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Marketing: Plans, Strategies and Mix Marketing Plans (Part 1)

Man pointing to a word in a fileSmall business owners that don’t take the time to learn how to market and develop a plan are not preparing for success.

Marketing plans contain the following seven topics:

  1. Situation Analysis (Based on existing conditions)

Prepare a Strengths – Weaknesses – Opportunities – Threats (SWOT) Analysis. This is an assessment of the internal conditions of your business and the external conditions in the market. Business News Daily has a great reference for a SWOT Analysis.

Target Customers: Analyze existing customers. Is this a customer base on which you can rely? Should it be enlarged? If so, how? Focus on the areas (potential customers) where you have the BEST CHANCE of making a sale! This is your Target Market!

Competition:

Industry Trends:

Economic Trends:

Social Trends:

Identify your main competitors’ strengths and weaknesses as well as their marketing strategies. Are there companies not now in your market that have the ability to become competitors? How can you take advantage of competitors and gain market share?

Consider the effects of industry trends on your business. Will the direction of the trends help or hurt your business? Is the entire industry expanding or contracting?

Analyze trends in the U.S. Economy such as changes in consumer confidence, interest rates, employment levels, housing starts or other factors. Do any of these affect your business on a local, regional or national basis?

Study the effects of changing demographics (age, gender, income, etc) and changes in social factors (shared values, popular beliefs and attitudes). Which of these, if any, are important to your business?

Technological Change: Consider the affects new technologies are having on your company’s products and services. What threats and opportunities do these present? Also consider changes that technology is bringing to the methods of conducting business – electronic communications and use of the Internet.

Regulatory Change: Is there any newly enacted or pending legislation that will impact your business positively or negatively? Consider all areas including safety (OHSA), environmental (EPA), tax (IRS), labor (NLRB), trade (FTC) and others.

  1. Research

Gather information from current and potential customers, contacts within the industry, discussions with distributors, suppliers, etc. Visit the web sites of industry organizations, governmental agencies and the web sites of your competitors. Your understanding of how the market is driven will give you a better picture of your industry and its operations. Determine which approaches are working and which are not. Try to identify emerging market needs.

  1. Short-Term Objectives

Describe your objectives in each key marketing area, for a specific period of time, usually one year or less. For instance, for the upcoming year, state the sales goals and the pricing levels that you want to achieve. Are you planning an advertising campaign to attract new customers? Remember “objectives” are the goals you set and “strategies” are actions you undertake to reach those goals. Objectives should be Specific, Measurable, Accurate, Realistic, and Time-oriented. Objectives with these attributes are referred to as SMART Goals.

  1. Long-Term Objectives and Strategies

Consider the long-term objectives and strategies that are critical for your ongoing success. Use a planning horizon of five years. Include product development, pricing, costs and profitability, target market, advertising, public relations and channels of distribution. How will you compete in the future and where will you be in relation to your competitors over the long term?

  1. Five-Year Plan

Include the long-term programs and major market-related initiatives that you envision your company undertaking over the next five years. Describe your strategies for profit improvement and growth. Include projections of significant financial measures such as annual sales, cost assumptions, working capital needs and other uses and sources of cash. Your five-year plan should also include any staffing additions or critical skill hiring needs.

  1. Business Review

Your marketing plan should identify each major marketing initiative and the impact you expect it to have on your business. Include a calendar of checkpoints showing the company’s projected position at specific points in the future. You should review your marketing plan on a regular (monthly or quarterly) basis to determine its effectiveness. Your marketing plan should be updated annually or when needed to keep it in sync with your overall Operating Plan. Checkpoints and frequent reviews will reveal what is working and what is not.

  1. Budget

Estimate the annual cost of each significant element of your marketing plan and list them together by marketing strategy. This enables you to compare actual cost against budget and to adjust your spending priorities. Also budget and measure the profitability of each product line so you can determine which are successful and which require some type of corrective action.

Next week we will explore Step Two of the Marketing Plan which is your marketing strategy. In the meantime if you want help a Score Counselor will work with you to assist with your marketing plan at no cost.

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