New way to Market for Manufacturing

Written By: Bruce McDuffee-Founder and Executive Director of Manufacturing Marketing Institute (MMI)

Chapter 7 Overview

The Marketing Plan

“ The process of creating proper marketing plan will include making decisions about the target market; positioning statement; value proposition; company strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT); competition; and much more.”

By anecdotal estimation, only about 10 percent of manufacturing companies can put their hand on a proper, written marketing plan. You may be very surprised to know that many chief marketing officers, owners, chief executive officers, managers, and directors are not embarrassed to say, “My marketing plan is in my head.” Achieving success with the new way to market required a proper, documented marketing plan. It is not the marketing plan itself that is so important, it’s the decision your organization is forced to make during the compilation of the marketing plan as well as the collaboration that is required to get everyone on the same page.

I find it helpful to list the things that do not constitute a proper marketing plan. These are common elements within many manufacturing marketing departments’ marketing plans but are not acceptable for a proper marketing plan:

  • It is not an idea, wish, hope or concept in your head
  • It is not a spreadsheet with dates, activities, budget, etc.
  • It is not an editorial calendar or social media calendar
  • It is not a list of campaigns
  • It is not a list of goals

Each of the items above may be a single component of your overarching marketing plan, but even as a group, they will not suffice as a proper marketing plan.

You must not write your marketing plan in a vacuum.  In other words, you should not just sit down and write it on your own as I did for the electronic instrument company (Chapter 1). It is important to have support from above and buy-in from your stakeholders. A marketing plan that is not a collaborative effort with agreement on the important decision will not hold up when strategic decisions are being made about the direction of the business.

The expectations with your stakeholders should include the following considerations:

  • The decisions reached about markets, positioning, value proposition, budget, measurement, etc. are agreements between the parties and will not be changed without further discussion.
  • You will all agree to a regular interval for review and updates, usually six months at a minimum and two years at a maximum
  • The marketing plan is an agreement as to the strategy and tactics the marketing team will execute and the budget that will support the marketing function.

The Marketing Plan

Step 1: Assess the Current Situation

You must have a thorough understanding of your current situation. This is the step where you assess what the company thinks it is doing at the present. You cannot create an effective plan to move forward if you do not have a concise understanding of the point where you start. There are three functions in this step:

  • Summarize Your Market: The market summary should include a definition of market demographics, needs of your target market, trends, and current, past, and future growth.
  • SWOT Analysis: Prepare a summary of what you learned in the previous step using strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT).
  • Analysis of Competition: Include a SWOT analysis for each of your main competitors.

Step 2: Set Objectives and Identify Critical Issues

In this next step you will be setting objectives for the marketing function and identifying issues that are already apparent or may become apparent as obstacles to achieving objectives.  The objectives should be realistic, and the marketing team must believe the objectives can be achieved.  Some examples of specific objectives:

  • Grow the number of customers by 25 percent by the end of the fiscal year
  • Increase revenue from existing customers by 30 percent in two years
  • Reach breakeven by end of the fiscal year
  • Participate in three community events during the next twelve months
  • Ensure average ROI on marketing activities of at least 75 percent
  • Contribute 25 percent of qualified leads to the sales funnel each quarter

Step 3: Preform Target market Analysis

Target market analysis should be completed with an open mind and should be reviewed on a regular basis. The final result should be communicated throughout the company. This decision (choosing a target market) will drive the marketing strategy, positioning, messaging, and marketing activity.

Step 4: The Marketing Strategy

The marketing strategy is where you bring in the famous “Four P’s of the Marketing Mix.” The four Ps are product, pricing, place (channel), and promotion. The product strategy depicts the existing product line and future product roadmap as aligned with the overreaching business strategy. The product strategy should describe how each product fits the positioning statement and supports the value proposition. Product marketing can become very complex in a short time. Working with product managers and business leaders is essential.

Step 5: Marketing Programs

As you begin to build your promotion plan, it is critically important to remember your analysis, results, and agreements up to this point. Promotion should be designed for the target audience using the positioning statement and value proposition as well as the agreed-upon business strategy and marketing strategy. The promotions should support the objectives you have previously agreed to with your stakeholders. A promotion plan is designed to generate leads is different from a plan designed to position the brand through thought leaders in the space, for example.

Step 6: Financial Plan

This is the section where manufacturing marketers tend to demur. After all, this is a sandbox where the big boys and girls play and talk about things like net this and gross that. Why should the marketer get involved or even being to try to understand?  Because for marketing to make a difference and a contribution to the manufacturing business beyond creating ads and setting up trade shows, the marketer has to understand the financial language, speak the language, and demonstrate how marketing is directly contributing revenue.

Step 7: Measurement and Control

The old saying, “What gets measured gets done” is true for marketing. The marketing plan is typically construed during a relatively short period of time. The macros as well as the micro environments are going to change. In this modern ear of lightning-speed flow of information and globalization, I think we can all agree that conditions change on a regular basis. Therefore, marketers must be continuously assessing the environment and comparing our marketing activity results using some type of measurement process

Part 8: Executive Summary

The executive summary should outline a compelling argument and hypothesis that is supported by the data in your marketing plan.

The two main purposed for writing a marketing plan:

  • To define, clarify, and agree on your marketing strategy and tactics
  • To convey information to stakeholders