segment worthwhile.
Read more on creating a good content marketing strategy here.
Plan Your Marketing Tactics
Once you’ve decided what your marketing goals are, and what your strategy is to reach them, you need to plan how that strategy will become a reality.
A lot of businesses find it useful to think in terms of the seven Ps:
- Product: What your product offers that is valuable to your customers, and if or how you should change your product to meet the needs of the customer.
- Price: For example, you could simply aim to match the competition, or charge a higher price for a quality product or service. You may have to choose to make relatively few high-margin sales or sell more, but with lower profits per unit.
Remember that some customers may look for a low price to keep up with their budgets, while others may see a low price as an indication of a lower quality level.
- Place: This may include the use of different distribution channels to sell. For example, you could sell through the Internet or through retailers.
- Promotion: Informs on how you could reach your customers and potential customers. For example, you could use advertising, PR, direct mail and personal selling.
- People: For example, you need to make sure your employees have the right training.
- Process: The right processes will ensure that you provide consistent service that is right for your customers.
- Physical Evidence: The appearance of your employees and premises can affect how customers view your business. Even the quality of the working documents, such as invoices, is important.
Implementation of Your Marketing Plan
Your marketing plan must do more than just state what you want to happen. It must describe each step required to ensure that this happens.
That’s why the plan must include a schedule of key tasks that indicates what must be done and in what time frame. Refer to the calendar as often as possible to avoid losing sight of your goals because of the daily workload.
It must also evaluate the resources you need. For example, you may need to think about the brochures you need, and whether they should be available for digital distribution (by email or from your website).
You may also need to consider the time it takes to sell to customers and if you have enough salespeople.
The cost of all elements of the plan must be included in a budget. If your finances are limited, your plan will have to take this aspect into account.
Do not scatter your marketing activities. It is better to choose only a few and get the most out of them. You may also want to link your marketing budget to your sales forecast.
Define Your Plan Execution Monitoring Tools
The plan must not only indicate the schedule but also state how it will be monitored. You need someone who takes responsibility for making things happen.
An appropriate schedule and budget should facilitate monitoring of progress. When the schedule is no longer met, or the costs are exceeded, you must be ready to act and adapt your plan accordingly.
From time to time, you need to step back and ask yourself if the plan works. What can you learn from your mistakes? How can you use what you know to develop a better plan for the future?
Summarily, it is important that a marketing plan covers the following:
- Clear, realistic and measurable targets
- Execution dates to reach targets
- Marketing budget for the full process
- Role allocation for every level of execution
Be sure to think logically about each of your goals. For example, you could set a target for the number of new requests for information. But if you do not provide the resources and training to turn these requests for information into sales, your costs will be increased without any profit.
Evaluate the business environment to identify the opportunities and threats you face.
Look for areas where you can build on your strengths or where you need to overcome a weakness.
All parts of your business have to work together. For example, if your cash flow is restricted, you should avoid large orders from customers who request large credits that will involve significant upfront costs.
Remember to focus on your long-term strategy. Reducing customer service could increase profits in the short term, but you may not have customers the next year.
A plan will not come true by itself, you have to allocate roles to people to ensure effective execution and monitoring of the execution process. The progress review will also help you learn from your mistakes so that you can improve your plans in the future.
Would you like help writing your marketing plan? Our professional writing team is on standby to help.
This article had collaborative input from Junaid Qureshi, an ecommerce entrepreneur with a passion for emerging tech marketing and ecommerce development. His current ventures also include Progos Tech, an ecommerce development company.
Photo by Giulia Bertelli on Unsplash