Core component of any business plan is its marketing plan. For an effective marketing plan, starting point should always be analysis of the strategic context because the main objective of any marketing plan is to promote a good or service as effectively as possible. A good marketing plan should address the number of marketing activities expected to be carried out, respective costs and expected return on investment. Objectives for the marketing plan should be
- To create awareness in the minds of potential customers about the product
- Stimulate interest in the offering, and
- Convert this interest of consumers into sales of the company
Keeping in mind the above objectives, to create an effective marketing plan assignment following need to be done:
- Detailed study about the business environment: A complete overview of the business, its internal and external environment should be studied thoroughly. In this part a SWOT analysis can also be done which includes stating the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of an organization. This can help to get a snapshot of the current scenario in which the organization is working and what are its future prospects.
- Target your section of market: Targeting the market is the core component for coming up with successful strategies. In this part, a section of market whether geographically or demographically should be defined as the target market. Everything about an ideal customer that is known should be listed down like gender, age group, preference, challenges in reaching them, potential solution to those challenges, etc. Detailed analysis of the target customer will help to make marketing strategies which are specific to them.
- Competition analysis: Every business house has to deal with competition, light or severe. It will be so much better if we study and prepare for it beforehand so that we don’t have to face any intimidation on their part. First of all, the product or service that we are offering should be described in detail. Then describe how this product is different from the ones already existing and what additional advantages it is providing to customers. Also it is very important to gather information about the competitors, their products and strategies as far as possible.
- Define a set of goals: Long term goal of any marketing plan assignment is to increase the profits of the company by creating a large customer base. But these goals have to be cut down into short term marketing goals like quarterly or yearly goals. The most important part is to set milestones for the people who are working for it and also provide for incentives for time bound achievement of goals.
- Techniques of marketing: Website of a company is its first insight from the customer’s point of view. We should make sure that website is designed to attract and educate your potential customers and stakeholders. Also social media being the most important platform for marketing should be handled with expertise and care. A clear social media mission statement should be prepared as it is going to drive the future actions. Ideal customers and their requirements should be kept in mind while working on it.
- Implementation Procedures: Only planning will not help, so it is very important to specify the procedures that will be undertaken for implementation. Some of the things which should be specifically included are as follows:
- Personnel requirements should be specified according to grade and also budget allocation should be specified.
- Financial requirements should be specified for the tasks to be undertaken
- MIS requirements
- Any expected contingencies and possible solutions for them.
- Cost benefit analysis; As it is rightly said that cost of the lock should not be more than the asset that it protects, so cost benefit analysis should be conducted in detail before allocating budget for the marketing procedures. All the costs should be detailed and revenue should be forecasted. It is very important that additional profits due to the marketing efforts should be more than amount spent on them.
- Set benchmarks: Some standards should be set as benchmarks to know whether the efforts are going in the right direction. Some metrics can be used as benchmarks like:
- Conversion rate
- Time spent
- Market penetration
- Return on investment
- Brand positioning
- Updation of plan: After making an analysis of results, marketing strategies and plans should be updated. Marketing plan should be adjusted according to changing market forces like demand for the product, pricing issues, latest platforms for marketing, etc.
Also there are some pitfalls that should be avoided while devising the marketing plan:
- Studies on customer preference should not be based on assumptions.
- Effect of competition on sales cannot be ignored at any time.
- Competing on the basis of only price.
- Building a small customer base by targeting a small section of society.
- Aspiring quick growth by using shortcuts
- Failing to make any innovation and becoming complacent about offering made to the customer.
After the above discussion on making the marketing plan assignment effective, we can conclude that without a properly devised marketing strategy, efforts to attract customers are most likely to haphazard and inefficient and strategy should be flexible enough to respond to changes in customer perceptions and demand.