We are currently working on a marketing plan for a client and as we have gone along have realised there are lots of processes that you need to go through to write a good marketing plan. Ultimately the test of a good marketing plan is does it achieve the objective the client has asked for? Which could be to launch a new product, keep more existing customers or reach new markets or any of these and more beside. And the ultimate test is not that it looks good on paper but that it actually in reality works for the client when they implement it. So we don’t prove just on paper that they can achieve their objective but they actually achieve them in reality.
So for me that is the ultimate test. But in order for this to be achieved lots of work has to be put in. The first stage for us is that we hold a marketing workshop with the client concerned and brainstorm as much information as we can so that we can learn as much about the company concerned as possible. But equally it allows the client to be part of the process and to spend some valuable time out of their business focusing where the business is currently and where they want to take it in the future.
The next stage of the process is to carry out the research and competitor audit. For me this is crucial to a successful plan. This stage needs to have time spent on it. It depends on the needs of the client but at this stage we might carry out customer research. We will look at background research and any relevant research that we can source. We will also carry out a competitor audit at this point looking at key things we want to compare our client with competitors which can be anything from the look and feel of their promotional materials to how they price themselves in the marketplace.
This research stage allows us to then start the Appendixes and create well-known marketing tables such as a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) and a PEST looking at external forces such as (Political, Economic, Social and Technological). Plus the competitor audit and summaries of background research which usually will also include an audit of the client’s database. I always think that it is often easy to not read Appendixes in a report but actually they are the foundation of a good marketing plan and where the real creative thinking happens. Without it you could get a plan with lots of words but it would be like the house made of sand useless as there are no solid foundations.
When we write a plan we like to discuss it lots too and debate it and we also find ourselves thinking about the client and the plan pretty much 24/7. We find this thinking time essential as it needs time to reflect on all the information and form our views on how the client can take themselves forward.
The next stage is the actual writing of the front section which then forms the basis of the plan. This is the important part but can only be done if the other stages have been done and thought through. We then take a final and critical look at all sections before presenting it to the client.
But it doesn’t end there a comprehensive marketing plan is a lot to take in and we let the client have time to digest and think about the information and then have a further meeting to discuss the plan in detail.
Then its my favourite stage implementation of the plan. For although I love writing marketing plans. As I said at the beginning if it’s just confined to paper its only words it has to be actions to work. And I love seeing businesses benefit from not only the marketing plans that we write but also the other promotional work that we do. It’s what good marketing does – works for your business.
So quite simply what makes a good marketing plan? Well one that covers all the above stages but most importantly one that has strong foundations and works in action for the client and brings them business.