Writing a Winning Business Plan

Every new business needs to attract consumers to be able to make profit.  To attract consumers, and even keep your current consumers, you will need to market your product or service to them.  No one can buy your product or service if they don’t know it exists in the first place.  By developing a marketing plan, you will have a road map for determining who your potential consumers are, the ways in which you will tell them about your product, and how to budget for this expense.

A marketing plan is a mixture of your market research (the potential that exists for selling to consumers), your marketing strategy, how much profit you expect to make, and how much it will cost.  This will be a written plan not only for you to follow, but also for your management team and even your investors.  Be sure to have a non-disclosure agreement accompany your plan before giving your plan to anyone else to review.

Below are the components of a written marketing plan:

1.       Market Research.  You will need to thoroughly research the market in which you are selling your product or service.  You will also need to study the various environmental factors outside and inside your business than can have an effect on your profitability.

a.       Conditions of the macro environment.  A macro environment includes the factors that may influence your company’s operations and sales such as the political, economic, and sociological climate.  You will also need to look at any current or proposed technological advances.  Lastly list the demographic factors that define your market such as age, gender, income, and spending habits.

b.      Conditions of your business environment.  This includes the conditions that will affect your decisions, the most important being who your target market is and why you feel you will be successful in getting them to buy your product or service.  This section should list the following:

(1.)  Clearly list all your research you have done on this target market as well as your sales projections.

(2.)  List your distribution methods for reaching this market and the cost.

(3.)  Include your budget.  How much money do you have set aside for marketing to the consumer?

(4.)  Include your SWOT analysis of your operations.  What are the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats currently present in your business?

(5.)  List your competition and what they are doing.  Include what they sell, how much they sell it and to whom.

2.       Market Strategy.  Your Market Strategy section will include the many methods and avenues you will take to promote your product or service to your target market.  This section will have the following three components:

a.       Mission Statement.  A mission statement needs to clearly identify the overall objective of your business.  What is it you hope to accomplish?

b.      Goals.  List all of your short-term and long-term goals and objectives.  When do you hope to accomplish them?  This will usually pertain to the marketing of your product or service, like goals for establishing a strong brand name, when you hope to raise prices, etc.

c.       Promotion & Advertising Strategy.  Lastly, you will list all of the advertising and promotion methods you will use, when you will implement them and how long you will use them.  Examples of advertising and promotion methods include: magazine ads, T.V. commercials, billboards, email marketing campaigns, newsletters, special events on to the creation of internet blogs, Facebook and Twitter accounts, as well as You Tube promotional videos.

3.       Analysis.  The last part of your marketing plan should include ways in which you plan to track your marketing plan and determine its effectiveness.  You need to have a way to track sales to see if the strategy is in fact increasing your profits.  You also need to have ways in which you will obtain feedback from your consumers on how well you are doing, and how well they are satisfied with your product or service.  Any good marketing plan needs to have processes in place to be able to determine if the plan is successful.  The sooner you can spot an unsuccessful marketing plan, the sooner you can make alterations.

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