How to Make a Marketing Strategy Plan

When drafting an effective marketing strategy, put yourself in the customer’s shoes to find answers to these key questions:

  • Do you know why they buy your products or services?
  • Is your pricing appropriate?
  • Would you reduce your price by 20% to 30% when the number of customers decline, or when your inventory gradually builds up?
  • Have you set any marketing or sales targets for the next 12 months?

You don’t need to draw detailed plans or hire high-priced consultants to develop an effective marketing strategy, but you still need a plan. A marketing plan will provide you with a road map that will guide your business and illuminate your path.

A marketing plan can help you:

  • Identify the segment of customers who represent the best target.
  • Evaluate company data against your industry or market.
  • Track results to identify successful strategies.

Without a marketing plan, your business may operate at a fast pace, but you literally may not be taking the right direction.

Here are five steps to develop a strategic and practical marketing plan:

Step 1 – Determine the status of your product

Many entrepreneurs fail to distinguish between promotions, advertising and public relations. These represent marketing channels or campaigns but are not considered marketing.

The four elements of a marketing mix or 4p’s are:

  • Product: Owning a product or service that is appropriate for the market in which you operate.
  • Price: Selling the product or service at a price that the targeted customer considers a good deal.
  • Promotion: Creating appropriate customer perceptions across multiple channels, including print publications such as direct mail, brochures and postcards, as well as ad spots on TV, radio, newspapers and magazines, or even the Internet.
  • Place: Distribute your product to stores in areas where target customers can easily find it.

You are on the right track If you can correctly price the product or service for your target customer. Take into account that the volume of sales is not the end goal but rather making profit. The goal of marketing is to raise the interest of customers or their perception of the product or service, which results in sales and increased profits.

Now that you know why you need to develop an appropriate strategy, you should formulate messages that will resonate with your target customers. You should prepare honest marketing messages that describe what the product offers to customers, without exaggerating or making false statement.

In terms of implementation, none of the above requires expensive production. For instance, you can use Microsoft Office Publisher, which is included in Microsoft Office, to draft consistent marketing materials that are unique to your brand identity to be displayed through various media.

You can also download marketing templates from the Office Online Template Gallery. All you have to do is use Microsoft’s different design and layout tools to create a customized identity for your brand.


Step Two – Consult with experts

In order to determine the appropriate marketing strategy for your company, hold several brainstorming meetings with trusted counselors such as family, friends, staff, or other professionals. These meetings can be informal gatherings such as meeting over lunch, but you should not expect to accomplish your objectives in one meeting. During these sessions, try to direct participants’ answers to the following questions:

  • Who are you selling?
  • What do these customers need?
  • What distinguishes your products or services from those of competitors?
  • What marketing tools can raise customers’ interest in your products?
  • When should you resort to marketing? What is the average use?
  • Where would you like the company to be within a year?

You may consider recording these sessions and extracting the best ideas and suggestions. So, start taking notes, identify and describe your market, the sales and distribution workflow, your target customers (in terms of age, income, locations, purchasing patterns) and categorize your products compared to those of competitors.

Step 3 – Listen to your customers

After the previous step, you’ll need to identify how customers interact with your product’s quality, price, service, delivery, image and brand – which will affect their purchasing decisions. To find out what customers think about your products, just ask them. You can launch a thorough survey targeting your existing and potential customers before making personal phone calls or communicating via e-mail or postcards. Do not forget to offer discounts or free product samples.

Business owners are often surprised by what customers say. For example, a company learned from a survey that a receptionist was rude with customers over the phone. How can you tell if you did not ask customers?

Based on the findings, prepare a SWOT analysis

  • Strengths: What makes your business grow?
  • Weaknesses: What are your weaknesses?
  • Opportunities: Under which circumstances and what segments of the market are driving growth?
  • Threats: What threats do your competitors pose?


Step 4 – Formulation of the Plan

Since you now have a comprehensive overview of your customers and market dynamics, you can complete your plan. This plan does not need to be an official document, but it should consist of at least broad lines in order to be shared with other colleagues and consultants for future reference.

The plan should include:

  • A summary of your market position, and your goals.
  • An outline of your objectives during a specific time period (We will sell 150 machines by the fourth quarter of the year).
  • A list of target markets, including a breakdown of available markets and distinct market segments.
  • An appropriate strategy for each department or market.
  • An allocation of expenses and resources.
  • Marketing channels, including an outline of marketing materials and the distribution channels you will use to attract targeted customers, including flyers, postcards, e-mail marketing, media releases, the website, and more.
  • Competitive strategies, and how will you respond to your competitors. For instance, how will you react when a competitor offers lower prices to consumers?


Step 5 – Evaluating outcomes

Include evaluation criteria in your plan. Use these criteria to see if your marketing efforts have come to fruition. Otherwise, rethink your approach.

Do not forget to calculate the cost of marketing compared to sales expectations for a specific product.

When it comes to direct marketing through mail, check how the campaign is performing by creating an Excel spreadsheet including details pertaining to each request while identifying customers.

Also make sure to draft actions plans and evaluation reports. Drafting plans is important, when it comes to outlining responsibilities, setting deadlines, and holding people accountable. Otherwise, your marketing efforts will fail.

Finally, you should not only take pride in your success and the goals you have achieved. Markets are constantly changing, so you should always be ready to adapt. Make sure you review your plans every year and check if you should reconsider goals.


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