26 May 2005

The Marketing Plan

Each business, product or brand needs a detailed marketing plan. What does a marketing plan look like? A product or brand plan should contain the following sections:

Executive Summary - the marketing plan should open with a short summary of the main goals and recommendations in the plan. The executive summary helps top management to find the plan's central points quickly. A table of contents should follow the executive summary.

Marketing Audit - is a systematic and periodic examination of a company's environment, objectives, strategies and activities to determine problem areas and opportunities.

SWOT Analysis - draws from the market audit. It is a brief list of critical success factors in the market, and rate strengths and weaknesses against competition. It should include costs and other non-marketing variables. The outstanding opportunities and threats should be given.

Objectives and Issues - after analysing the SWOT, the company sets objectives and considers issues that will affect them. The objectives are goals that the company would like to attain during the plan's term.

Marketing Strategy - In this section the manager outlines the broad marketing strategy of 'game plan' for attaining the objectives. It should detail the market segments on which the company will focus.

Marketing Mix - contains the 4P's: Product, Promotion, Price and Place. A manager should outline how each strategy responds to threats, opportunities and critical issues described earlier in the plan.

Action Programmes - answers the following questions: What will be done? When will it be done? Who is responsible for doing it? How much will it cost? The programme should outline special offers and their dates and other promotions.

Budgets - are the basis for materials buying, production scheduling, personnel planning and marketing operations. Budgeting can be very difficult and various budgeting methods can be applied i.e. 'rules of thumb'.

Controls - will monitor the progress. typically, these are the goals and budgets for each month or quarter. This allows higher management to review the results of each period and to spot businesses or products that are not meeting their goals. This leads to corrective actions taking place.

Implementation - is the process that turns marketing strategies and plans into marketing actions to accomplish strategic marketing objectives. Planning good strategies in only a start towards successful marketing. Without successful implementation, a brilliant strategy is worth nothing.


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