A marketing plan is not always needed. If you have a business that’s growing well and makes sales, then you DO NOT need a marketing plan.
Not all businesses are in this situation though, thus requiring a marketing plan. A marketing plan is just a description, in words and numbers, of how you are going to run your marketing. It is quite important because it keeps you on track and aids in the execution and control of marketing activities that will potentially garner success.
Writing a marketing plan should be considered by big businesses which have a hard time organizing, controlling and budgeting their marketing activities; facing challenges or uncertainties that can affect sales or profits and if they don’t have a clear idea of how to handle their businesses branding, pricing, communications, etc. Writing a marketing plan if you are in a situation mentioned above will help you clarify and control multiple elements of your marketing plan.
Not all businesses go through the effort of planning and developing a marketing plan. This can be problematic in the long run. Even though the plan takes time and energy, businesses are not taking care of issues that will appear in the long run, missing the benefits that save time and money in the future. Moreover, writing a marketing plan allows you to think about your future marketing program in a creative way, which might help come up with new ideas. These can potentially boost your profits.
Even though marketing plans may differ, all of them contain the following sections:
- Your current position in terms of product, customers, competition etc.
- Your results in the previous period in case you are an established business
- Experience that has been gained in the previous period (helps to avoid future mistakes)
- Your strategy statement which should be a few sentences.
- Details of your program where you cover specific activities of your company
- Numbers which include your sales projections and costs. It can also include share projections, costs and returns etc.
- Experimentation plans are important if you have a new business or are experimenting with new, risky marketing activity. You need to test these things on a small scale first, before making it a main strategy of your business.
As you think through your plan you are going to generate new ideas and feel very invested in your plan. The plan will be adjusted throughout the year, you will realize that some things worked, and others didn’t. Plans should be revisited and adjusted as they go. The whole idea is to help you be a smart, flexible marketer, not one refusing to learn from experience.