How to Write a Marketing Plan Tutorial

How to Write a Marketing PlanThe Marketing Plan is a highly detailed, heavily researched and, hopefully, well written report that many inside and possibly outside the organization will evaluate. In many respects, the Marketing Plan is the most important document produced by marketers as it not only helps to justify what has occurred in the past, but is critical for explaining where a company intends to go in the future. 

Th Marketing Plan is widely used by both large large corporate marketing departments and also by small startup companies.  It is particularly important for marketers who seek funding for new projects or to expand existing products or services.

Part 1 of the plan is designed to provide the reader with the necessary information to fully understand the purpose of the marketing plan. This part also includes organizational background information, which may be particularly important if the audience for the plan is not familiar with the company, such as potential financial backers.

This part of the plan contains two key components:

  1. Purpose of the Marketing Plan
  2. Organization Mission Statement

Some of the information, in particular the mission statement, may require the input of upper-management. The information in this part will prove useful later in the plan as a point of reference for material that will be introduced (e.g., may help explain pricing decisions). In cases in which there are separately operated divisions or SBU, there may also be mission statements for each.

For larger firms this may already exist in a public way (e.g., found in annual report, found on corporate website) but for many others this may need to be formulated.
The organization mission statement consists of a short, finely-honed paragraph that considers the following issues (Length: 1 paragraph):

1. Identifies a stable (i.e., not dramatically changing every year), long-run vision of the organization that can answer such questions as:

  • Why is the company in business?
  • What markets do we serve and why do we serve these markets?
  • In general terms, what are the main benefits we offer our customers?
    • e.g., a low price software provider may state they offer “practical and highly affordable business solutions”
  • What does this company want to be known for?
  • What is the company out to prove to the industry, customers, partners, employees, etc.?
  • What is the general corporate philosophy for doing business?
  • What products/services does the company offer?

2. In developing the vision presented in the mission statement consider:

  • Company History
    • How company started and major events of the company, products, markets served, etc.
  • Resources and Competencies
    • Consider what the company currently possesses by answering the following:
      • What are we good at?
      • What is special about us compared to current and future competitors (in general terms do not need to mention names)?
      • What do we do that gives us a competitive advantage?
    • Consider the questions above in terms of:
      • people, products, financial position, technical and research capabilities, partnership/supply chain relations, others
  • Environment
    • Consider the conditions in which company operates including:
      • physical (e.g., facilities), equipment, political regulatory, competitive, economic, technological, others

The main body of the Marketing Plan often starts with the planner providing the rationale for the plan. The tasks associated with this section are to (Length: 1 paragraph):

1. Offer brief explanation for why this plan was produced

  • e.g., introduce new product, enter new markets, continue growth of existing product, yearly review and planning document, etc.

2. Suggest what may be done with the information contained in the plan

  • e.g., set targets to be achieved in the next year, represents a departmental report to be included in larger business or strategic plan, etc.

The situational analysis is designed to take a snapshot of where things stand at the time the plan is presented. It covers much of the same ground covered in the Preparing a Market Study tutorial, so those preparing a Marketing Plan should check this out as well.

This part of the Marketing Plan is extremely important and quite time consuming. For many, finding the metric needed in this section may be difficult, especially for those entering new markets. Anyone in need of numbers should look the Data Collection: Low-Cost Secondary Research tutorial, which may offer ideas for inexpensively locating the numbers Marketing Plan writers may need. For those who can afford to spend to locate marketing metrics, the Data Collection: High-Cost Secondary Research tutorial will also be of value.

The situational analysis covers the following key areas:

  • Current Products
  • Current Target Market
  • Current Distributor Network
  • Current Competitors
  • Financial Analysis
  • External Forces