The marketing plan is a vital and necessary tool for every XXI century company. We are currently facing a highly competitive and dynamic environment, where the company must continually face new challenges. Without a doubt, the globalization of markets, the internet, economic instability and continuous development and technological advance 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 facing changes in the environment.
The marketing plan can be defined as the elaboration of a written document that is made up 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:
DESCRIPTION OF THE SITUATION
We are at the starting point of any marketing plan. We have to describe both the current external and internal situation.
In the description of the current external situation, those factors that are external and therefore uncontrollable by the company but that directly affect its development are described. 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, obtaining detailed information on customer interests and tastes.
-Competitive environment: we have to carry out a detailed study of 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 have to detail relevant information about: production, finances, marketing, customers and human resources of our company.
ANALYSIS OF THE SITUATION
The objective of the situation analysis stage is to publicize 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
Once we have analyzed the situation, we are now ready to set our goals 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 must be clearly defined so that they cannot induce any kind of error.
-Defined in a concrete way. Specific objectives by business units, geographical areas, products, etc.
-It is necessary to set deadlines for its achievement, this will help motivate 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, the quantitative and qualitative objectives. Quantitative objectives express all those objectives that can be quantified, for example sales volume, customer loyalty percentages, benefits, billing, etc. However, qualitative objectives are those objectives that due to the difficulty or their high cost of quantifying are expressed in a qualitative way. For example: increase brand awareness or be market leaders.
The strategies in the marketing plan define how the objectives we have set in the previous stage will 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 to prioritize the investment of resources depending on the importance of achieving these 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 optimize our marketing resources. There are four main variables to segment our market: geographic, demographic, psychographic, and behavioral. On the blog you can find more information about market segmentation in: “market segmentation, concept and approach”
-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 positions based on product characteristics, quality-price or lifestyles. In order to establish a positioning strategy, it is necessary to answer certain questions first: 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 necessary for this?
-MIX Marketing: at this point we have to make the strategic decisions about the famous 4Ps of marketing: product, price, distribution and communication. The 4Ps must work together and must be consistent with each other.
THE PLAN OF ACTION
We are at the most operational stage of the marketing plan. This tactical part of the plan helps us carry out marketing strategies to meet our stated goals.
-Actions on products: packaging modifications or changes, product launches or modifications, brand development, include services.
-Actions on prices: price changes, discounts, financing, etc.
-Actions on sales and distribution: modification of distribution channels, renegotiate conditions with wholesalers, improvements in delivery times, increase or decrease the sales force, expand or reduce sales areas, etc.