Marketing plan, its components and the role of a marketing plan in product marketing

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In this post, we will discuss marketing planning, the role of a marketing plan and its components. We will also discuss the importance of marketing planning and a marketing plan and how they help companies achieve their marketing objectives.

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Companies focus on marketing to win in a competitive market environment and to expand their business. They need to engage in marketing planning to achieve the desired objectives from their marketing efforts. This step involves choosing the marketing strategies to help the company achieve its marketing objectives. Companies need to develop a detailed marketing plan for each of their businesses, brands or products.

A typical product or brand marketing plan includes the advertising and promotional strategies of the company apart from an analysis of the competitive situation, threats and opportunities, target market, the marketing strategy, budget and controls.

In the section below, we will list the components of a marketing plan and the role of each component in helping the company achieving the marketing objectives.

Elements of a marketing plan:

Executive summarySummary of goals and recommendations
Marketing situationTarget market, competition, distribution channels
SWOT AnalysisStrengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.
Objectives and issuesKey marketing objectives and issues.
Marketing strategySpecific marketing strategies for each element in the marketing mix
Action programsHow the marketing strategies will be executed?
BudgetsMarketing budget, generally in the form of a profit and loss statement
ControlsMeasuring marketing ROI and implementing controls to monitor progress according to the plan.

Executive Summary:

An executive summary is generally a summary of the entire marketing plan. It is created for the management to review the plan and includes the goals and recommendations in brief. Anybody who reads the executive summary can learn about the main focus of the marketing plan and its expected outcomes. It is created so that the management can quickly find the main points of the plan.

Marketing situation:

The marketing situation section of the marketing plan is focused at the target market and the company’s market position. This part also includes an analysis of the competition, product performance in the target market and the distribution channels. The marketing situation section includes a description of the market including a definition of the market and its major segments. This part also highlights the customers’ needs and the main factors that affect customers’ decisions regarding the purchase of particular brands or products.

This section also includes a brief product review that mainly includes sales, prices and gross margins of the leading products in the product line.

Another important factor included in this section is competitor analysis highlighting the products sold by competitors, their marketing and business strategies, market position and their marketing mix. Lastly, it includes a review of the distribution strategy highlighting the recent sales trends and other major developments in the distribution channels.

SWOT analysis:

SWOT analysis is an important section of the marketing plan. While it is a key component of the marketing plan, it is also important for businesses in order to compare their position against their rivals. This part also highlights the opportunities and threats before the business. It also helps the managers learn about the issues and challenges which might impact their business strategy and the outcome of their marketing efforts.

Objectives and issues:

This section includes a detailed analysis of the main marketing objectives of the firm. It highlights the key goals the company is trying to achieve through its marketing efforts during the tenure of the plan. This section also highlights the main issues that can hinder the achievement of the marketing objectives over the term of the plan.

Marketing Strategy:

This part includes the marketing strategy. It includes the STP – segmentation, targeting, positioning, plus the other important factors linked to the marketing strategy of the company like how the company plans to engage customers, build customer relationships and create customer value. This part may also include some details related to the marketing expenditure levels.

How will the firm create value for the customers so as to capture value from them in return?

The marketing mix of the firm is also a part of this section and presents a detailed analysis of the strategies linked to each element of the marketing mix and explaining how they address the threats and opportunities or other critical concerns that were highlighted in the previous section.

Action Programs:

This is the section which highlights how the firm intends to turn the marketing strategy into action. There are some important questions related to turning strategy into action that the company must address in this part including:

What will be done? When it will be done and who will do it, as well as, how much it will cost the firm to turn the strategy into action or to execute its marketing strategy?

Budgets:

This section of the marketing plan highlights the marketing budget in the form of a profit and loss statement. This section includes the expected revenue, and the expected costs of production, distribution and promotion. The difference between the revenue and the total costs is the expected profit. The budget presented in this section becomes the basis for purchasing, production scheduling, personnel planning, and marketing operations.

Controls:

The controls section outlines the controls to be used for monitoring progress. It allows the management to review the results of the marketing efforts and find the products not performing as expected in the market. It also includes the measures of marketing ROI (return on investment).

How does the marketing plan help in product/brand marketing?

Marketing managers must create a marketing plan to improve the outcome of their marketing efforts. It helps keep their marketing efforts on track and generate superior outcomes from their marketing strategy. The marketing plan is a critical tool for turning marketing strategy into action. The crucial thing for marketing managers according to Kotler is to understand the criticality of both strategy and execution in marketing. Implementation is just as important as strategy and both are critical to success and to gain a solid competitive advantage. Effective implementation of the marketing strategy helps at gaining and strengthening and product/brand’s competitive position and competitive advantage. The marketing plan includes several factors that are critical to the success of a product/brand in the market. It helps determine the target market, and the channels to reach the targeted market segments. It also helps determine the right pricing strategy or the pricing point at which the product/services must be sold to gain market share faster. The plan also details how the company is going to measure the success of its efforts.

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A marketing plan is like a map to success and the achievement of marketing goals. Its main purpose is to draw a clear path to the achievement of marketing objectives like attracting new customers, forming stronger customer relationships, engaging customers, increasing sales and market share and growing brand awareness.