The first thing you should do when forming a marketing plan is define the structure in which it will be presented. The structure of the plan should allow the presentation of strategic information in a logical and progressive manner. This structure should be prepared in a written outline detailing the progression of topics and how they will appear in the marketing plan.
The structure of a marketing plan will usually vary according to the business, its product or service, and the objectives of the marketing plan. Generally, however, each marketing plan will include the following information:
Goals & objectives
Objectives and goals are important to a marketing plan because they provide a direction for your growth strategy. Objectives and goals are precise targets that you will gear your company and its resources toward. They are specific in nature. They are measurable over a period of time. They are within the realm of feasibility. And they are linked to the basic mission and purpose of the company.
Your objectives and goals should spell out exactly what you intend to accomplish. Long-range objectives are usually linked to the performance and prosperity of a company and involve financial targets such as overall sales, return on investment, increased profit margins, etc. Of course, your long-range objectives don't have to be confined to financial goals, but can include other areas of growth within a company such as market share, personnel, productivity, research and development, and/or any other objective you deem suitable for your company or the division you manage.
Your long-range objectives don't have to be singular in nature. You can form one objective, two, three or more. As long as they do not conflict with each other, there should be no problem listing more than one task to be performed in the objectives and goals section of your marketing plan.
Short-term goals should be compatible with your long-range objectives. They should be viewed as a series of building blocks that eventually will lead to the achievement of your long-range objective(s). Short-term goals let you know whether you are on the right course or not.
Short-term goals are often developed around financial targets, but, like long-range objectives, should not be confined solely to these items. In fact, a well-developed short-term goals section takes into account the various elements within your organization that need to be accomplished in order to achieve your long-range objectives. This might be an increase in production staffing, introduction of modernized equipment, increased productivity, etc. The whole idea is to further define just how you will reach your long-range objective.
Before you begin writing your marketing plan, you should have your long-range objectives and short-term goals prepared. In the previous sections of your marketing plan, the facts and ideas supporting your objectives and goals should have been presented. The objectives and goals section should tie all this information together to provide a purpose and a plan of action within a specified time frame.
Start your objectives and goals section by stating your long-range objective(s). From your objective(s), move into the various short-term goals that you will need to meet by a certain time period in order to reach your objectives. To support your stated objectives and goals, some consultants believe that it is necessary to include the actual supportive evidence used in their formulation. This may simply be a table showing the growth of the company to meet your long-range objectives or it may be an equation showing exactly how you determined your stated targets.
Keep in mind, however, that supportive evidence is not essential. As long as you clearly state your objective(s) and goals and provide reasons why you think they are feasible, there is no need to include the actual supportive evidence. Our view on the subject is to use it whenever possible. Remember, you're dealing with very busy people who are usually considering more than one marketing plan for funding. You need to relay your facts and ideas quickly.
Following is a sample objectives and goals section for the biodegradable diaper example we've been using.
The objective of Softie Baby Care Inc. is to obtain 25 percent of the disposable-diaper market within a three-year period with the introduction of its new biodegradable disposable diaper line, Bio-Diapers. During the first year of business, our goal will be to concentrate on marketing and distribution to raise awareness among consumers and retailers. Projected sales for the first year, at an average retail cost of $12 for a large bag of Bio-diapers ,total $155 million, which is a five-percent market share. To reach this goal, it will be necessary to increase our marketing staff by 10 percent and our production staff by three percent.
Our second-year goals are to reinvest profits to increase our marketing staff by close to 200 percent and our production staff by close to 300 percent while continuing with a strong research and development program aimed at reducing the component costs of the Bio-Diaper product by five percent, leading to a five-percent reduction in the suggested retail price. With these elements in place, our goal is to increase sales from the first year by seven percent, resulting in $431 million in sales and a 13-percent market share.
With volume expected to double in the third year, our goals are to increase our production staff by 100 percent and marketing by another 100 percent. Our goal in the third year is to increase sales by 12 percent to $871 million in order to reach our objective of a 25-percent market share.
First-Year Sales Goals
Unit Sales--18.4 million
Second-Year Sales Goals
Unit Sales--53.9 million
Third Year Sales Goals
Unit Sales--108.9 million
* Projected industry sales.
In part VIII of our Marketing Plan series, we'll be covering Marketing Tactics. Tips are updated daily at 5:00a.m. PST.