The right marketing plan turns a good business into a great business. The marketing plan delineates the methods and activities that will be employed to reach the company’s revenue goals. This section describes the company’s customer base, products or services, and marketing and sales programs. The latter is supported by conclusions drawn from the market analysis. A great idea is meaningless if you cannot find customers.
- Target market strategy – This section should describe the target market and provide a profile of the consumer that is being targeted to launch the product/service. This should include the characteristics that define target customers, such as demographics and psychographics.
- Channel strategy – Unless one plans to sell directly to consumers there are many different channels that can be used, depending on the industry. Potential channels can include distributors, wholesalers and retailers, equipment manufacturers, system integrators and value-added retailers, e-commerce, which can also complement other forms of distribution.
- Positioning – Entrepreneurs should prepare a statement that positions their product/service in the minds of the target customers relative to the competition. The statement should describe the market they are considering, identify the target customer, describe important features and explain why the customer should care.
- Pricing strategy – Entrepreneurs can decide among many different pricing strategies, such as commodity pricing, prices set by the market, pricing based on competitor’s price, value pricing, industry rule of thumb, introductory low price to get customers to use, etc. A business plan should have a list of the prices for each of the products/services that are being offered.
- E-commerce – This should be an integral part of the marketing strategy. Entrepreneurs should think about brand building through affiliate programs and email marketing, about websites to provide information, product descriptions and pricing. They should also take into account customer and technical support and extranets to provide coordination with customers.
- Communication strategy – It is critical that businesses inform their target market about the availability of the product/service, and that they continue to communicate the benefits. They should consider media advertising (TV, radio, newspaper and magazines), direct response advertising (mail, email, text messaging, and infomercials), outdoor advertising (billboards, posters, cinema, and vehicles), brochures, catalogues, trade and consumer promotions, sponsorships, exhibitions and conferences.
- Sales strategy – How an entrepreneur will sell the product/service is a critical component of their success. Nothing happens until the sale is actually made. This section of the business plan should describe how the product/service will be sold and who will do the selling. Entrepreneurs also need to think about the ways to recruit, train and compensate the sale force.
- Revenue model – This section should include a table that forecasts the revenue of the venture over the next 5 years. The key is to consider the drivers of the revenue. For each market the factors are different.