A professional marketing plan is an essential component of an overall business plan for a company. It doesn't matter whether you are in the product or service industry, a good marketing strategy and plan is a vital component which is necessary to determine the best way to market your company.

Creating a formalized marketing plan is a valuable and indispensable way of examining all of your potential market segments. The marketing plan entails doing the research to determine if your intended markets are indeed the right segments to spend marketing efforts on. This is invaluable because it can be an expensive lesson to learn at some point down the road you've been marketing to the wrong consumer audience.

The professional marketing plan contains several sections, and each portion is important in order to accurately assess what you'll need to know to create a winning marketing campaign. Not all campaigns are triumphant, but the more research and demographic examination you do, the better chance you will have at success.

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If you want to write a winning professional marketing plan, organization is key.

Product/Service Description and Market Analysis

One of the first steps you'll want to take is to describe the product or service you aim to market. Research will be a key component of your marketing plan and to accomplish this you'll want to gain a thorough understanding of your product and not blindly enter a market; this is likely to result in a miss if you don't thoroughly gain a full perspective of your market.

In this section you'll also indicate what kind of need your product will fulfill. Consumers aren't going to purchase a service or product on your say so, you are going to need to illustrate why what you're selling is useful and necessary; essentially it should be a solution for your consumers and be attractive enough where they'll want to buy. You will also want to demonstrate why your product is different from similar offerings currently on the market.

A SWOT Analysis is a vital segment of this section of your marketing report. SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. In each breakdown you should accurately access where your company stands on each component. This analysis provides valuable insight for where you have superiority in the market and where you could use improvement. It also helps identify where opportunity is and of the risks/threats which are beyond your control.

After you finish this portion, you should have a good picture of where you stand and what you have to gain by your intended marketing campaign. It should also be a good assessment of any reworks or minor alterations which need to be made in order to be an effective marketing endeavor.

Target Market

Your target market is the group of people you intend to market your product to. Many markets are segmented by demographics which means they look at attributes of consumers and may include, age, gender, income or other like characteristics. Here is where you want to do some research. Look at other companies and who they are marketing to, see what need you fill for each demographic and what their buying habits are and explain why you want to market to the specific segments you've chosen.  This is an important segment because an incorrect assessment of your target market could be disastrous to your campaign and lead to failure; a costly mistake.

Competitors and Substitutes

Your competitors will have an impact on your marketing plan. You want to stand out and be different from the rest. 2 It is also of value to consider your competitor's reaction when you launch your campaign.

Another consideration to think about is if others will try and reinvent your ideas and create their own product to compete with you and whether or not you'll be able to withstand this competition. It is important to differentiate yourself and be attractive on your own merits, not because you are trying to be like a competitor or avoid them mimicking you.

Another important facet is substitute products. This will be useful to know as you price your product. If consumers can get a similar product for less, this will hurt your campaign. It is essential you can demonstrate the value of your product in your campaign. Knowing the potency and flaws of any known or potential substitute products is a must.

Channels of Distribution

The channels of distribution you use to distribute your product are another vital consideration. Are you going to be selling directly to your market or will there be a middleman handling your product?

These are important considerations because they may impact how negatively or positively your offering is presented. You want to choose the right channels if you are marketing a product. If you are offering a service, you'll be directly selling and providing to the consumer and not have to consider the middleman, but instead focus on how you plan to deliver your service. Also don't forget online promotion these days is a must. A solid website, business blog and active social media accounts should be included in your distribution options.

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Avenue of Promotion

In this segment you'll want to research how you plan to advertise and "get the word out" to the market. How much do you plan to engage in Internet marketing? What about advertising in more traditional formats such as television, print and radio spots? Use public relations tactics or engage in direct marketing? These are all important aspects to consider as you plan your avenue of promotion to inform everyone of your product or service. The type of positive buzz you generate about a product will have a direct correlation with interest (and hopefully sales).

Promotion Budget

You also want to figure out your promotion budget. You obviously cannot afford to spend more on advertising then you'd gain in revenue. This is a good reason why it is important to correctly assess which avenues of promotion are going to be the most effective to reach your target market. In this section you'll want to do research on the avenues of promotion and find out the actual dollar costs which will be associated with each advertising venture. You don't want to lock yourself into one way of promotion, but you also want to make sure you identify the best venues your target audience will be accessing.

Produce/Service Pricing

How you price your product is extremely important. You want to place your offering at a competitive price, but you'll also have to cover your expenses too. As you decide on your price, you will need to decide on a pricing strategy that will be profitable while still being able to cover your variable and fixed costs.

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Executive Summary

While the executive summary is placed in the beginning of your marketing plan, in reality this is the last section you should write. This summary will briefly describe each portion of your marketing plan. It is also where you'll identify your mission statement for your product or service. It is important this section is concise and highlights each of the key points in the rest of your marketing plan. The more targeted this section is the better interest it'll generate for others to read the rest of your findings and ideas.

It is important to keep in mind you may not profit the first couple of years, but you do need to focus on the long term growth of revenue. If you are going to be undercutting yourself continuously in order to outdo your competitors you cannot continue this way indefinitely or else you'll put yourself out of business. This is a delicate balance because if there are similar products on the market, you'll need to be competitive in price in order to appeal to your market segments.

Writing a professional marketing plan takes a combination of thought, research, and innovation. Mix in a dash of creative thinking with the aggregated statistics, analysis and other hard data and you'll have a winning campaign. Organization is of particular importance, and when you systematically go through your plan in an organized fashion, you'll have a clear picture and discover the best ways to go about launching your campaign.