WHY DEVELOP A MARKETING PLAN?
Your marketing plan is an integral part of all your activities. When you start a business or introduce new products or concepts, this plan can help you:
- evaluate the needs of your customers and create a product or service to
- meet those needs;
- communicate to the customer the characteristics of the product or service;
- establish commercial networks to deliver products / services to customers.
Developing a marketing plan will help you identify aspects of marketing that are easily overlooked. In order to make a coherent plan, you will need to describe who your customers are, how they will buy your product or how to use your services, and why. Your banker or lender will want to review the marketing part of your business plan before you consider making a loan.
As styles, markets and goals change, so should your plan. Review your marketing plan regularly to keep it up-to-date and adjust to reflect changes in your company’s operations or your projections of new trends.
BEFORE YOU WRITE YOUR MARKETING PLAN
Before finalizing your marketing plan, research the potential markets for your product or service. Use statistics, facts and results to validate the claims in your marketing plan. You can also create an online questionnaire or survey or consult available databases and other resources to find the information you need to develop your marketing plan.
PARTS OF A MARKETING PLAN
Summary – what is my overall plan?
The summary is an overview of the key elements contained in a marketing plan and, even if written last, should be placed at the beginning of the plan. The summary is usually the first section read by an investor or potential lender, so you may want to pay special attention to it. The summary should:
- include the key elements of each of the other parts to present the fundamentals of your marketing plan;
- be interesting enough to encourage the reader to continue reading the rest of your marketing plan;
- be brief and concise.
If you have not already done so in your overall business plan, you will want to clearly describe who you are, what your business is, what your business goals are and what inspired you to start, buy or sell. grow your business Examples:
Enter the name of the business, its address, telephone number, and the names of business owners or business partners
specify the company’s vision and mission statement (this should match your target market);
describe the core values and objectives of the company and its owners.
Describe the product or service
Specify how your product or service is unique or why it is superior to others on the market. If the product or service is not unique, perhaps its location is ideal or its large market leaves room for competition. It is important to use facts and figures to demonstrate that your business will be profitable.
Determine your target market – who are your customers?
Before selling something, you must know who you are selling it to. If you do not determine what your target market is, you could try to satisfy the needs of too many different customers, which could lead you to offer a product that nobody wants or a service that no one needs.
By conducting research, you can determine the age group, gender, lifestyle, and other demographic characteristics of people who have demonstrated interest in your product or service. It is important to provide statistics, analysis, figures and supporting facts that can demonstrate to the reader that there is a demand for your product or service.
When you release the general profile of your customers, you could describe them using the following elements:
- age, usually determined by age groups (20 to 35 years)
- marital status
- the place of residence
- the size and description of the household
- income, especially disposable income (money that can be spent)
- the level of education, usually the last level of schooling completed
- the profession
- interests, the shopping profile (what do your customers want?)
- cultural, ethnic and racial origins
For example, a clothing manufacturer might consider various potential target markets: toddlers, athletes, or teens. By making a general portrait of each of your potential markets, you can decide which are the most realistic, pose the least risk or are most likely to make a profit. A market survey of the most likely target groups can also help you distinguish real target markets from more unlikely opportunities.
Once you have identified your target audience, you will want to know their needs and preferences. Here are some of the information you will want to know about your potential customers:
- Do they have any problems, that your product or service could solve?
- What are their needs and expectations for the product or service?
- What categories of goods do they want?
- How do they spend their money?
- Where do they shop?
- How do they make decisions about spending?
Note that if you want to determine the profile of your clients and understand their needs, you will have to do a market study.
Know your competitors
Most companies compete with others, but even if you are the only player, it is very likely that you will have competitors before long. It’s important to know who you’re competing with and what your competitors’ skills are. You will want to compare your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT) with those of the competition. Once you know what your company is doing better than anyone else, make sure your customers know it.
How will I deliver my product to my customers?
Usually, customers shop in stores to find the products they want. At the same time, we often take for granted that we have to go to a particular place for services such as a massage or a haircut. However, there is nothing that dictates how you should serve your customers. For example, you can decide to:
- sell through a retailer, wholesaler or professional sales agent;
- sell through kiosks in schools, offices and public places or at events;
- go to the customer’s home or place of work
- take orders from a catalog or online from a website.
Group your marketing activities
Create a chart or graph that provides an estimate of the total marketing budget amounts you plan to spend for each type of advertising medium. In another chart or graph, specify how much time you plan to devote to each one. You can also detail each group according to the advertising medium used. Here are some suggestions:
- advertising (television, radio, print, online publications, websites, bulletin boards, business cards);
- advertising information (signs, stationery, choice of brand, testimonials, proposed customers);
- registrations (business directory, telephone directories, online directories, directory of associations);
- sponsorship (research, community events, local charities, sporting events);
- Networking (ask for feedback from current and potential customers and other industry players, reach out to online social networks, give tips on blogs or speak at public events meet industry players at business events);
- promotions (mailings, samples, gifts, discount coupons, sales, displays);
internal marketing (employee rebates, sales incentives, incentives to offer customers).
Anticipate the problems
Like any other aspect of running a business, planning helps you face challenges. No matter how meticulously you plan your marketing strategy, unforeseen events can occur. What you can do is consider possible “surprises” and write down how you can deal with them.
Here are some marketing issues you may have:
- regulations on new packaging \ labeling \ claims;
- change in buyer trends and preferences;
- environmental issues related to your activities;
- image or negative perceptions of your activities;
- economic downturn;
- new competitors;
- marketing regulations and standards;
- marketing during a recession.
Determine your price or pricing strategy – what price should I charge?
Determining the right price is another aspect of marketing. If your price is too high, you can drive away customers and, if it is too low, you may feel that your product or service is of poor quality or substandard. Companies voluntarily pay a very high price so that their customers believe they are getting a better product or service. Others sell at a slightly above average price in order to be able to offer exceptional customer service.
Projections and long-term goals
If you want your business to start small and stay there, mention it specifically in your plan. If the long-term goal is to expand over the years, acquire international market shares or sell franchising rights, you will want to mention this in your plan. Specify the means you intend to take to grow your business and how you will adapt the marketing of your products to achieve these goals.
Specify a revision date
This step is a reminder to establish how often you will review your marketing plan. You may want to update your plan only when changes occur in your business. However, if you agree to revise it at least once a year, it will help you keep your plan up to date.