While market research and product development are certainly expensive for a company, reward can be big; see how the iPod saved Apple from bankruptcy.
Only few companies out there are true innovators and too many just want to do the same products, hoping that a different name brand will make a difference. While this mentality reduce your research costs, it reduces a company’s chances to capture high market share for a profitable product.
It’s surprising to see how many companies don't have any, or at least a good marketing plan. It should be written for a single product and specific to the life cycle it is aimed at.
First of all, it is a necessity to do an external audit. What are the competitors? What is the market share, revenue, locations, mission, and positioning?
Then S.W.O.T (Strength, Weakness, Opportunities, Threats) analysis should be written. Too often it is about features and benefits. It is very narrow minded to think of consumers that way, emotional connection plays an important part in the buying habits and including critical success factors can better respond the psychological behaviors. Drawing from the Apple example, the brand delivers an emotional status and the location or support provides added value.
After doing a market segmentation and analyzing where is the potential for growth, the following should be done:
-Selection of one or two target market that the product is aimed to.
-Write a product positioning
-Write a plan for each of the 4 P's (Price, Product, Promotion, Place) in correlation with market cycle life, and the product cycle life to prevent inaccurate sales forecast.
Finally marketing strategies and tactics should be focused for the next three years. The vision of the market, budgets, advertising mix, additional features are key to success.
A well thought marketing plan helps the whole company. A big idea from R&D is only a successful product if it fills consumer needs; Sales need information on the life cycle of the market and product for accurate forecast; Advertising needs information on what the consumers are looking for as a Brand.
I see a marketing plan as the strategy that will make the positioning statement becoming a reality, unifying all departments within a company to move toward the same goal: consumer satisfaction through innovation,communication and teamwork.