What is a Marketing Plan?
A marketing plan aims to support the strategy for a company and its products/services. Planning is essential in all organisations and company plans should be documented. Each department in a firm will usually have a plan detailing what their objectives are and how they plan to achieve them. All plans must support the overall corporate objectives of the organisation,irrespective of individual department aims.
Below is a diagram showing the outline of a marketing plan. The diagram also explains AOSTC the popular acronym used to write a marketing plan.
Outline of a Marketing Plan & AOSTC
A common method used to write a marketing plan is through the acronym called AOSTC. It simply stands for:
- Analysis – Of your internal and external environment
- Objectives – Set yourself SMART objectives
- Strategies – Decide how will you achieve your objectives
- Tactics – Plan what will you do to achieve your objectives
- Control. – How you will monitor whether you are achieving your objectives.
Every good marketing plans needs to analyse the current business situation and ask a simple question, where is the business now? This involves the business conducting an internal audit and external audit.
An internal audit will look at:
- Past objectives and success rates
- Past marketing mix strategies
- Past budgets
- Past segmentation, targeting and positioning strategies
The internal audit aims to look at what you did in the past, was it successful? If not why not? If it was successful why was it successful?
The external audit will involve:
- Conducting a PEST analysis, and discussing the impact of this on your strategy
- Researching the industry you operate in. What are the trends within the industry you operate in?
- Competitor analysis. What are your competitors up to?
- A SWOT analysis to help establish your current strengths, opportunities, weaknesses and threats.
Set your objectives and decide where you would like to be. Once you have completed your audits you will know the firm's current position. Use this information to decide what you would like the firm to achieve i.e. What are your objectives? Where would you like the firm to go? What would you like the firm to become? If you are unsure about what objectives to set Ansoff's Matrix is a good starting point. This simple model looks at developing existing products and markets or whether the firm should explore new products and entering new markets.
Set yourself SMART objectives so that each objective will be clearly defined and achievable. Remember SMART stands for:
- Specific - Clearly state what you want to achieve
- Measurable - State how you will measure whether you are achieving the objective.
- Achievable - Set yourself attainable/possible objectives.
- Realistic - Can you achieve the objective using your current resources?
- Timed - Set a realistic time scale to achieve the objective.
Once you have decided what you would like to achieve you need to decide how you are going to achieve it; this is known as your strategy. Click here to learn more about strategy. Your strategy will be determined by your objectives, corporate values, time scales and your marketing environment.
If you have a target market/segment you will need to decide your targeting strategy and positioning strategy. You will also need to think about how the marketing mix can assist you. What will be your product, price, place or promotion?
Whereas strategy is about how you will achieve your objectives, tactics are about what you are actually going to do. For example if your objective is to increase sales tactics would be things like open up more shops, recruit more sales staff, do online sales.
This section of the plan will help you monitor if you are achieving your objectives and whether your strategy is working. If you set yourself targets you can monitor performance against the targets you set. You could also use benchmarks such as:
- Market share data
- Sales data
- Consumer/customer feedback
- Feedback from staff and
- Feedback from retailers class
Finally at the end of this task write a summary of the plan and place it at the front. Why? Well it acts as a quick reference guide for the plan you have just written.