How to Create a Market Plan: The Basics of a Marketing Strategy

Marketing efforts typically incur the highest cost for most businesses. Without an effective marketing plan, this expenditure may go to waste, as the marketing team pursues disjointed marketing activities that have little bearing on the overall marketing strategy that an organisation wishes to pursue.

A successful marketing plan should provide an overarching framework for the organisation’s marketing efforts, with systematic guidelines for the marketing team that take into consideration the target market for each product or service.

 It should include steps for implementing marketing campaigns including offline and digital marketing, social media marketing, and whatever marketing materials or activities are deemed necessary for engaging existing and prospective customers.

The effectiveness of the marketing plan should also be measurable in terms of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), and the extent to which it meets the organisation’s marketing goals and business objectives.

However, in order to create a marketing plan that meets all of these criteria, it is first necessary to understand the fundamental principles that underlie any marketing strategy.

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The 7 Ps of Marketing

The roots of marketing strategy planning and implementation were first laid back in the 1960s, with the introduction of a concept that has since come to be known as “the seven Ps of marketing.” These are:

The 7Ps of Marketing

[Image source: Assemblo]

1. Product

Fundamental to the marketing plan is the product or service being promoted to the target market. Marketing strategy considerations surrounding the product include issues such as what it does to solve the problems or alleviate the pain points of the target customers, and what distinguishes it from other offerings on the market.

2. Price 

A pricing strategy for the product or service is also fundamental to any marketing plan. Prices should be set taking into consideration factors such as production and distribution costs, and what target customers are willing to pay.

3. Promotion 

Marketing activities concerning the promotional aspect of the marketing plan will typically cover a range of applications such as digital marketing, social media marketing, developing a marketing mix for offline media, and drawing up a content marketing strategy.

4. Place

Understanding the purchasing habits and behaviour of each buyer persona informs the marketing plan as to the best avenues and locations for displaying and selling the product or service. These may include channels for online and offline distribution.

5. People

At the organisational level, the “people” who will help in implementing the marketing plan include the leadership team, marketing team, and sales teams – in addition to non-human representatives involved in achieving marketing goals, such as chatbots and knowledge bases.

The organisation’s customer base can also play a role, through referrals, reviews, and word of mouth advertising within a social media marketing plan.

6. Process

The process to consider when creating a marketing plan is the sequence of operations that the organisation must follow in order to deliver a product or service to target customers.

7. Physical Evidence

The physical evidence aspect of a marketing mix consists of all the tangible proof that the commodity at the heart of the marketing plan actually exists, and the various ways in which the target audience can interact with and experience it. These may include physical stores, packaging, branding, and the brand positioning strategy that creates public awareness.

Creating the Marketing Plan

Developing a marketing plan is a systematic process that pulls in elements relating to an organisation’s marketing objectives, the nature of its target market, the unique selling proposition of the product or service, and the marketing tools and content strategy needed to promote it.

As a starting point, you can use a marketing plan template. You can typically acquire a marketing plan template online, from organisations like Incisive Edge and HubSpot, which offer them as downloads.

Though the marketing plan template you get from one location may differ in specific details from a marketing plan template derived from another source, the overall structure of the marketing plan itself should generally include some variant of the following components.

Business Summary or Executive Summary

The business or executive summary is the opening section of a marketing plan. It provides a concise description of the organisation itself, including the company or brand name, office locations, and a mission statement.

Business summary for a market plan

[Image source: HubSpot]

Business Initiatives or Marketing Objectives

The Business Initiatives section of a marketing plan describes the organisation’s marketing goals, delving into specific projects to be undertaken by the marketing team. As well as describing marketing objectives, this section also considers how these goals will be measured.

Business initiatives for a market plan

[Image source: HubSpot]

Customer or Demographic Analysis

In customer or demographic analysis, the marketing plan considers the industry, niche, or target market for a product or service, and the various buyer personas that commodities are aimed at. This analysis encompasses both demographic traits and specific needs or pain points that the marketing plan identifies as relevant to the target market.

Target Market analysis for a market plan

[Image source: HubSpot]

Market or Competitor Analysis

You won’t be marketing a product or service in a vacuum, so this section of the marketing plan considers the competition that you’ll be facing. Analysis should typically take in what other providers do well, where they are lacking, their existing market share, brand positioning strategy, and how your own unique selling proposition places you in comparison with them.

Competitive analysis for a market plan

[Image source: HubSpot]

SWOT Analysis

SWOT is an acronym for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. The results of your competitor and market research should have identified most if not all of these. Conducting a SWOT analysis as part of your marketing plan helps in establishing what may be lacking in your own or your competitor’s offerings, and further defining what your target customers are really looking for.

SWOT Analysis

[Image source: HubSpot]

Marketing Strategy

In formulating a marketing strategy for your product or service, this part of the marketing plan draws heavily upon the seven Ps of marketing which we described earlier, to identify how best to wage a marketing campaign that effectively addresses the needs and expectations of your buyer personas.

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Budgeting and Financial Projections

The budgeting section of your marketing plan will detail how resources should be allocated to your marketing department for achieving the marketing goals you have already established for the marketing campaign.

Note that a marketing plan is an ongoing process, so financial considerations for your marketing budget must take into account future projections for the coming month, quarter, or year.

Marketing Channels 

This final section of the marketing plan considers all the marketing tools and marketing strategies that you’ll need for outreach and promotion. These will include key considerations like your content marketing strategy, digital marketing strategies, and overall marketing strategy for all channels of engagement. At this point you may need to develop separate and detailed plans for your various marketing efforts, such as a dedicated social media marketing plan or a content marketing plan template.

Final Thoughts

As you put your marketing plan into action, you will need to monitor and measure Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and relevant metrics, to gauge your level of marketing success. This performance monitoring should be conducted in line with SMART goals – that is, marketing objectives and business goals that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound. Speaking of time, it’s a good idea to develop time lines that map out the progress of each specific project within your overall marketing plan. 

If one of your business objectives is to create a marketing plan for your product or service offerings, Incisive Edge can help. To find out more, get in touch with us.

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