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What to Include in Your Marketing Plan Write-Up
by Bobette Kyle

For those new to marketing planning, the thought of completing a plan from start to finish may feel daunting. It need not. The level of detail you choose to include in your marketing plan will depend on your resources and situation. If you have extremely limited manpower or other resources, you may be constrained to a "broad brush" approach. If your plan must support your Web site’s validity to others in the company, a lot of back-up detail may be appropriate.

Basic Marketing Plan Content

* Include a summary at the beginning. Like any business report, your plan write-up should begin with a summary. The traditional executive summary is one option. I prefer to include - either in addition to or instead of the executive summary - a one-page table. The table makes everyday use of your plan easier. In one glance you can be reminded of your main challenge, objective, strategies, and tactics as well as budgets and deadlines. Also, as your plan evolves throughout the year, the table makes it easier to strategically modify the plan.

* Explain your reasoning. Make some reference to why you chose the specific objective(s) and strategies in your plan. This will make it easier to justify the plan to others (if necessary). It will also help you make smarter, strategic decisions.

* Identify your target customers. By doing so, you will be better able to develop effective advertising messages.

* Write one or more positioning statements. In the statement(s), specify the customer needs you are fulfilling, benefits your products/services offer, and features that deliver those benefits.

* Explain key issues and opportunities. These can best be identified through industry and/or competitive analyses.

* Include preliminary budgets and timelines for your action plans.

Expanded Content for Your Marketing Plan

You can also expand your marketing plan write-up to include detailed analysis and arguments to substantiate your plan:

* Describe the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats your business and/or Web site face (SWOT analysis).

* Explain the online business environment. What are your competitors’ Web strategies? How do your customers use your site, competing sites, and the Internet in general? What potential substitutes are available?

* Include the trends in your industry and how they affect both online and offline activity. Show growth projections.

* Detail the financial aspects. Include break even analysis for your site as well as for the tactics included in your plan. Discuss assumptions made when completing your financial analysis. Show how implementation of your plan will be profitable to your business.

* Include a calendar of events that shows milestones in the coming weeks or months.

You can be as detailed or top-line as needed with the final marketing plan write-up. In any case remember that your marketing plan is always a work in progress. It may be current, but it is never "done".

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Bobette Kyle is author of the marketing plan book "How Much for Just the Spider? Strategic Web Site Marketing". Planning methods she reveals in the book propelled her site from zero traffic to a top 1% Alexa ranking in just four months.

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