Your executive summary features key elements of the marketing plan, so write it after you finish the plan. It’s like a Google map of the Central Park area of Manhattan; you know basically what’s in the park as well as the cafes, museums, historic landmarks, schools, hotels, and stores in the area. In short, it’s an orientation tool.
In the case of a marketing plan, the summary will first introduce your company. It’s similar to how your company’s “about us” page gives an overview of business activities, key team members, rate of growth, and major accomplishments. The summary then gives highlights of the following:
- Current Marketing Situation
- Market Environment – The size of the universe and extent to which the industry is regulated by government(s) are two of the factors that color the market environment.
- Target Audience – Profile your target audience in terms of demographics, psychographics, and behavior, as well as what they need from your company and what features and benefits your product or service offers that addresses the need.
- Product/Service Review – Identify existing products/services as well as those that will be rolled out soon; note the phase of development of new products or services as well as their relationship to existing ones.
- Competitive Analysis – Give a sense of competitors’ market positions and points of differentiation.
- Distribution Channel Review – List the major distribution channels used; review and evaluate recent sales trends and/or other key developments for each major distribution channel.
- SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) Analysis – This is where you focus on the internal and external factors affecting success and, depending on the nature of your business, it will cover many or all of these areas: Financial, engineering, personnel, sales, distribution, manufacturing, technology, economy, government regulations, competitors, life cycles, and barriers to entry and exit.
- Marketing Goals and Objectives – This section of the plan communicates the specific measurements that define success.
- Marketing Strategy – State the logic by which you intend to create and achieve customer value. It’s the answer to two questions: Which customers will you serve? How will you create value for them?
- Action Plans – How you turn marketing strategies into specific programs and initiatives is the focus here. Answer questions such as: What will be done? When will it be done? Who will do it?
- Budget – Provide financial clarity about expected costs, revenues, and return on investment.
- Controls – Specify how you will measure progress toward goals and objectives.
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The summary communicates succinctly that you understand the business you’re in and how to make sales and profits climb. It shows that you have thought through how different marketing activities—from research through action—tie together to help the company succeed.
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