Archive for the ‘ Business Startup 101 ’ Category

Developing Your Marketing Plan

Marketing Strategy

Last time, we mentioned the Marketing Plan as part of our 9 Easy Steps in Creating Your Business Plan.  Below is a brief overview of what a Marketing Plan is, why it is a quintessential part of a Business Plan, and the four most important points to keep in mind as you develop your own Marketing Plan.


What is A Marketing Plan?

A Marketing Plan is merely a part of an overall business plan and usually takes up six pages for a small business.  It describes the current market position of a business and the marketing strategy for the period covered, which is usually one year.  A good Marketing Plan should clearly show the steps that will be undertaken to achieve the marketing objective.

A typical Marketing Plan might include a description of the service/product being offered, any special features, the marketing budget, the business location, pricing strategy, the demand for the service/product, the advantages and disadvantages for marketing, the description of the competing businesses, and the strengths and weaknesses from a market standpoint of both the business itself and its competitors.


Steps to Follow in Creating Your Marketing Plan

1.  Prepare your Marketing Plan within at least two months.
2.  Put your Marketing Plan in a three-ring binder and refer to it once every month.  Put in your monthly sales reports to allow you to track your company’s performance as you follow the (one year) plan.
3.  Let all the key players in your company thoroughly read it, and get a feedback from each one of them.  They can provide realistic input on which goals are achievable and how they can be achieved, as well as potentials and opportunities for the business.
4.  If you’re a one-person management operation, then it won’t hurt to consult with other marketing experts to review your Marketing Plan.

*Remember, a Marketing Plan must be updated every year to address changes in costs, market conditions and demand, etc.


A Guide To Creating Your Business Plan

Business Plan

No business will and can ever survive without a Business Plan.  Be it a good one or a somewhat poor one, at least there IS a plan.  Writing down all your ideas and plans (for a potential business) gives you a chance for review and introspection, as well as for communicating your visions and goals to other people in order to get them to visualize and believe in what you are presenting so that they may either join your team or invest in your business.

You don’t have to be an expert in business writing to create a good Business Plan.  In fact, regardless of how simple or otherwise extravagant the presentation is, what will matter most is the accuracy of the data and information being presented and the clarity of the point you wish to convey.

What is a Business Plan?

A Business Plan is probably the most important business document you will need to prepare before you start your business.  It should give a clear overview of what your business is all about, what specific services you are offering.  It outlines your goals, expected costs, marketing strategy and exit strategy.  It is the main company document by which employees and business owners gauge the company’s success and use to review and rearrange priorities if necessary.  It is what lenders and investors (banks, lending firms, etc.) use in deciding to lend you money.

Creating Your Business Plan in 9 Easy Steps

1.  Write an executive summary outlining your goals and objectives.
2.  Write a brief account of how your company began.  Clearly explain the origins behind your company’s creation and how you came up with the idea to start your business.
3.  Write your goals, short- term and long-term.  How fast do you think your business will grow?  Who will be your primary clients?
4.  Include biographies of the Management Team.  Names and backgrounds of key members and their respective responsibilities.
5.  Clearly state the service/product you plan to offer and how your service/product differs from what’s being offered by your competitors.
6.  Explain the market potential of your service/product.  You have to convince people that the market you’re after is large and growing, and the market potential, lucrative.  You’ll need to do a lot of reserach in order to accurately assess the demand.
7.  Write your Marketing Plan.  How do you plan to tell the world about your business?  Are you going to advertise in print, television, web, search engine listing?  How much money do you intend to spend on all your marketing efforts?
8.  Give a 3 to 5 year financial projection – a summary of your financial forecasts.  This will mostly consist of balance sheets, income statements, cashflow projections.  The assumptions that you’ll make in this section will make or break your company’s success, so again, do your homework really well and research, reserach, research.
9.  Write an exit strategy.  All good business plans include a section that lays out the benchmarks you’ll use in deciding to call it quits.  As the saying goes, “Expect the best, but prepare for the worst”.

*If you intend to present your Business Plan to potential lenders and investors, it would be a wise investment to hire a professional or ask a friend who is good at business writing to help you create your Business Plan.