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Business Plan 101: The Marketing Strategy

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This part of the business plan is also known as the marketing strategy and explains the plan for your business’ marketing efforts and activities. This section will also describe who your customers are and how you will reach them to tell them about your products and services. In addition to an explanation of your products and services, this section will also explain your competitive analysis. Also included in this section is market segmentation, competitive analysis and other selling strategies.

These are the relevant sections in this part of the business plan:

Products and/or Services

The Products and/or Services section will focus on the uniqueness of your product or services (including features), and how your customers will benefit (tangible and intangible) from the use of your offerings. Finally, your Unique Selling Proposition (USP) is the message that you want your customers and clients to receive about your product or services and the building block for your marketing efforts. Your goal is to communicate accurately and effectively your USP to your target customers.

Pricing Strategy

The pricing strategy part of your marketing strategy explains your rationale for pricing your product or service. The price you charge has to be simultaneously competitive and allow you to make a reasonable profit. To determine what price you will charge you must take in to account what the consumer is willing to pay and the the cost of your products and services, estimating the benefits to your consumers and comparing your products, services, and prices to others that are similar. Also include your anticipated Return on Investment (ROI).

Sale & Distribution Plan

The goal of your marketing plan is to get your consumer to buy your products and/or services. This is the idea of the sales and distribution plan–to illustrate exactly how your clients are going to buy your products and services. The three parts that make up this section of the marketing plan are the (1) Outline of the distribution methods to be used (2) Outline the transaction process between your business and your customers (3) Your sales strategy.

1) Outline the distribution methods to be used 

Here are some questions that should help:

  • How exactly is your product or service going to get into the hands of the customer (e.g. distributed by mail or through a website)?
  • What is the distribution channel you are going to use?
  • What are the costs associated with distribution?
  • How long will it take for your product or service to get in the hands of your customer?
  • How are your products to be packaged for shipping and for display?
  • Does the packaging meet all regulatory requirements (such as labelling)?
  • Is the packaging appropriately coded, priced, and complementary to the product?
  • What minimum inventory levels must be maintained to ensure that there is no loss of sales due to problems such as late shipments and back orders?

2) Outline the transaction process between your business and your customers

Here are some questions that should help you develop this section:

  • What system will be used for processing orders, shipping, and billing?
  • What methods of payment will customers be able to use?
  • What credit terms will customers be offered? If you will offer discounts for early payment or impose penalties for late payment, they should be mentioned in this part of your marketing plan.
  • What is your return policy?
  • What warranties will the customer be offered? Describe these or any other service guarantees.
  • What after-sale support will you offer customers and what will you charge (if anything) for this support?
  • Is there a system for customer feedback so customer satisfaction (or the lack of it) can be tracked and addressed?

3) If it’s applicable to your business, outline your sales strategy

Here are some questions that should help you develop this section:

  • What types of salespeople will be involved (commissioned salespeople, product demonstrators, telephone solicitors, etc.)?
  • Describe your expectations of these salespeople and how sales effectiveness will be measured.
  • Will a sales training program be offered? If so, describe it in this section of the marketing plan.
  • Describe the incentives salespeople will be offered to encourage their achievements (such as getting new accounts, the most orders, etc.).

Advertising & Promotion Plan

The advertising and promotion section of the marketing plan explains how you are going to deliver your USP to your prospective clients and customers. First determine the message you want to send to your audience and then evaluate the best way to distribute this message. Then include what options you are picking, its cost, and how much business you are expecting to generate.

Options for promoting your USP

  • Marketing & Advertising
    • Social Media
    • Internet
    • Television
    • Radio
    • Newspapers
    • Magazines
    • Telephone book & directories
    • Billboards
    • Direct Mail
    • Cooperative advertising

In this section you can be as thorough as possible including the specific activities that you plan to do for your marketing and advertising including sales promotions like free samples, coupons, point of purchase displays and product demonstrations; marketing materials like brochures, business cards, pamphlets, handouts and flyers; publicity like product launches, special events, guest posts and testimonials; Web Site; and Tradeshows.

About Gresham Harkless Jr.

Profile photo of Gresham Harkless Jr.
Gresham Harkless is a Media Consultant for Blue 16 Media and the Blogger-in-Chief for CEO Blog Nation. CEO Blog Nation is a community of blogs for entrepreneurs and business owners. Started in much the same way as most small businesses, CEO Blog Nation captures the essence of entrepreneurship by allowing entrepreneurs and business owners to have a voice. CEO Blog Nation provides news, information, events and even startup business tips for entrepreneurs, startups and business owners to succeed.
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