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The Essential Contents of a Marketing Plan
Excerpt from On Target: The Book on Marketing Plans by Tim Berry and Doug Wilson
Every marketing plan has to fit the needs and situation. Even so, there are standard components you just can't do without. A marketing plan should always have a situation analysis, marketing strategy, sales forecast, and expense budget.
Expense Budget: This ought to include enough detail to track expenses month by month and follow up on plan-vs.-actual analysis. Normally a plan will also include specific sales tactics, programs, management responsibilities, promotion, and other elements. The expense budget is a bare minimum.
Are They Enough?
These minimum requirements above are not the ideal, just the minimum. In most cases you'll begin a marketing plan with an Executive Summary, and you'll also follow those essentials just described with a review of organizational impact, risks and contingencies, and pending issues.
Include a Specific Action Plan
You should also remember that planning is about the results, not the plan itself. A marketing plan must be measured by the results it produces. The implementation of your plan is much more important than its brilliant ideas or massive market research. You can influence implementation by building a plan full of specific, measurable and concrete plans that can be tracked and followed up. Plan-vs.-actual analysis is critical to the eventual results, and you should build it into your plan.
Public Relations Marketing
Public Relations involves a variety of programs designed to maintain or enhance a company's image and the products and services it offers. Successful implementation of an effective public relations strategy can be a critical component to a marketing plan.
A public relations (PR) strategy may play a key role in an organization's promotional strategy. A planned approach to leveraging public relations opportunities can be just as important as advertising and sales promotions. Public relations is one of the most effective methods to communicate and relate to the market. It is powerful and, once things are in motion, it is the most cost effective of all promotional activities. In some cases, it is free.
The success of well executed PR plans can be seen through several organizations that have made it a central focus of their promotional strategy. Paul Newman's Salad Dressing, The Body Shop, and Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream have positioned their organizations through effective PR strategies. Intel, Sprint and Microsoft have leveraged public relations to introduce and promote new products and services.
Similar to the foundational goals of marketing, effective public relations seeks to communicate information to:
- Launch new products and services.
- Reposition a product or service.
- Create or increase interest in a product, service, or brand.
- Influence specific target groups.
- Defend products or services that have suffered from negative press or perception.
- Enhance the firm's overall image.
- The result of an effective public relations strategy is to generate additional revenue through greater awareness and information for the products and services an organization offers.
Goals and Objectives
Good strategy begins with identifying your goals and stating your objectives. What are the goals and objectives behind your public relations strategy and can they be measured and quantified?
Each of these areas may reflect the goals your public relations campaign may seek to accomplish.
Communicating news and information of interest about organizations in the most positive light.
Product and service promotion
Sponsoring various efforts to publicize specific products or services.
Promoting a better and more attractive understanding of the organization with internal and external communications.
Communicating with key individuals to positively influence legislation and regulation.
Advising decision makers within the organization regarding the public's perception and advising actions to be taken to change negative opinions.