The marketing plan is an essential strategic document that is required by every business to get their product or service to the hands of their prospective customers. It involves the roadmap as to which awareness and demand for a product can be created.
It is as such that the marketing planning process is a quintessential step in developing a fully-fledged business plan. However, it is not just companies who develop marketing methods, but organizations as well. It is through a marketing plan that the overall image of an organization can be shown in its full light.
A marketing plan can be implemented in either a business that is just about to start or any existing enterprise that plans on launching a new product or service line.
Determining Your Objectives and the Audit Process
The first step in the planning process is determining where the company or organization is at the current moment. This allows a company to take note of its existing resources and align them with what they want to achieve.
During this determinant stage, one analyzes both their internal and external marketing environments. Internal, being the framework of the company itself, and external referring to the macro and microenvironment, namely the environment (political, regulatory, technical, etc.), prospective customers, suppliers, etc.
This audit is then placed onto a Strength, Weakness, Opportunity, and Threat (SWOT) framework to determine which areas the organization has a comparative or competitive advantage, and which areas need special attention.
The state of the organization needs to be determined first to align it with the objectives of the marketing process. Once this external and internal audit is complete, it is now feasible to make way for goals.
There is a usual examination of current capabilities and resources of the company, as well as a barrage of other factors as well.
The marketing objectives determine where the company wants to be in the future. This involves determining how much of the market share should the product have, the launch of complementary products, the adoption rates, any other metrics that other decision-making units in the company may assign.
Common marketing objectives commonly revolve around the competitive standing of the product or product line and the financial results of the overall marketing campaign.
In this part of the process, ballpark budgets can be assigned to align with the next stage of the planning.
Competitive Strategy: Segmentation, Targeting, and Positioning
Once an audit has been made, and objectives have been set, it is essential to start the marketing segmentation process. Most products will appeal to broader markets, and some will only appeal to subsectors of a current market.
An organization must be able to determine how it wants to position itself in the market for it to be successful in the penetration process. During this period, marketing strategists might ask questions such as:
- Will the product establish a niche position?
- Will it be aggressive in its stance and go against the big players?
- Will it be a complementary product?
Segmentation involves splitting up the market into smaller chunks so that targeting these areas can be more manageable. Market segmentation is so integral in targeting that it is the primary tactic used in account-based marketing in business-to-business (B2B) channels. Targeting allows an organization to create customized campaigns that are built to convert people more efficiently than other means.
Positioning, on the other hand, involves differentiating the product and the brand in these target markets. This is where the unique selling proposition (USP) of the product for that particular market is determined.
Current and future competitors have to be correctly analyzed, and plans of adjustment and attack will also have to be formulated. Markets are extraordinarily dynamic, and disrupting a market also results in consequences for a company. Being able to prepare for a competitor’s retaliatory strike is also considered in this stage of the planning process.
The Marketing Mix
Once the objective market position has been established, it is now that a firm can determine the process of trying to reach those objectives. The common question at this stage for every firm is, “How do we get there?
It is here that the four main Ps of marketing are given the spotlight:
- Product – We’ve talked about the differentiation of the product, but now other elements have to be considered such as the core, supplementary, and complementary products that can be sold with the main product. For consumer goods, this can also translate to the different sizes and types of product offering.
- Place – The place refers to where your products will be available; one cannot forget the digital marketplace and distribution and logistical networks. The delivery system is as integral as the product itself because if the product cannot get to the customer in the first place, there is no use targeting that customer.
- Price – The pricing structure is an integral part of the marketing mix as it is one of the main determinants of a customer’s willingness to purchase the product. The psychology of the pricing process is essential.
- Promotion – This part of the mix involves “marketing communication” and how the product will be put forward to prospects.
A successful company knows that there are different combinations of the marketing mix and each product needs more focus on one aspect more than the other.
Digital Marketing Strategy
The world’s adoption rate of all things digital has been growing tremendously, and it is apparent that there is no stopping it anytime soon. The growth of mobile is staggering, with more than half of Internet searches now performed on mobile devices. It is no surprise that a digital marketing strategy is now becoming an integral part of any marketing planning process.
The reason that digital marketing is given the limelight here is the fact that almost the entire marketing mix has a digital aspect you can consider. Some products can even be fully integrated to have a strict online marketing presence, such as digital design. However, this is not applicable to all products and services that you can present in the market.
Digital marketing encompasses a wide variety of aspects, namely: your website presence, social media platform presence, exposure through online advertisements, information dissemination through different channels, etc
Your digital strategy can also add to your logistical policy, as a company can open its doors to new markets using the internet.
Marketing Communication System
Communicating your product and services’ selling points to your target market can involve a different number of combined outlets. For example, a traditional media campaign can revolve around press releases and advertising.
A successful marketing planning process will take into account the various channels that will be used to convey the message of the brand. These include:
- Standard advertising
- Newspaper and traditional print
However, times are changing, and one cannot discount the role of digital marketing. We now have new mediums in which a company may conduct marketing such as:
- Online advertising
- Content marketing
- Social media management
- Search engine optimization
For every channel that will be utilized, an organization must be able to set both an actionable and measurable strategy, with its own clear set of stratagems to follow in order for quantifiable results to be achieved.
In longer sales cycles, there has to be a lead nurturing plan that plots out how channels will be utilized to maintain the buyer interest as they are led through the sales pipeline.
Creating an Omnichannel Presence
Another aspect that a lot of successful companies plan for is their omnichannel nature, which allows them to provide a streamlined shopping experience to all their prospects and customers. No matter where these people are in their sales pipeline, it is crucial that they are engaged in every step of the way.
Being able to plan the integration of several channels is an essential aspect of the marketing plan. For example, in longer sales cycles, information must be available for the buyer at every step of the way while the lead is being nurtured.
Marketing Budget and Systems
The systems aspect of the marketing planning process is as important as the entire plan itself because it lists down all the actionable items that an organization must do to get to the main objective.
Each part of the product mix has to be highlighted and given a systematic approach towards its completion. For example, for place, questions such as the logistical capabilities must be addressed and given objectives. Each step of the plan has to be given a detailed breakdown of what has to be achieved for the program to be systematic.
However, it is not just about listing the activities required to achieve a specific goal. It is also about assigning responsibilities for these goals. Each process has to be assigned a point person to achieve proper accountability measures. It also makes troubleshooting faster.
There must also be a measurable activity schedule for time to be budgeted accordingly. They can be set to run to perform to specific key performance indicators (KPIs) that are either tangible or intangible, such as being able to penetrate certain regions and establish goodwill.
Many also assume that a budget only concerns a monetary system of compensation, but it doesn’t. It also encompasses the total amount of time that is attributed to these processes and the manpower that should be assigned.
From the success of a promotional booth at a supermarket to the click-through rate of a digital marketing campaign, a monitoring system has to be implemented to define if a campaign is successful.
However, these systems are not just built to provide results at the end of a campaign, but to provide real-time data to strategists. Contrary to popular belief, marketing is a data-driven field. Given that data is being generated real-time, a strategist can adjust campaigns on-the-fly.
In the case of digital marketing, a strategist can run an A/B test given the data that is being generated, and determine what strategy to pursue maximum efficacy.
This type of “course correction” is vital to enterprises that are cash-strapped because it allows them to be efficient with the resources that they have.
Once a campaign has reached its endpoint, the difference between the goals and the recorded performance can now be studied. These studies form the basis of future marketing plans that a company can employ.
Some companies even share these studies with others in order to improve on collective marketing efforts or even as an incentive—as is frequently seen in lead generation for websites running a digital marketing campaign.
The growth of digital marketing has allowed for campaigns in the digital realm to be actively monitored with greater accuracy than traditional information dissemination campaigns.
It is also important to note that these points have to be combined to provide a streamlined approach in the marketing of these aspects. This will be referred to and referenced to on occasion.
The marketing planning process doesn’t necessarily end when one plan ends. It is usually combined and integrated as time goes on. As mentioned earlier, there will be a lot of adjustments and realignment dependent on the data that is coming.
A current marketing plan may be adapted and revisited as time goes by, and the way one should perceive a marketing plan is through its extremely dynamic nature. When a current strategy is working, the only next viable option is to try and scale it.
As was mentioned earlier, markets are incredibly dynamic, and an organization must allow itself some leeway for market reactions, market adoption, and the velocity as to which their target market is educated about their campaigns.
Not everything can be planned for, but the beauty of an active monitoring campaign is that it makes the reaction speed faster for decision-makers to adapt to changes as they come. A successful business will recognize this.
Most successful businesses—whether your traditional brick-and-mortar establishment or newer fully digital operations—have found success in the implementation of a dynamic marketing plan. It is only through proper and ample planning that you can achieve successful results in the sales process.