This is how you create a professional marketing plan In your marketing plan, you describe in detail how you want to get your products and services to the attention of your potential customers.
What does A Marketing Plan Say?
A marketing plan describes the objectives that you want to achieve in a certain period and how that should be done. For example, through higher sales, entering a new market, maintaining or increasing your market share in your industry or improving the effectiveness and brand awareness of your company.
The Components of A Marketing Plan
A marketing plan is made up of various parts. This must certainly be in it:
1. The Starting Situation
Here you indicate what the plan relates to a specific product or service, multiple products (product groups), your entire company or parts thereof.
2. A situation Analysis
This is a description of the current situation. This analysis can be roughly divided into two: internal analysis and external analysis.
» The Internal Analysis
How does your company operate on the market? Which resources are used for this (people, technology), what are the results achieved so far, which products are sold and to whom (the so-called product-market combinations), which sales channels are used?
» The External Analysis
Describe the market situation at a certain moment: is there a growing market, is the market full or is it actually becoming smaller? Who are your main competitors and how do they operate, are there potential competitors (new entrants), who are customers of your company (consumers or business customers), what is the reason for them to be a customer, how much do they spend and what is their opinion about the way you do business with them? Other factors that can be included in the external analysis are (future) government measures that can influence your business operations.
For information about market developments and market figures, you can contact the Chamber of Commerce and Statistics Netherlands, among others. Keep an eye on developments in your industry through newsletters and trade journals and regularly go to network meetings to find out what is going on with fellow entrepreneurs.
Customers: An Important Source of Information:
A source of information that is not always used effectively for a professional marketing plan is customers. Map why they do business with you. That way you also gain insight into your distinctive character. Do not approach a customer only when you have something to sell, but keep in regular contact to work on the customer relationship. That way you stay up to date with what is going on with a customer and what he is doing. In the longer term, that may provide opportunities for your company.
Make it easy for customers to get in touch with your company and encourage this. Also, ask them to ring the bell if they are not satisfied with something. Complaints can provide useful information to improve your business.
From the situation analysis, you extract the information for one of the most important parts of a marketing plan: the SWOT analysis
3. SWOT Analysis:
SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats). With this, you determine the strengths and weaknesses of your company. It is about the opportunities and threats that you (may) have to deal with.
The purpose of a SWOT analysis is to determine what you can change in your business operations in order to respond to opportunities or avert threats.
To keep the implementation clear: strengths and weaknesses always relate to your company. They are internal factors that you can influence, such as the expertise of your staff, the way products are made and sold, the way in which you communicate with customers (sales calls, complaint handling) and the name recognition of your company (how do you advertise) ?).
Opportunities and threats are external factors. Think of the arrival of new players on the market, changing consumer behavior (a new target group will use the type of products you sell, products are bought through other channels), the introduction of competing products and government measures (new rules).
Turn a weakness into a strength:
For example, your website is difficult to find in search engines (weakness), while your buyers are increasingly buying via the internet (opportunity). By having your site optimized for search engines – and possibly professionalizing your web store – you can take advantage of the increasing number of online purchases.
Responding strongly to an opportunity:
The Netherlands is aging rapidly. Older consumers place a lot of demands when it comes to service and customer-friendliness. Seniors expect that a company really takes the time for them. Your employees must, therefore, be able to handle this properly. If you already have well-trained staff who have a great deal of product knowledge, you can get that benefit.
The results of the SWOT analysis enable you to make responsible (strategic) choices. Do you continue to continue in the same way, do you have to develop new activities, do you invest more heavily in certain markets or do you simply withdraw because the revenues are only decreasing?
For example, it may become clear that certain sales channels are becoming less important, and that you must try to sell your products through other – or more multiple – ways. You can also choose to serve new target groups, for example by responding to demographic changes, the aging population or the increase in the number of immigrants in certain places.
5. Marketing Objectives:
Increase in turnover in a certain period. Profit increase. Increasing market share. Better name recognition. Just a few examples of marketing objectives.
Pay attention! Marketing objectives must always be measurably formulated. Only then can it be determined afterward to what extent they have been achieved and whether the effort that has been made has been justified.
So: if your professional marketing plan objective is revenue increase, then express this in an absolute amount or in a percentage, related to the revenue in an earlier period.
6. The Marketing Strategy:
In which way and with which means will you achieve the marketing objectives? A very useful concept here is the so-called marketing mix or the 5 Ps. These stand for Product, Location, Price, Promotion, and Personnel. These are the tools that a company has at its disposal to implement a marketing strategy.
A description of the product characteristics: what is the function, what need does it meet, how is it packaged, what quality standards apply, what warranty and service are offered?
Here you indicate how the product is distributed. How is the transport carried out, how do you implement inventory management, which sales channels do you use, what are the points of sale?
At what price is the product put on the market?
In which way (s) will you advertise your offer? Do you only use your sales staff for this (personal sales) or do you also advertise on the internet and in newspapers? Do you already have a press release to get free publicity?
Service provision is crucial for companies – and certainly for service providers – to distinguish themselves from the competition. Your staff plays an important role in this. Do your employees have sufficient knowledge, which training courses could they follow? Do you need extra people at a certain moment?
Employees in Professional Marketing Plan:
Don’t forget to involve your employees in a timely and structural manner in the realization of your marketing plan. Sellers and other staff who often have contact with customers or business relations (suppliers) often have a lot of useful information. How is the product or collaboration valued, how are judgments about things like after sales, are there signs that a customer might switch to an important competitor?
Involving employees is also important because a professional marketing plan is usually about change, and that can provoke resistance. You thereby depend on the full commitment of your employees to achieve the goals. Consult regularly with your staff about the implementation and implementation of your marketing strategy.
A professional marketing plan usually covers a longer period. To keep the implementation clear, you can ‘cut it up’ in sub-periods, for example, quarters.
Set objectives for each subperiod and keep an eye on them through interim evaluations: Are the results lagging behind? What are the reasons for this and how can you make adjustments?