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The marketing plan

One of the things that will help make your business a success is an effective marketing plan.

The plan needs to include some or all of these elements:

  • Getting more customers
  • Increasing sales revenue
  • Getting customers to buy from you more often
  • Customer retention.

Ideally, your plan needs to be short and clear.

To create it you should:

Define your market

You’ll need to consider the following:

  • Who is your target customer?
  • Are there any gaps in the market?
  • Are these gaps sizable enough to make money from?
  • How much of the market do you need to break even?
  • Is the market saturated, too many competitors?
  • Do your competitors have any weak points and can you exploit them?
  • Does your target customer really want what you have to offer?

Define your customer type

You will need to know:

  • Who your customers are – age, gender, etc. who buys?
  • Their needs. You could do a market research plan and find out what they want, e.g. older customers may need different products to younger people.
  • What will persuade them to buy from you?
  • Are their emotional or lifestyle factors involved?
  • Are you selling to individuals or businesses? Individuals may not be predictable and can have limited budgets. Businesses usually have a bigger budget and greater stability. However, in times of economic downturn both sets can have tighter budgets.

Identify your niche

It’s better to sell a lot to a small audience than a little to a big audience. So, you’ll end up with less competition and a greater share of that audience. How will you get this niche in the market and keep it?

Define your message

Explain what you’re selling and persuade people to buy it.

There are two sorts of message. One short and to the point (usually called “the elevator pitch”), which is about 30 seconds long. The second is a lengthier complete plan, including such things as your target customer's problem and how you can solve it, customer testimonials, your pricing and payment policy and your guarantee.

Identify what media you will use to sell your product

How will you sell your product? Use the best way for the lowest cost. Examples are: social media, TV and radio adverts, trade shows, leaflets, press articles, email and website links.

Decide on your routes to market

How are you going to distribute or get your product to the buyer? Mail order, e-commerce, sales agents or other distributors?

Set sales targets

They should S.M.A.R.T.

  • Specific (i.e. setting a target of getting 10 new customers)
  • Measurable (you can check to see if your targets been reached)
  • Achievable (you need the resources of people and money)
  • Realistic (targets should motivate and not be so unattainable that they de-motivate)
  • Time-defined (i.e. 10 customers in the next year)

They can also be reviewed and adjusted.

Decide on a marketing budget

Define a marketing budget - how much to spend, when and what on?

Carry out market research

Look at other companies doing the same thing as you, how do they operate? Are they making a profit? What are their costs? This gives you an idea of the potential market and profitability of your area.

Business and Learning offer a range of market research tools, both printed and online, including Keynote and Mintel market research reports.

Carry out a SWOT / PEST analysis

SWOT is Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. (ie strengths - people, weaknesses - limited cash flow).

PEST is Political, legal changes (new laws), Economics (ie interest rates), Social Factors (i.e. changing attitudes, lifestyles), Technology (internet use).

All these need to be taken into consideration.

Identify your business aims and objectives

Remind yourself of what your business does, your key targets, your strategy to achieve those targets. Ensure that your marketing plan fits in with your business strategy as laid down in your business plan.

Your marketing plan is not set in stone and can be adjusted as your business grows and develops. Above all make your plan simple and clear.

For further advice on producing your marketing plan, speak to a Business Advisor. Telephone the Library of Birmingham on 0121 242 4242 for further information.

Visit the Chartered Institute of Marketing website for additional information.

Page last updated: 23 February 2024

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