How to Create a Marketing Plan
Consider your company’s goals. The goal of a situation analysis is to look at your company’s current marketing situation. From there, changes can identified and made. Begin by looking at your company’s mission and goals (if your company doesn’t have one, then, this has to be clarified before you start), and determine if your company’s current marketing plan is helping to meet those goals or not.
- For example, you may own a snow plowing and winter maintenance business, and may have set a goal to grow your overall revenues by 10% by adding more contracts. Do you have a marketing plan that outlines how you will attract those additional contracts? If so, is it working?
Examine your current marketing advantages and challenges. What is attracting customers to your business now? What is attracting customers to your competitor’s business? Chances are your strengths are attracting customers to your business, and knowing these strengths is an important marketing advantage. 
- Come up with concrete, definitive strengths and advantages that customers will find when they work with you. These are called internal characteristics of the company, and they’re what determine a customer’s level of satisfaction. 
- Potential strengths could be low cost, excellent customer service, user friendliness, or speed. 
- Distinguish yourself from the competition. This may be tied with your strengths, or it may just be a fact of doing business with your company. But if you want customers to choose you over your competitors, you’ll need to figure out beforehand why they should do that. 
- You should also be aware of your company’s potential weaknesses and shortcomings, as these are also internal characteristics that matter to consumers. Once you’ve identified weaknesses you should begin planning ways to address those issues. If you don’t, those weaknesses could end up being a competitor’s strengths. 
Research your target market. It is important to know precisely who are selling to in order to market to them. Knowing your target market and their needs allows you to determine where you should advertise and how you should advertise. If you do not intimately know your target market, you cannot effectively communicate how your products and services meet their needs. 
- Conduct demographics research. You want to know the age, gender, location, and even income of your customers. You also want to know the psychology of your customers. If you run a snow removal company, for example, and your customers are large businesses, what are the things they value most from a snow removal service?
- Utilize official government data on both the market and industry. You may want to look at economic indicators like price and cost indices, as well as employment statistics in your state, county, and city. 
- If your budget permits it, you may want to consult with trade groups or institutions that conduct their own research and analysis of markets and industry trends. 
- You should also research your competition. The only way you will be able to offer customers something that the competition can’t is by knowing what, exactly, your competitors’ appeal is. Do they offer better prices? Quicker turnaround time? If so, how do they offer those features? Are they cutting corners someplace else in their business plan? Knowing the competition’s strengths and weaknesses is one of the best things you can do to help position your business for success. 
Educate yourself on external opportunities and threats. These are the external characteristics of your company, and they are determined by your competition, by fluctuating market factors, and by customers or clients. Your goal here is to look at the various factors that could affect your business so that you can adjust your marketing plan accordingly. 
- Begin by analyzing market trends, such as observable shifts in what consumers want/need, and what they expect from a company like yours. 
- Look at financial trends that may affect you, like the rise in virtual payment methods or current inflation rates. 
- If you own a snow removal business and cater to large public sector institutions (like government buildings) you may be aware that tight government finances are making your clients more concerned on cost. Your business strategy (and marketing plan) should focus on how you can provide the lowest-cost quality service.