Marketing: Write a Powerful Executive Summary

A carefully crafted executive summary is an essential component of every marketing plan. An executive summary is a one-page plan that conveys essential information about your company’s planned year of programs and activities in a couple hundred well-chosen words or less.

If you ever get confused or disoriented in the rough-and-tumble play of sales and marketing, this clear, one-page summary can guide you back to the correct strategic path. A good executive summary actually keeps everyone across the entire team (operations, sales, marketing, and outside contractors) on the same page.

It’s a powerful advertisement for your program, communicating the purpose and essential activities of your plan in such a compelling manner that everyone who reads it eagerly leaps into action and takes the right steps to make your vision come true.

Draft a very rough executive summary early in the planning process as a guide to your thinking and planning. Then revise it (or, if necessary, rewrite it completely) after finishing all the other sections of your plan, because the summary (no surprise here) needs to summarize everything. When summarizing the main points of your plan, make it clear whether the plan is

  • Efficiency oriented: A focus on efficiency means you’ll be scaling up known success formulas and aiming to increase the volume of business.

    For example, your summary may open with high sales goals and then review the various improvements over last year that you think will help achieve the new higher goals. If you have a pretty good marketing formula already, then the plan should help you refine and scale up that formula to achieve higher sales and profits.

  • Effectiveness oriented: This means a focus on testing and developing one or more new ways of marketing.

    For example, say your plan identifies a major opportunity or problem and a new strategy to respond to it. If you need to make major changes in your marketing program, then the plan is a tool for finding new, more effective marketing methods. It should include a wider range of marketing activities, along with ways of testing to see which ones work best.

If your plan has to help you overcome a problem, such as shrinking sales due to a large new competitor, state the problem clearly in the summary and also point out any links to other aspects of the business. Will the marketing plan have to be coordinated with a business plan that includes cost controls and layoffs?

If so, state this fact upfront in your executive summary and make sure the rest of your business is working on the necessary changes so you aren’t stuck with a problem you don’t have full control over.

At the end of your executive summary, describe the bottom-line results: what your projected revenues will be (by product or product line, unless you have too many to list on one page) and what the costs are. Also, show how these figures differ from last year’s figures. Keep the whole summary under one page if you possibly can.

If you have too many products to keep the summary under one page, you can list them by product line. But a better option is to create more than one plan because you probably haven’t clearly thought out any plan that can’t be summarized in a page. Many businesses prepare a separate plan for each product. Dividing and conquering is the key.

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