A marketing plan is a formal plan describing marketing-related functions and strategies designed to grow your business. These functions include: advertising, public relations, sales, promotions, etc.  The business plan will also contain research on the target market including: demographics, size of the target area and/or target group, anticipated growth, competition, media options, buying habits, etc.  
It is imperative that a startup company have a marketing plan, in particular, one that is based on concrete research, with detailed analysis and marketing strategies customized to promote your business. Those companies who open their doors and assume that customers will somehow just “arrive” are making a fatal flaw that is likely to eventually cost them their business. Alternatively, companies who understand that they need to go out and find customers, promote their products and services, and insure that customers understand the benefits of doing business with them will find they are substantially more successful in effectively growing their business.
One assumption made by most companies, and regularly used as an excuse for not having a marketing plan, is that marketing costs a fortune and start-up companies are most often on a “shoe-string” budget. In actual fact, marketing can be done extremely cost-effectively; in particular if it is well-researched and well-planned. A written marketing plan will aid you in achieving this, and will give you a guide to follow.
Another aspect of a marketing plan is the projected results for each marketing strategy being implemented. Using these projections as a guide enables a company to monitor its results and quickly determine if a strategy is not working as planned; therefore requiring change. This insures that money does not continue to be spent on strategies that are not producing results, and helps the money stay on-budget and on-track for profitability.
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