Marketing plan

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Marketing Plan

When writing the business plan, the marketing plan section explains how you're going to get your customers to buy your products and/or services. The marketing plan, then, will include sections detailing the:

• Products and/or Services and your Unique Selling Proposition
• Pricing Strategy
• Sales/Distribution Plan
• Advertising and Promotions Plan

Products and/orServices
This part of the marketing plan focuses on the uniqueness of your product or service, and how the customer will benefit from using the products or services you're offering. Use these questions to write a paragraph summarizing these aspects for your marketing plan:
• What are the features of your product or service?
• Describe the physical attributes of your product or service, and any otherrelevant features, such as what it does, or how your product or service differs from competitive products or services.
• How will your product or service benefit the customer?

Remember that benefits can be intangible as well as tangible; for instance, if you're selling a cleaning product, your customers will benefit by having a cleaner house, but they may also benefit by enjoying betterhealth. Brainstorm as many benefits as possible to begin with, and then choose to emphasize the benefits that your targeted customers will most appreciate in your marketing plan.

What is it that sets your product or service apart from all the rest? In other words, what is your Unique Selling Proposition, the message you want your customers to receive about your product or service that is the heartof your marketing plan? The marketing plan is all about communicating this central message to your customers.

Pricing Strategy
The pricing strategy portion of the marketing plan involves determining how you will price your product or service; the price you charge has to be competitive but still allow you to make a reasonable profit.

The keyword here is "reasonable"; you can charge any priceyou want to, but for every product or service there's a limit to how much the consumer is willing to pay. Your pricing strategy needs to take this consumer threshold into account.

The most common question small business people have about the pricing strategy section of the marketing plan is, "How do you know what price to charge?"

Basically you set your pricing through a process ofcalculating your costs, estimating the benefits to consumers, and comparing your products, services, and prices to others that are similar. Set your pricing by examining how much it cost you to produce the product or service and adding a fair price for the benefits that the customer will enjoy. Examining what others are charging for similar products or services will guide you when you're figuring out whata "fair" price for such benefits would be.

The pricing strategy you outline in your marketing plan will answer the following questions:

• What is the cost of your product or service? Make sure you include all your fixed and variable when you're calculating this; the cost of labor and materials are obvious, but you may also need to include freight costs, administrative costs, and/or sellingcosts, for example.

• How does the pricing of your product or service compare to the market price of similar products or services?

• Explain how the pricing of your product or service is competitive. For instance, if the price you plan to charge is lower, why are you able to do this? If it's higher, why would your customer be willing to pay more? This is where the "strategy" part of thepricing strategy comes into play; will your business be more competitive if you charge more, less, or the same as your competitors and why?

• What kind of ROI (Return on Investment) are you expecting with this pricing strategy, and within what time frame?

Sales and Distribution Plan
Remember, the primary goal of the marketing is to get people to buy your products or services. The Sales and...
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