In her book, Success, Common Sense and the Small Business, Patricia Tway writes about an acquaintance who started his third business, the two previous had failed.  Patricia’s prediction was that the third business would fail as well.  She describes her friend as talented in manufacturing and industrial relations.  He has adequate financing and plenty of good help.  The reason his business is doomed, he doesn’t know who his customer is.  He does not have a Marketing Plan.

Marketing is the part of your business that communicates with the folks who may need or want your product or service. It helps your customers understand why your product or service is different and better than your competition. So, what goes into a Marketing Plan?

First, we need to clearly state the objective for this Marketing Plan. Is the purpose of the plan to promote your business or your current product line or just remind the market you are still in business? Maybe you want to announce a new or temporary pricing structure or introduce new products. The objective may be to reach new customers. Whatever the objective be sure to state it clearly so that the final plan will produce the results you want.

Next, complete a situation analysis, a snapshot of your business.  The situation analysis examines the strengths and weaknesses of your business.  If the objective of the plan is to grow the business, it’s important to know the business can support that growth.  The situation analysis should examine your competitive advantage as well. The situation analysis also looks at the opportunities and threats outside the business.  The idea here is to be able to take advantage of the potential opportunities and protect the business from the threats.

Once we have an idea of why we are creating this marketing plan we need to determine who are the people that may need your product or service? They are your market. They are the folks you want to reach with your message. It’s best to divide, also known as segment, the complete market into smaller units that are easier to address. Pick one of these segments whose members are most likely to purchase your product, are easy to reach and should not be expensive to reach. This is your Target Market. Everything in marketing is about your target market.

Finally look at your Marketing DNA. How will you describe the benefits of your product or service so your target market knows they will satisfy their needs or solve their problems? The price of your offering should fit the budget of your target market and make a profit at the same time. Your marketing plan should lay out how you will make your product available to your target market. Finally, your Marketing Plan needs to describe, using the information from above, the message you want to send to your market and how you will get this message to them. What media you use, newspaper, radio, bulk mail or email, will be determined by what you know about your target market and how they get their information. Maybe we’ll talk more about this next time.

Let me know your thoughts at eddavis@scorevolunteer.org.

Port Charlotte SCORE is a Chapter of The SCORE Association, dedicated to the formation, growth and success of small businesses by educating and mentoring entrepreneurs. Volunteers provide confidential business advice to meet the needs of both start-up and existing entrepreneurs at no cost. Request a mentor at www.portcharlotte.score.org. To learn how you can become a mentor contact Don Benjamin at donbenjamin1937@gmail.com or 941-249-4440. Follow us on Twitter; @charlottecscore

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