This represents a general outline for which strategic marketing plans should be structured and the one which I subscribe to.

I. Executive Summary

The executive summary is a synopsis of the overall marketing plan. It should provide an overview of the entire plan including goals/objectives, strategy elements, implementation issues, and expected outcomes. The executive summary is easier to write if you do it last, after you have written the entire marketing plan.

II. Current Company Analysis

Insert company mission statement here.
Insert company vision statement here.
Review or develop marketing goals and objectives. Goals should be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, & set within a Timeframe.

III. VRIO Analysis

Study the firm and identify 1 – 3 strategy-relevant resources from each category: physical, financial, human, & organizational. What resources does the firm base its strategy on?
Set up a grid like the one shown below but add a column in the to the left for each resource identified in step 1. Assess each resource according to the VRIO criteria.
Write the competitive implications in the last column according to “Applying the VRIO Framework” model.
Make suggestions for improvements. How can the firm attain sustainable competitive advantage?

IV. Developing Competitive Advantages

  • Describe ways that the firm can match its strengths to its opportunities to create capabilities in serving customers’ needs.
  • Are these capabilities and competitive advantages grounded in the basic principles of operational excellence, product leadership, and/or customer intimacy? If so, how are these capabilities and advantages made apparent to customers?
  • Can the firm convert its weaknesses into strengths or its threats into opportunities? If not, how can the firm minimize or avoid its weaknesses and threats?
  • Does the firm possess any major liabilities (unconverted weaknesses that match unconverted threats) or limitations (unconverted weaknesses or threats that match opportunities)? If so, are these liabilities and limitations apparent to customers?
  • Can the firm do anything about its liabilities or limitations, especially those that impact the firm’s ability to serve customers’ needs?

VI. Market & Customer Analysis

  • Describe the important identifying characteristics of the firm’s current and potential customers with respect to demographics, geographic location, psychographic profiles, values/lifestyles, and product usage characteristics (heavy vs. light users).
  • Identify the important players in the purchase process for the firm’s products. These might include purchasers (actual act of purchase), users (actual product user), purchase influencers (influence the decision, make recommendations), and the bearer of financial responsibility (who pays the bill?).
  • How are the firm’s products connected to customer needs? What are the basic benefits provided by the firm’s products?
  • How are the firm’s products purchased (quantities and combinations)? Is the product purchased as a part of a solution or alongside complementary products?
  • How are the firm’s products consumed or used? Are there special consumption situations that influence purchase behavior?
  • Are there issues related to disposition of the firm’s products, such as waste (garbage) or recycling, which must be addressed by the firm?
  • Identify the merchants (intermediaries) where the firm’s products are purchased (e.g., store-based retailers, e-commerce, catalog retailers, vending, wholesale outlets, direct from the firm)
  • Identify any trends in purchase patterns across these outlets (e.g., how has e-commerce has changed the way the firm’s products are purchased?).
  • How does purchase behavior vary based on different promotional events (communication and price changes) or customer services (hours of operation, delivery)?
  • How does purchase behavior vary based on uncontrollable influences such as seasonal demand patterns, time-based demand patterns, physical/social surroundings, or competitive activities?
  • Describe the advantages of the firm’s products relative to competing products. How well do the firm’s products fulfill customers’ needs relative to competing products?
  • Describe how issues such as brand loyalty, value, commoditization, and relational exchange processes affect customers’ purchase behaviors.
  • Identify the needs, preferences, and requirements of non-customers that are not being met by the firm’s products.
  • What are the features, benefits, and advantages of competing products that cause non-customers to choose them over the firm’s products?
  • Explain how the firm’s pricing, distribution, and/or promotion are out of sync with non-customers. Outside of the product, what causes non-customers to look elsewhere?
  • Describe the potential for converting non-customers into customers.

VI. Marketing Strategy

Primary Target Market

  • Identifying characteristics (demographics, geography, values, psychographics)
  • Basic needs, wants, preferences, or requirements
  • Buying habits and preferences
  • Consumption/disposition characteristics

Secondary Target Market

  • Identifying characteristics (demographics, geography, values, psychographics)
  • Basic needs, wants, preferences, or requirements
  • Buying habits and preferences
  • Consumption/disposition characteristics
  • Brand name, packaging, and logo design
  • Major features and benefits

  • Differentiation/positioning strategy

  • Supplemental products (including customer service strategy)
  • Connection to value (core, supplemental, experiential/symbolic attributes)
  • Overall pricing strategy and pricing objectives
  • Price comparison to competition
  • Connection to differentiation/positioning strategy
  • Connection to value (monetary costs)
  • Profit margin and breakeven
  • Specific pricing tactics (discounts, incentives, financing, etc.)
  • Overall supply chain strategy (including distribution intensity)
  • Channels and intermediaries to be used
  • Connection to differentiation/positioning strategy
  • Connection to value (nonmonetary costs)
  • Strategies to ensure channel support (slotting fees, guarantees, etc.)
  • Tactics designed to increase time, place, and possession utility
  • Overall IMC strategy, IMC objectives, and budget
  • Consumer promotion elements
    1) Advertising strategy
    2) Public relations/publicity strategy
    3) Personal selling strategy
    4) Consumer sales promotion (pull) strategy
  • Trade (channel) promotion elements
    1) Advertising strategy
    2) Public relations/publicity strategy
    3) Personal selling strategy;
    4) Trade sales promotion (push) strategy

VII. Implementation, Evaluation & Control

  • Describe the types of input controls that must be in place before the marketing plan can be implemented. Examples include financial resources, capital expenditures, additional research and development, and additional human resources.
  • Describe the types of process controls that will be needed during the execution of the marketing plan. Examples include management training, management commitment to the plan and to employees, revised employee evaluation/compensation systems, enhanced employee authority, and internal communication activities.
  • Describe the types of output controls that will be used to measure marketing performance and compare it to stated marketing objectives during and after the execution of the marketing plan.
    1) Overall performance standards (these will vary based on the goals and objectives of the marketing plan). Examples include dollar sales, sales volume, market share, share of customer, profitability, customer satisfaction, customer retention, or other customer-related metrics.

    2) Product performance standards (these are optional and will vary based on the product strategy). Examples include product specifications, core product quality, supplemental product quality, experiential quality, new product innovation, branding, and positioning.

    3) Price performance standards (these are optional and will vary based on the pricing strategy). Examples include revenue targets, supply/demand balance, price elasticity, yield management, or metrics based on specific price adjustments.

    4) Distribution performance standards (these are optional and will vary based on the distribution strategy). Examples include distribution effectiveness/efficiency, supply chain integration, value (time, place, and possession utility), relationship maintenance (collaboration, conflict), outsourcing, or direct distribution performance.

    5) IMC (promotion) performance standards (these are optional and will vary based on the IMC strategy). Examples include communication objectives; brand awareness, recognition, or recall; campaign reach, frequency, and impressions; purchase intentions; and public relations, sales, and sales promotion effectiveness.

  • Explain how marketing activities will be monitored. What are the specific profit- and time-based measures that will be used to monitor marketing activities?
  • Describe the marketing audit to be performed, including the person(s) responsible for conducting the audit.
  • If it is determined that the marketing strategy does not meet expectations, what corrective actions might be taken to improve performance (overall or within any element of the marketing program)?
  • If the marketing plan, as currently designed, shows little likelihood of meeting the marketing objectives, which elements of the plan should be reconsidered and revised?