Tips: How to Write a Successful Marketing Plan
Writing a marketing plan is a practical and very engagement assignment. Unlike many others academic tasks this one certainly has a potential to help you in your future career. Even if you decide to create a blog or open a creative bookstore, you won’t be able to proceed without this document. Make sure to invest yourself in the completion of this assignment, as it is much better to train now, then to go bankrupt later. Finally, even if you don’t plan to use it as a part of your future working routine, the following tips will help you get a good grade from your professor.
Step 1. Find and Prove Your Unique Selling Proposition
Unique Selling Proposition, or USP, is something that makes your idea (product, service, etc.) differ from anything customers can get at the particular market right now. It is exceptionally hard to win the market share without impressive, clear and actual USP. Remember, that if your marketing plan is about some product, USP shouldn’t be obligatory about the product as well. For example, you might sell the same coffee as others, but serve it in a completely different way. You can promise the fastest delivery (as FedEx), or the same taste of your food all over the world (McDonald's).
Step 2. Make Analysis
You can’t move further without some analytical data. Your USP might be stellar, but you should prove it with the competitive analysis. Show what your rivals and potential rivals sell, for how much and which channels of distribution they employ. To make your marketing plan professional it is almost obligatory to present a comprehensive SWOT analysis, where you assess your strengths and weaknesses and define threats and opportunities of the particular market related to your business idea. Remember, that you shouldn’t adjust the analytical results the way they might look more favorable for you. Be honest with your conclusions, just try to balance every negative factor and threat with some creative marketing ideas.
Step 3. Define and Justify Your Targeted Audience
You should know maximum about your clients before you start selling your product or service. You should define it from the very beginning and present it in detail in your marketing plan. More of it, you should justify why you think this particular audience will be responsive to your offer. Many students and entrepreneurs use oversimplified descriptors presenting their targeted audience. For example: “Men and women, 25-40, living in big cities”. You can find such descriptions even in some professional marketing plans. Don’t repeat this mistake, be much more precise and engaged. Create a hero of your marketing plan, or two heroes if you target both sexes. Give him/her a name, a profession, depict his/her lifestyle, preferences, habits (good and bad), environment. Use social media and observe people in the streets to complete this part. Even if your marketing plan, in general, is somewhat weak, this part will undeniably impress your professor.
Step 4. Apply 360-Degrees Approach
Show how you are going to promote and sell your products. Use the most actual 360 approach to depict your plan. You should show how your idea will be advertised through the variety of channels, how it can be modified according to those channels, and how each channel will affect the final outcome. You might think that if your marketing plan covers opening a local coffee shop, you shouldn’t take into consideration expensive media promotion, such as TV or radio. However, you should analyze every option and give ideas on how you can get “earned media coverage” for free. Be creative and don’t put barriers for yourself in your head.
Step 5. Write a Comprehensive Executive Summary
Many students and even real entrepreneurs start with writing an executive summary because they think they know exactly what they want their audience to understand from the particular marketing plan. It is a big mistake. Though executive summary goes on top of the plan, it should be composed the last, and reflect a real situation, results of the research and revealed limitations, not the author’s hopes and preliminary perception of the potential outcomes. While writing a marketing plan itself, note ideas or even full sentences and quotes, which you might further add to the executive summary. This way you will spend minimum time on it.
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