A marketing plan is part of any well-written business plan. A solid marketing plan is often the foundation of such a plan, as without one, goals can’t be met. However, while a marketing plan typically includes a detailed list of activities, without an effective strategic framework, it’s of little use to an organization. A lack of a plan can also result in an inability to communicate effectively with key stakeholders and a marked reduction in organizational capital.
Every organization should have some marketing strategy in place. However, there are many differing opinions on what “good” marketing strategy looks like. Most experts agree that there are five basic components that define a solid marketing plan – identifying and describing the customer, creating a value proposition, building marketing flexibility, and monetizing the customer. Marketers often differ on which five they believe are the most important. Depending upon the nature of the product or service, these elements may differ slightly, but all five are critical to the achievement of any marketing plan.
Defining the customer requires that marketers accurately identify who, in their organization, will most likely be interested in the product or service. It’s important for marketers to take into account different segments of customers within an organization to help determine the best marketing strategy. Many organizations use customer data to determine which customers make buying decisions, how those decisions are made and why, and use that information to build customer loyalty and repeat purchases.
A value proposition is simply the idea or theme of the product or service. The value proposition should be designed to give customers a reason to buy. The objective of the marketing plan should be to create a demand for the product or service. In addition to designing a value proposition, a plan should also include strategies to effectively market the product or service. Market research, consumer surveys and other forms of market research can be used to determine what consumers would be most likely to buy.
Once the value proposition has been defined, the marketing plan will need to be developed. The first step is to establish what type of business model will be most effective. Generally, marketers will choose from several different business models including traditional sales and marketing mix, a value-added mix or a cross-sell strategy. Each of these models has advantages and disadvantages, and it’s important for each particular business owner to evaluate them carefully. Once a suitable business model has been determined, the next step is to develop a target market.
The target market is the group of people likely to be interested in the product or service being offered. A marketing plan not only identifies the target market, but it also provides a strategy for promoting the product or service to this group. This step is referred to as the strategy phase. Developing a marketing plan is one of the most important components of any business venture, and successful businesses incorporate a solid marketing plan into their overall strategy.