Marketing Planning

How to Write an Effective Marketing Plan

Written by Samuel Muriithi for Gaebler Ventures

The marketing plan is the blueprint by which the entire marketing effort of a business for a year is run. Getting this plan right means that you have to be clear on what will be done and how it will be done. What are these factors that must be considered in creating a marketing plan?

A business, small or big, needs to create an effective marketing plan as a means of obtaining optimal success with a planned marketing effort.

It is this created document, valid for a year, which will be continuously referred to as the period progresses. It is also this document that will enable the management to gauge how well or how badly the marketing is going in terms of performance. While the marketing plan is meant to inform the marketing effort, its compilation will have to incorporate feedback from all facets of the business/organization including finance, production, personnel etc. The same applies even for a one-man outfit.

As you begin to write a marketing plan you must be armed with copies of recent financial statements including P&L statements, sales figures, operating budgets etc. You should also have a list of the products/services you offer and the markets to which these are sold. Also required is a description of the current marketplace including competitors, customers, trends etc. Finally, you must have a list of those areas which you intend to target in the coming year in order of priority. All these will help you write a factual 'market situation' section for your marketing plan. You can have a small extension to this section whereby you will list the market threats and opportunities that your business will contend with.

The 'marketing objectives' section of your marketing plan lists the proposed objectives in a narrative manner alongside the numerical quantities aimed for so as to be concretely purpose-driven. One of the best ways of doing this is to use percentage growth estimates e.g. from 0% to 7.5% etc. This is both verifiable and very objective. This particular section must be informed by your business records from the past, e.g. sales records, so that the set objectives will be modest, reasonable and achievable. Have your objectives described in a narrative manner, giving brief details of the action that should be realized by the end of the year and what benefits doing so will bring in quantifiable terms e.g. 'by year end we should have landed three new clients and in doing so get new business worth $59,000.'

The 'marketing goals' section is where you provide details of how each of your objectives is to be realized and accomplished. While the 'marketing objectives' section deals with the what and why issues, this section deals with the who, where, when and how aspects. Under each objective you are meant to make a list of all those actions that will be done to realize the same.

Last but not least, to write an effective marketing plan you need to indicate the budget that will support the entire effort. You can use The Almanac of Business and Financial Ratios (Prentice Hall) to get a good idea of the marketing and advertising spending requirements that are pertinent to your industry or line of business. Finish off the marketing plan by putting together an executive summary that captures the main points covered in the document.

Samuel Muriithi is a business owner in Nairobi, Kenya. He has extensive international business experience in the United States and India.

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