December 1999; Vol. 8 Issue 12  
The Resource for Small and Emerging Businesses
In Focus International Business: 

Mapping Out an International Marketing Plan

By Brian Gauler

Setting forth to capture the global market requires an itinerary; otherwise, you'll be left at the station.

Developing an international marketing plan does not have to be a monumental task. For most companies starting to export, developing an international marketing plan may simply be a matter of putting on paper the issues that company managers want to make sure they have covered in developing their export program. The following outline provides a clear, sequential format for identifying and listing the essential marketing issues for you to consider in starting to export. In addition, it prompts you to determine what you need to do and why. One word of caution ... the key to using this format is to FOCUS the information on what you are trying to do-develop export marketing and sales! Avoid getting side-tracked into problems or issues that are not relevant to export sales.

International Marketing Plan "Road Map"

Seven sections make up this marketing "road map" format. Each fits into a sequence providing a systematic, disciplined approach to marketing a product or service. The chart below shows how the seven sections work to build the total International Marketing Plan.

I. The Current Marketing Situation Describes the natures of the target market, and your position in it.
II. Problems and Opportunities Identifies the major problem faced, and the opportunities to be exploited, during the term of the Plan. These sections of the Plan (II & III) need not involve the preparation of extensive, lengthy narratives.

Rather, they should be viewed as the necessary first steps, the purpose of which is to set the stage for the critical portion of the Plan: its Action Programs (Section V)

III. Objectives and Issues Defines the goals the Plan seeks to reach, and what the attainment of those goals will hinge upon. Goals should be quantifiable (use figures: %; $; # of ... ).
IV. Marketing Strategies Broadly explains the main directions which will be pursued in order to meet the Plan's objectives.
V. Action Program Presents, in specific detail, exactly what will be done to carry out the strategies outlined in the preceding section. The heart of the plan, this section answers for questions:
  • What?
  • When?
  • Who?
  • How much?
VI. Profit Projection (Budget) Summarizes the Plan's financial payoff. These sections (VI and VII), too, can be handled with brevity.
VII. Controls/Alternatives Tells how the Plan will be monitored.