Wednesday, April 17, 2013
A marketing plan is a necessary step in starting a business or launching a new product, as it enables you to identify the costs, time and effort you will need to invest in your business if you want it to succeed.
Your marketing mission will be to:
Identify your target market
Determine who your intended customers are by age, sex, ethnicity, level of education and income bracket, place of residence and work, spending habits, and career. Begin with customers who are almost certain to be interested in your product, and only once your business has seen some growth, consider including those interest is not that assured.
Identify your competition
Look for companies in your area that offer similar products, and research which of these products are most popular and why. You’re trying to uncover the weaknesses and strengths of your competitors, as well as determine which businesses are doing well and which are unsuccessful. Having inspected the products produced by your competitors, identify the features of your own product that are unique and that may be emphasised in your marketing strategy. Keep a file on each of your competitors, which should include their product pricing, marketing materials, and any relevant information about them, and be sure to stay abreast of what they are doing at all times.
Describe your product
From a client’s viewpoint, determine the attractive qualities your product embodies that can be used as selling points. What features make it preferable to other similar products, and how do these features satisfy the buyer’s needs? Ask buyers for input on how the product could be altered to better satisfy their needs.
Formulating a market budget
This budget needs to account for costs associated with promotions and advertising, such as the required materials, and for the mediums of advertising to be used. You may determine the scale of your market strategy according to your operating budget, or set accrue marketing funds over a period of time until the fund meets your intended budget.
Study the pricing of your competitors. It is imperative to price your products in the same region of your competitors. Do your overhead costs permit this? Have you managed to keep production costs low enough to render selling prices on a level with your competitors? If not you may need to source cheaper suppliers, and look for ways to economise on the manufacturing process.
Formulate a promotional strategy
What is the best way to reach your target market? Some research into the behavioural patterns of your intended consumer at this stage is wise. Will you reach them best via printed media, television, radio, internet or networking, or a combination of them all?
No matter what your industry, you need a marketing plan if you want to attract customers. It can be simple or it can be complex, the important thing is that it needs to reflect your target market’s needs.
Jay Ruger writes for The Tangled Web, which provides marketingadvice, including PR, the importance of web development, and online and offline marketing.