How to prepare a marketing plan
- 1 Describe your market and the characteristics and size of each market segment; review key market trends.
- 2 Research what customers value, such as product features, quality, service, image.
- 3 Compare the distribution channels for reaching customers (eg direct sales or through retailers).
- 4 Profile your competitors and what they're offering.
- 5 Identify other key factors influencing your business environment; carry out a SWOT analysis of your competitive position (SWOT: strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats).
- 6 Review the effectiveness of previous marketing initiatives such as advertising campaigns or seasonal sales.
- 7 Assess the profitability and sales potential of different customers and market segments, and of different products or activities.
- 8 Decide who to target among both existing and potential customers; decide which products to push and those which need updating or replacing.
- 9 Set specific objectives: for example, retaining existing customers, increasing order sizes, selling new products or winning new customers.
- 10 Decide how you will price each product or service.
- 11 Decide how you will distribute and sell; plan how you can improve customer service and satisfaction.
- 12 Plan how you will promote your products or services, and how you will keep in touch with customers.
- 13 Identify customers' purchasing cycles to timetable marketing activities.
- 14 Confirm the implications of your marketing plan for the rest of your business: production and training requirements, for instance.
- 15 Prepare realistic sales forecasts and budgets.
- 16 Include key indicators (eg new enquiries, conversion rates, customers lost, average order value) and a system for measuring them in your plan.
- base your plan on solid market research
- focus on target customers
- build an action plan to achieve specific objectives
- learn from experience
- measure the effectiveness of your plan
- spread your efforts too widely
- make plans you can't fulfil
- make unrealistic assumptions and forecasts