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Any successful, carefully deliberated marketing plan needs an end goal, and strategies on how to reach this goal(s). Contrary to the belief, it is not a clever little mind-shift or brainwave that ensures all the rest falls in place, but understanding your resources, target market, and environment that puts this plan into spinning motion.
(1) Research, research, research.The first step in formulating a marketing plan is insight into the situational analysis i.e. investigating what are the current trends with regards to your country’s economic climate, your product/service’s particular market, as well as specific consumer trends.
For example, take South Africa and the cosmetics industry as an example. (a) The economy is in a recession, interest rates are hiking, and consumers are spending their income more wisely. (b) The cosmetics industry is growing at a rate of 7.3%; and is estimated at a total value of $145 million in 2014. And (c), consumers shop around before they buy, use gift vouchers, they are interested in testing samples before purchasing, they enjoy products that symbolize a form of “escapism”, and choose product quality over price.
(2) Understanding your target audience. It is key in understanding who it is you are communicating with, and what their needs are. For example, cosmetic buyers buying your specific product are females aged 20-35, living in metropolitan areas of the country and have average to high income levels. They are brand conscious, stylish and seeking a quality product.
(3) Identify your competitors. Gaining insight into your competitors’ activities is a great way in devising your marketing strategy in leveraging your points of differentiation as opposed to your competitor. For example, if “brand Y” is introducing a new lash lengthening mascara, I would offer free mascara with any purchase over a certain dollar value to attract consumers to my offering (competing on price); or alternatively introduce a mascara with lengthening and volumizing properties (competing on product benefits and quality).
(4) Analyze your internal & external environments. Perform a SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities & Threats) to discover how to make use of your strengths. E.g. R&D, quality products, niche market brand are strengths, and consumers are focusing on experience before purchase and making use of vouchers are opportunities in the environment are aspects to take advantage of.
(5) Set your objective(s). It is essential here to state what your objectives are in line with what it is you wish to achieve.
For example, a new make-up brand’s objective will be to create awareness of their brand and to build a presence in the cosmetics market. This allows the new make-up brand to drive its customers’ purchase decision, by implementing an advertisement and ensuring top of mind awareness. Consequently, this will secure a credible brand reputation and a positive brand image.
(6) Marketing Strategy. Armed with research, knowledge of the target audience and goals you want to achieve, this is where the actual vision of the marketing plan comes into play.