Marketing Business Plan Section: Parts of a Business Plan

You use your business plan to find investors or capital and to give you a roadmap to success. So the better the business plan, the better chance you have of raising capital and enjoying a successful business. This week, we'll look at the marketing plan component.

For many people, the marketing plan is easily one of the largest sections of the business plan. While the management team section or the financial plan section might share the same level of importance as the marketing plan, there is arguably much more detail that needs to go into the marketing plan. Here are the things you’ll want to make sure are covered.

  1. Who is your competition?
  2. What makes them your competition?
  3. Who is your competition’s target market?
  4. How does your competition reach that market?
  5. What kinds of products or services is your competition offering and at what price?
  6. What are their product’s strengths and weaknesses?
  7. How is your product similar or different to what is already in the marketplace today?
  8. How will it be priced?
  9. What will the profit margin look like?
  10. How will the product be stored when it’s not being sold (and are there theft or wastage concerns)?
  11. Who is your target market?
  12. How is your market the same or different than your competitions’?
  13. How do you plan on marketing your product?
  14. How will you specifically market your product this year, in two years, in 5 years, and in 10 years?
  15. How is your marketing going to be different than your closest competitor’s?
  16. What are the costs of your marketing programs for the coming year?
  17. Do you have a contingency plan in case your product doesn’t sell?
  18. Using industry and historical information, forecast your sales in both units sold and dollars earned.
  19. What are the upselling and ancillary sales opportunities?
  20. What are the promotions you have lined up to help you move your product?
  21. What will you do in the first critical 90 days of business to get your name out there?
  22. Aside from direct promotions, what types of indirect marketing will you do (i.e., public speaking, signage, etc.)
  23. What is the general industry forecast in the next decade?
  24. During industry downturns, how do you plan to “stay above water”?

You do not have to deal with these issues in this order but it is important to deal with most of these issues at some point in your marketing plan.

Remember, a truly successful marketing plan is not one written in stone. Rather, it is one that is flexible according to changing times. Business’ marketing looks dramatically different today than it did 10 years ago. For example, notice how many businesses changed their marketing strategies and specific promotions in the months following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001: Aside from continuing to sell their products, many also gave condolences to victims’ families and best wishes to the onsite rescue teams. Successful businesses understand that the winds of the world can blow in a different direction unexpectedly at a moment’s notice and they deal with it right away.

Your marketing plan will allow you to prepare for those major changes by helping you to understand your industry very well. On a regular basis – for example, every 90 days or at least annually – you should consider reviewing your marketing plan and making changes.

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