When it comes to writing a marketing plan, I’m sure you’ve heard it all. “We’re too small; we don’t need a marketing plan.” “A good product markets its self.” “We have a marketing plan. We’re running ads.” Writing a marketing plan may seem like an unnecessary or a daunting task. The truth is that no matter your company size or needs, a marketing plan is essential to the success of your campaign. Here are 5 quick tips for writing a marketing plan.
1) Situation Analysis
A situation analysis may identify an organization’s capabilities, customers, competitors, market position and general business environment. It could also include a SWOT analysis – a grid that lists key Strengths, Opportunities, Weaknesses and Threats that need to be considered.
2) Strategic Plan
The strategic plan specifies the organization’s marketing goals. Is it to build market share, launch a new product, drive traffic to retail, or sell direct? It’s different from, but supports, the financial goals of the company. It clearly profiles the target audience, states the key message for the campaign.
3) Marketing Strategy
The marketing strategy expresses the general go-to-market approach for a campaign. Is it an integrated multimedia program with the full arsenal of TV and radio spots, outdoor and print advertising, direct mail, social media, PR, special events, etc. Or will it focus on online marketing, email, mobile messaging, or some other vehicle? The marketing strategy also addresses the overall tone of the campaign – serious, humorous, testimonial? It also explains the call-to-action: what do you want the audience to do when they’ve seen the campaign materials?
4) Communication Tactics
The tactics are a calendar of specific actions to be taken and when. What is the schedule for TV spots? When will the direct mail or email be sent (and to how many)? When will SMS messages be sent out? It will also stipulate what media channels are being used for outreach.
Other contents in a marketing plan should include the budget, deadlines, next steps, review process, and other key activities of interest to all stakeholders.
A marketing plan is a lot like a playbook, with options and contingencies for different situation. It should be considered by all parties as a flexible, ‘fluid’ document – one that is always subject to revisions as conditions change for the client, the product or the marketplace.