What you’ll learn to do: present a marketing plan
This marketing course was designed with the idea that everything you learn along the way will prepare you for the grand finale: creating and presenting a marketing plan of your own. Now that you’re in the final stretch of the course—perhaps putting the finishing touches on your marketing plan—it’s time to focus on the presentation.
The specific things you’ll learn in this section include:
- Identify appropriate media and format for presenting a marketing plan
- Apply recommended practices about how to organize content in an informational presentation
- Apply recommended practices for writing and developing presentation visuals (slides) that communicate effectively
- Apply recommended practices for delivering a presentation in a business setting
If you think about presenting a business plan in a classroom setting, the situation is admittedly a bit staged. You are not presenting business recommendations to coworkers who will evaluate them, critique them, and come together around a revised version of your work. Sadly the classroom environment cannot simulate that experience. In spite of this limitation, it is worth sharing some pointers for good business presentations, which may come in handy down the road when you get a chance to do the real thing. Also, there’s no substitute for practice—which your marketing plan presentation will certainly provide.
A good business presentation should drive action.
The biggest difference between a business presentation and presentations in other settings is that you are trying to achieve specific business objectives in your job. You are not graded on presenting well. You are graded on achieving your objectives. Others in the audience also have objectives that they hope to achieve. Are those objectives the same? Possibly yes, possibly no. Your presentation should result in someone taking action that supports your business objectives.
Start your presentation by asking yourself, “What am I hoping to get this audience do as a result of my presentation?” If the answer is that you hope they will understand something better, why? Just as marketers want their target customers to respond to a specific call to action, you want to get your audience to do something that supports your objectives.
A good business presentation is short and focused.
In preparation for a business presentation, you will probably work and think and do a lot of research. There is a temptation to share everything you’ve collected and learned with your coworkers. This is generally a bad idea. The research you’ve done is the groundwork for understanding what should happen next. Your job as a presenter is to give people only the most relevant and important information to get them to where you are. Consider each point that builds your case, and ask yourself, “If I leave this out will they still understand why this makes sense?” Eliminate anything that isn’t critical.
Most business people quickly lose interest in presentations, so use your time wisely, and try to stick to the key points. Once you lose an audience, it’s difficult to get them back, and they may miss your call to action—or worse, not care.
Begin with recommendations and then support them.
If someone has to leave your presentation for another meeting, you don’t want them to miss the grand unveiling of your main point. Start with the recommendation. Follow with a streamlined, logical path that supports the recommendation. You might have fifty slides of supporting information and data that justify your thinking, but don’t present them! It’s much better to include them in an appendix. If someone asks about the competitive landscape in a new market that you have considered, you can always pull up the slide that includes that information from the appendix. If you’re sure that a slide is central to your case, move it to the back and use it if needed.
Use your presentation as an opportunity to learn and collaborate.
For a very small number of presentations, it’s important for you to be the expert and have all the answers. Much more commonly, though, your role is to work with a broader team to achieve results. Others in the room will have more expertise than you in a given subject. That’s a good thing. Once they understand your ideas, they can help you shape them and improve them. Be confident enough to present the fact that you are unsure about something, and ask for input. When a business presentation is really excellent, everyone in the room leaves feeling like they have something to contribute and are a part of the solution ahead.
Getting Started: Your Target Audience
When you were developing your own marketing plan, consider how much time and thought you put into identifying and reaching your target audience. As you know, it’s a crucial step in the development of any successful marketing plan. The same is true of effective presentations: the key is to have a firm grasp of the needs of your audience. As the presenter, your main goal is to convey a message to your audience. That message is your marketing plan. You should imagine that the audience of your marketing plan is very interested in and somewhat familiar with your product and/or service. We’ll say that the demographic is “your instructor and classmates”—all bright, educated listeners who want to hear what you have to say! It’s important to keep in mind that they may not interpret the information exactly as you have. It’s your job as a marketing-plan presenter to explain your ideas using specific details, succinct and clear wording (avoid jargon), vivid descriptions, and meaningful images. As you organize your presentation, keeping this imaginary audience in mind can help you gauge how much background information and context to provide.
If you feel unsure about what to present, read your executive summary, which should give you a nice outline for your presentation. Begin by presenting the key elements there. Then ask yourself, “If I’m going to explain why this positioning and these marketing objectives really make sense, what additional information does my audience need?” Your goal with the presentation is not to present all of the details in the marketing plan but just to call out the important areas that help everyone understand why it is a good, thoughtful plan.
Choosing Media and Format
Perhaps you’ve heard the phrase “Death by PowerPoint” to explain that all-too-familiar feeling of being slowly bored to death by a thoughtless presenter who’s droning on and on about boring slide after boring slide. If you’d like to know what the experience is about, and you have time for a laugh, watch the following video, starring stand-up comedian Don McMillan. McMillan pokes fun at bad presentations, but he has some very sound advice about what not to do. (Also, he gets in a nice dig at marketers.)
You may be considering using PowerPoint for your marketing-plan presentation, and that’s perfectly fine. PowerPoint can be a very effective tool with the right organization, layout, and design. Below is a list of five common pitfalls that you can and should avoid, and doing so will go a long way toward making your PowerPoint presentation successful:
- Choosing a font that is too small. The person in the very back of the room should be able to see the same thing as the person in the front of the room.
- Putting too many words on a slide. Remember it’s called PowerPoint, not PowerParagraph! Keep your bullet points clear and succinct.
- Having spelling errors. Have somebody proofread your slides. Any typos will detract from your marketing plan.
- Choosing distracting colors that make it hard to read the information. PowerPoint gives you a lot of color choices in their design templates. The ideas in your brilliant marketing plan will be lost if your audience is struggling to read the content.
- Selecting images or visuals that do not clearly align with the content. For instance, a cute photo of your cat may look lovely up on the screen, but if it doesn’t connect to your marketing plan, it’s just fluff that detracts from your message. Every slide counts, so make sure the visuals support your message.
Two Ideas Beyond PowerPoint
The top priority for your marketing plan presentation is to make sure that it’s well focused. The software/technology is less important—just use what you’re most comfortable with. That said, if you’d like to explore other options besides PowerPoint, two alternatives are described below. Either would work well for this assignment.
Prezi gives students free access to a visual-aid tool that can be effective, fun, and engaging. You’ll need to sign up with your student email address. Once again, the content of your marketing plan is most important, but if you’re bored with PowerPoint, you could give Prezi a try.
Three Prezi Tips:
- Keep in mind that the movement of the screen can make some audience members feel seasick, so be sure to review your transitions between your slides. Too much movement will detract from your message.
- If it’s your first time trying Prezi and you’re learning how to use it, start by using one of the templates. You want to focus on your marketing plan, not the technology.
- Remember that a fancy Prezi will not hide a poor marketing plan. Having all the elements of the marketing plan should be your first concern; then focus on making it pretty.
Google Sites gives users the ability to create free basic Web sites. Google has easy-to-follow tutorials, and a lot of help is available through Google’s search engine. You can google your question! Free templates are available, but be sure to pick one that is professional and appropriate for your audience.
Three Google Sites Tips
- Pick a clever site name that you’ll want to use when you are on the job market. Using “Principles of Marketing 101” won’t be as catchy as “[Clever Business Name] Marketing Plan.” You may want to use this plan as a sample of your work someday.
- Test your site on different devices. See what your marketing plan looks like on a smartphone and a computer screen. Pay particular attention to your images to make sure they aren’t too big or too small.
- Ask somebody who isn’t in the course to click around and tour your Web site before you present. He or she may be able to give you feedback on what looks the best or what you could improve.
Presenting the Marketing Plan
Now that we’ve shared some pointers on organizing your presentation and getting the technology to work for you—rather than against you—let’s turn to a final list of pointers for the “performance” part of the presentation, when you actually present your plan to an audience. You’ve worked hard as the owner of this plan, so have confidence in your work. The following can help you get there:
- Practice! Take what you’ve learned about SWOT and do a SWOT analysis of your presentation. What are the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats you’ll face when you present to your audience? It’s tough to remember this when you’re nervous, but you’re the person who knows the most about your plan. Practicing your presentation will help you build confidence.
- Ask a friend or family member to watch you present. Request that they be honest with you and give constructive criticism.
- Talk to your audience, not to the screen. Your audience can read the slides, so use your voice to explain more of the details.
Remember the sage advice of Oscar Wilde: “Be yourself. Everyone else is taken.” Good luck!
- Presenting the Marketing Plan. Provided by: Lumen Learning. License: CC BY: Attribution
- Sneaky Beb. Authored by: Bitey Mad Lady. Located at: https://www.flickr.com/photos/froggenstein/16911480062/. License: CC BY-NC-ND: Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives
- Imagine Cup 2012 - Day 4 Finalist Presentations. Authored by: ImagineCup. Located at: https://www.flickr.com/photos/imaginecup/7534287902/. License: CC BY: Attribution
- Life After Death by PowerPoint 2012 by Don McMillan. Authored by: Don McMillan. Located at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MjcO2ExtHso. License: All Rights Reserved. License Terms: Standard YouTube License