Everyone will tell you that you have to have one. Few among them will be able to tell what exactly a marketing plan should consist of.

If you are a small business, creating a marketing plan should not take you more than a few hours. Ideally, it should take you a few days to do the research and have the necessary discussions. It could go on for a few weeks if you consider factors such as the size of your market and the uniqueness of your product line. Kuza Biashara gives you tips on how to write a marketing plan.

The Executive Summary

A high-level summary of marketing planning as a whole, and a paradox on paper: this is the last section that you should write, but the first section that should be in the finished report. It’s best to keep the Executive Summary as short and sweet as possible. A couple of sentences to sum everything up would be perfect. While writing it, think of something similar to an “elevator pitch”. Once you are done with it, read it out loudly. If it takes you longer than ten seconds, then it needs to be simplified further.

The Challenge

This section should contain a brief description of the product(s) and or product line(s) that your company offers. Along with each description, include the goals that you want to set for each product and product line(sales figures, strategic and company-wide goals, etc). Keep the number and complexity of your goals at a maximum of three per product/ product line, and remember that they need to be concise, measurable, and relatively easy to achieve.

Market Segmentation

Each market has its own different segments. Understanding the relevant segments for your product(s) in the market is important as it allows you to adjust your marketing mix (the Four Ps) to adapt to the different needs of each segment. Segments should be measurable, accessible, different from other segments in response to a marketing mix, durable (not constantly changing), large enough to produce a profit, and homogeneous.

Alternative Marketing Strategies

Write down the details about any alternatives that you and your team considered before arriving at your current strategy. These include eliminating a particular product or line, changing the price point of a product or line, etc.

Selected Marketing Strategy

Explain the marketing strategy and plan that you and your team have developed. Why you chose a particular strategy, why you feel it’s the best possible option for the near future. Once you have that on paper, then put down your four Ps for each product.

You can use the following format

Product
Branding/ brand name, intended quality of the product, scope of the product line.
Price
Payment terms
Place
Distribution channels, logistics and supply chain
Promotion
Advertising, promotional programs. Projected results of the promotional programs.

Short and Long-Term Projections

This section should include forecasts of revenues and expenses, your break-even analysis, and any changes or adjustments that you predict you’ll need to make in future.

The Conclusion

This is an expanded version of your executive summary. You should include all specific numbers (projected costs, revenues, profits, etc). Remember to integrate the needs and ideas of every department (and every employee, if required or important) into your marketing strategies. It’s also important for you to make sure that this plan integrates and meshes seamlessly with your business plan and your mission, vision, and core values statements.

Include charts, graphs, etc, that you may have completed as a part of creating your marketing plan. Also include charts, graphs, etc, that are necessary to explain any of the sections above in detail.

Entrepreneurial Learning

A good marketing strategy should enable your business to have a kick start. Make a wise choice by analyzing different choice. Marketing is neither an art nor a philosophy. It is a process and the tool to take forward this process is marketing plan.

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