10 POINTS TO A MARKETING PLAN He who fails to plan is planning to fail

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1 Tourism Representation Small Business Consulting 10 POINTS TO A MARKETING PLAN He who fails to plan is planning to fail Quote by: Winston Churchill during World War II

2 Contents Introduction I. Business Background a. Goals and objectives II. Research Markets & Customers a. Why do market research b. How c. Customer research III. Identify Segments and prioritise target markets a. Product customers perspective b. Features & benefits c. Identify your target customer d. Competition e. Competitive Analysis table IV. Using Competitive matrix, Identify the ideal customer V. Define Customer proposition VI. Ways to achieve maximum exposure a. Promotions b. Advertising methods, media, social, trade events etc. c. Image projection d. Additional collateral e.g. brochures, pens, hats etc. VII. VIII. Customer case studies Tactical planning a. Promotional budget b. Distribution Channels IX. Informing your support team X. Mentoring and monitoring of activities

3 I. Introduction A marketing plan can be used either as a stand alone plan or a key part of a company business plan. A complete business plan would expand the document in areas such as finance, operations, sales, capitalisation etc. This document can be filled out by answering the questions posed in each section and following the 10-steps Marketing Plan. I. Business Background What business are you in? What will you do going forward? Company goals and objectives: is the purpose of this marketing plan?: Grow revenue Improve margins Acquire more customers Retain Current Customers To whom do you market your products? Your target market? (summary detailed later in the plan) Describe your industry. Is it a growth industry? What changes do you foresee in your industry, short term and long term? How will your company be poised to take advantage of them? Your most important company strengths and core capabilities: What factors will make the company succeed? What do you think your major competitive strengths will be?

4 II. Research Markets and Customers Is your market growing, what is your market share, how are you positioned in the market? Pull together some customer groups and ask them questions. Base your marketing plan on facts and not gut feel. Why do Market research? No matter how good your product and your service, the venture cannot succeed without effective marketing. This begins with careful, systematic research. It is very dangerous to simply assume that you already know about your intended market. You need to do market research to make sure they are on track. Use the business planning process as your opportunity to uncover data and question your marketing efforts. Your time will be well spent. Market research - How? There are 2 kinds of market research: primary and secondary. Secondary research means using published information such as industry profiles, trade journals, newspapers, magazines, census data, and demographic profiles. This type of information is available in public libraries, industry associations, chambers of commerce, vendors who sell to your industry, and government agencies. Primary market research means gathering your own data. For example, you could do your own traffic count at a proposed location, use the yellow pages to identify competitors, and do surveys or focus group interviews to learn about consumer preferences. Professional market researchers exist to help develop surveys and the like. Be as specific as possible; give statistics & numbers and sources. The marketing plan will be the basis, later on, of the all-important sales projection.

5 Customer Research Your current customers are a key resource. Identify what they like about your product/service and what they don t like. Run a Customer Satisfaction Survey on an annual basis to identify trends and measure improvements. A key question to ask is whether your customers will refer your company to a colleague its technical name is the Net Promoter Score and it s an important resource for both marketing your company and also making the sales process easier. Customers can provide you a rapid feedback loop on changes to the market so it s important to keep an open communications channel with them throughout the year. III. Identify segments and prioritise target markets Product Describe your products and services from your customer s point of view. Features and Benefits For each product/service: o Describe the most important features. That is, what will the product do for the customer? What is special about it? o Now, for each produce/service, describe its benefits. That is, what will the product do for the customer? What after-sale services will be given? Some examples are delivery, warranty, service contracts, support, follow up, or refund policy. Customers Identify your targeted customers, their characteristics, and their geographic locations; i.e., demographics. The description will be completely different depending on whether you plan to sell to other businesses or directly to consumers. If you sell a consumer product, but sell it through a channel of distributors,

6 wholesalers and retailers, then you must carefully analyse both the end consumer and the middlemen businesses to which you sell. You may well have more than one customer group. Identify the most important groups. Where do you sell well? Where are you better than the competition, where do you lose? Are you putting in resources where your strengths are? Use tools e.g. SWOT Analysis. Download our 10-Steps to Segment Success paper for more details. Then, for each consumer group, construct what is called a demographic profile: o Age o Gender o Location o Income level o Social class/occupation o Education o Other (specific to your industry) o Other (specific to your industry) For business customers, the demographic factors might be: o Industry (or portion of an industry) o Location o Size of firm o Quality/technology/price preferences o Other (specific to your industry)

7 Competition What products and companies will compete with you? List your major competitors: Will they compete with you in across the board, or just for certain products, certain customers, or in certain locations? How will your products/services compare with the competition? Use the table called Competitive Analysis, below to compare your company with your three most important competitors. In the cell labelled "Me", state how you honestly think you will likely stack up in customers' minds. Remember that you cannot be all things to all people. In fact, trying to be causes many business failures because your efforts become scattered and diluted. You want an honest assessment of your firm's strong and weak points. Its better to focus on an area where you have MASSIVE advantage and leverage from there than try and fight on too many battle fronts. Now analyse each major competitor. In a few words, state how you think they compare. In the final column, estimate the importance of each competitive factor to the customer. 1 = critical; 5 = not very important. Rank them in order of importance to different groups of customers eg price conscious, service conscious etc.

8 Table 1: Competitive Analysis Factor Me Stren gth Weakn ess Competitor A Competitor B Importance to Customer Products Price Quality Selection Service Reliability Stability Expertise Company Reputation Location Appearance Sales Method Credit Policies Advertising Image

9 IV. Having done the competitive matrix, identify the profile for you Ideal Customer. Are you targeting the decision maker, influencer or the consumer? In children s clothing the consumer won t want to spend their pocket money! Similarly in business software, the C-suite will make the decision, a committee will influence the decision and staff will use the software. Identify who has the power and influence. Now that you have systematically analysed your industry, your product, your customers and the competition, you should have a clear picture or where your company fits into the world. In one short paragraph, define your niche, your unique corner of the market and who the ideal customer is. V. Define the value proposition or customer proposition For the ideal customers and other important groups develop a value proposition: What is promise to the customer? What is the value, how is it different to other options? What is Unique Note: ensure that you align with client needs in the first instance before pulling out your Unique Selling Proposition ( USP) that will win the day. You need to be in the consideration set or shortlist before you can win. So make sure you tick the boxes before dealing the winning hand.

10 VI. Best ways to achieve maximum exposure Now outline a marketing strategy that is consistent with your niche. Promotion How will you get the word out to customers? Advertising: what media, why, and how often? Why this mix and not some other? Have you identified low cost methods to get the most out of your promotional budget? Will you use methods other than paid advertising, such as trade shows, catalogues, dealer incentives, word of mouth (how will you stimulate it?), network of friends or professionals? What image do you want to project? How do you want customers to see you? In addition to advertising, what plans do you have for graphic image support? This includes things like logo design, cards and letterhead, brochures, signage, and interior design (if customers come to your place of business). VII. Identify the customer case studies You have a system to identify repeat customers, and then systematically contact them. If relevant turn them into testimonials or use them to spread word of mouth on your behalf.

11 VIII. Tactical implementation plan Promotional Budget How much will you spend on the items below? What is the expected return? How many leads will you generate? Distribution Channels How will you market through channels? What is your plan for collateral and training? How do you sell your products/services? Retail Direct (mail order, web, social media and catalogue) Wholesale Your own sales force Agents Independent reps Bid on contracts IX. Tell Sales and Train Make sure that you have trained sales with the messages, where your spending money and the outcomes expected. Have them do the same for the channel partners. Tell them about new promotions, new focus areas. Remember they will be travelling and not in an office tailor messages for their busy life.

12 X. Mentoring and monitoring of activities Track where business comes from. You need to know which marketing tactics work best, so you can enhance the plan and stop wastage. Help staff understand how the changes have made a positive change to the business. Measure EVERYTHING add into the plan for the next planning cycle. Keep your ears out for shifts in the market. Use the plan as a living document and jump on opportunities to serve customers better even if it was not in plan A. Good luck and good planning remember failing to plan, is a plan to fail

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