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The marketing plan section of the business plan explains how you’re going to get your customers to buy your products and/or services. The marketing plan, then, will include sections detailing your:
The easiest way to develop your marketing plan is to work through each of these sections, referring to the market research you completed when you were writing the previous sections of the business plan.
(Note that if you are developing a marketing plan on its own, rather than as part of a business plan, the plan will also need to include a Target Market and a Competitors’ Analysis section.
Focus on the uniqueness of your product or service and how the customer will benefit from using the products or services you’re offering. Use these questions to write a paragraph summarizing these aspects for your marketing plan:
The pricing strategy portion of the marketing plan involves determining how you will price your product or service; the price you charge has to be competitive but still allow you to make a reasonable profit.
Being “reasonable” is key; you can charge any price you want to, but for every product or service there’s a limit to how much the consumer is willing to pay. Your pricing strategy needs to take this consumer threshold into account.
The most common question small business people have about the pricing strategy section of the marketing plan is, “How do you know what price to charge?”
Basically, you set your pricing through a process of calculating your costs, estimating the benefits to consumers, and comparing your products, services and prices to others that are similar.
Set your pricing by examining how much it cost you to produce the product or service and adding a fair price for the benefits that the customer will enjoy.
Examining what others are charging for similar products or services will guide you when you’re figuring out what a fair price for such benefits would be. You may find it useful to conduct a Breakeven Analysis.
The pricing strategy you outline in your marketing plan will answer the following questions:
Remember, the primary goal of the marketing plan is to get people to buy your products or services. Here’s where you detail how this is going to happen.
Traditionally there are three parts to the Sales and Distribution section, although all three parts may not apply to your business.
1) Outline the distribution methods to be used.
If your business involves selling a product, you should also include information about inventory levels and packaging in this part of your marketing plan. For instance:
2) Outline the transaction process between your business and your customers.
3) If it’s applicable to your business, outline your sales strategy.
Essentially the Advertising and Promotion section of the marketing plan describes how you’re going to deliver your Unique Selling Proposition to your prospective customers. While there are literally thousands of different promotion avenues available to you, what distinguishes a successful plan from an unsuccessful one is the focus – and that’s what your Unique Selling Proposition provides.
So think first of the message that you want to send to your targeted audience. Then look at these promotion possibilities and decide which to emphasize in your marketing plan:
Advertising – The best approach to advertising is to think of it in terms of media and which media will be most effective in reaching your target market. Then you can make decisions about how much of your annual advertising budget you’re going to spend on each medium.
What percentage of your annual advertising budget will you invest in each of the following:
Include not only the cost of the advertising but your projections about how much business the advertising will bring in.
Sales Promotion – If it’s appropriate to your business, you may want to incorporate sales promotional activities into your advertising and promotion plan, such as:
Marketing Materials – Every business will include some of these in their promotion plans. The most common marketing material is the business card, but brochures, pamphlets, and service sheets are also common.
Publicity – Another avenue of promotion that every business should use. Describe how you plan to generate publicity. While press releases spring to mind, that’s only one way to get people spreading the word about your business. Consider:
For more about publicity, see Getting Publicity for Your Business.
Your Business’s Website – If your business has or will have a website, describe how your website fits into your advertising and promotion plan.
Trade shows – Trade shows can be incredibly effective promotion and sales opportunities – if you pick the right ones and go equipped to put your promotion plan into action. Before You Attend That Trade Show explains how to choose appropriate trade shows.
Other Promotion Activities
Your promotion activities are truly limited only by your imagination.
But If you plan to teach a course, sponsor a community event, or conduct an email campaign, you’ll want to include it in your advertising and promotion plan. Sporadic unconnected attempts to promote your product or service are bound to fail; your goal is to plan and carry out a sequence of focused promotion activities that will communicate the message you want to send about your products and/or services with your potential customers.
While small businesses often have minuscule (or non-existent) promotion budgets, that doesn’t mean that small businesses can’t design and implement effective promotion plans.
No business is too small to have a marketing plan. After all, no business is too small for customers or clients. And if you have these, you need to communicate with them about your products and/or services.