Creating a Marketing Plan (Chapter 1)
- By Linda Lee and Denise Hayes
Any organization that sells a product or service to customers needs a formal marketing plan.
Depending on the size and sophistication of your organization, your marketing plan may be just a few pages or, with supporting material, run into the hundreds of pages.
However, even in the largest and most sophisticated organizations, the core marketing plan document should be clear, concise, and state the few key strategies that the organization will be undertaking.
This article is intended to give the reader a basic grounding in how to create a marketing plan and will cover:
• What a marketing plan does
What a Marketing Plan Does
• How to structure a marketing plan, with key headings and what should go under each heading
• How to get started
A marketing plan is a document that is one part of the marketing planning process. A formal marketing planning process provides structure and rigor to decision-making. It culminates in a written plan that typically is prepared once a year or prior to a significant new marketing initiative that requires an investment of budget and/or internal resources.
The marketing plan gathers and distills the learning of the organization in one document and charts a path to achieve business objectives. Specifically, the marketing plan answers the following questions:
• What economic and business environment are you experiencing?
• What opportunities and problems are you facing?
• What business objectives do you expect to achieve?
• What exactly do you sell?
• Who are your customers?
• Why should they buy your product or service rather than your competitors’?
• How will you communicate your product or service to your customers?
• Who will do what, when?
• How are you going to measure your progress so you can learn from the experience?
The reason to create a marketing plan could be any or all of the following:
• To provide greater discipline in the planning process
• To provide strategic direction for an organization or business unit
• To provide an action plan for marketing-related activities
• To provide a formal record of marketing-related decisions
• To request budget
• To request internal resources
• To create dialogue with senior management
• To communicate marketing priorities to other parts of the organization
• To obtain buy-in from other parts of the organization