Business Planning Documents – How to Create a Great Marketing Plan

A marketing plan is essential to the overall development of any company. Before beginning, make sure the project is well-researched. It is easy to figure out how to put together a business plan or a sales plan simply from a basic Google search, but a marketing plan requires a little more investigation. A trip to the local book store or even a near by university research library can be very advantageous in this task. Take care to ensure you understand the components of how each section is put together and get a full understanding of terms and where to find supporting data. The plan will rest on how realistic the data is inside of it and the content that is presented.

The basic components of a marketing plan are as follows:

Contents
Having a simple table of contents will be beneficial to both the composer of the document as well as the audience. It serves as a basic guide for how detailed the contents of the document are and where to quickly find desired information.

Lists of Tables
While it is not mandatory, providing a list of tables to supplement the table of contents adds to the the credibility of the author as well as the professional presenting the plan. It is also a great way to quickly guide readers to the plan’s empirical data.

Executive Summary
This section should be written last. It is best put in place when all of the research and planning is complete to provide insight on what is housed in the plan. Although it may be tempting to complete this section before the others, keep in mind that any research and planning may lead to conclusions not originally considered or expected. Also, this section improves on communication levels and encourages involvement from staff members by crystallizing the key goals and plan details for the team to understand what role marketing plays in the company as a whole.

Company Strategy
Providing a link to overall strategy and illustrating marketing’s contribution to achieving the company’s goals is what this segment of planning allows for. It is a substantial section that looks at the overall company mission.

External & Internal Analysis
This section of the plan allows for an unbiased evaluation of the company’s competitive standing. Looking to factors both inside the company walls as well as factors that come from the outside world, this section assists the writer in understanding how realistic the plan is overall.

Marketing Objectives
In addition to outlining the goal that is trying to be accomplished, this portion of the marketing plan assists in defining financial targets and translating those into specific measurable marketing objectives such as, but not limited to market share, sales volume and customer retention. Such items can easily be translated into a CRM package if the plan is feasible.

Marketing Strategy
The actual marketing campaigns and programs are discussed in this section by way of the promotional mix: what will be sold, where it will be sold, what makes it a great item to sell and at what price it will be sold. While this task may seem like the most simple of the entire plan, it truly is the most difficult and requires the most research. In order to develop an effective strategy, the marketer must be fully aware of what competitor’s marketing strategies are as well as the marketing trends for the specific industry; address those two items and still somehow find a way to differentiate the company’s product. Be certain to give this section of the plan adequate time, thought, investigation and discussion.

Implementation
Break the specific programs down into lists of activities with time scales and assign responsibility to each task. A contingency (e.g. funds or time) may be set to cover any unforeseen problems. The best way to do this will be through a project management system or by requesting the support of a Project Manager.

Control & Forecasting
In this section, discuss how the system will work and how success of the marketing plan will be tracked. Also, based on the research that has been previously collected, make educated assumptions regarding how much the program will cost and how much revenue it will generate.

Appendix
Use this section to place any charts, tables, graphs and the like that may distract the reader from the content of the plan, but still supports the overall thesis of the work.

Here is a sample of how the table contents should turn out:

I. Content

II. List of Tables

III. Executive Summary

IV. Company Strategy
Goals & Objectives
Summary Overall Position & Company Strategy

V. External & Internal Analysis
Internal
SWOT Analysis
External
Market Overview
Competitor Analysis
Future Trends

VI. Marketing Objectives
Financial Objectives
Marketing Objectives

VII. Marketing Strategy
Market Segmentation
Competitive Advantage
Segmentation Strategy
Promotional Mix
Product
Price
Place
Promotion

VIII. Implementation
Schedule of Key Tasks
Resource Allocation
Budgets
Contingency

IX. Control & Forecasting
Key Assumptions
Critical Success Factors
Established Benchmarks
Measurement Tools
Financial Forecasts
Costs
Revenue

X. Appendix

Booklet A: Sales Plan

Once the writing is complete, it is important to ensure that the marketing plan is in a presentable format. Consulting a Technical Writer or Graphic Designer to assist you in putting the document in a well-presented template will add to the credibility of the work as well as the audience’s receptiveness. Take the time to select a delivery method that not only looks great but suits the audience as well. Some options to choose from are: bound manual, web page, PDF or a flash presentation on a CD.

Once the content is complete and the company has selected how the material will be presented, set it aside for a few days or even weeks and come back to it with fresh eyes to check for grammatical or formatting errors. When it is done to full satisfaction, it is then time to distribute the marketing plan as desired and rest assured that the comprehensive marketing plan that will support the company endeavor!

Why Your Business Needs a Marketing Plan

Almost every company that has a product to sell should engage in marketing activities. Marketing is used to communicate and negotiate with potential exchange business clients. Some types of marketing can be aggressive whereas other types are more effective in a subtle approach. When thinking about marketing, it is important to consider if you will need extensive marketing strategies to grow your business.

This is mainly done through a marketing plan. The components of a plan that will involve extensive marketing can include ways to stimulate and communicate to customers what you have for sale, or ways to increase the use of your services. Even non-profit organizations such as a hospital or museum can be found carrying out a marketing strategy and it would all start with a marketing plan. Often the plan of a company is not often will organized or well laid out. By reading it, it is obvious that they have not considered how to extensively market.

Quite a lot of multinational companies have also started to include more information on the demographics that will be targeted within the plan. This helps to concentrate marketing efforts on the right people that the product or service is geared towards. It will also decrease the amount of time spent marketing to the wrong demographics of people.

Ultimately the plan can help you see your target audience might be. This target audience is the customer in the consumer industry or the client in the business industry. The plan is needed to focus the attention on the customers who have previously purchased goods and services in the past, either for their own use or to give away as gifts.

These are the best customers as they might be counted on to make purchases in the future. There are other customers that a marketing plan can be used to target. For example, those a plan can be established for those customers that only purchased once in the past. It is also a very beneficial to think about sending marketing information to those who wanted more details about a product or service but have not purchased since receiving the last information.

Another reason in which a company will need a plan is to highlight the products and services it has available. When it is fully laid out on paper, the company might be able to see areas in which more marketing needs to be unleashed against a particular product. Without having this plan in place, a company can spend a less of its time concentrating marketing efforts on a product that might need more advertising and marketing directed at it. Therefore, anyone who is serious about operating a business should construct a marketing plan.

Marketing Plan Software – Will It Work For Your Business?

Marketing plan software developers suggest that their tool will help you create a plan for your company without knowing anything about marketing. All you have to do, they say, is point and click.

So the question is, do they really work for your business? As a marketing coach, I’m inclined to say no. And yes. Let me explain.

Like all tools, you’re going to get out the equivalent of what you put in. This is true both for your investment in the tool and in your ability to use it effectively.

A $100 hammer is the same as a $10 hammer in the hands of rookie carpenter who has never hammered in a nail before. But in the hands of a journeyman carpenter, that same $10 hammer can be used much more effectively. And when you combine the higher quality hammer with the expert carpenter, the output potential is much greater.

But do you really need a $100 hammer and a journeyman carpenter to hang a picture frame? The obvious answer is, “no, you don’t.” But if you’re hanging a masterpiece, you want to be darn sure that it looks great and won’t fall off the wall!

What I’m getting at here is that there are many factors that you need to take into account when you’re trying to determine whether or not to use marketing plan software to create a plan for your business. If you do decide you use software, which version will you use?

What Hammers and Marketing Plan Software Have In Common

A marketing plan is an essential component of any successful business because it describes both the business objectives, core customer base (or target market) as well as the competitive factors that stand in your way.

Since your business requires customers to survive and thrive, and since marketing is about the acquisition and retention of customers, your marketing plan will ultimately determine the fate of your business.

For that reason, the future of your company could rest upon your decision about whether or not to use marketing plan software to create the plan that your business will rely on for the foreseeable future.

Just like the journeyman carpenter who can use just about any hammer to do an above average job, you also need the marketing and business savvy to create an effective marketing plan for your business. When you have that essential knowledge, which hammer you use (your selection of marketing plan software) becomes less important because you’re more likely to produce an above average result.

Of course, again like the expert carpenter, when you combine exceptional knowledge with exceptional tools, the likelihood of producing a masterpiece goes up exponentially.

So, when it comes to marketing plan software, the key lies not in the tool you select, but in your experience and level of understanding of core marketing concepts and principles.

The Essential Restaurant Marketing Plan

Why do you need a restaurant marketing plan? For the same reason that a builder needs blueprints to build a house. A goal without a plan is just a wish. Are you wishing for success or do you have a plan in place for success?

A comprehensive restaurant marketing plan should be created once a year, where you take the time to assess your current business condition, and make goals for the next 12 months to map out where you want the business to be a year from now. A complete plan contains an in-depth analysis of where you are, what the conditions are in the market, and identifies your opportunities for growth.

Many restaurant operators believe that a marketing plan is essentially an advertising calendar. “We’re scheduled to be on the radio this week, followed by a coupon mailer next week, then some TV ads plus a newspaper insert.” While an advertising and promotions calendar is useful and should be a part of your marketing plan, it is not the plan itself.

Following is an outline of the main sections of a marketing plan.

• Executive Summary: This is an overview of what’s to come, the “Cliffs Notes” version of your restaurant marketing plan. Consider this as the condensed elevator speech that summarizes what’s contained in the following pages. The Executive Summary should be written last, after all the other sections are completed.

• Situation Analysis: This section includes a Market Summary, presenting your Target Markets, Market Needs, Market Trends, and Market Growth. This is followed by a SWOT Analysis of your business, which looks at the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats to your restaurant business. Follow this up with a look at your competition, and your service offerings and keys to success.

• Marketing Strategy: Start this section with your Mission Statement, followed by your marketing objectives and goals for the coming year. This leads into a look at your Financial Objectives because marketing should be an investment that brings a return for the company. The next sub-sections deal with the nitty gritty of your marketing. Who are you targeting? How are you positioning your restaurant? What methods are you using to reach your target audience? Follow it up with any marketing research you may have available.

• Financials, Budgets, and Forecasts: This section provides an overview of the financial aspects of your restaurant as they relate to the marketing efforts, including break-even analysis, sales forecasts and expense forecasts.

• Controls: This final section breaks down how this plan is being put into action. Lay out the timeline of the important milestones for your marketing initiatives. This could include dates for planning, production, implementation, analyzing results, etc. plus budgeting information.

Creating a comprehensive restaurant marketing plan takes some time and effort, but you will enjoy many benefits by having a plan. You will have a better understanding of your business; it provides an opportunity to really think about where you currently are; and it helps identify what direction your company needs to go to really grow. The restaurant marketing plan is the roadmap to turn your goals into a reality.