Business basics: A guide to writing a marketing plan; one of the main tools that can help a business build an image and generate an increase in sales and revenues
How to write a marketing plan
A good marketing plan is key in a successful business. It is an easy way to create procedures that can help meet company goals.
There are a few aspects that must be considered when writing a marketing plan. One of the most important factors is the market. The marketing plan should be made in compliance with the needs of the target segment that the business wants to engage. Another very important part is the competition. Building a superior marketing strategy will bring a better customer response.
The marketing plan should be prepared according to certain guidelines. Here are the main steps a marketing plan should pursue:
1. Defining the objective
Setting an objective is crucial. You must decide what you are aiming for. Writing a mission statement is one of the best ways to understand what the business goals are. A mission statement will also help clarify other equally important issues such as: the nature of the business, the type of services or products offered and the target market.
2. Identifying the target market segments and their needs
The market is quite segmented. Every market segment has its own specific needs consistent with various classifications. Costumers are classified according to: age, sex, job (the role they play in a certain company, their specialty), studies etc. Let’s take as an example the doctors – there are doctors with various specialties (such as dermatology, obstetrics and gynecology, cardiology etc). Each of them has different interests and, as a result, different needs. A product can be sold only by creating or fulfilling the need for that product. A business has to find out what the potential clients are and what their needs are. After discovering these needs the offer should be crafted to fit these needs. There are several ways to identify the target market and its needs: surveys, market research, consumer profiles, costumer feedback etc.
3. Adjusting the product to the market needs and creating a representation of the product offered
As mentioned above, the product/service offered should be adjusted to fit the needs of the targeted segment of the market. This means that the production and the promotion of the product should consider the specifics of each particular segment. This is a trial-and-error process. Costumer feedback can be very helpful in performing this task. The method used to promote a product and the description of that product is extremely influential and can be seen in the sale results.
4. Spotting, monitoring and understanding the competition
Knowing your competition is essential. An examination of the competitor can be a big plus. It is a source of information regarding the market. It can help identify any weaknesses that the business or the product might have. This can lead to a major management improvement. Comparing the business to the competition contributes to many significant aspects such us: pricing the products/service offered accordingly, establishing the benefits and the advantages our offer presents, recognizing the market needs that are not yet met and developing innovative products and services. All of this can contribute to placing the company in unique spot on the market.
5. Creating a strategy
A marketing strategy should contain all the steps necessary in the promotion process. The purpose of developing this strategy is to avoid any confusion or misunderstanding during the promotion campaign, to speed up the procedure and keep everything on track. The advertising strategy chose should always fit the form of promotion used (written, visual, acoustic etc).
6. Finding ways to implement the strategy
Implementing a strategy is not easy. One of the main reasons is the fact that the market reality doesn’t always follow the rules set in the marketing office. So this could also be seen as a trial-and-error process. Sometimes, certain steps in the strategy need to be changed or to evolve in the direction suggested by the target segment. Staying connected to what the costumers have to say and learning more everyday is what will keep things going in the right direction.
7. Evaluating the results
This is probably the most important step. A good evaluation can pinpoint the slipups and inaccuracies, show what goes right and what needs to be fixed, generate leads and drive up sales. The evaluation should take in consideration what marketing tools and strategies have been used and how that has affected the outcome of the campaign. Profit graphics and consumer polls constitute basic methods of assessment. Graphics will give you an idea about whether the marketing strategy has been efficient or not. Polls help refine the products and promotions so they can penetrate the market better. It is essential that evaluations are performed every time important changes in marketing tactic are made. This shows how to obtain the most impact for the investment and insure profit.
These steps are easy to follow and can help build a marketing plan that will make an improvement in the way business is conducted.