What’s in a Marketing Plan?

What is marketing?

A marketing plan is a list of steps an operation must take to sell a product or service to a specific market, and contains these five basic components: 

  1. Research the market
  2. Establish objectives 
  3. Develop a market strategy 
  4. Implement an action plan 
  5. Evaluate/modify the action plan as needed 

Research the Market 

Gathering research must be the first step in any market plan. Running a business is very similar in that managers need to know the ins and outs of the market and what they are up against. Marketers can gather information from a variety of reliable sources in person or online about their customers, their business, and even the competition. The goal is to gather information that will tell you what the strengths and weaknesses are about your business, your products, and those that compete with you. It is also important to continually learn about your customers’ needs and how you can meet them. 

Establish Objectives 

Once marketers have completed a thorough research phase, the next step is to establish organizational objectives or goals. These objectives should clearly state what it is the operation wants to accomplish within a set timeframe. Providing not only goals, but also deadlines for achieving those goals, will give the operation something to work toward. The goal and the timeline for achieving it will also help shape the marketing strategy the operation will use.

Develop a Market Strategy 

Once the operation’s goals have been set and a timeline laid out, the managers and marketers must brainstorm ways to achieve the objectives. It is helpful at this stage to come up with a number of different strategies and then evaluate the pros and cons of each.  

Implement an Action Plan 

The action plan is the way the market strategy is put into action. The action plan is guided by all the steps that have come before it. With an action plan, management and marketers take market strategy theory and actually put it into practice.  

Evaluate/Modify the Action Plan 

This stage is an ongoing process of monitoring the actions taken by the operation and gauging how successful they are. Management and marketers must continually be asking, “Are we meeting our defined objectives? Is the plan working? Are there ways it is missing the mark? How can it be improved? What can we be doing better?” The answers will help determine how to modify or revise the plan to meet the needs and trends of the market. 

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