Developing a Marketing Plan
The marketing activities of a company should be guided by some form of formal marketing plan that is initially developed by the managers responsible for marketing activities and reviewed and approved by the chief executive officer and other key members of the executive management team, particularly the executives responsible for sales and customer service. When a company is first launched a marketing plan is generally not a high priority since the essential activities of the company will be focusing on completion of the development of the company’s initial products and services. However, even before the company has a finished product or service to show to prospective customers steps should be taken to begin establishing the unique identify of the company and the image the company seeks to have in the marketplace. By thinking about a company “brand” from the moment the business is launched the founders and senior managers can start creating and reinforcing messages about the company that can be used to garner the attention of opinion makers in the marketplace and even attract new employees who are best suited to embrace and pursue the strategic goals and objectives of the company.
There is no specific standard recipe for developing and implementing a marketing plan; however, the following steps can serve as a useful guide in ensuring the most of the key issues will be addressed:
Establish the overall objectives for the marketing activities of the company;
Research the characteristics and behavior patterns of the potential target audiences;
Define the strategies to be included in the marketing plan to maximize the benefits of the company’s products and services to the potential target audiences and minimize the barriers to purchasing such products and services;
Identify, list and schedule the specific tactics to be used during the course of the company’s marketing campaign(s) and the messages that the company wants to convey to its target audiences;
Prepare the proposed budget for obtaining the resources necessary for the marketing campaign(s) and conducting the activities included in those campaign(s); and
Establish procedures for tracking the results of the marketing activities.
Certain information regarding the overall objectives and important research results, such as the demographic characteristics of the target audience and a summary of current buying behaviors, should be included in the marketing plan; however, the most prominent and detailed sections of the plan should be those that cover strategies, tactics, and the budget.
Obviously the primary target audience for a marketing plan will be prospective purchasers of the company’s products and services; however, the image of the company and its activities will also be important in the company’s relationships with other key stakeholders such as suppliers, distributors, employees, investors and persons and firms resident in the communities in which the company conducts business. If the strategies included in the marketing plan are successful in overcoming negative impressions that potential customers might have regarding the company and its products this may change the way that the company is perceived in the labor market and open up opportunities to recruit more talented and experienced workers.