Creating a Marketing Plan (chapter 2)
- By Linda Lee and Denise Hayes
The Marketing Planning Cycle
While the marketing plan is written at a particular point in time, typically prior to budget approvals, it is also a year-round process. Certain times of the year may be more active than others.
There are two key components of the marketing plan:
1. The situation analysis
2. The marketing plan.
The situation analysis is a factual document and analyzes the information that you have gathered in preparation for writing the marketing plan. It answers two key questions:
1. What economic and business environments are you experiencing?
2. What opportunities and problems are you facing?
The marketing plan lays out the objectives, strategies, and sub-strategies for a specific timeframe, usually a year. It answers the following questions:
• 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 marketing plan is not complete or credible without the situation analysis as the situation analysis provides the rationale for the decisions being made in the marketing plan. A comprehensive situation analysis is especially important in an organization that is sceptical about marketing.
The key headings in a situation analysis may include the following:
• Macro environment (the big picture)
• Market (size, share, growth, segmentation, seasonality trends, etc.)
• Internal Trends (sales volume by month and annually, revenue, profits)
• Product or Service (description of the products or services you are selling)
• Consumer or Customer (segmentation, attitudes and behaviour)
• Distribution Channels (direct and indirect channels)
• Evaluation of Previous Marketing Initiatives
• Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats
• Issues Analysis
The key headings in a marketing plan may include the following:
o Advertising and Promotion
• Research and Evaluation
• Financials (budget and profit & loss statements)
The headings and the types of information that should be included under each heading are listed in the next section. Remember that the situation analysis is a factual document so you should use quantifiable information wherever possible and always state your sources (so you can find them again next year or delve deeper into the information at a later date).