Some entrepreneurs have said that if you have a good product or a fantastic service, you don’t need a marketing plan as the product or service will sell for itself. Fine. Eventually, they would find out that this is not the case. All businesses need a marketing plan to ensure that they have studied well their target market and that their product or service will get to be known, used, and patronized by their customers. This is the reason why small business owners should at the onset prepare a good marketing plan.
How does a marketing plan differ from a marketing strategy?
A marketing plan can be simply defined as the tactics and activities a business will implement usually within a period of one year in support of its marketing strategy.
A marketing strategy defines what a business would do to achieve its marketing objectives. It is the result of a careful analysis and study of its market, customers, competition, internal and external environment, and the business value proposition.
Simply put, the marketing strategy is what a business wants to do to attain its marketing objectives while the marketing plan outlines how to do it.
A good marketing plan and its correct execution contribute largely to business survival and success. As others may say, a good marketing plan that has been poorly implemented is still a bad one.
Why is the marketing mix important?
Aside from the other essential components, a marketing plan also shows the tactical combination of the different elements of the marketing mix. The marketing mix traditionally includes the product, pricing, promotions, and distribution functions of a business.
The marketing plan tells what product (or service) a company should offer that will satisfy the needs of its target market as determined in its market research including adaptations and variations to suit various customers’ preferences and buying behavior.
The pricing policy directly affects how the business can penetrate its target market and if it will make a profit or not. Too high a price makes market entry more difficult while too low a price results in possible losses.
Promotions enable a business to create market awareness and stimulate interest in its product/service. It includes offline and online advertising like paid ads online and on traditional print and broadcast media. It also covers promotional activities via non-traditional media like OOH ads as well as point-of-sales promotions, exhibits, events, and ground activation initiatives.
Bringing the product/service to where the customers are involves efficient distribution including logistics management particularly for physical products. For consumer goods, it may be delivered direct to the customers like purchases via online stores or it may be distributed through trade channels like retail outlets. Services are rendered directly to customers, or in the case of software or apps are downloaded via the internet.
The elements of the marketing mix are functional areas that a small business should really work at to improve chances of survival and success.
Can a good marketing plan guarantee business success?
Even a good marketing plan cannot guarantee 100% the success of a business. A marketing plan that clearly shows the following creates a higher success rate:
- A thorough analysis and study of the market;
- A good product adaptation to the actual needs of the market;
- A good knowledge of competition;
- A productive and repeatable customer acquisition process;
- A skilled and passionate management team.
Of course there are other success factors that you can add. Timing, connections, luck – maybe. But lack of a marketing plan, more often than not, will lead to business difficulties or failure.
Some small business owners would need the help of external marketing practitioner/consultant to craft a good marketing plan. We can be of help.