Every business needs a marketing plan. It provides a step-by-step guide on the best ways to address customer needs and measure how you are meeting defined expectations. Your marketing plan is the roadmap for achieving your business goals.
Like any roadmap, it may not always be current on new and emerging conditions; consequently, it needs to be updated on at least an annual basis, and certainly every time you launch a new product or service.
Writing a business plan is a time-consuming process, a task easy for small business owners to put aside as they focus on the daily challenges of running their companies. But a business without a well thought-out marketing plan is like a ship without a rudder—it just drifts and you can only hope it gets you to your destination.
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To make the process a little easier, use the below marketing plan template to define your strategy, objectives and tactics in order to grow your business.
Marketing Plan Template
1. Executive Summary
The first part of the marketing plan is written last. It summarizes the sections below. Why write a summary? It gives investors, employees, and partners a quick glance of your business, where it's headed, and why it's headed there.
2. Mission Statement
- What does your company do today?
- What would your company like to do in the future?
- What is your brand identity?
- What is your culture?
- How does your company benefit customers, employees, and company stakeholders?
3. Target Markets
Who are your potential customers? Defined by:
- Demographics (gender, age, income, education)
- Interests and needs
- Psychographic profile (attitudes, values, lifestyle)
- Behavioral profile (existing products used, brand loyalty)
4. Your Products and Services
- What you make or the services you provide
- How these fulfill customer needs
- What value do you add?
- Are your products or services: Commodities, Price-leaders, High-end or luxury, or Customized?
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5. Distribution Channels
List all current and potential sales channels:
- Direct sales
- Distributors or sales representatives
6. Competitive Profile
- What's your Unique Selling Proposition (USP) that makes what you do different from what everyone else is doing?
- Who are your competitors?
- What are the strengths and weaknesses of your competition?
7. Pricing Strategy
Pricing relates directly to your marketing strategy. Obviously, you want to make money on what you sell. The question becomes:
- What are reasonable margins to make a profit and cover the costs of production?
- Is there a market for products or services at your projected price point(s)?
- Are you willing to sacrifice profit margins in return for greater market share?
- What are your marketing and distribution costs?
8. Marketing Strategy
Which promotional channels would be most effective to communicate your story to persuade targeted customers your product or services offer value to them:
- Print (newspapers, magazines, brochures, catalogs, direct mail)
- Broadcast (TV, radio)
- Press releases
- Trade shows, product demonstrations, event marketing
- Online advertising
- eCommerce (Web shopping cart)
- Social media
- Joint marketing with companies that offer complementary products and services
What do you hope to accomplish in the next quarter or year, and how do you measure if you've achieved it? Examples include:
- Revenue targets
- Market penetration
- Sales quotas
- Number of new customers gained
- Customer retention percentages
- Brand awareness
- Website traffic, conversion rate of visits to actual sales, and/or referrals to sales reps
10. Action Plans
What tactical action plans will you implement to achieve desired objectives? Action plans detail:
- Specific steps to perform
- Individual(s) responsible to perform each step
- Timeline to achieve each step
- Resources necessary to achieve each step
- Potential roadblocks or problems likely encountered, as well as recommended responses
11. Financial Projections
Determine the following:
- Cost to implement the marketing plan
- Cost to produce your products or services
- Realistic budget
- Existing and projected cash flow
- Projected sales
- Desired profit margin on projected sales