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Ensure your marketing plan covers all the necessary bases.
Ensure your marketing plan covers all the necessary bases.

Five questions your marketing plan should be able to answer

Writing a marketing plan is easy – writing an effective marketing plan can be a much trickier proposition, explains DENYSE DRUMMOND-DUNN, who advises taking a question-based approach to the task.

A marketing plan is an essential document when it comes to putting together a winning strategy for increasing sales, revenue, and brand value.

Whether you are writing a fresh marketing plan for the new financial year or assessing your existing plan, ask the following questions to evaluate whether your plan has enough detail and easily accessible information to inform your marketing strategies and goals.

Who are the business’ customers?

To answer this question, more information is needed than simply age and gender. Write out a description – often called a persona or avatar – of a typical customer.

Use the same details you would use to describe a friend, from job to family to wants and needs. Don’t forget to update your customer personas as new information comes in.

Good answer: “Our typical customer is a middle-aged woman whose children are in their late teens or early twenties. She shops in local supermarkets and gets advice from friends on Facebook about the best brands to buy and what’s on offer.

“Include the objective behind the launch of new product lines or line extensions, and any new theme or direction the brand is taking. Articulating the objective provides a clear basis for the marketing decisions.”

“She’s been buying our brand for more than two years because it satisfies her children’s hunger when they get home. That makes them happy, and she then feels proud as a mum. We call her Patty.”

How much is the average customer worth to us?

Besides an average lifetime value for your customers, you should also be able to provide information about how they perceive your brand.

This information will come from attributes ascribed to your brand during market research, such as “worth the price” or “more valuable than other brands”.

You can also include statistics from your market research and comparisons with competitors and category leaders.

Good answer: “On average, each customer spends about $XX each year on our brand, which is about $XX over 10 years (average lifetime value).

“Our current average price in-store is $YY, but BB per cent of our customers think we’re actually worth more than that. This compares to $ZZ for the category leader.”

What is the return on investment of our marketing budget?

While return on investment is not always the best measure of a marketing strategy’s impact, it is still important.

Take a simple approach – list what your total budget is, how much you spent on advertising, communications, and promotions, and what impact that had on total sales.

Good answer: “Our total annual budget is $XX, of which $YY is spent on marketing communications and promotions. Annually, our sales increased to ZZ, or AA per cent.”

What is the business’ projected market share for the end of the financial year?

Your marketing plan should include current market share to enable year-to- year comparisons, as well as a projection for the end of the financial year.

However, the answer to this question goes beyond a simple percentage; it is important to know how your business’ market share compares to competitors, the category as a whole, and the trend over time.

Good answer: “We are expecting an RR per cent increase in sales this year, to UUU units. This is the highest rate in the category, so our share will increase by PP points to MM per cent market share – the highest market share in 10 years.”

What innovations are planned for the business?

The answer to this question could be a long list of new additions to your business’ product assortment, but a better answer adds context.

Include the objective behind the launch of new product lines or line extensions, and any new theme or direction the brand is taking. Articulating the objective provides a clear basis for the marketing decisions.

Good answer: “We will be launching CC new variants in our new organic range, which we expect to add MM per cent points to our total market share. We will also be eliminating FF units that are not delivering on expectations and contain too much sugar for today’s customer preferences.”

What is the competition doing?

Every marketing plan should include details about the business’ competitors. To make comparisons simpler, include a selection of metrics and address any challenging market conditions.

Good answer: “Our major competitors are XXX, YYY, and ZZZ. We are the category leader, with MM per cent market share, however we are facing increased competition from YYY which has recently invested AAA in a renovation, digital marketing campaign, and in-store promotion.”


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Denyse Drummond-Dunn

Contributor • C3Centricity

Denyse Drummond-Dunn works with organisations that want to attract, delight, and retain more customers. Learn more: c3centricity.com

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