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Sunday, April 10, 2011

THE MARKETING PLAN

For an entrepreneur to understand the process of creating a marketing plan, he or she must first understand the concept of marketing. The concept of marketing is commonly known as the marketing concept or the marketing orientation.

The concept of marketing is the process of matching the consumers’ or customers’ needs with what that specific business offers. This way, the business makes the money and the consumer or the customers’ needs are gratified.

As an entrepreneur, it is important to understand the marketing concept which is mainly referred to as the marketing orientation, or the marketing mix made of the 4 Ps.

For an entrepreneur to get the full benefits of the marketing concept there is a need to develop the marketing plan. First some assessment needs to be done. Like the strategic plan we discussed earlier, the marketing plan starts with the assessment by analyzing the business abilities.

To assess the business abilities, a key question of what can the business do and not do and why need to be the start point. The business ability is the business core competencies. Popularly known as the marketing audit, like the financial audit, the marketing audit looks at all aspects of the market.

Some of the elements assessed at the marketing audit include the market share, the industry attractiveness and the competition analysis.
Ignoring the business core competencies leads to business disasters that makes the business lose money, time and may even lead to the death of a business.

The marketing assessment starts with the entrepreneur defining the competitors; however the word competitors narrow and lead to only assessing businesses offering similar products or offers. For me the word competitive set is a more holistic term.

Let’s look the two terms, the competitors and competitive set if applies as a basis of an airline. For example an airline’s competitors are other airlines, while if the same analysis was based on the competitive set, it would include video and teleconference facilities, the internet charts, emails and brands like Skype.

Besides the assessing the competitive set, the marketing plan also need to assess the operating environment, which include the economy, the political elements, technological changes and the legal elements.

For a marketing plan to be of a great advantage to a business, three key elements must be taken into consideration, these three elements are, the business core competencies, the consumers’ or the customers’ needs and the business operating environment.

It is important for the entrepreneur to know that a marketing plan helps in identifying the business competitive advantage and thus making the business focus on what its best at, giving it the competitive advantage.
The entrepreneur should not look at the marketing plan as a waste of time and money, but as an investment. A marketing plan will create a detailed process, detailing different activities and how to achieve the set objectives.

Without a marketing plan a business will not be able to take advantage of the marketing opportunities, face the challenges and optimize the profits.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

THE STRATEGIC PLAN

Every year, business leaders and entrepreneurs take a retreat and work out on what is commonly known as a strategic plan brainstorming sessions. The origin of this tradition is not something I can write about because I do not know who the first person to do this was.

For me, the question is what is a strategic plan and does it has to be done away from the office? When a strategic plan is mystified, I can guarantee you the entire plan will not be implemented as desired as people think the process is not part of the business.

For me, a strategic plan is made of only four phases. The first one is assessment, and then planning and the third is implementation and finally the evaluation.
A strategy is how a business needs to be run, it is that simple. The first phase; the assessment involves various already established tools. Environmental scanning is a key tool. At this stage the PEST or PESTEL analysis is one of the best tools for environmental scanning coupled with market analysis research, taking care of the external analysis. For internal analysis the best tool is the SWOT analysis. The role of assessment stage is to understand the environmental and internal factors that are and will influence the business in future. This could be a new technology, a new legislature. Business internal factors could include lack of qualified staff as this could affect the business now and in the future. Once a true to the ground assessment has been done, a brainstorm involving as many people as possible is carried out to inform and verify the findings is a one key way of assessing a business, do not make it management task only, involve other employees. A clear way of meeting the challenges and optimizing the resources is developed at this stage.

The next stage is the planning, this is the phase where the resources are allocated to meet different objectives established and developed at the assessment stage. The objectives of the planning stage are based on the questions of how the business will utilizes the available resources to achieve its objectives. This is an important area as the business is able to identify areas with more resources than necessary, shortage of resources as well as resources that may not be required to meet the business strategic objectives. At the planning stage, a plan is laid down synchronizing the resources with the strategic objectives.

The implementation stage is where execution takes place. All that was put in the plan is brought to life. Here is about getting the hands dirty. The implementation stage is about bringing practicalities to the plan, making it real.

The final stage is the monitoring stage. This is a key step that many strategic plans fail to develop. How will the business know if it is on right track, how will the business know that results are trickling in unless there are measurements of the achievement. If there is no tracking and evaluating, the strategic plan will remain static and may not give the desired results.

With the above steps, no one needs to have retreats every year for strategic brainstorming.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

THE BUSINESS, STRATEGIC, MARKETING PLAN FOR AN ENTREPRENEUR

A business needs to have a direction in its endeavor to grow. For a business to succeed there are many types of plans that a business needs to develop. As such, the planning for business starts long before the business opens its door to the first customer. The first planning is the business plan. Once the business plan is done, the next level is the strategic plan. The final part is marketing plan.

THE BUSINESS PLAN
The first of such plan is the business plan. Many people write a business plan to impress the venture capitalist and the banks. But did you know that a business plan is a very ideal tool for the growth of your business?
A business plan sets the course of an entrepreneur. It is a roadmap by which the journey for entrepreneurship follows. With this in mind, when making a business plan, remember it is for your business and not for the other parties like the banks and venture capitalists. Before you set up to make a business plan sit to understand the market and the industry you are planning to play in. This may sound farfetched but a business plan needs the industry attractiveness.

THE STRATEGIC PLAN
Once a business plan has been made, then it is time to develop a strategic plan. The strategic plan is the tool to action the business plan. It gives the resources required and the direction of the entire business. Whereas a business plan may cover the business in a lifetime, a strategic plan is made for a minimum 3 years and may stretch to about 5 or more years. The strategic plan details the resources required, the way the resources are going to be used, the purpose of each resources, the objective of every move. The strategic plan is simply a way of doing things to meet the desired objectives. The strategic plan includes other plans i.e. the marketing plan, the human resource plan, the financial plan etc.

THE MARKETING PLAN
The marketing plan starts with the marketing objectives, i.e. in my initial year I will grow my market share by 5%. For you to determine the percentage of growth, you must know the size of the market. The market size is usually determined at the business plan level. The marketing plan is made of small plans based on the marketing mix, or the 4 ps. In the marketing plan there is a promotional plan which includes the advertisement plan and budget and the desired result. The other part of the marketing plan is the product plan. This details the products, the different variants and sizes, the package, the role and what each elements plays. The other part of the marketing plan is the place plan; this is what channels to sell the product, the role of each channel etc. The final part of the marketing plan is the price plan. This is the role of the price, the pricing structure of each product.

For any entrepreneur to make it there is a need to harmonize each of the three plans to work for the business.

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