An insightful comment on planning comes from Lewis Carroll’s Alice In Wonderland. Alice comes to a fork in the road and asks the Cheshire Cat which path to take.
“Where do you want to go?” is his response.
“I don’t know,” Alice answers.
“Then it doesn’t matter,” says the cat.
If your company’s destination −in terms of sales, customers, and long-term success− does matter, then it’s time to start planning your journey using a marketing plan as a road map.
Creating a plan
Situation Analysis− Begin with a SWOT analysis of Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. Examine the overall economic climate. Look for emerging markets, assess competitive pressures, and determine the optimum position for your products or services.
Research− A necessary element in all marketing plans, research helps you define your target market and gives you insight into decisions such as when to go to market, how to position a new product, and how to best communicate a brand identity.
Target Market− No company can market to everyone. The more specific your target market, the better your ability to reach prospects with an effective marketing message.
Positioning− Define what makes your business unique from every other competitors in your field and spell out the precise niche you seek to fill. Create a sharp positioning statement that stakes out the position you want to hold in your prospects’ minds.
Goals and Objectives− Set specific, measurable goals for sales, profit, return on investment, and market share. Set targets that are SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-based.
Tactics and Implementation− Map out a marketing mix of messages and media to reach your prospects.
Determine key themes and copy points that will be repeated throughout your campaign.
Decide what mix of promotional techniques, such as publicity, direct mail, advertising, personal selling, and Internet promotion, that you will use to reach your target audiences.
Designate a responsible party, timeframe, and budget for each activity. Then follow your plan.
The Next Step
Market planning is an ongoing journey, so expect to periodically evaluate your progress. Revise the plan as new opportunities and ideas emerge.
You’ll discover that your marketing plan keeps you on the path toward increasing sales and success.