Marketing Plan: Part 1, Getting Started

As you are moving towards execution, the next step in planning is developing your marketing plan.  Your marketing plan is an essential tool for moving forward with your business.  Developing this plan helps decide what makes your business idea unique, how you are going to position your company, its products, and how you are going to reach potential customers through distribution channels.

This plan will help you stay focused towards your goals and minimize stresses.  Planning and creating such documents will help your business execution run smoothly and help ensure that your efforts are more likely to be successful.  This is just as important as production and billing.  Staying focused with this plan is a key to staying competitive.

A marketing plan is a vital component and actually, the main driver of your business plan.  A business plan with no outline of how a product is going to be targeted or marketed is doomed to fail. My strategy is to develop the marketing plan prior to the formal business plan. 

My approach may be different to others, but I generally develop an individual marketing plan that is separate from the business plan.  From there, I synchronize it carefully into the business plan. 

This series is going to go in depth into explaining how to structure and develop a marketing plan.  As we explore constructing our marketing plan, we will follow the outline on the following page.

Plan Outline

  1. Executive Summary
  2. Objective & Challenge
  3. Business Analysis
    1. Company Analysis
    2. Customer Analysis
    3. Competitor Analysis
    4. Collaborators
    5. Macro-Environmental Climate
    6. SWOT Analysis
  4. Market Segmentation
    1. Segment A
    2. Segment B
    3. Segment C
  5. Marketing Strategy
    1. Product
    2. Price
    3. Distribution
    4. Promotion
  6. Projections
  7. Final Overview
  8. Appendix

Executive Summary

While the Executive Summary is first in the marketing plan, you should write this last.  The overall purpose of this section is to introduce your company and a high-level summary of the overall marketing plan.  The Executive Summary should be short, but provide a firm understanding of the overall marketing plan. 

Take the most powerful sections of each of your other areas in your marketing plan, which will draw the most attention and establish a clear vision.  Try to keep the executive summary to one page.  Keeping the summary short can be a challenge, but it is vital to provide a brief and powerful overview of your marketing plan. 

Objective & Challenge

The first section of our marketing plan should outline a brief description of what the marketing plan is designed to promote?  What is this plan outlining?  Are we marketing a new business, new product, etc.?  In this instance, we are creating a marketing plan for a new business, but realize that marketing plans can be on several different levels.  Large companies with multiple divisions may have divisional or product level marketing plans.  We are not there yet, so we should focus on the initial marketing strategy and plan for our business idea.

As you write the objective of the plan, include a description of the business and goals or challenges to yourself for the plan to achieve.  These goals should be measurable and can be things like sales revenues, units sold, and web conversion rates. 

Your objective and challenges will vary across the different types of business verticals.  For this exercise, we can pretend that we are developing a marketing plan for a small restaurant:

NC’s Bistro is a specialized café and bistro, which tailor to an unmet need in the community for people to have simple meals and business meetings in a unique space with free internet access and moderate pricing.  In a growing services based area, the need for space to eat and conduct business is expanding.  The objective of this marketing plan is to establish control over our marketing efforts and define what makes NC’s Bistro unique. 

The existing challenge is to grow awareness of the business and establish brand awareness in the market.  By creating strategic relationships with the business community, conducting a consistent marketing image, and promoting our uniqueness will enable traction to achieve our goals.

This plan outlines our marketing objectives and strategy for the first 12 months of business with the following goals:

  • Reach 85% capacity during lunch hours
  • Establish direct relationships with five businesses for use of the facility
  • Establish a presence in the local community and determine which marketing channels created the most overall return on investment.

You may go into more detail in your overview, this is basic example for a fake company.  It is much easier to outline an overview of your actual idea, but you will have to do some research to make sure that you have a good understanding.  As we begin to form our business analysis and conduct research, you may come back to this section and add more details. 

Personally, I like to look at the facts and prefer to do introductions like this section, the executive summary, and other overviews towards the end.  Keep in mind that there is no right place to start.  As you read through this book, the explanations, and examples, you may get a feeling of a ‘right’ place to start for you.  Start there and then expand to the other areas of the plan.

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