Every business big or small need to have a thought through marketing plan for their growth. Large companies have plans that run into several power point presentations and pages while startups have plans that pretty much occupy half the space on a paper napkin. Some business owners put it down on paper while others carry out their plan with an intrinsic gut feel. But the fact remains everyone at some level or the other work on a marketing plan.
Why develop a plan in the first place?
Having a marketing plan helps business in several ways. One, it helps the business owner understand and set clear business goals for the money, time or resources he has invested into marketing. Secondly, and, it helps articulate the company’s goals, vision and growth plan for all its employees and investors.
While having a marketing plan is no guarantee of success as we shall see later, not having one will certainly lead to a disaster. Trying to grow your business without a thought through marketing plan is akin to driving your car on an un-known road and hoping that there is no ditch in the way and hoping that you will reach your destination.
To help readers understand the intricate details of how a marketing plan is developed and put into motion, we’ll make a practical plan for a fictitious company named Alcone Products Inc. This will help understand better how to prepare a plan for your own company.
About Alcone Products Inc.
Alcone Products Inc. is a family run business from sunny Florida. It manufacturers and markets a range of biscuits under the brand name “Figurz”. Figurz biscuits comes in multiple shapes and sizes and also includes a whole range of kid biscuits in the shape of animal characters. Figurz is also made from whole wheat and is considered a healthy snacking option when on the move and does not lead to fat gain.
Alcone has been marketing Figurz nationally now for the past 8 years and has a decent distribution system in place in both traditional and large format stores. It is however facing increasing competition by more modern brands with large advertising budgets and for the past few years has been having low to flat sales growth which is hitting the company bottom line due to increased operations costs.
Traditionally Alcone has been running trade schemes and trade incentive programs as a means of ensuring distribution coverage and depth. But with low consumer sales and interest, retail stores are beginning to question the brand’s future. In this scenario Mike, the company’s founder finally decides that he has to now turn to doing ‘something’ around marketing to boost his brand’s fortune.
Let’s help Mike get his brand back in place by following these critical steps
1. Marketing Business Goal setting
Setting a marketing business goal will help give shape to the marketing plan. How do you set a marketing business goal? You decide what you want to achieve through marketing efforts. This could be any of the following
a) Sales Revenue – How much you want to generate by way of sales
b) Sales Volume- How much you want to generate by way of units sold
c) New consumer acquisition- How many new consumers you want who should adopt your brand.
d) Increased brand usage- You perhaps want your existing consumers to buy more of the same product?
e)Improved brand awareness- You want to increase the brand recall and perception of your brand or perhaps you want to change it?
f)Increase distribution width- Perhaps you want your product enter new geographies or new distribution channels?
g)Increase distribution depth – Perhaps you want to increase your distribution depth in a particular channel that has better ROI?
You could set one goal and several secondary goals from a marketing perspective. The important thing is to set a goal. As one can see from the above, each of them will force the marketing team to work in particular direction.
Mike says “Guys lets increase sales revenue. Everything else can wait. “
2. Develop the overall marketing strategy
Mike’s clear cut objective is to increase the brand’s overall sales revenue. Since increasing the price is not an option because of flat sales, the marketing team has to now focus on ways to increase volumes so that overall sales revenues can be met.
In this particular case let’s take a quick look at the options in front of the marketing team if they have to increase the volume
- They can hope to get existing stores to stock up more by offering a larger trade incentive program.
- They can hope to open up another distribution channel which can lead to greater unit sales
- They can get consumers to buy more of the same – increase usage
- They can get more new consumers to try and start using the brand
Given the constraints under which Mike and Alcone are operating it seems wishful thinking for A & B. The brand has no marketing support and generally speaking trying to open a new distribution channel would be un-successful on a flat sales mode.
Mike says “Guy’s unless you can come up with a secret ingredient that makes our customers want to eat more biscuits I suggest you’ll focus your efforts on D. Get me more consumers!”
Given the business owner’s dictate, let’s start exploring what strategic options are available for us by which we could develop an overall strategy for marketing.
This is an excerpt from our white paper – 7 steps to creating a marketing plan for your business . You can download the full whitepaper for free by clicking on this link.