Marketing Plan: Action Plan

In the Action Programs section of your marketing plan, you're basically developing a very detailed promotions "to do" list. It's a task list that describes what will be done, when it will begin or be completed, who will accomplish the tasks, and so on.

The Action Plan picks up where the Promotion Plan leaves off. Whereas the Promotion Plan might state that your company will participate in industry trade shows, the Action Program lists the trade shows and their dates, your objectives for attending each one, which company representatives will be sent, the results you expect, the marketing tactics you will employ, and so on.

Action programs can be formatted in a chart, table, timeline or in any other way. Programs can be grouped chronologically or by event types. For example, you could list all the activities planned in each month, or you could group similar activities, such as public relations activities, together regardless of when they'll occur during the year.

If your action plan becomes too lengthy, you might decide that it's better to place some of the more detailed bits of information - such as a media placement plan outlining where and when ads will run for an advertising campaign - in the Supporting Documents section.

Your Budget

Estimate the cost of the marketing activities you've described in the marketing plan so you will have a budget to keep everyone on track over the course of the year. Typical marketing expense categories are marketing communications, market research, promotions, advertising, events and public relations.

Because marketing needs and costs vary widely, there are no simple rules for determining what you marketing budget should be. A popular method with small business owners is to allocate a small percentage of gross sales for the most recent year. This usually amounts to about two percent for an existing business. However, if you are planning on launching a new product or business, you may want to increase your marketing budget figure, to as much as 10 percent of your expected gross sales. Another method used by small business owners is to analyze and estimate the competition's budget and either match or exceed it.

Measurements
Only by setting numerical targets and time limits, can you quantitatively measure the results of implementing your marketing plan. Set them in this section and regularly assess your progress during the year. Constantly adjust goals to reflect changes in market conditions.

For example, to measure a promotion plan you might "source" customers by asking them what drew them to your particular business and by keeping track of how much money they spend. Was the money spent on a particular promotional activity repaid by new business within a 90-day or six-month period, for example? Was there a profit in excess of the cost of the promotional activity?

Marketing Plan Supporting Documents
Place documents that back up statements you've made or provide further clarification for the preceding sections of your marketing plan as needed in this section. Include only documents that you've already referenced in the previous sections of the plan. You could include things such as the resumes of key management referred to in the Executive Summary.

Make sure the document titles are clear and easily identifiable, so the reader can make the connection between the supporting document and the information it supports in the marketing plan.