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The marketing plan then, is a dynamic document which focuses on bringing


marketingstrategies to life, serving as a roadmap for carrying out marketing
activities andimplementing marketing strategies. It is a multi-step process,
which considers thefollowing:
1) Formulating a strategy of your company or your division and making sure
thatappropriate linkages are made between company strategy and
marketingactivity planning.
2) Analyzing the environment within which you do business to make sure you
consider the marketplace, the industry, competitors, and other influences.
3) Carrying out market profiling, enabling you to identif y market segment, target
customer types, and overall demand. Additionally, analysis of the industry and
competitors, coupled with analysis of customer types, enables the creation of
demand possibilities and the resulting forecasts. It also allows you to formulate
appropriate value propositions, and to position the productǯs key benefits to the
target audience, and finally, why a customer would choose your solution versus
the competition. and expressing key values and benefits to the target audience
4) The marketing mix, which considers a combination of activities which
cometogether harmoniously, in bringing the product to market and sustaining
it whilein the market, which includes:
i. Deciding on which products meet the need of identified market targets
ii. Pricing those products so that the true, competitive value is recognized
by the market targets.
iii. Defining promotional programs to reach those targets, which can include
communications and advertising programs.
iv. Creating channels to effectively distribute your products to your target
audience.
5) Determining who youǯll need to work with in successfully bringing the
product to
market, including sales teams (to make sure that volumes can be attained),6)
Launching new products or product line extensions as needed.7) Training the
sales force to competitively position the product or service.8) Budgeting of
marketing programs so that the appropriate sales goals and
corporate strategies can be attained.
9) Executing on the plan - creating marketing project plans, and understanding
dependencies on other organizations. Also included are measurements to
determine the success of your marketing activities.
10) Identifying risks.

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Step 1 Ȃ Define the Strategy
Strategy is carried out as a multi-step process, defined as:
1) Assessing the current situation (where you are)2) Identifying the desired
end state or goal (where you want to be)3) Mapping a path to achieve the goal
(the strategy)4) Creating measurements to determine success factors5) Re-
assessing the situation and revise the strategy
Each is described below:
SWOT analysis. SWOT stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities,
andthreats. The overarching goal of SWOT is to determine where the
companyǯsproducts, services, or product lines fit within the context of the
internal and theexternal environments. Conducting this analysis helps you to
figure out where it istoday, and where it needs to be in the future. Use this table
to organize the elementa
SWOT

An outcome of the SWOT analysis is to help you define what youǯre good at and
toleverage those strengths to determine the opportunities you might be able to
takeadvantage of. Weaknesses reveal your vulnerabilities. By harnessing this
data, youǯllhave a way to validate and guide your marketing investments. From
this exercise, youcan also derive some key marketing objectives which carry
through to the next exercise.

The ultimate goal is to uncover opportunities on which your company can


capitalize.

Step 2 Ȃ Business Environment Analysis


Analyzing the business environment is situated as Step 2 in this template
toemphasize its importance in data gathering. Steps 1 and 2, formulating
strategy andbusiness environment analysis can actually go hand in hand. The
reason is thatthese are surveying techniques that allow you to put the
information into perspective.Business environment analysis actually can help
feed SWOT analyses. The reasonfor this is that the business
environmentinfluences your strategies. For example, ancompetitive threat
influences how you identify or prioritize new opportunities.
Marketing professionals often refer to environmental analysis as Ǯscanning.ǯ
Businessenvironmental analysis is not a one-time event; it is an on-going effort.
It is incumbenton team members to adopt a focus on scanning the horizon and
be constantly on thelook out for shifts and changes. Since the marketplace is
always changing, yourawareness helps you to understand business drivers and
evolving customer needs,which leads to the identification of market
opportunities, alert you to potential problemswith customers, competitors, and
the industry in general. Another area on which youmay with to focus when
deriving strategies for products or markets has to do withunderstanding of Key
Business Issues Ȃ what are the compelling issues impactingcurrent marketing
strategies and programs? Are there overwhelming issues relating tounmet
demand or business need which has been uncovered?
To help understand or visualizing business issues is to organize them in a table
like theone shown below. List each key business issue and each possible
marketing strategywhich could be considered in relation to each business issue
Ȃ and then list anyresource requirements. Summarize these in the table below:

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Step 3 Ȃ Market Profiling
Market profiling involves the market research that needs to be carried out.
Theultimate goal is to identify the attractiveness of the marketplace and the
competitiveposture you wish to assume. From this, you can determine the
ultimate demand foryour product or service with respect to market share,
revenue potential, andultimately, the profitability of your products and
services. Market profiling is made upof the following activities:
1)Analyzing the industry in which your company compete. Here are some
approaches to identifying the characteristics of the industry:

a. Identify if there are any political issues in the geographic area of interest.b.
Determine the general state of the economy.c. Understand any of the societal
trends or issues which may be prevalent in
your area of interest.d. Consider the state of the technologies used in this
market spacee. Secure actual growth rates of the industry using visuals to show
the trend
lines.
f. Find out if there are any trends you can discern being used within this
industry space.
g. Determine how products and services are actually delivered from supplier
to customer.
2)Understanding the competitors with whom you compete. In order to carry
this out, here are some suggestions:
a. Make a list of competitors, along with the products they offer. Can
youdetermine the total revenue of all competitors combined? This couldgive
you a rough estimate of the size of the overall marketplace.
b. Determine the brand images of each of the competitors.
c. Identify how each of the products are positioned in the market and with
respect to other competitors.d. Find out who their suppliers are.e. Determine
the number of employees on staff, and whether they are
hiring more people or cutting back, and why.
f. Make a list of the kinds of activities they engaged in over the past yearor two.
For example, did they introduce new products, adjust theirprices, embark on
advertising campaigns, etc.
i. Take this list and figure out what you think they might do next,
andǥ
ii. Make a list of the kinds of things you might want to compete.
g. Use the following table to create a profile for each competitor

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Name of
Competitor
Name of Product
or Products
Estimated MarketShare (andsupportingassumptions)
What is thestrategy of thiscompetitor withrespect to thisproduct?
What are the
weaknesses of the
product? Is the
competitor
vulnerable?
Why should a customerchoose our product overthe competition?
3)Identifying market segments and ultimate customers to pursue.Market
segments represent groupings of customer types who have similar
needs.Market segmentation helps the product manager or marketing manager
to tailor aspecific marketing mix to satisfy the needs of a group of customers (a
segment).Market targets are sub-groups with similar needs. For each of the
followingexercise, you may be broadly defining market segments, or defining
markettargets within those segments. The more finely focused your efforts,
that is, onyour target markets, the more focused your marketing programs will
be. Sincecustomers are driven by needs (problems that need to be solved), your
completeunderstanding of these segments, and the targeted groups will help
you withmore finely tuned marketing programs. Use this questioning technique
to helpyou:
a. Name the segment or segments
i. Use age, geography, or other means
Ȉ
Example Ȃ People living in the northeast states
b. Define the target
i. Use more detailed categorizations
Ȉ
Example Ȃ Employed males aged 50-60 living in New York
State with incomes over $75,000
c. Define the buying process. Depending on the kind of product and themarket
(business to consumer products versus business to businessproducts), you
need to be able to define how people make purchasingdecisions. In businesses,
the decision maker may be different than theactual user of the product.
Consumers, depending on whether the productis a daily staple, durable
necessity (cars, appliances, etc.), or impulseitem, the buying process is
different.

4)Forecasting sales volumes and market share. Most people equate


forecastingto short-term estimates of sales or unit volumes. Forecasting to
evaluate marketopportunities and potential profitability is a long-range
planning activity and ismore complex. The reason becomes clear when
considering that all businessestry to create forecasts so they can put business
and marketing programs intoperspective. For example, marketing programs
may require periodic investmentsor product groups may be considering the
launch of a new or improved product,or businesses may be considering
expansion into new markets. Therefore, keydecisions are made based on
forecasts. Unfortunately, most forecasts areinaccurate. Thatǯs because they are
forecasts. It is a difficult task at bestespecially in industries where market
conditions can change rapidly.
However, we can try to minimize the errors of forecasting by trying to
understandas much about the market environment as possible so that we can
determine ifthere is a market for a product or service, where that market is and
how much ofit can be captured over what period of time? Once the market is
understood andbelieved to be attractive, one can then determine what
investment should bemade in marketing activities to access that market. Your
market share forecastsmay be driven by some of the following (although these
will vary by industry andmarket):
a. The maximum number of customers in a market area
b. The number of customers whose needs create an interest in specific
products and servicesc. The rate at which customers actually use productsd.
The affordability of products being offerede. The value and benefits of the
products being offered
If you were running an airport and wanted to find out the probability of
successfor a retail store selling travel supplies and impulse items, you might
need tofind out how many passengers go through the airport every day. You
wouldneed to understand the number of planes, their capacity and schedules
inorder to figure out how many people would actually be passing th rough
agiven area, and then make assumptions about the number of people
whowould have an interest in shopping in that store. Further, you would want
tofigure out how much an average purchase might be in that store and
multiplythat amount by the number of people who you believe might go into
that store.This is just the beginningǥ

Step 4 Ȃ Marketing Mix


Once the market segments and the market targets are determined, actionable
elementsof the marketing plan can be uncovered. The Marketing Mix is a
commonly used termappearing in many marketing publications and is used
widely by marketing managersand product managers to describe the
framework for actual marketing plans andprograms for a company. To describe
the marketing mix, one expression has becomepredominant Ȃ the 4Ps, which
include:
Ȉ
Product Ȃ a complete description of the product, its attributes, and how its
benefits and value are positioned in the marketplace.
Ȉ
Price Ȃ A translation of the value or willingness of a customer to pay for the
product.
Ȉ
Promotion Ȃ how customers are informed about the product or how businesses
communicate benefits, value, pricing actions, or product attributes.
Ȉ
Place (distribution channels) Ȃ the manner in which businesses deliver products
to customers.
The marketing plan should contain a description of all of the elements of the
marketingmix. Imagine that each P is a lever in a Ǯmarketing machine.ǯ As the
product movesthrough the market, the product team and/or marketing
managers will be makingadjustments to those Ǯleversǯ of the marketing mix.
The goal for this section of themarketing plan is to define each of the elements
of the marketing mix and how thoseelements will come together in a cogent
plan.
In managing the Marketing Mix, it is important to understand that no one lever is
pulledon its own. These levers are adjusted in a synchronized, holistic manner
in response toa variety of observed conditions or data about market conditions.
For example, yourpromotional mix may be made up of a series of print
advertising campaigns, events, andemail advertising. Your pricing programs
may include promotional tie-ins and discounts,and your promotional
campaigns may focus only on select channels..
Additionally, your marketing mix activities should be accompanied by market
drivenmetrics. Metrics may focus on things like customer satisfaction, revenue
growth, marketshare, customer retention rates, etc. Your company may
establish many metrics whichmay need to be modeled or analyzed using
simulations or sensitivity studies to showhow one specific marketing mix
model and the variables which may influence marketoutcomes.
Key practices to consider in the marketing mix are the creation of value
propositionsand in positioning the product. The Value Proposition is used to
define and prove theeconomic or strategic benefit of the product or service for
a given target market. It mustbe expressed in the customerǯs terms. The proof
should be expressed clearly (e.g.,improves revenue, saves time byǥ, improves
operating efficiencies byǥ., enablesmore rapid decision making withǥensures
higher levels of quality or integrity

The Product Positioning Statement is a tool to describe how you wish your
company
and your product to be perceived by your target audience.You may wish to start
with a
statement describing your company or your division: Who are you? (your
company,
business unit?) Ȃ as an optional contextual opening statement. This is
particularly usefulif you combine company positioning (as advocated by Ries &
Trout) with productpositioning.
To prepare your positioning statement you need:
1) The name of the product2) The target market3) An understanding of the
needs of that market and how those needs are to be satisfied
with your product or service
4) How your product or service is better than that of the competition.
Step 5 Ȃ Resources Identification
None of the elements of a marketing plan can be carried out unless the
contributionsof all resources are known and understood. Depending on the size
of the companyand degree of specialization, the resources should be identified,
the known workitems should be defined, and the timelines and schedules
should be clear to allstakeholders. Here is a template to use with an example

Step 6 Ȃ Launching Products and/or Services


If the marketing plan includes the introduction of a new product, a line -
extension, orderivative, a formal launch plan should be established. The
product launch is an intenseseries of activities and tasks that actually begins in
the early product developmentphase. The product launch should be treated as
a complex project with a variety ofdates and deliverables, and is a
representation of the confluence of development andmarketing activities, and
is best achieved through efficient cross-functional teaminteractions. There are
complex dependencies between cross-functional teammembers.
In the table below, the launch plan activities (deliverables) are shown by
function, with theappropriate start and end dates. Of utmost importance is the
understanding by all functionallaunch team members, are the dependencies of
one team on another. The synchronization oftasks, activities, and deliverables
is critical to achieve an on-time launch. You will want tocreate a plan similar to
this for your products.

Step 7 Ȃ Training the Sales force


As products and services evolve, the sales force should have updated information
and training so they are prepared to qualify customers and represent the value
and benefits provided by the products and services they represent. Whether or
not the sales force is direct or indirect, they need to be equipped with the right
tools to drive the revenue objectives of the firm. This section is devoted to
defining the work needed to help the sales force to sell. It should be written
simply and concisely and in an objective style, and should include:
Ȉ
The markets on which youǯre focusing
Ȉ
Overviews about the products, services, or solutions overviews theyǯll be selling
Ȉ
Methods to qualify opportunities and to understand customer needs
Ȉ
Methods to capture the customerǯs attention by providing compelling value
propositions
Ȉ
Positioning for the product against the competition
Ȉ
Customer references
Ȉ
Resources where more information is available for sales teams
1) Selling Strategy Ȃ Provide a paragraph or some bullets that can be used to help
the
sales teams to be successful
2) Describe the product, service or solution. If there are simple diagrams or
product
architectures, they should be included here. Furthermore, provide the following:
a. List price and possible discounts
b. A marketplace summary, including segments, targets, and ideal
customerprofiles. Also, help them to identify key buyers, users, influencers, or
decisionmakers, if the situation warrants this.
c. The availability dates, which correspond to the established market windows.
3) Teach the Sales force to get the customerǯs attention and get them excited
about whatǯsbeing offered. Each target group has a specific set of needs. These
were identifiedduring the market segmentation and targeting. Compelling
information which serves tosurprise customers and prospects because of your
knowledge and understanding oftheir specific issues and challenges will be
highly beneficial to establishing rapport. Thefollowing sub -sections establish
this framework for you, and were described in otherparts of this marketing
plan.
.a. A description of the market segment and the target groups in this
segmentb. Listing of observed customer issues and challenges, which may be
articulated as
Ǯneeds.ǯ
c. The value proposition (see earlier sections on this topic) which can be used to
describe the benefits of the product, service or solution
d. The positioning statement. Pay particular attention to your advantages versus
the
competition.
e. An analysis of the competition

Step 8 Ȃ Budgeting
No marketing or business plan is complete without a financial plan. The budgets
established forthis marketing plan should be prepared within the context of the
financial targets for the firm.Furthermore, the financial plan establishes some
of the metrics against which actualperformance will be evaluated as the plan is
executed.
Here is a sample profit and loss statement with a more detailed view of the
marketing plans andprograms magnified, to show how these marketing
budgets are integrated with the financialplan. The numbers are fictitious and
are used for demonstration purposes only.

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Inc.Page 14
As a direct input to the P&L for the product or business, the marketing activities
that areintended to be carried out, require detailed budgets. Therefore, this
table is provided. I will helpyou in the creation of a budget for each intended
marketing activity. It doesnǯt mean that eachand every program will be carried
out. These may need to be evaluated on a case by casebasis, depending on the
state of the business, affordability, etc. Provide as much detail as youcan.
Indicate any assumptions that you can to support each item.

Step 9 Ȃ Executing
Just like the Launch plan, the marketing plan is usually carried out by a number
ofindividuals from other business functions, or other groups within the
marketingdepartment. If, for example, there is a pricing team, and their
programs are dependenton the advertising and promotion teamǯs work with
outside agencies, their work plansneed to be coordinated and the associated
dependencies identified. As the marketingteams meet together, or with the
cross-functional product team, the deliverables andmetrics should be fully
understood so that program status and issues can becommunicated.
The table below can be used to define each marketing plan element, the
committed time frames, responsible department, etc. This can be used to both
summarize all deliverables in one place, so that programs can be tracked.

Measurements (or metrics)


Every dimension of the marketing plan requires an investment. Whether itǯs
carryingout a research project or investing in a big advertisement. All activities
are planned todrive business. Therefore, measurements need to be put into
place to determinewhether the investment yielded the intended results. Typical
measurements mightconsider:
-
Did the marketing program generate the number of sales leads?
-
Were the number of sales leads sufficient to create proposals which led to new
business?
-
Did the advertisement generate more visits to the website?
-
Did the new product generate higher levels of customer satisfaction?
It is up to the person, team, or organization to determine w hich metrics to use,
thefrequency with which they are evaluated, and the follow on action plans
which clarifyor redirect the business in deriving new marketing initiatives.

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Step 10 Ȃ Risk Analysis
As described, all operational elements and project plans need to come
togetherseamlessly, results tracked against performance metrics, and
corrective actions taken.Unfortunately, this isnǯt always the case. This section
should be used to articulate therisks and issues that may emerge if deadlines
arenǯt met or results arenǯt achieved.
The mere mention of these items is only the first step. The real challenge is to
define
the alternative action plans should a specific condition be encountered
Conclusion
A marketing plan, like other plans, is a roadmap, enabling a business to define
itscurrent situation (where are we?), its goals (where do we want to go?) and
the pathto get there (the marketing strategy and the tactical plans, as
represented by themarketing mix). Carrying out this process requires a degree
of discipline, structure,and some creativity. It cannot be emphasized enough
that market profiling andresearch be carried out on an ongoing basis. The
marketplace is filled with so manydynamics, that by not paying attention, you
could lose your competitive advantage.
For additional information, contact Sequent Learning Networks, your trusted
source
for marketing and product management training and advisory services.