Business Plan Writing Guide: Marketing PlanFeatured, Small Business, Small Business How to Guides Tuesday, March 15th, 2011
A small business marketing plan or the marketing and sales section of the business plan provides an overview of the industry in which your business exists and competes with other players, the potential customers and how you plan to promote, distribute and sell your product or service to them. This section is really crucial because it is what that makes or breaks a business. No marketing, no business, period.
Creating a small business marketing plan is also important because it forces you to think about the existing offerings in the market and how you will differentiate your product or service from them and then how you will convince prospective customers to make a purchase. While there are some standard approaches to marketing, your small business marketing plan should be unique and developed considering the market conditions, target customers, product offering, budget etc. Overall, the purpose of a small business marketing plan is to find out if all the elements of the marketing mix have been taken care of in your business.
How to Write a Small Business Marketing Plan
While creating a small business marketing plan, you should include details that answer the following questions:
1. How the industry and market looks like?
The answer to this question should include information about the growth rate of the industry, the competition in the industry, the leading players, top products or services, and the available niches. All of this information can be easily found on the Internet, trade publications and through industry’s trade associations and you should try to research all these places while creating your small business marketing plan.
2. Who are your potential customers?
This is where you will identify your target customers. The first segmentation should be based on whether you will be selling to business or consumers. If you will be selling to consumers, you will need to identify:
- the reasons why they will need your product or service
- what motivates them to buy
- who influences the purchase decision
- how do they make purchases – offline, online, credit, cash etc.
- how often do they use and buy a similar product
- is there any special factor leading to purchase such as an occasion
You should also collect demographics and other personal data such as the gender, age, income, education etc.
If you will be selling to businesses, you will need to find out similar details such as the types of business that will buy your product or service, why will they need it, who are the key decision-makers, who finalizes the purchase etc.
All this information will be useful for choosing the right method for promoting your business to your potential customers.
3. Where are your customers located?
It is important to identify the geographic focus for your business which can be local or city-level, statewide, regional, national or international. The reason why you need to identify the geographic focus is because each of them requires different advertising and promotion methods and different budgets too that will need to be covered in your small business marketing plan.
4. What are your distribution channels?
This is where you will define how you plan get your product or service to the market. Will you appoint a sales force, distributors, wholesalers, retailers or you will be directly dealing with the customer through a storefront, website etc.
5. Where and how will you advertise?
In this part of the marketing plan you need to identify where and how you can reach your potential customers. The places for advertising could be the Internet, shopping malls, highways, television, radio, magazines etc. The methods of advertising could be banners, billboards, email, videos, podcasts etc.
6. What is your pricing strategy?
Pricing strategy becomes crucial in cases of highly competitive markets. You should review your competitor’s pricing and then based on your costs, come up with a price that the market will be ready to bear. Pricing strategy will also be influenced by how you want to position the your business in the market as well. You can be a low-cost and high-volume player or focus on the higher end of the market that is ready to pay a higher price.
7. What is your sales strategy?
You marketing plan will also need to include your sales strategy. A great marketing program is a waste until a sale is made. In this part, you will define how sales will be handled in your business. Will the marketing and sales be taken care of by the same individual or team? What is your sales process? What sales activities will be performed on a day-to-day basis? Which sales tools do you intend to use? You will also need to define the terms of sales such as payment and credit policies.
Marketing and sales is the revenue generation engine of a business. Having a right small business marketing plan will ensure that your business is always in business.
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