A marketing plan details how a company aims to reach specific marketing objectives. It links marketing activities with marketing and strategy objectives and is important in ensuring the right focus and direction for the company. The format of the marketing plan depends on the company’s stage of development.

The plan described in this article is based on a comprehensive template, suitable for established companies.

A marketing plan for startups is typically simpler in nature and demands fewer resources to complete while still providing the necessary structure to organize the activities within a small team. As a company grows, adds customers and builds its marketing and sales team, a more comprehensive marketing plan is required.

The comprehensive marketing plan

A marketing plan for established companies should include the following information:

1. Executive summary

  • concise overview of report
  • overall strategies, main conclusions, and key points of the marketing action program
  • table of contents (appears after the items described above)

2. Objectives

  • company mission—mission statement, definition of the business, and contribution of the unit and distinctive competence
  • financial objectives—return on investment, net profit and cash flow
  • marketing objectives—statement of what is to be achieved through marketing activities (for example, gains in market share, sales volume, profitability per unit, degree of product introduction, innovation); must be stated in measurable (for example, 10%) terms with a given time frame (for example, 24 months) and internally consistent (for example, following launch of product)

3. Marketing analysis

  • markets/products overview—provides basics of the marketing plan and background about market segments
  • marketing macro-environment trends—technological, economic, political and legal
  • competition situation—describes major competitors in terms of size, goals, products, marketing strategies and any other relevant traits
  • distribution situation—facts and data on the products by channel and the changing importance of each channel (by value and bargaining power)

4. SWOT analysis

  • strength and weaknesses of current marketing strategies
  • opportunities and threats—outside factors that can affect the future of the business
  • issues to be addressed—results of the SWOT analysis

5. Marketing strategies

6. Marketing action programs

  • marketing mixes by segment—activities required to implement the marketing plan and achieve marketing objectives
  • tasks and responsibilities

7. Budget

  • revenue —forecasted sales volumes by unit and average price
  • expenses —cost of production, cost of physical distribution, marketing costs (for example, product development, advertising, distribution channel training and development, sales force training and payment, marketing research)

8. Controls and contingency plans

  • controls—how the performance of the plan will be measured, schedule by which to monitor its progress by comparing results against objectives
  • contingency plans in case of an adverse event (for example, delay in product launch, technical problems)

Note that significant overlap exists between this template and the Market Development Strategy. If you have already completed the Market Development Strategy, place your emphasis on planning your marketing action programs (#6, above), budget (#7) and controls (#8).

References

Viardot, E. (2004). Successful Marketing Strategy for High-tech Firms. Boston: Artech House.