Marketing Resources Directory - Marketing Plan


What does a Marketing Plan contain?

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Many first-time business owners think that by simply placing an ad in a local newspaper or a commercial on a radio or a television station, customers will automatically flock to purchase their product or service. This is true to a certain extent. Some people are likely to learn about your product or service and try it, just out of curiosity. But hundreds, even thousands, of other potential customers may never learn of your business. Just think of the money you'll lose, simply because you didn't develop an adequate marketing program.

Marketing is an essential part of business operations. And, it oftentimes determines how successful your business will be. What you as a potential business owner must do is maintain a thorough understanding of the marketing program, and use it to extract advantages from the marketplace. Go over the strategies and techniques until you understand how to apply them to get the results you desire. Remember, your aim is not only to attract and keep a steady group of loyal customers, but also to expand your customer base by identifying and attracting, new customers and to reduce risks by anticipating market shifts that can affect your bottom line.

To help you accomplish this aim, your marketing plan should include strategies typical of any marketing plan. The plan should especially include what marketeers dub as the 4 P's of Marketing (PRODUCT/SERVICE, PRICE, PLACE AND PROMOTION). Review your plan. Make certain it contains the strategies listed below, then determine how these strategies are applied. Include a brief explanation for each strategy.

Describe the Target Market by:

  • Age
  • Sex
  • Profession / Career
  • Income Level
  • Educational Level
  • Residence

Identify and describe your customers (target market) by their age, sex, income/educational levels, profession/career and residence. Know your customers better than you know anyone—their likes, dislikes, expectations. Since you will have limited resources target only those customers who are more likely to purchase your product or service. As your franchise grows and your customer base expands, then, you may need to consider modifying this section of the marketing plan to include other customers.

Identify Competition

  • market research data
  • demand for product or service
  • nearest direct and indirect competitors
  • strengths and weaknesses of competitors
  • assessment of how competitors businesses are doing
  • description of the unique features of your product or service
  • similarities and dissimilarities between your product or service and competitor's
  • pricing strategy for and comparison of yours and the competition's

Identify the five nearest direct competitors and the indirect competitors. Start a file on each identifying their weaknesses and strengths. Keep files on their advertising and promotional materials and their pricing strategies. Review these files periodically determining when and how often they advertise, sponsor promotions and offer sales.

Describe Product / Service

  • Describe your product or service

Try to describe the benefits of your goods or services from your customer's perspective. Emphasize its special features--i.e., the selling points. Successful business owners know or at least have an idea of what their customers what or expect from them. This type of anticipation can be helpful in building customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Develop Marketing Budget

  • advertising and promotional plan
  • costs allocated for advertising and promotions
  • advertising and promotional materials
  • list of advertising media to be used

Operating an effective marketing plan requires money, so you will have to allocate funds from your operating budget to cover advertising, promotional and all other costs associated with marketing. Develop a marketing budget based on the cost for the media you will use, and the cost for collecting research data and monitoring shifts in the marketplace.

Describe Location (Place)

  • description of the location
  • advantages and disadvantages of location

Again, try to describe the location of your business from your customer's perspective. Describe its assets -- i.e., the convenience, whether or not public transportation is accessible, the safety aspects--street lighting, well lit parking lot or facility, decor, etc. Your location should be built around your customers, it should be accessible and should provide a sense of security. An advantage of purchasing a franchise is the franchiser oftentimes assist in site selection and decorating.

Develop Pricing Strategy

  • pricing techniques and brief description of these techniques
  • retail costing and pricing
  • competitive position
  • pricing below competition
  • pricing above competition
  • price lining
  • multiple pricing
  • service costs and pricing (for service businesses only)
  • service components
  • material costs
  • labor costs
  • overhead costs

Although your pricing strategy may be based on the strategy devised by others, you should study this plan and the strategies used by competitors. That way you will acquire a thorough understanding of how to price your product or service, and you can determine if your prices are in line with competitors, if they are in line with industry averages and what adjustments you can make to bring them in line.

The key to success is to have an well-planned strategy, to establish your policies and to constantly monitor prices and operating costs to ensure profits. Keep abreast of changes in the marketplace because these changes can affect your bottom line.

Develop an Effective Promotional Strategy

  • advertising media
  • print media (newspaper, magazine, classified ads, Yellow Pages advertising, brochure)
  • radio
  • television
  • networking
  • business cards
  • tee shirts, hats, buttons, pens

Develop a promotional strategy that uses various media for promoting your business. Monitor the different media identifying those that most effectively promote your business. Concentrate on developing material for these formats that clearly identifies your goods or services, its location and price.

Since financial institutions weigh the soundness of your marketing plan when deciding whether your business is a good risk for their money, it is important that you prepare and present credible market data that shows there is a need in the community for your business and that demonstrates your ability to compete successfully.







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