A customer focused business ethos is a proven method to increase the chances of a sustainable and profitable future. The plan is a detailed written document which can be used to promote a single product, of form the annual business strategy. Stage 1: Research and planningUnderstand your customer and the marketing environment, look for opportunities for growth.
Stage 2: Developing your marketing strategyIdentify objectives and choose the right path to exploit opportunities highlighted in the research stage. The marketing plan should provide direction for all relevant members of the organization and should be referred to and updated throughout the year.
Examining both the internal and external marketing environments can identify both opportunities and threats to the business and is a core component of the plan. A commonly used method of quantifying the macro external environment is with a PEST analysis. The micro-environment includes factors which are still not directly under the control of the company, but more directly relevant to strategy such as consumer trends, stakeholders, suppliers and competitors.
The internal marketing environment includes factors that the business can directly influence. Once you have completed the internal and external environmental audit, you can summarise your findings using a SWOT analysis which can be used to make key decisions. A 'SWOT analysis' is a useful way of summarizing the results of the environmental audit and presenting the current status of a business.
A vision statement is a more long term, ideal-world statement which outlines where you would like to take the business in the long run. Combined with the mission statement, your objectives should be the key statements that drive your business.
Most businesses need to grow, and the Ansoff Matrix (below) is a method of determining the best course of action if growth is your priority.
Once you have determined the product and market you want to be in, the next problem will be setting a price.
The marketing mix is a selection of customer focused business elements which work together as a toolkit to market your product or service.
Market penetration strategy – deliberately low pricing in order to enter or control a market quickly. Place refers to the method of getting your product to the consumer - this could be a dealership or an online shop.


Promotion is much more than just advertising - this is the discipline of marketing communications.
People refers to all the customer facing staff in your organisation, not just the sales staff. Process refers to the procedures which are followed when delivering a service to a customer. This element of the marketing mix should also include your customer relationship management (CRM) process, or in other words, how you manage customers through the purchasing funnel. When using the marketing mix, it is important to keep in mind the three generic stages of marketing - segmentation, targeting and positioning. An action plan is core to the marketing process – a constantly evolving document which is cascaded to the relevant people and monitored regularly.
The final stage of the action plan is the implementation of measurements and controls and reporting results. The balanced scorecard approach is a widely used method of monitoring overall performance and ensuring daily work is focused on the strategic objectives. Traditionally, businesses have tracked success based on just one measure – financial results. Now that you have an accurate picture your plan's success it is important to feedback this information in order to fine tune the strategy and update your actions accordingly. The marketing planning process is a comprehensive method for examining your business, your market and the environment in order to develop a strategy to exploit opportunities. The marketing planning process is at the heart of any truly marketing orientated company, and ensures the customer is at the centre of all key decisions. We have split the marketing plan into three steps, which are easy to follow and equally relevant to both small and large businesses. The main purpose of the marketing plan is to provide a structured approach to help marketing managers consider all the relevant elements of the planning process.
The whole area is usually broken down into the macro, micro and internal environments as summarised in the diagram below. PEST is an acronym which divides the macro-environment into four areas – Political, Economic, Social, and Technological, examples of which are explained below. Use the primary and secondary (first and second hand) market research information at your disposal to describe your customer. SWOT simply stands for the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats which have emerged from examining the macro, micro and internal marketing environments.


It should explain to customers concisely what the nature of your business is and where you are going, and also provide a motivational tool for employees. The Boston Consultancy Group matrix is a method of determining which to invest in, and which to drop, shown below. The tactical section of a marketing plan summarises how you intend to use each element of the marketing mix, which can be summarised in seven 'Ps' as shown in the illustration below.
Your product based tactics link back to your overall strategy - if your strategy is market penetration (see the Ansoff matrix), then there may be little need to do anything to the product. Examples of physical evidence include a brochure for a holiday tour, customer testimonials for a dentist, or a portfolio for a website design company.
Segmentation is the detailed breakdown of your customers into as much detail as practical, targeting then ensures all elements of the mix are tailored to your identified consumer group.
Most action plans are relatively short term documents which focus on the coming year, but longer term implications should also be considered. Many models for monitoring the performance of businesses have emerged, many of which address the needs of key stakeholders and allow them to evaluate the overall success of a company.
However, the scorecard system views the business from four external perspectives to gain a more relevant approach to performance metrics. This is a vital process which should be used by almost every company to ensure a profitable and sustainable future. As your understanding of the audience improves, you'll be able to design products which cater for their needs better, and you will be able to communicate with them more directly. However, if you have chosen product development or diversification then a certain amount of research and development, and product design will be needed. Positioning is the process of ensuring potential and current customers perceive your company in the intended way.
This approach encourages open communication throughout the business and allows tracking of performance throughout the year. If you have a broad customer base, you might need to split your customers into groups (segmentation).



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