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Setting Your Marketing Strategy – Part 11 of the 2009 Marketing Plan Series

by Steve Fisher on March 31, 2009

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Once you have completed writing your Marketing Objectives, as discussed previously in Mapping Out Your Marketing Objectvies, you need to write your marketing strategy. The marketing strategy section of your plan outlines your game plan to achieve your marketing objectives. There is no other way to say it but this section which is in the center, is essentially the heart of the marketing plan.

The marketing strategy section should then include information that revolves around the “4Ps of Marketing”. Don’t know what they are? Let’s do a quick refresher:

The “4Ps of Marketing” are a few decades old but are the most basic and classic way of slicing up your marketing strategy. They are broken down as follows:

  • Product – your product(s)and services
  • Price – what you will charge customers for products and services
  • Promotion – how you will promote or create awareness of your product in the marketplace
  • Place (distribution) – how you will bring your product(s) together with your customers.

Small Business Notes has a great description of the 4Ps that is worth repeating:

Product Description
A product can be a physical item, a service, or an idea.

  • Describe in detail your products or services in terms of the features and benefits they offer customers.
  • Describe what you need to have or do to provide your product or service (how it’s produced).

Pricing
List the price of your products and describe your pricing strategy. List price ranges for product lines. For example, if your product is a line of cosmetics, include information in this strategy section about your lipsticks “ranging in price from $5.00 to $15.00 per item” rather than a detailed product price list. (You should, however, consider including a detailed price list in the Supporting Documents section.)

Describe any price flexibility or negotiating room, as is common with large purchases such as houses or cars. Outline any discounts you offer for long-term customers, bulk purchases or prompt payment. Also, include the terms of sale, such as “net due in 30 days,” extended payment plans, and whether you accept credit cards.

Promotion Plan
A promotion plan describes the tools or tactics used to accomplish your marketing objectives.

If your marketing objective is to: Then tools or tactics might be:
Create awareness of baby care products among mothers of newborns.
  • Advertise in baby care or motherhood magazines.
  • Distribute product samples to obstetricians.
  • Offer free baby care seminars to expectant mothers.
Increase sales of potato chips to teens.
  • Distribute free samples or discount coupons at high school football games.
  • Sponsor an event attended by teens.

In your Action Programs section, you will describe the steps that need to be taken in detail, when they should be done, who will do them, and so on.

Placement (Sales and Distribution)
In this section, describe how your products and customers “meet” or come together through sales and distribution.

Describe your sales philosophies and methods. Do you employ an aggressive sales method for a large number of quick sales, or a relaxed method where the emphasis is on having customers feel comfortable to come back another time even if they don’t buy now? Do you use contract sales people or employees? Explain your approach to sales issues.

Describe your distribution system. (Where will your product be placed so customers have access to it?) A few points about distribution to address in your marketing plan are:

  • Is the exchange of the product made in a store? Through the mail? Through a direct sales representative?
  • What are your production and inventory capacities? (How quickly can you make products and how many can you store?)
  • Are there cyclical fluctuations or seasonal demands for your products? For example, if you produce Christmas decorations, how will you manage peak production and sales periods as well as slow periods?
  • Do you sell to individuals or to re-sellers? Your company may use more than one method. For example, you may sell directly to customers who place large orders but also sell to customers who buy small quantities of your product through retail outlets.

Closing thoughts on your marketing strategy section

Even though this is a separate section in this guide to writing a marketing plan you might want to include it in the same section as the Marketing Objectives that we talked about in the previous section. The objectives you set are the goals you look to achieve over the length this plan is addressing and this strategy supports those goals with the actual plan to execute and meet those goals.

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