Business today does not happen based on chance. In fact, due to how insanely competitive businesses are these days, most start-ups don’t make it past their first year. For these and many more reasons, every business should have a solid business plan. A marketing plan includes numbers, facts, and objectives, but it is not primarily numerical; it is strategic. It is your plan of action — what you will sell, to whom you will sell it and how often, at what price, and how you handle distribution.
1. Define Your Product Or Service
Moreover, define how you will differentiate yourself from the competition that is currently out there. The more clearly and succinctly you describe your product in your marketing plan, the better you will communicate with your target customer. Markets and products have become extremely fragmented. For example, there are hundreds of special interest magazines, each targeted to a particular market segment. It’s the same with restaurants, cars, and retail clothing stores, to name a few industries. Positioning your product competitively requires an understanding of this fragmented market. Not only must you be able to describe your product, but you must also be able to describe your competitor’s product and show why yours is better.
2. Branding Also, Product Positioning
Of course, the success of products is not defined solely by their merits. Take, for example, Nike. Most people, when asked, have absolutely no idea what separates a Converse shoe from a Nike shoe. The answer is nothing at all, except an expensive brand name and a really expensive photoshoot with a famous basketball player.
Of course, even if you have a product with all the features people are looking for and a great brand name behind it, no one will buy it if the price is too high. Similarly, your distribution method, most commonly determined by where you locate your physical store (if you have a physical storefront model to your business), is critical. Many consumers won’t bother with you if it takes them too long to drive to. For example, people don’t mind paying more money for less food in the name of convenience — hence the fast food industry is formed.
3. What Is Your Target Market?
The final step is to define a profile of your target customers. You should be able to describe your customers in terms of demographics — age, sex, family composition, earnings, and geographical location — as well as lifestyle. Ask the following — Are my customers conservative or innovative? Leaders or followers? Timid or aggressive? Traditional or modern? Introverted or extroverted? How often do they purchase what I offer? How much of it at a time? Are there peak buying periods or times of the year when people won’t buy my product or service?
4. Education Strategy
You can’t rely upon word of mouth to get all your customers in the door. While this might work for existing users of a particular industry, you will also want to appeal to people that are brand new to your product or service. Even if you don’t make a sale, make sure that your customers clearly understand your product or service benefits and its benefits. This includes everything from how you package and brand your products to your PR department and advertising.
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