Improve your marketing advantage
A Marketing Plan is a report, which outlines the methods and strategies
that will be used to achieve the marketing objectives of the business plan by
selling the products/services of a new or existing business. It is a reflection
of how well geared a company is in meeting the competition head on, with
strategies and plans to increase market share and retain/ attract customers.
Relevant market, consumer and competitor information support an effective
marketing Plan, sometimes citing professional advice.
Why Prepare a Marketing Plan?
A well thought out Marketing Plan will help you to improve
your odds against more experienced competitors and newly emerging ones. The
marketing plan enables you to recognize and take action on any trends and
consumer preferences that have been overlooked, and to develop and expand your
own select group of loyal customers now and in the future. The Plan also shows
to others that you have carefully considered how to manufacture a product that
is innovative, unique and marketable- improving your chances of stable sales and
Marketing plan contents
Include the name of the company, timeline of the marketing
plan and completion date. Use a professional format with examples of the company
logo and product designs and packaging types.
Table of Contents
List all the contents of the marketing plan in the order
they appear, citing relevant page numbers.
List tables, graphs and diagrams on a separate page so that
the reader can locate these presentations quickly. List the appendices that will
be included at the end of your document.
This letter should form a personalized overview of the
document. Highlight areas of the plan that are particularly crucial to the
reader, providing an indication of how this plan will help your business attain
overall success in the future.
Give an indication of where your business idea originated,
citing the date you began researching into the business idea, the existence of
any mentors or advisors, the scope of your business (what is your business?),
and opportunities for expansion. In point form show that the strategies in the
marketing plan will ensure the future success of the business.
Marketing Goals and Objectives
Ideally a well drafted mission statement should be included
in this section with an idea of what its goals are for customers, clients,
employees and the consumer, then proceed with:
Compare your prospects for future sales with either past
performance, or a general industry performance report. By analyzing the industry
average as well as your own performance you will demonstrate to the reader that
you see the big picture this will also give you an idea of how well you are
performing, or what general difficulties the whole industry may be facing.
Identify industry wide problems and create strategies to
overcome them. This will also demonstrate that you have the necessary foresight
to allow you to recognize problems in the future. Set "benchmarks" for
your sales objectives by using quarterly reports as a way of evaluating the
success of your overall marketing approach. Indicate how much market share you
intend to acquire over the next 5 years, to show that you expect to advance your
position against your competitors using your own approach.
Include your predictions for after tax profit for each of
the next five years. Relate this profit assumption based on the contents of your
operating budget's costs figures found in your Business Plan. Indicate how you
will reinvest your profit margin in specific areas of the Marketing Plans
future activities, as well as recovering operating and start up costs already
incurred. Don't neglect the future of the Marketing Plan because you have to
defer the costs already incurred. A sound Marketing Plan should do more than
recover costs incurred.
Focus on the weaknesses of your competitors by offering
better quality at a competitive price. Remember how you would react to high
prices for poor or marginal quality product or service.
Justifying your prices for your product or service while
thinking like a customer will give you an advantage. Survey a sampling of your
potential customer group and ask them directly how they feel about competitors
products, services, industry prices and any areas for improvement.
Much like what you would be doing for your prices, focus on
the wants, needs and perceptions of your customers and the general public.
Identify any problems for your industry/ product. Show how you will attract more
customers while keeping the ones you have. Identify the determining factors of
customer preference towards a product, like price, or social considerations such
as environmental impact, product quality or convenience.
Indicate the goals you have for quality of service, level
of service (speed and accuracy), customer satisfaction, and your own flexibility
to support consumer demands and requests.
Examine whether or not your industry is growing, maturing
or declining. If it is declining, identify the problems that exist and be able
to change the ones you can. You will have to demonstrate how your business can
adapt to changes. If your industry is maturing, show how as a new company, you
may be able to better adapt to external forces; more than mature competition. In
a newly emerging and growing market (the best scenario), differentiate yourself
from new competitors. Show how you expect to become a major market player, using
the new approach to the marketplace. Show that the older methods of generating
your product/ service are being challenged by your business' approach.
If there are significant issues facing your company
and challenges from the industry you are entering enumerate how you will
overcome these obstacles. Use your analysis to construct a strategy that will
put you ahead of your competition.
Advance your business in the new economy means finding your
"niche", or, creating one of your own.
In your market analysis focus is on key areas like industry
wide sales performance. Acknowledge why sales (as a whole) may be declining.
Look to national and provincial averages, citing reasons for poor performance.
Reasons can be both external to a particular businesses operations, or internal
to the way the business operates. Industry analysts have developed a way of
determining the causes of business failures, focusing on the direction newly
emerging business can take to realize success. Reference these professionals.
Your focus should also turn to the local market, since
local markets may or may not follow the greater industry trend for various
reasons. Compare the local situation to the national and provincial averages;
the trends in sales, and the estimated total market that can be reached by local
companies. Recognize the position your local competitors have taken in the local
market; the clientele they serve, the product they produce, the price they
expect to charge for their products and services. Finally, relate your own
business position to the position of others, reflecting on the maturity and
experience of your business competitors.
Environmental Analysis - Global Business Environment
Conduct an environmental analysis to look at and comment on the world in which
you will be operating. Unemployment rates for the past 2 to 5 years and the
impact it has had on sales and the overall customer base is an effective way of
demonstrating the effect of "external" pressures onto your business. Threats due
to environmental conditions (like unemployment, layoffs, recession, high
interest rates) reduce consumer activity, and should be explored in your
Political and Legal
Identify the regulations, permits, insurance, liability,
municipal zoning and taxation requirements that you must follow in order to
operate your business. The business climate of your town, village and
surrounding area is an important influence on your day-to-day operations.
Reflect on topics such as taxation, zoning and other factors.
Describe the population base that exists to support your
product. Identify the market size for your product, and the people that make up
your product/service's consumer group. Provide information about:
Where they live, What products do they buy, How much they
spend on similar products each year,
Where they shop for these products, etc. Indicate whether
or not your product is geared towards a specific age group, with spending
patterns and consumer demands. Indicate whether this group is shrinking,
expanding or yet to be tapped into.
Environmental Analysis - Local Business Environment Conduct
an environmental analysis that looks at and comments on your local area and your
network of business contacts, competitors and customers.
Identify your sources for direct purchasing by describing
their locations, the frequency of your orders and the type and amount of
supplies you will be ordering.
Explain any particular client support or other specialized
consumer groups that can be identified apart from the general public. Describe
the spending and product requirements of these groups and the characteristics of
your company that support the product and services they are demanding. Indicate
whether your product is part of the day to day activities of a specific group or
the general public. Identify the influence this will have on your projected
sales. Identify your networking contacts in the community, and the overall
atmosphere surrounding your business. Identify the influence this will have on
your projected sales. Predict the receptiveness of your product concepts, and
how the community perceives your business. Describe the expected response to
your advertising, and how this will boost sales. Indicate what overall market
trends you will be following in order to stay current.
Identify your direct competition by naming their business,
describing their facilities and operations, identifying their share of the
consumer market, realizing support for their product and by reviewing the
weaknesses of their approach.
Identify your target market, describing how your company
will meet the needs of the consumer better than the competition does. List the
expectations consumers have for your type of product. Since demands may be
different, products and services will vary between competitors. Quality, price
and after sales service are just some of the areas where this difference occurs.
Identify the segment of the market that will benefit from your product and area
of expertise as well as your approach to selling your product or service.
Predict the sales potential that may be realized by tapping
into and holding onto your target market, and attracting others through
different strategies and approaches. These different approaches can be all done
at the same time or incrementally - obtaining a core audience for your product
or service first, then expanding into the rest of the market. Identify the sales
potential for each of these target groups.
Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats Analysis
List the strengths of your business approach such as cost effectiveness,
service quality and customer loyalty.
List other assets of your operations such as flexibility, innovation,
response to external pressures, creativity and company stability.
Relate your experience (professionalism, duration and diversity) and the
contacts you have made in all areas of your businesses operations - from
suppliers to clients, government officials to business professionals.
Describe the areas of weakness in your company's operations, such as
government policies and procedures, and management inexperience.
Capital financing, credit, loans and other financial debts should be
identified, with strategies to control their effect on your business.
Recognize the limited impact of a new product on the market - its lack of
recognition may be attributed to the companies inexperience in promoting.
Recognize that poor performance will mean lower than expected profits - which
will result in a lot of the money going to reduce debts rather than improving
business facilities, operations and expanding markets.
Examine how proper timing, as well as other factors such as your company's
innovation, may improve your business's chances of success.
Use tools such as customer surveys to emphasize the need for product quality
and after sales service.
Relate your company's focus to a segment of the present market that is being
List the external threats to your business' success, such a existing and
newly emerging competitors, performance of the overall economy, and your
dependency on other businesses such as suppliers, retailers and distributors for
market access and support.
Product or Service
Identify your product or service by:
What it is;
Who will buy it;
How much they will pay for it;
How much it will cost for you to produce it;
Why a consumer demand exists for your product, and;
Where your product sits in comparison to similar products/services
Describe the marketplace rationale for the differences between your product
and competitor offers. Look at quality, price, new ideas/approaches, and how
your product appeals to a specific customer base - both existing customers and
new customers you hope to attract to the market.
Be specific about how your product/service improves upon those already
existing, your use of quality control, post purchase evaluation (and how you
will obtain feedback) and the scope of service you will provide:
responsibilities, liabilities and expectations.
Identify the location of your business, why it is located there (strategic,
competitive, economic objectives), your expected methods of distribution, and
Different products have different shelf lives and your estimation of how long
your product will remain on the shelf is an important one.
Describe the type of promotional methods you will use to spread the word
about your product. Identify techniques such as word of mouth, radio and
newspaper ads. For radio, focus on a stations music format and its relationship
to your products image, broadcast area, cultural focus, age focus, etc.
For newspapers and other print mediums, consider the level at which you wish
to advertise (local, regional, provincial, federal, cross-national, etc.), in
what mediums (trade magazines, professional, recreational, cultural, hobby,
special interest, etc.), how often, and the timing of such advertisements
(seasonal, special issues, etc.).
List accessible tradeshows that offer your business and opportunity to
display banners and promotional literature.
Explain your use of expensive mediums such as television and billboards. Both
are highly expensive, while computer based "bulletin boards" and the Internet
can provide a global audience.
Promotion through associations and government support programs offer an
opportunity for success stories to advertise.
In store promotions, sidewalk sales, plant tours, free samples, openhouses,
"point of sale" displays, acknowledgment in government programs, agendas,
brochures and calendars are other avenues for promotion. Also, gimmicks like
draws for free product samples and service visits also provide you with a
mailing list for future considerations.
Alliance campaigns between yourself and associated businesses (retailers,
suppliers, etc.) provide you and some complementary businesses the chance to
improve your market image and potential sales.
The prices of your products
or services should reflect your overall company strategy. Pricing should be
competitive as well as a reflection of the quality, costs and profit margin.
List the quality features of your product or service, as well as the associated
cost component for each item or level of service. List strategies you plan to
use, such as providing a discount on some items you sell in order to increase
the sales in other areas.
Show the predicted level of
sales you expect to realize with and without the strategies you have outlined in
the marketing plan. Show the natural level of sales as described in your
business plan, and then show the expected increase in sales as they relate to
specific marketing techniques you will use.
Show the market share you
will hope to attain, based on "high", "medium", and "low" estimates for the
success of your marketing strategy.
Forecast the "break even
point" for each of the following 5 years, in the number of sales in dollars.
This will demonstrate your need to realize a certain amount of sales in order to
cover your expected costs for each of the next 5 years.
Outline the areas of
weakness in the financing of your business; the deficiencies that may be found
in areas such as "operating capital", outstanding loans, and insufficient
suggestions for reducing the effect that these deficiencies will have on the
successful operation of your business.
Tables, Graphs, Diagrams and Pictures
By presenting information
in a picture format, some areas that are hard to express in words become easy to
show to the reader.
A figure that shows where
your company's image lies in relation to your direct competition.
Advertising Examples and
Other Promotional Materials
Provide the reader with
some examples of the type of artwork and advertising you hope to use to attract
potential customers, and, to portray a particular image of your product/service.
Such materials can
demonstrate the effectiveness of your message, successful product/service
recognition and packaging design.
Demographics, Consumer Statistics and Budgets
demographic information such as populations, age distributions, projected
population growth and household sizes.
Include statistics covering
family expenditures, personal income characteristics, employment figures, and
spending and consumer patterns.
Provide budget sheets for
advertising campaigns, sales promotions, and expenses such as uniforms, business
cards, logo designs, banners, flyers, billboards, etc.
Include printing costs and
expected reordering schedules.
Demographics and other
statistics can be found in Statistics Canada information, available at the local
Relate the pricing of your
products or services to your costs, profit margin, "break even point" in sales,
competitor pricing schemes, consumer profiles and product/service expectations.
Separate the "fixed cost" components and your "variable costs". Fixed costs are
those that should remain stable over the next 5 years, while variable costs are
those that adjust to external and internal pressures.