5 essential components of an effective marketing plan

A well-reasoned, detailed and focused marketing plan is a vital part of a successful business strategy. Yet many companies continue to rely on reactive product development, stop-start customer communications and ad hoc advertising campaigns. If you recognise this approach within your business then it’s likely you’ll always be playing catch-up, always behind the curve, and continually running flat out to follow your market leaders’ moves. In commercial terms, you’ll lose customers, sales will decline and you’ll fail to identify and exploit clear market opportunities.

A marketing plan doesn’t have to be complicated. Keep it simple and you’re more likely to stick to it. Plus, you’ll be able to share it with other areas of the business, bring key stakeholders on board and gain company-wide buy-in. So where do you start?

Sign post representing the objectives in a marketing plan1.Objectives

Without clear objectives you’ll never know if you’re on track to succeed, and you won’t know when you’re falling behind the pace. So it’s important to agree sensible, achievable marketing objectives that challenge the business and translate into commercial success. You may choose to target customer acquisition, market share or brand equity, or indeed any objectives that are relevant to your marketplace. But always select metrics that you’ll be able to track easily over time, so you have visibility of what’s working and what’s not.

man developing a value proposition for inclusion in a marketing plan2.Proposition development

A well-defined value proposition is essential. Because if you don’t know what your customers value, how can you give it to them? Creating your value proposition will underpin the positioning of your entire offering. It informs everything from pricing, through to marketing tactics and branding. And it can be used as a template for ongoing product development.

crowd of people representing participants of market research in a marketing plan3.Market research

Market research provides invaluable insight into your customers and the marketplace in which you operate. The outputs from intelligent market research demonstrate how your products are perceived in the marketplace, giving you a clear picture of how well you’re meeting your customers’ needs, and how well you’re performing compared to the competition. So solid market research is essential not only for your marketing plan, but for your overall business strategy.

woman pointing at a man representing customer targeting in a marketing plan4.Customer targeting

It’s important to clearly define your target market. And whether you have a single target audience or a variety of customer groups characterised by socio-demographic or behavioural profiles, you should be able to identify the needs of every segment. Only then can you create products that match the requirements of each.

People discussing how the marketing plan will align with their overall business strategy5.Alignment with overall business strategy

It’s fair to say that your marketing plan should be driven by your business strategy. This will lay out your medium to long-term commercial objectives, and your marketing plan should be designed to deliver them. So the marketing plan should be developed in tandem with other areas of the business to ensure that sales and service targets are operationally achievable, that pipelines can be effectively managed, and that customer experience is in line with expectations. Of course, it’s also essential to gain buy-in, both at executive level and with front-line managers and staff who will be responsible for delivery.

Creating a detailed marketing plan will help you define your objectives and create effective strategies for achieving them. To discover how your organisation can benefit from adopting and implementing an intelligent marketing plan based on accurate and reliable research, why not get in touch with us? It costs nothing to talk, and we’ll show you how we can help your organisation drive further growth.

This post was written by Christopher Horne on October 22nd, 2014 in Market Planning

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  • Christopher Horne

    Market research expert with 30 Years Experience in European & Global Roles, helping clients transform their business by turning their marketing outside-in.