Preparing a Marketing Plan for your product or service is a real eye-opening experience. While we all hope that our product or service will appeal to the masses, the truth is, that may not happen. Assembling a Marketing Plan first and foremost forces you to clearly define what you are selling. From there, you define the demographics of the market for your product or services.
You research on-going or upcoming trends in the industry, your existing and potential competition and whether or not the market is already saturated. And the time to analyze this valuable information is before you spend money opening the door to your new business venture. A marketing plan is one valuable tool that will help your business survive, the following are four essential marketing plan components.
Analyze the Market
This section plays an important role in determining who will purchase your product or service, and why. You need to identify such attributes as gender, age group, where they live, their buying habits and their social values. This section also has you look at the current economic climate including upcoming changes in laws or technology that might impact the delivery and/or reception of your product or service. It’s also important to take a close look at your competition whether it’s around the block or around the globe. The more you know about your competition the better prepared you are to deal with it. Know their hours of operation, their organizational structure, their promotions, their advertising outlets, whatever you can find out.
Identify Marketing Goals and Objectives
With the information about your target market and your competition in hand, you can better outline your marketing goals and the steps to take to achieve these goals. Identify what you think are your company’s strength and weaknesses, and the resources you have available including staff and finances. Committing your goals and the steps to a calendar will help keep your marketing efforts on track and provide you with direction.
Define Marketing Strategies
Before you can determine how you will market your product or service, you’ve got to put together a features and benefits list, including what it has that the competition lacks. You need a price point, packaging, and you need to decide if and how much you are willing to offer as a discount. All of this will help you properly position it in the marketplace. This information is the foundation upon which all your marketing and promotional materials are created. Next determine the various sources available for marketing your product or service. Some ideas include print ads, brochures, web banners, your own web site, trade show exhibits, partnership opportunities and promotional flyers.
Implementing and Evaluating Marketing Programs
The final two components are equally important. You’ve got to define a marketing budget, determine how you want to spend it and evaluate its effectiveness. Besides the marketing avenue, decide whether or not you need to hire employees, and what training they will need. Determine how you will motivate your employees, including your management, so that they share your goals and vision. Evaluating your marketing programs is just as important as the other steps. You may find you need to revise your marketing efforts including lowering the price, highlighting different features, even selecting different marketing programs.
An effective marketing plan is one that is regularly updated. If the thought of creating a Marketing Plan has you overwhelmed, get yourself marketing plan software. Using software will save you time because the software knows the right questions to ask. You fill in the answers as necessary, push some buttons, and before you know it, you’ll be printing a professional-quality Marketing Plan that will chart your company’s future!