Marketing Plan can be defined as a written plan or document that refers to the particular organizations adaptation of a particular marketing strategy. It can also be defined as the written plan of a company that underlines the various marketing activities that the company would undertake in the following months or weeks. A marketing plan must include general information like for example, the particular service or product that is being offered by the organization, the pricing of the product or service, the target market, that in other words means the market in which the product or service is being proposed to be sold, and important information about the different competitors who offer similar products and services, and the marketing budget, that is the amount of money or finances that has been earmarked for the purpose of this particular marketing plan.
The success of a well-planned and well-executed marketing plan depends on the amount of interest the intended customer shows in the plan. Therefore, the marketing plan must be able to generate more than ordinary interest in the customer so that the intended target of the plan would be achieved. This means that the marketing plan must specify all the various actions that the company intends to take to make the customer get interested in the product or the service in such a way that he would like to buy that product or service without much persuasion. If the marketing plan is to be successful, then the marketing strategy must also be well written and planned, since the marketing plan is nothing but the implementation of the marketing strategy. It is the marketing strategy that is responsible for providing the targets and the goals for the marketing plan, and also the path to be taken in future. A marketing plan can either be an individual document or can also be a part of the entire marketing strategy of the company.
In general, a marketing plan will include the following: the various products and services that are being offered under the particular marketing plan, the USP or the Unique Selling Proposition of the products that are being offered to the customer, the Pricing Strategy for those products and services, the Sales Plan and also the Distribution Plan for the various services and products, and the total Advertising and Promotional Plans for them. The marketing plan must also include details about the target market, and also, most importantly, details about the competition, which will be contained in the 'Competitive Analysis' part of the marketing plan.
The first step to be taken when sitting down to write a business plan is to conduct a thorough analysis and examination of the intended or the target market, that in other words defines the people who the company wants to sell the products and services to. Not all the people in the particular city or area would be interested in buying the particular product being offered by the company and this is why the specific customer would have to be analyzed and the plan be molded according to this customer. In addition, the number of such customers has to be researched, and a projection has to be made about the numbers, while keeping in mind the fact that these numbers may change due to various reasons like market trends and marketing policies.
The secret of the success for a marketing plan depends on the amount of time and resources that have been spent on 'research'. Research is important in all aspects and in all areas of the plan. In this case, the target market has to be thoroughly analyzed on the basis of these points: how old are the intended customers, and what gender do they belong to, what is their occupation, are they married and with children or are they single, where do they live, are they single, or do they belong to a family group, what is their regular income level, what is their style of living, and what is their spare time occupation, and what are their outside interests, how do they feel motivated and what in fact motivates them generally. When answers to all or some of these questions are obtained, then the first step towards creating a target market for the product or service has been taken.
Any marketing plan must have as its primary aim the plan of not only attracting large numbers of customers, but also in keeping them loyal to the particular brand that is being promoted by the company, and, most important of all, to expand the number of customers by keeping up the interest in old customers and by bringing in new customers who would stay with the company's products for a long period of time. Therefore, the marketing plan must include as its elements the four P's, which are namely the Product, the Price, the Place, and the Promotion. The Product can be described through the point-of-view of the customer, and when the analysis on the target customer base reveals certain peculiarities or a certain type of customer, then the product can be described in such a manner that these special types of customers would be attracted to the product or service. The plan can also describe the USP of the product to the proposed customer, which in other words means the specialty of the particular product that this product is in possession of and which no other similarly priced or made product can boast of possessing.
Therefore, this product is unique, and the customer must be made aware of this fact when the product is being sold to him. The description of Place must also be made from the point-of-view of the customer, and the advantages described as seen from his perspective, like for example, the accessibility of the place to the customer, the security offered within, its aesthetic appeal, and so on, so that the customer is inclined to be attracted to the place of the product. The Pricing of the product can defer to the pricing of a similar product made by a competitor, and the prices of both can be compared. Pricing must also be based on the retail costs of the product, the various labor costs and the labor costs, etc. The final price must be neither too much above that of the competition nor too much below that of the competition.
It must be in line with that of the competition, and that of the industry averages. For the purpose of Promotion, the various media that are available can be used to promote the product. These may be the print media that includes newspapers and magazines and the classifieds, the advertising media that would create advertisements that highlight the numerous advantages of the product in an extremely attractive manner, and the various other methods of promotion like the printing of business cards, and the distribution of tee-shirts and other similar mementos with the name of the company and the product that is being promoted emblazoned on it.
A marketing plan may help to sell a company's product better and improve the sales figures for the company, but there are a few disadvantages in creating such a plan. The primary disadvantage is that the inherent weaknesses of the writer of the plan and the company that wants to use such a plan are revealed to the public, as well as to the competitor, and this can be very well avoided. When the data that has been collected in the making of the plan is improperly analyzed, it will lead to the company making wrong decisions based on the faulty analyses. The financial projections outlined in the marketing plan may also lead to unrealistic expectations, again depending on the incorrect reading of the accumulated and presented data. However, the advantages of writing a marketing plan are numerous, like for example, the determination of accurate demand for the product, the assessment of the targeted customer, the ways and means of turning out a definite profit for the company, and the ways and means of widening the customer base and also inducing loyalty in the customer in a way that would allow the customer to only choose from the products that this company makes, and so on. The idea is to allow the advantages to outweigh the disadvantages so that the ultimate result of profit generation is achieved without too much of trouble.
In the creation of a marketing plan for an organization that would promote profits, the new and the latest concept of 'lateral thinking' may be used to better the plan. What is lateral thinking and how is it done. Lateral thinking is actually the manner in which a problem can be tackled. When the problem is tackled from many sides instead of handling it head-on, then it is known as lateral thinking. By using the method of lateral thinking, an employee can be turned into an enterprising entrepreneur, whereby he will use his own creative skills that are within him to…