It always surprises me how many middle and large size firms do not have a written marketing plan. It seems to be common practice for the critical parts of what would be a marketing plan to be broken up and held in the minds of various department heads or executives. Every once in a while someone gets the idea to work on a value proposition or a positioning statement in isolation from the other components of a proper marketing plan.
I’ll be writing a series of posts over the next week elaborating on the 7 parts of a proper marketing plan. As a reminder, these are the components of a proper marketing plan:
Step 1 – Situation Analysis. Now is the time to take stock of where you are at your present situation. You can’t create an effective plan to move forward if you don’t have a concise understanding of the point where you start. There are 5 sections in this step:
- Summarize your market. This is a great place to bring in your
cross-functional team together. Market summary should include a definition of market demographics, needs of your target market, trends, and current, past and future growth. Michael Porter’s Five Forces framework is an excellent tool for the market assessment. There is also a nice summary here from the Management Study Guide web site. Keep in mind that understanding your market may include primary or secondary research.
- SWOT Analysis. Now, you should prepare a summary of what you learned in the previous step using a SWOT framework. One common mistake I see in these summaries is people mixing up the strengths and weaknesses with the opportunities and threats. Strengths and weaknesses are internal to your firm. Opportunities and threats are external from the market.
- Analysis of Competition. In this section, include a SWOT analysis for each of your main competitors. It’s important to understand your competitors core competencies, value message, market perception, and why customers choose the competition instead of your firm.
Disclaimer: I understand this is a very broad overview of a highly detailed subject. My purpose here is to help you start thinking about this process. The process of writing a plan is extremely helpful in building a profitable and growing business. You should find a good reference to go along these posts. I recommend, ‘The Marketing Plan Handbook‘ as a great reference.