The business world runs on checklists. Why should marketing be any different? They may not be the sexiest business tool, but a marketing plan checklist provides numerous advantages. They provide a picture of the entirety of a marketing project. As we check off our accomplishments, we get a positive boost from knowing we’ve achieved something. They inform stakeholders about the status of key activities.
I suggest using a marketing plan checklist to gain clarity in what really is driving your marketing efforts.
This marketing plan checklist sheds light on the critical steps businesses take to expand their market presence. It summarizes the tasks, tools and concepts organizations build into their plan to ensure success. I’ve been building marketing plans and managing marketing programs for years; this is the good stuff!
- SWOT Analysis – This is a proven brainstorming technique that has been used by businesses for years to identify their Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. It’s often used in the early stage of developing a marketing plan to pinpoint the company’s most marketable assets and the things that might get in the way of achieving goals. It provides the focus you need in developing the right strategies to leverage opportunities and mitigate threats.
- Target Market – Having a target market(s) clearly stated will play a major role in making both strategic and tactical marketing decisions. It affects all four P’s of marketing strategy so be sure to nail this. It also sets the stage for an effective positioning statement, which pinpoints your customer’s most important need, problem or challenge.
- Objectives – Some folks call them Goals. Regardless of what you call them, they require answering key questions. Where do you want your investment in marketing to take your organization? Grow market share? Build awareness? Launch new products? A useful marketing objective has three main components: action / measure / timeframe.
- Market Research – What do you know about the market environment you operate in or the sub-segments you pursue? Primary and secondary research will help you understand consumer preferences, unmet needs and buying trends. It doesn’t end with the launch of your plan. Great marketers continually scan the environment for shifts that will affect their strategy and positioning.
- Trend Analysis – Good marketing takes into account the context or environment in which the company operates. We’re talking macro-level here. Look at four broad categories of trends that could impact your business: Political, Environmental, Social and Political (PEST).
- Competitor Analysis – Be objective and assess the strengths and weaknesses of your company’s primary competitors. It’s also a good idea to look at indirect competitors so you don’t get blindsided.
- Company Business Plan – A well-run company has a mission, vision, business plan and operations plan to guide the company toward achieving corporate goals. The marketing plan feeds off that business plan by mapping out how the company will pursue its revenue growth.
- Cross-discipline Conversations – Make sure marketing folks and sales team leadership talk to each other during planning. What does the sales team need at each stage of the pipeline from marketing? What market trends are they aware of that would help inform the marketing plan?
- Differentiation – Most industries are highly competitive, to win new business you have to be different in a meaningful way. Uniqueness plays a huge role in the key messages you communicate in your tactics.
- Strategic Options – A complete marketing plan will provide strategies and goals for your product, price, promotion and the channels that bring your product to the market place.
- Budget – Marketing is an investment in growth. In an ideal world, determine the objectives first, and then identify all the tactics needed to attain them. That will put you in position to figure out your budget.
- Implementation & Measurement – Marketing is not “set it and forget it”. The plan is only as good as its implementation. How will you know your plan is moving the needle? It’s the marketer’s job to embrace accountability and continuous improvement. That means measuring both strategically and tactically. At the strategic level, examine the margin-contribution, channel performance and sales revenue by territory. At the tactical level, data sources abound to keep us informed about the performance of digital marketing tools like social media, web-site and e-mail newsletters.
If you need assistance with any of the above, contact Affinity, we’re here to help grow your business!