What does it take to develop a marketing plan and how does it all come together? In my view there are five main areas to break down as follows:1. The Analysis Phase
2. Develop Strategy Phase
3. The Plan itself
4. Call to Arms
The Analysis Phase
The fundamentals of background research have to be done. You cannot devise a plan until you have watched and understood what your competitors are doing and learn from them. Clearly you have to define customers’ needs (real, imagined and stated) and you have to define your “ideal” customer. What do they actually want, and then build a target list of those people you want to reach.
At this stage you need to start thinking about customer “delights”. How do you get their interest and define your “edge”. There are many areas to look at under product/service differentiation such as form, features, quality, reliability, style, design etc. From the research phase you will have started to build up ideas, now test them (client survey, dummy run, prototype etc.) You are looking for reasons why a customer will buy from you and not a competitor.
The Plan Itself
Having identified who you want to sell to and what your unique selling points are you still have to put it into a plan and usually the 4 P’s are present.
- Product (attributes, benefits, value added factors, branding etc.)
- Price (what are you charging and why?)
- Promotion (what is required in advertising support, PR, promotional activity like rewards, loyalty schemes, discounts, incentives?)
- Place (what distribution channels do you use, how do you deal with stocking issues, delivery etc.)
Then put it altogether in a coherent and easy to follow plan and allocate who will drive the process with clear time frames.
Call to Arms
Now you have a plan with allocated budgets, timelines, responsibilities, etc. you have to communicate the plan to all other stakeholders and then manage the process.
The implementation phase will cover areas such as, ordering procedures, delivery, training, feedback, cash effects of project (direct spend and working capital needs). It’s your job to get buy in from the troops on the plan so ask for feedback, areas to improve and ask for help if needed.
Finally you have to continually monitor and evaluate the process, obtain testimonials of excellence for future use and refine the plan as required. Measure success, learn from mistakes and be prepared to go again and again.
In franchise networks a lot of the background is prepared by the franchisor but of course there will be some stars in the network, very adept at the marketing stuff, use them to pass on good practice and ideas to fellow franchisees.