The marketing plan is a vital and necessary tool for every 21st century company. We are currently facing a highly competitive and dynamic environment, where the company must continually face new challenges. Undoubtedly, the globalization of markets, the internet, economic instability and continuous development and technological advancement produce a series of changes that determine the success of any company. The adaptation of companies to this new paradigm cannot be improvised and it is necessary to develop a marketing plan that allows anticipating and dealing with changes in the environment.
The marketing plan can be defined as the preparation of a written document that is composed of the description of the current situation, the analysis of said situation, the establishment of marketing objectives, the definition of marketing strategies and action programs.
If you continue to have doubts about whether or not you should make a marketing plan in your company, you can consult the article: why should all companies make a marketing plan?
Phases of the marketing plan:
1. Description of the situation
We are at the starting point of any marketing plan. We have to describe both the external and internal current situation.
The description of the current external situation describes those factors that are external and therefore uncontrollable by the company but that directly affect its development. At this point we have to describe:
-General environment: information related to economic, social, technological, political, cultural, environmental data …
-Sectoral environment: degree of difficulty of entry of new competitors, analysis of key suppliers, obtain detailed information on customer interests.
-Competitive environment: we have to carry out a detailed study on our main competitors.
-Market: in this section we must include information on the evolution and trend of our market (products, segments, prices …)
In the description of the current internal situation we must detail relevant information on: production, finances, marketing, clients and human resources of our company.
2. Analysis of the situation
The objective of the situation analysis stage is to make known the current situation in which the company finds itself. We have to study and analyze the information collected in the previous stage for this we will use the SWOT analysis matrix
The SWOT analysis will help us to study the weaknesses, threats, strengths and opportunities of the company. We will analyze from an internal point of view of the company, its strengths and weaknesses. On the other hand, from the external perspective, we will analyze the threats and opportunities that may affect the company.
3. Goal setting
Once we have analyzed the situation, we are ready to set our objectives in a realistic way. To correctly set the objectives in our marketing plan, we have to follow the following guidelines:
-The objectives have to be adequate and coherent, it is useless to set unattainable objectives, the only thing we can achieve with this is demotivation.
-The objectives have to be clearly defined so that they cannot induce any kind of error.
-Defined in a specific way. Specific objectives by business units, geographical areas, products, etc.
-It is necessary to set deadlines for its achievement, this will help motivate its compliance.
If you want more information you can read do we know how to correctly establish our marketing objectives?
In any marketing plan there are two kinds of objectives that must be set, quantitative and qualitative objectives. Quantitative objectives express all those objectives that can be quantified, for example sales volume, customer loyalty percentages, profits, billing, etc. However, qualitative objectives are those objectives that, due to the difficulty or their high cost of quantifying, are expressed qualitatively. For example: increase brand awareness or be market leaders.
4. Marketing strategies
The strategies in the marketing plan define how the objectives that we have set in the previous stage are going to be achieved.
-Portfolio strategy: we can use tools such as the BGC matrix or the Mckinsey-General Electric matrix to help us make strategic decisions about our product portfolio and be able to prioritize the investment of resources depending on the importance of their achievement over the objectives .
-Segmentation strategy: we cannot consider the market as a unit and try to satisfy all its members with the same offer. It is necessary to divide the market into groups with similar characteristics and needs. In this way we will be able to optimize our marketing resources. There are four main variables to segment our market: geographic, demographic, psychographic, and behavioral. In the blog you can find more information about market segmentation in: “market segmentation, concept and approach”
-Brand positioning strategy: positioning is the space that the product or service occupies in the minds of consumers with respect to the competition. We can establish positioning based on product characteristics, quality-price or lifestyles. In order to establish a brand positioning strategy, it is necessary to first answer certain questions: how do consumers perceive our competition? What attributes do customers value? What is our current positioning? What positioning do we want to achieve? Do we have the means to do so?
-Marketing MIX: at this point we have to make strategic decisions about the famous 4Ps of marketing: product, price, distribution and communication. The marketing mix with its 4Ps must work together and must be consistent with each other.
5. The action plan
We are in the most operational stage of the marketing plan. This tactical part of the plan helps us to carry out the marketing strategies to meet the objectives set.
-Actions on products: packaging modifications or changes, product launches or modifications, brand development, including services.
-Actions on prices: price modifications, discounts, financing, etc.
-Actions on sales and distribution: modification of distribution channels, renegotiating conditions with wholesalers, improvements in delivery times, increasing or decreasing the sales force, expanding or reducing sales areas, etc.
-Actions on communication: advertising, sales promotion, public relations, direct marketing.
Regular meetings, the scorecard and KPIs are usually the most used measures for supervision. A marketing plan is useless if we do not supervise its implementation and do not correct any unforeseen events that may arise.