Twelve Things Every Marketing Plan Should Consider

If you’ve taken a marketing class, whether it was at the undergraduate or graduate level, you were probably introduced to the 4Ps of Marketing. Recently, the 4Ps were revised to the 4Cs. And even more recently, the 4Cs to 4Vs. I believe all 12 of these elements are vital to any marketing plan, even before a SWOT Analysis. Here’s your quick guide to the 12 things each marketing plan should consider.

No. 1: Product. By this point, you’ve written an entire business plan around your product or service. But in your marketing plan, focus on what makes your product or service different than the other ones on the market that are similar. Ask yourself, "what would make someone buy my product over the competition?"No. 2: Place. Where will you be selling your product or service? Make sure you consider the pros and cons of an online outlet versus a traditional bricks and mortar approach. Also, given your service industry, where might your customers expect you to be located?No. 3: Promotion. Have you considered your advertising strategy? Do you have a PR strategy? And what kinds of incentives will you be offering? The main question you want to answer here is, how will people know about my product and why would they want to try it?No. 4: Price. In the original research you conducted for your business plan, you should have included questions about your pricing structure. It’s important to be as competitive as possible without lowering the value of your product or service.No. 5: Consumer. Whenever I consult with a new client, I take them through this exercise.  Think about your target consumer. What do they look like? Where do they shop? Hang out? Are they online? If so, what websites do they like? Build a profile of your ultimate consumer. Even give him or her a name. Ask yourself, "would Rose like this new ad?"No. 6: Cost. Having a competitive pricing structure isn’t enough. What will your product or service cost your consumer? Sometimes costs we don’t consider, for example, include cost of gas. Is it cheaper to buy your product online or drive to a store? Ship via three-day air?

No. 7: Convenience. For many consumers, online shopping is the epitome of convenience. And to think less than 10 years ago, the majority of us would have never thought to purchase items via the Internet. But it’s not just about shopping online. What other experience might consumers want to do in their homes because of convenience? And how does this effect your “place” strategy?

No. 8: Communication. Promotion is a one-way conversation. It’s you sending a message to your consumers. Communication allows for a dialogue, and consumers want and need it. How will you allow consumers to give you feedback on your products and services?

No. 9: Validity. Even if there’s a market for a product or service that may not be motivation enough to create it. You have to consider social, environmental, government, and safety issues associated with your business.

No. 10: Value. Price and cost are only a part of your strategy. How much value does your product add to its consumer? And, is it adding intrinsic (or just extrinsic) value? We see this reflected in advertising that calls out “environmentally friendly” or charities who call out a “red” partnership, fighting AIDS in Africa. Big brands realize that consumers want to feel good about your product or service.

No. 11: Venue. Mary Kay was onto something. It’s not just about shopping online, it’s about turning your home into your personal shopping venue. How does your product or service become a lifestyle?

No. 12: Vogue. Promotion and communication are vitally important, but if you’re not on trend, you can damage your brand before it even launches. And as you work to establish your brand, the wrong message can take you back dozens of steps. Think of Groupon’s recent advertising misstep during the Super Bowl. They offended tons of customers and many more potential customers. Kenneth Cole making light of the uprising in Egypt was also not well received. We become way too accustomed to trying to get customers to pay attention to us, ignoring the fact that we want their attention for the right reasons.

Tina Wells, CEO of Buzz Marketing Group earned her B.A. in Communication Arts graduating with honors from Hood College in 2002. She is the author of the tween series Mackenzie Blue, published by HarperCollins Childrens Books.

The Young Entrepreneur Council (Y.E.C.) is a nonprofit organization that provides young entrepreneurs with access to tools, mentorship, community and educational resources that support each stage of their business’s development and growth. The Y.E.C promotes entrepreneurship as a solution to youth unemployment and underemployment.