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How to Create an Effective Marketing Plan

A comprehensive marketing plan is essential for any type of business because it's one of the best tools available for making a business prosperous as well as understanding the basic factors that influence the outcome of your business goals. Building a marketing plan might sound intimidating at first once you have mastered a few basic principles the process becomes a lot easier.

The importance of a marketing plan

There are endless benefits when it comes to a well thought out marketing plan. At the most basic level a marketing plan forces a business owner to get a realistic view on the on the current state of the various aspects of the macroeconomic environment that invariable affects any organization.

At a more profound level, a marketing plan can offer valuable insights that might have not been known otherwise. By analyzing all the components of the internal environment the entrepreneur is able to recognize the problems that prevent the business for developing or that have a negative effects on the profit of the company and to create a set of measures designed to correct the situation. By finding what are the threats that the business faces preventive measures can be taken early to counteract these problems.

A marketing plan forces a business owner to take a close look at the competition and to determine the main aspects that differentiates on enterprise from another.

The market share offers an accurate perspective on how the enterprise is being perceived as well as raising important questions as to what are the things that have contributed to the success or failure of the strategies that were previously implemented.

Last but not least this analysis ultimately helps the business owner to design a set of both short term and long term measurable goals and helps him decide how the budget should be spent depending on the importance of the projects that have been created.

Creating a Marketing Plan

Step 1- Gathering information

A marketing plan should be made at least once a year regardless of the size of the company. The first step when trying to create a marketing plan is to gather all the information you need about your company as well as the current business environment situation. After all this information has been gathered and compared both to the situation of the previous years (historical analysis) as well as compared to the other main competitors a quite accurate image should already be formed. After a general impression has begun forming it's time to move on to the second step.

Step 2 – The SWOT analysis

The main focus of any business plan should be the SWOT analysis. The acronym stands for Strengths Weaknesses Opportunities and Threats. This is a core element of the marketing plan that can offer more insights than anything else on the marketing plan because it deals with all the aspects that determine the current state of the business.

The SWOT analysis should be applied to all the elements of the marketing mix from the product itself to the distribution and promotion strategies as usually these elements offer the most accurate responses, being the perfect base for formulating the future objectives.

Step 3-Formulating objectives

After the SWOT analysis a few objectives should already being crystallizing in the mind of the entrepreneur. The objectives should be varied, targeting as many of the problem areas as it is realistically possible in the time line that has been set. Long term objectives (set for a period of 5+ years) and short term objectives (< 1 year) should be correlated and different strategies should be elaborated for each one of them.

Step 4-Setting the budget

The budget should contain both the expenses that will be required to apply the strategies that were established at the previous step as well as how these expenses will be distributed depending on the importance and priority of each objective as well as the incomes that are expected from the implementation of these strategies. The most challenging part of this step is figuring out the best areas to splurge on and the ares that should be kept at low, reasonable levels.

Step 5- Establishing a control system

The final step when creating a marketing plan is establishing an effective control system designed to analyze the entire process and to point out the inevitable difficulties, errors and problems that will inevitably occur. A good control system is one that is able to point out the challenges before the actual starting process begins, during the process as well as after the process has been completed.

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