Identify the firm’s current marketing goals and objectives.
Marketing Plan Worksheets
These worksheets will assist you in writing a formal marketing plan. Worksheets are a useful planning tool because they help to ensure that important information is not omitted from the marketing plan. Answering the questions on these worksheets will enable you to:
1. Organize and structure the data and information you collect during the situation analysis.
2. Use this information to better understand a firm’s strengths and weaknesses, and to recognize the opportunities and threats that exist in the marketing environment.
3. Develop goals and objectives that capitalize on strengths.
4. Develop a marketing strategy that creates competitive advantages.
5. Outline a plan for implementing the marketing strategy.
These worksheets are available in electronic format on our text’s website at www.cengagebrain.com. By downloading these worksheets, you will be able to change the outline or add additional information that is relevant to your situation. Remember that there is no one best way to organize a marketing plan. We designed our outline to serve as a starting point and to be flexible enough to accommodate the unique characteristics of your situation.
As you complete the worksheets, it might be useful to refer back to the text of the chapters. In completing the situation analysis section, be sure to be as comprehensive as possible. The viability of your SWOT analysis depends on how well you have identified all of the relevant environmental issues. Likewise, as you complete the SWOT analysis, you should be honest about the firm’s characteristics. Do not depend on strengths that the firm really does not possess. Honesty is also important for your listing of weaknesses.
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 should be the last part of the marketing plan that you write.
II. Situation Analysis
A. The Internal Environment (refer to Exhibit 3.3)
Review of marketing goals and objectives
Identify the firm’s current marketing goals and objectives.
Explain how these goals and objectives are being achieved.
Explain how these goals and objectives are consistent or inconsistent with the firm’s mission, recent trends in the external environment, and recent trends in the customer environment.
Review of current marketing strategy and performance
Describe the firm’s current marketing strategy with respect to products, pricing, distribution, and promotion. Which elements of the strategy are working well? Which elements are not?
Describe the firm’s current performance (sales volume, market share, profitability, awareness, brand preference) compared to other firms in the industry. Is the performance of the industry as a whole improving or declining? Why?
If the firm’s performance is declining, what is the most likely cause (e.g., environmental changes, flawed strategy, poor implementation)?
Review of current and anticipated organizational resources
Describe the current state of the firm’s organizational resources (e.g., financial, capital, human, experience, relationships with key suppliers or customers). How are the levels of these resources likely to change in the future?
If resource levels are expected to change, how can the firm leverage additional resources to meet customer needs better than competitors?
If additional resources are not available, how can the firm compensate for future resource constraints (lack of resources)?
Review of current and anticipated cultural and structural issues
In terms of marketing strategy development and implementation, describe the positive and negative aspects of the current and anticipated culture of the firm. Examples could include:
The firm’s overall customer orientation (or lack thereof)
The firm’s emphasis on short-term versus long-term planning
Willingness of the firm’s culture to embrace change
Internal politics and power struggles
The overall position and importance of the marketing function
Changes in key executive positions
General employee satisfaction and morale
Explain whether the firm’s structure is supportive of the current marketing strategy.
B. The Customer Environment (refer to Exhibit 3.4)
Who are the firm’s current and potential customers?
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?).
What do customers do with the firm’s products?
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?
Where do customers purchase the firm’s products?
Identify the merchants (intermediaries) where the firm’s products are purchased (e.g., store-based retailers, ecommerce, catalog retailers, vending, wholesale outlets, direct from the firm).
Identify any trends in purchase patterns across these outlets (e.g., how has ecommerce changed the way the firm’s products are purchased?).
When do customers purchase the firm’s products?
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?
Why (and how) do customers select the firm’s products?
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.
Describe how credit or financing is used in purchasing the firm’s products. Also, do customers seek long-term relationships with the firm, or do they buy in a transactional fashion (based primarily on price)?
Why do potential customers not purchase the firm’s products?
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.
C. The External Environment (refer to Exhibit 3.5)
Identify the firm’s major competitors (brand, product, generic, and total budget).
Identify the characteristics of the firm’s major competitors with respect to size, growth, profitability, target markets, products, and marketing capabilities (production, distribution, promotion, pricing).
What other major strengths and weaknesses do these competitors possess?
List any potential future competitors not identified above.
Economic Growth and Stability
Identify the general economic conditions of the country, region, state, or local area where the firm’s target customers are located. How are these economic conditions related to customers’ ability to purchase the firm’s products?
Describe the economics of the industry within which the firm operates. These issues might include the cost of raw materials, patents, merger/acquisition trends, sales trends, supply/demand issues, marketing challenges, and industry growth/decline.
Identify any political activities affecting the firm or the industry with respect to changes in elected officials (domestic or foreign), potential regulations favored by elected officials, industry (lobbying) groups or political action committees, and consumer advocacy groups.
What are the current and potential hot button political or policy issues at the national, regional, or local level that may affect the firm’s marketing activities?
Legal and Regulatory Issues
Identify any changes in international, federal, state, or local laws and regulations affecting the firm’s or industry’s marketing activities with respect to recent court decisions, recent rulings of federal, state, or local government entities, recent decisions by regulatory and self-regulatory agencies, and changes in global trade agreements or trade law.
How have recent technological advances affected the firm’s customers with respect to needs/wants/preferences, access to information, the timing and location of purchase decisions, the ability to compare competing product offerings, or the ability to conduct transactions more effectively and efficiently?
Have customers embraced or rejected these technological advances? How is this issue related to customers’ concerns over privacy and security?
How have recent technological advances affected the firm or the industry with respect to manufacturing, process efficiency, distribution, supply chain effectiveness, promotion, cost-reduction, or customer relationship management?
What future technologies offer important opportunities for the firm? Identify any future technologies that may threaten the firm’s viability or its marketing efforts.
With respect to the firm’s target customers, identify changes in society’s demographics, values, and lifestyles that affect the firm or the industry.
Explain how these changes are affecting (or may affect) the firm’s products (features, benefits, branding), pricing (value), distribution and supply chain (convenience, efficiency), promotion (message content, delivery, feedback), and people (human resource issues).
Identify the ethical and social responsibility issues that the firm or industry faces. How do these issues affect the firm’s customers? How are these issues expected to change in the future?
III. SWOT Analysis (refer to Exhibit 4.4)
Strength 1: _________________________________________________________
Strength 2: _________________________________________________________
(Repeat as needed to develop a complete list of strengths)
How do these strengths enable the firm to meet customers’ needs?
How do these strengths differentiate the firm from its competitors?
Weakness 1: ________________________________________________________
Weakness 2: ________________________________________________________
(Repeat as needed to develop a complete list of weaknesses)
How do these weaknesses prevent the firm from meeting customers’ needs?
How do these weaknesses negatively differentiate the firm from its competitors?
C. Opportunities (external situations independent of the firm—not strategic options)
Opportunity 1: _______________________________________________________
Opportunity 2: _______________________________________________________
(Repeat as needed to develop a complete list of opportunities)
How are these opportunities related to serving customers’ needs?
What is the time horizon of each opportunity?
D. Threats (external situations independent of the firm)
Threat 1: ___________________________________________________________
Threat 2: ___________________________________________________________
(Repeat as needed to develop a complete list of threats)
How are these threats related to serving customers’ needs?
What is the time horizon of each threat?
E. The SWOT Matrix (refer to Exhibit 4.5 and Exhibit 4.6)