Preparing a Marketing Plan

The marketing plan is an integral part of the business plan. Business success relies on revenue and profit predominantly derived from the turnover generated from customers. Marketing is about satisfying the needs and wants of customers, building a relationship with them and creating engagement. It is also in the interest of any organisation to build its image and earn the support of all stakeholders related to the business. At the same time products need to be promoted and communicated with the target audience.

This is only some of the work of the marketing function and the outcome of the implementation of a marketing plan.

The contents of the business plan include the SWOT Analysis, marketing objectives and strategy (which are incorporated within the overall business plan), an action programme and the budget needed to carry out the planned activity and achieve the objectives. The marketing budget of course forms part of the overall business finances.

The 4 P's: Product, Pricing, Positioning & Promotion

An effective marketing strategy’s successful implementation depends of a good mix of the key ingredients to make a product or service successful on the market.

Product: The quality of the product, its features, how it appeals to the target audience, its presentation and packaging are all important considerations when defining the product or service from the marketing point of view. In addition, depending on the product or service, customers may look for after sales service, warranties in the case of, for example, household appliances; security and peace of mind in the case of insurance policies and IT services and the atmosphere in the case of eating out as another example. Good marketers are aware of other elements surrounding the product or service itself which the consumer directly or indirectly looks for.

Pricing: Marketing concepts assist in establishing the price of a product through understanding the value which customers give to products, services and the various elements they are composed of such as level of service and benefits which have a competitive edge over other products.

Positioning and Distribution: Availability, visibility and accessibility to the product or service are also key determinants on the volume of turnover which could be generated.

Promotion: Good promotion will translate into customer engagement. In addition, building a good image and reputation could, (where this is applicable to the product or service being promoted), build the brand and goodwill for the organisation. Promotion consists of above the line (direct advertising), promotional initiatives such as sponsorships, digital marketing and other creative marketing activity.

Budgeting, Evaluation & Measurement of Results

The resources available when budgeting for a business or marketing plan are not just monetary, but also consist of many other resources available within an organisation. These could include human talent, assets and others which could be identified within an organization.

A simple idea could be effective and not cost anything grand. An example could be a facebook initiative which could be administered internally, the cost of which would be that of the chosen incentive. A loyalty scheme could also be administered internally through the organisation and regular updating of a database.

The forecast of the budget spent is typically related to sales forecasts and the anticipated results of marketing activity.

Regular evaluation of performance would assist the control of spending in relation to earnings. The establishment of sales trends over a number of years is a good tool to measure the result of promotional incentives at any point in time.

Market Intelligence

The existence and survival of a business depends on the transactions carried out between an organisation’s customers and the products and services offered. Marketing intelligence is thus vital for an organisation because it needs to know its customers, the components of its products, what the market needs and wants both currently and in the future.

Marketing intelligence is a combination of Marketing research, vision, experience, knowledge and information which the organisation has or has access to. From a marketing point of view marketing intelligence can contribute to (among others):

  • Give direction to businesses for strategic planning, to increase sales, market share and making more effective use of resources.
  • Obtain a deeper knowledge about customers’ profile, expectations and market trends.
  • To identify the market segments to whom the products and services are targeted.
  • Understanding the value that customers give to products and services and provide insight into what price tag to put on them.

Primary and secondary methods of marketing research are a vital source of having scientific market knowledge and intelligence.