So, you need to write a marketing plan and you are not 100% sure what to include?
You are not alone. A quick Google search delivers you thousands of results and templates, but, to be honest, this can be just as confusing, as many of them suggest different or conflicting sections to be covered.
In this post, we draw upon twenty-odd years of experience writing marketing plans to highlight what exactly needs to be covered & why, to ensure your plan starts on the right track.
- Executive Summary: Written last, this summary gives an overview of the key points of the marketing plan. Write it as though it’s the only page your audience will read.
- Background Analysis: This section gives insight into the current market situation, including a competitor overview, target market, distribution and the PESTLE analysis.
- SWOT Analysis: A SWOT analysis covers off the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats relevant to the business. See the post about SWOT analysis for further information.
- Marketing Strategy & Objectives: This section spells out the broad marketing ‘game plan’ or strategy that will be used to achieve the financial and marketing objectives. The objectives and strategy should relate to the SWOT, background analysis and as marketing is an input into a business, it must compliment and support what the business is trying to achieve.
- The Marketing Mix: This spells out how the 7 P’s – price, product, place, packaging, people, positioning and promotion will be manipulated to achieve the objectives and strategy.
- The Action Plan: The action plan outlines who, when and what needs to be done to ensure the marketing plan can be implemented and importantly to ensure it is successful.
- Budget: A detailed outline of the marketing plan budget, including where it will be spent and when as well as sales revenue forecasts. The budget ties in with the action plan and the objectives.
- Measurement and Monitoring: In order to know if your marketing plan is successful and the objectives are met the plan needs to be measured and monitored. This section outlines how and when the plan will be monitored and importantly any contingencies that may be needed should there be adverse market conditions such as a recession.
- Supporting Documentation: It’s a good idea to include any information or documentation needed to support the position you have taken in the marketing plan, such as research findings, competitor information or PESTLE analysis data.
The marketing plan is one of the most important documents in the marketing and, arguably, business process and care should be taken when developing it. However whilst a marketing plan can take time to complete, it doesn’t need to consist of tens of pages. Keep it simple and make sure it is flexible enough that it can be easily adapted to suit changes in the business or market conditions. A marketing plan should be a ‘living’ document regularly accessed, not something that is placed in the bottom drawer and forgotten.