What are the essential components of a marketing plan?


If you are a startup that is just about to launch your product/service are there steps that every startup should take to form a solid foundation for their marketing outreach strategy?

What were some of the things that were on your marketing plan when you started out that were successful and provided the highest rate of return.

Is a marketing plan even necessary?

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asked Feb 3 '10 at 01:59
Usman Sheikh
1,728 points
Top digital marketing agency for SEO, content marketing, and PR: Demand Roll

6 Answers


What you need is a Go to Market Strategy. The components of which are listed below:

  1. Market Analysis: Redo your market analysis to make sure your target market is still valid. As a general rule, you should be monitoring your market during product development so you can react to changing needs.
  2. Competitor Offerings: Scan the competitive landscape to see if anyone has released something similar to your product. If they did, then figure out how well it launched and where they failed. This kind of intelligent will make your launch more successful.
  3. Target Customers: Always be cultivating your target customers and make sure your pilot or beta customers are actively engaged. It’s also good to validate your target.
  4. Unique Value Position: Before launch, you should have a pretty good idea of your unique value position and should be refining your message to hammer it home. Again, this is a continuous task that should be done throughout the product but validated at launch.
  5. Pilot or Beta Customers: Your first few customers will be critical to your success. Make sure that their experience is the best it can be. These customers will be who you will ask to vouch for you.
  6. Collateral Plan: There is a lot of collateral that needs to be generated to launch a product. Make a checklist of everything you will need and ensure that plenty of stock is on hand when you, hopefully, get flooded with inquires.
  7. Measurable Success Metrics: Each product launches differently. Make sure you have several measurable metrics that track your progress. Be realistic and check them often. Some metrics to consider are: customer inquires, quotes, sales, returns, support calls or customer feedback.
  8. Field and Support Training: If your product is complex and requires extensive support, then make sure it’s in place before your product hits the market. I know this sounds obvious but there are plenty of companies who fail at this. The failure usually stems from lack of training or buy in from the support staff. This means you need to get buy in early and often.
  9. Press Plan: Coordinating the press will assist in your overall launch and promotion efforts. A proper press plan will garner a ton of great publicity if you cultivate those relationships.
  10. Manufacturing Ramp Plan: Your operations and manufacturing people need to prepared to actually make your product. Don’t just assume that when you throw it over the fence, they will catch it. Manufacturing lines and procedures take time to develop and debug. The early and often mantra also applies here. The sooner you are engaged with your manufacturing and operations group, the smoother your launch will go.

The best thing to do is start this early and update often. It also should be tied to your product development plans so that they are in sync and ready when the product is ready.

answered Feb 3 '10 at 04:02
Jarie Bolander
11,421 points
  • Great points Jarie. Do you have any specific tips on the press plan? What are the best ways of using press releases effectively? – Usman Sheikh 14 years ago
  • I am not that big a fan of press releases. The thing that I found that works the best is to have trade magazines write up your products. They seem to have a little more creditability and get better response. Doing interviews or guest blogging seems to also be valuable. Press releases are still useful if you send them out far and wide. There are several free services that do this. – Jarie Bolander 14 years ago
  • +1 for the detail. – Eric Amzalag 14 years ago


You don't need a 'formal' marketing plan, but you do need to have a plan of action. Doing nothing but allowing google to index your site will get you nowhere.

There are many good books on this subject. Many have been mentioned on this site, if you search for 'marketing books'. My greatest discovery in marketing, is that the best marketing strategy is not trying to perform 'mass marketing' techniques. This 'impersonal' strategy just doesn't seem to work for newcomers. You should try to think more 'personal' when starting your marketing. Think 'one personal action at a time'.

Set up google alerts to alert you when there's anything posted about your specific domain. Then, go and add comments to the article/thread/post, and show you know what you're talking about. Leave your signature/link to your site. This will begin to drive traffic to your site, while improving your rankings with search phrases on the page you posted to. It will also get you known in the social realm of your domain. Put a lot of thought into your posts/comments. Bad posts and comments will just drive away business.

There are very good books on 'social web marketing'. These books will change the way you think about traditional marketing techniques in todays connected society.
Here's a few suggestions to get you going

answered Feb 3 '10 at 03:03
216 points
  • Thanks for the tips regarding the books will definitely look into it. – Usman Sheikh 14 years ago


I will answer absolutely yes. But "plan" to me is a process and the information created at the end of that process no matter what final form it takes. It could be a 100 page marketing plan, a one-page executive summary or everything in your head. It can literally be a month long, around the clock effort or a half day working session or even a couple hours at lunch. But you need to know the basic answers. My outline that I've used for years, definitely customized based on particular situations:

SITUATION ANALYSIS - what does the world you're competing in look like?

  • What market trends will affect the marketing and potential success of your product/service?
  • What is the size of the opportunity for your product/service? How is it growing?
  • What does the competitive landscape look like? Who are they? How do they position themselves? What are their strengths and weaknesses?

SITUATION ANALYSIS - what does your internal world look like?

  • SWOT analysis - strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats
  • Target market / target audience
  • Product / service overview - more functional overview
  • Unique positioning / key messages / your value proposition

MARKETING EXECUTION - where are you going and how will you get there?

  • Objectives (simple, measurable, related, time-bound)
  • Strategies and Tactics - to achieve the objectives
  • Budget

  • Financials - your revenue forecast

I'd argue that if you don't know this information then you're hurting your chances of success. And the plan should be regularly reviewed and adjusted based on what you learn as you execute it.

Best of luck,

answered Feb 3 '10 at 03:08
4,214 points
  • I really like the framework Chris. Also it is applicable to an entire range of businesses. – Usman Sheikh 14 years ago


Yes, of course a plan is necessary! And the process is fairly straightforward.

Identify your market, your segments. Try to determine which 'methods' will reach them, with least effort, least cost, and greatest penetration.

Create a GREAT message, say it often, say it loud and say it in the right places.

What tools you use, how much you use them, and how much you spend are the variables. Measure the 'results', revise your plan, and re-implement.

Repeat as needed.

Hope this helps.

answered Feb 3 '10 at 02:58
A Business Mentor
215 points
  • I like the fact about creating one standardized message and really driving it home. – Usman Sheikh 14 years ago


To keep it really simple as there has been a lot of good detail written already - you absolutely have to understand your target market. Conversations are only effective if you are talking to somebody - a conversation with a dark room is a waste of time. Visualise who your potential customers are and most importantly how your product is going to make their life easier or more fulfilling.

Once you know who they are, work out where they are and then all of the excellent ideas above can be utilised.

answered Feb 3 '10 at 04:23
Dr. Phil
86 points


Read Steven Blanks Four steps to the E.Piphany. It will be the most valuable effort you could make towards learning how to validate market and sell your product. At least it was so for me...

answered Feb 3 '10 at 09:13
Eric Amzalag
818 points

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