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Marketing Plan

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A marketing plan is the key to business. Its purpose is to maximize the business' profits. As opportunities crop up or the business environment changes, the objective and marketing strategies in the plan will aim toward the best action. The marketing plan and the strategic marketing plan fit together in that both are essential for the success of a business. Without a strategic marketing plan, businesses can become uncertain in marketing efforts. The purpose of the strategic marketing plan is to help businesses reach their marketing goals.

The marketing plan should be a comprehensible, succinct, and well thought out document that serves as a guide through the marketing program. It should focus on the objective of the marketing and the intent to carry out that objective. There are six major elements to creating a successful marketing plan. They are: purpose, target customer, benefits of the product or service, positioning, marketing tactics and marketing budget.

The marketing plan's purpose may seem apparent, but by putting it up front and in writing, the business will stay focused on its intent. Many businesses think their marketing plan is about increased exposure, getting press, writing cool ads, and the like. These are not purposes, they are devices. The end result of any of these is to increase profits.

There are two major instruments to the marketing plan. They are: how your enterprise will address the competitive marketplace and how you will put into practice and look after your day to day operations. It is of little value to have a strategy if the business lacks either the resources or the know-how to implement it. Because each strategy must address some unique considerations, it is not reasonable to identify every important factor at a basic level.

The strategic marketing plan is made up of various components, one being the objective. The objective addresses the "big picture". The marketing strategy supports the objective; it defines general approaches to take to meet the objective. For example, strategies to support the objective could include 1) improve online communication, information, and education, 2) build awareness of and interest in the company on the Internet, and 3) communicate the Website's existence and advantages to existing clients.

Another component is the marketing tactic or marketing program or action plan. These are the things that will be done to bring each marketing strategy to life. By implementing marketing programs that are consistent with the objective(s) and marketing strategies, there is a better chance for success.

The marketing concept and customer focus are core concepts not only in marketing but in general business practice today. (Winer, 2004, p. 8) In order to reach target customers, the business needs to know who they are. Are they companies or individuals? Do they fall into a certain age, geographic or income demographic? How do they buy this type of products or services? Not everyone is a target customer, but the business should be sure that the target market is large enough to support its sales objectives.

If the market is very attractive and the enterprise is one of the strongest in the industry you will want to invest your best resources in support of your offering. If the market is very attractive but the enterprise is one of the weaker ones in the industry you must concentrate on strengthening the enterprise. If the market is not especially attractive, but the enterprise is one of the strongest in the industry then an effective marketing and sales effort for your offering will be good for generating near term profits. If the market is not especially attractive and the enterprise is one of the weaker ones in the industry you should promote this offering only if it supports a more profitable part of your business or if it absorbs some of the overhead costs of a more profitable segment. Otherwise, you should determine the most cost effective way to divest your enterprise of this offering.

A cost leadership strategy is based on the concept that you can produce and market a good quality product or service at a lower cost than your competitors. These low costs should translate to profit margins that are higher than the industry average. A differentiation strategy is one of creating a product or service that is perceived as being unique "throughout the industry". The emphasis can be on brand image, proprietary technology, special features, superior service, a strong distributor network or other aspects that might be specific to your industry. A focus strategy may be the most sophisticated of the generic strategies, in that it is a more 'intense' form of either the cost leadership or differentiation strategy. It is designed to address a "focused" segment of the marketplace, product form or cost management process and is usually employed when it isn't appropriate to attempt an 'across the board' application of cost leadership or differentiation.

Having defined the overall offering objective and selecting the generic strategy the business must then decide on a variety of closely related operational strategies. One of these is how it will price the offering. A pricing strategy is mostly influenced by your requirement for net income



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