In our previous article “how a well-developed marketing plan simplifies your everyday marketing job”, we defined what marketing is and its importance in the day to day growing of your business. Today we share with you the guide that could help you develop an effective marketing plan for your business.
Marketing can take many forms and the effectiveness of your marketing efforts depends on an integrated approach. Remember, your written plan is only as good as the thought and planning that you put into it. Therefore, you should see the development of your marketing plan as an opportunity to gain an in –depth understanding of your customer so that all future decisions are based on the profitable provision of what your customer wants. It is important that your marketing plan is customer-driven rather than promotion-led. In other words, you need to get to know your customers first and then plan how you can best deliver what they need.
There are many different approaches to building a marketing plan. There is no single common approach, but there are essential elements which every marketing plan must have.
Originally created in the 1990s by writer and speaker PR Smith, the SOSTAC framework has built an authoritative reputation as the framework of choice for different scales of business including multinational and startup organisations across the world. SOSTAC is a widely used tool for marketing and business planning that is rated among the top marketing models. SOSTAC literally stands for the following: Situational analysis, Objectives, Strategy, Tactics, Actions and Control, and this is how you can apply them to develop an effective marketing plan:
1. Situational analysis: This gives an overview of your organisation that is; who you are and the kind of products or services you offer. There are various numerous potential customers in most markets, for your business to succeed faster and better, you must study the market broadly and determine the behavior of its best target customers, but before you can do all this and set out your objectives for the year(s) ahead, you need to find out what is happening in the market place and how fit your business is to meet the challenges for the year(s) ahead. This helps you to answer the key question: “where are we now?” and to answer that question you need to research the key trends in your sector, find out how you perform relative to your competition in the eyes of the consumer and you need to figure out what your key strengths and weaknesses are. This will help you to do a good SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) analysis.
2. Objectives. “Your marketing objectives are a clear expression of what your business wants to achieve in marketing terms in the future planning period.” As a company or organization, it is important that you figure out the core need that your products and services will meet. You should be able to tell if: the product will help your customers get through the day more easily, be respected and admired by friends, and help them to carry out their job more efficiently. Thus your offerings to the customer should be well designed to solve clients’ problems or meet customer needs in a more effective way than the competition available can provide. Each objective should be Strategic, Measurable, and Attainable, relevant and time bound.
3. Strategy. Strategy means how you plan to get there in terms of fulfilling the objectives set. The strategy section should also identify which segments of the market you aim to target with your plan. However much you may produce a high quality product or how good the service you provide may be, there is always high competition for your target customers on the market. Small businesses rarely consider spending time to study their competition in depth, or determine the competition that may be outside their industry but are just as capable of luring the customer away. This can be done by finding out who they are, what their competitive advantage is and how they will respond to your offering. This will help you figure out strategies to handle such losses. The strategy should be based on the 7P’s that is; pricing, product, place, people, promotion, process and partnerships.
The strategy section should also identify which segments of the market you aim to target with your plan. You should be able to state down a simple declarative sentence of how to meet customer needs and beat the competition.
4. Tactics. Tactics cover the specific tools taken in implementing your strategy. These actions comprise what is to be done, in what order, using which tools and personnel. You may employ a number of tactics and involve many different departments and people in this effort to reach a common goal. These tactics include; the kind of communication tools to use and how they can be used, the kind of message to be communicated and consistency across the different tools and messages, and the necessary resources and budget.
You may even recruit service providers to accomplish your objectives. Tactics typically requires the involvement of the organization as a whole.
5. Action. Telling the world about your organization’s new brand direction requires a sound action plan. This is mainly about the 3 M’s; Men (men and women and their expertise to do different activities), Money (the amount of money required to carry out the activities), Minutes (the time schedules and deadlines of completing the activities).
It is also important that you appoint the person taking up a particular activity, know when it is to be done, determine the resource allocation, the key performance measures and how performance will be measured.
6. Control. The final stage is to lay out how you plan to monitor and measure your performance based on the objectives set. Having considered the actions, then your control section is providing you with a series of dashboards tailored for each action. To keep proper control of your marketing plan, it is important that you do action performance measurements relating to the objectives, determine the responsibility for measurement and then review the measurement.
Whether you are a small company or a large corporation, one of the primary keys to your business’ success lies in preparing and implementing a good marketing plan. You can have the most awesome product or service to offer but without a plan in place, you may flounder for direction and waste a lot of time and energy as a result. Consider that your marketing plan, which is separate and apart from a business plan, is an essential element to the success of your company. The plan should contain data and specifics pertaining to your company’s goals, the product or service you are offering, how you intend to market it and a means for measuring your success.
By Mackline Ampurira
Mackline joined BLEGSCOPE Team as an Intern and is now a Management Consultant Trainee. She previously worked with the Ugandan Ministry of Health in conjunction with (USAID) Monitoring and Evaluation Technical Team as a Research Assistant. She has interest in Marketing, Management and Human Resources. You can follow her on Twitter >>@mackampurira