Consider the Cost of Your Plan

We also need to consider what is needed to implement our plan. It is not enough to write the plan, we also need to make sure the plan is achievable. Our plan should be mixed with faith and measurable goals along the way. Consider what Jesus in Luke 14:28"Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it?  For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him, saying, 'This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.'

I believe what Jesus is saying here is that we don't want to operate in blind faith. There has to be some realism in what we are attempting, but it still requires faith that would require God's help for it to be accomplished. There is a fine line between using our skill and ability and placing total trust in the Lord. Proverbs 3:5-6 cautions us to place our trust in the Lord. There should be a balance in all things.

Before starting your plan, the first step is to write an outline. You may not need every topic, but using this outline as a checklist will determine if it applies to your situation. The following outline represents all the basic ingredients of a good marketing plan:

I. Corporate Objective

II. Situation Analysis

III. Market Current Situation

A. Direct Competition

i.      1. Market Share 

ii.      2. Position 

iii.      3. Creative

iv.      4. Spending

 B. Indirect Competition

C. Target Audience

1. Demographics

2. Psychographics

3. Trends

4. Problems & Opportunities

IV. Strategies

A. Positioning Product

B. Price

C. Packaging

D. Distribution

E. Promotion

F. Creative

G. Media

H. Direct Mail Tactics

I. Budget

V. Projections

Now that you have your basic outline, let's discuss what each topic entails.

Corporate Objective: Before you can devise an effective plan you need to know where the chief executive officer is taking the company. Where does he/she want to be in two years? Five years? Or even ten years? If you don't know this, you are going to spend a lot of wasted time and energy developing a plan that may be totally opposed to the philosophy of the company. Sit down with the CEO and find out this information. Then, condense it into one or two sentences. You now have the Corporate Objective for the company.

Situation Analysis: Here's where 90% of the work lies. Situation Analysis is also the phase where market research occurs. Research can be an invaluable tool to help determine the necessary strategies to take in your marketing plan. However, research alone is insufficient. It needs to be objectively reviewed.

An example is Coca-Cola's use of market research in the decision to introduce New Coke. Research indicated that consumers liked the taste of New Coke. Unfortunately, their research didn't convey the tremendous emotional attachment consumers had to the old product. The result was almost devastating.

Market/Current Situation: Describe the market in which you are competing. How large is the market? How many players are in the market? How do you fit within this market? You may need professional market research, or need to conduct some of your own with what I call "bird dog" research. Find out as much as you can about the product and companies in the marketplace. Paint a picture of how your company fits into this overall market.