Writing Your Strategic Marketing Plan

March 23, 2011
Last time we talked about why you need a strategic marketing plan. Now we we’ll to cover the basics of writing your marketing plan.

Last time we talked about why you need a strategic marketing plan. Now we we’ll to cover the basics of writing your marketing plan. The thing to remember is that you don’t have to write it in one sitting, in fact it would be better if you took at least a month or more to put your marketing plan down on paper. I really encourage you to write it down or type it into your computer.

There’s something about committing your plan to paper that makes it more permanent and more of a binding commitment. Keep in mind that a marketing plan is never finished. It’s a work in progress. Your marketing plan must be fluid and capable of changing as the market and your business needs change.

If your company has a strategic business plan, now is a good time to take it out and review it. If it has been more than a year since you wrote it, now would be a good time to think about revising your goals particularly if you’ve met some of your goals. You’ll want to think about how you can use marketing to help you meet your business goals.

A strategic marketing plan has seven basic sections, you can get as detailed as you feel necessary, and you can skip sections if you feel your company is too small merit them. The sections are as follows: Situation Analysis, SWOT Analysis, Marketing Objectives, Marketing Strategy, Action Items, Budgets, and Controls.

If you have a larger company, a situation analysis is a good way to get everybody on the same page so that higher ups in the company can buy-in to the marketing plan. It outlines the current situation, provides the market analysis, the competitive analysis, the financial situation, and the desired outcomes. It’s a good way to state what you know and what you want to get out of your marketing plan.

A SWOT analysis is simply a study of your company’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Pull your key people together and ask each person for three strengths that your company possesses; write these on a flip chart. After you have listed your strengths, ask your people to each rank the top five or ten in order of importance. Do this for each of the four categories. Use this analysis to help you decide where you need to focus your marketing efforts.

Marketing objectives – what do you want to accomplish with your marketing efforts. This can be as complex as necessary but it would be wise to consider target market objectives, promotion and advertising objectives, market research objectives, and if you develop products consider product development objectives. When working on this section, consider your company’s marketing budget, as it will be the limiting factor on what you can do. In a complex plan, you should also consider financial objectives such as sales and profit objectives.

In the marketing strategy section, establish your marketing goals based on the previously established marketing objectives. Consider your target marketing and positioning strategies in this section as well. Decide what marketing tactics you will use to accomplish these goals and list them here in this section. You can have many strategies to reach your objectives. List each objective and then list the possible strategies that you could use to reach this goal. List as many potential strategies that you can think of in this section, you can always weed out the impractical ones later. This section should include your marketing mix and marketing research and the role, each plays in your marketing plan.

Every good marketing plan has action items, and your plan should have them as well. Using the strategy and objectives in your marketing plan, establish milestones to ensure that you implement your plan successfully and to track its progress. Your milestones should identify the key projects, along with their start and end dates, budgets, and responsible managers and departments. In a larger organization, you should include an org chart for your marketing organization. Naturally, if you have a small company you can scale down this section to fit your needs.

In section six, you will list financials, budgets, and forecasts. A good plan will have a “breakeven analysis,” “sales forecast,” a “cost of sales forecast,” and a “marketing budget forecast.” End this section with, a “sales vs. expense summary.”

The last section covers controls; the tools to monitor the progress of your marketing plan. It should include performances measurements and contingency planning, in case things do not work the way you planned. You should not overlook this section, as it’s vitally important to measure the return on your investment in order to see the impact of your marketing plan on your business.

In this article, we have only scratched the surface of creating a strategic marketing plan. If you have interest in developing a strategic marketing plan, but you don’t have the expertise to do it yourself, contact a marketing professional to assist you. I’m available to assist you in your marketing efforts. If you need a consultation or a complete strategic marketing plan, feel free to call or send an email to discuss your needs.

Andy Fracica is president and CEO of Fracica Enterprises, Inc., a consulting firm specializing in marketing, PR, social media, and lead generation strategy. He has over 30 years of sales, marketing, and product management experience in the heating ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) industry. He concentrates on helping manufacturers, distributors, dealers, and startup companies find their voice in an ever increasingly crowded market by doing more with less($). Contact him at 260-338-4554, [email protected] or visit the website www.fracicaenterprises.com.