Let's explore the four elements that together create your marketing strategy. In this part of your business plan you’ll need to:
Identify your target market
Decide a pricing structure
Explain your marketing/promotional plans
Evaluate the competition
Let’s look at each of these in a little more detail.
1. Identify your ‘target market’
Ask yourself these questions:
Why is my product/service necessary?
Does it fill a gap in the market?
Your first step is to answer with a story. We all love a good story, and it also happens to be the best way to keep a reader interested in what you have to say. Here’s a great example:
‘We started Innocent in 1999 after selling our smoothies at a music festival. We put up a big sign asking people if they thought we should give up our jobs to make smoothies, and put a bin saying 'Yes' and a bin saying 'No" in front of the stall. Then we got people to vote with their empties. At the end of the weekend, the 'Yes' bin was full, so we resigned from our jobs the next day and got cracking.’ Innocent Drinks team
It immediately draws us in because it humanises a business story. It’s also short, to the point and we read on because we want to know what happened. Content marketing specialist, Margot da Cuhna’s business storytelling advice can provide tips on how to do this.
This is simply a lead-in to talk about your customers in more detail. You’ll need to:
Say who they are (age, gender, interests, income)
How you’ll solve their problem or need
(ie how does your product/service benefit them)
Why they’ll buy from you
To be concise and break up the text, use a graph or pie chart to communicate some of the information. Here’s a simple pie chart I created in Word 2010 to show who my freelance training clients would likely be:
I briefly explained the chart’s percentage breakdown to clarify it further, then explained how I’d come to these conclusions. Quick. Easy. Job done!
2. Choose a ‘pricing structure’
The truth is you can set whatever price you want. But realistically, every product and service has its price limit. You’ll need to consider the following:
How will your product/service benefit your customer
Your market positioning
Your business costs
What your product is worth to your customer
What your competitors charge
How much profit you need to make
3. Explain your marketing and promotional plans
People often confuse the terms marketing and promotion, so watch author and business coach Michael La Ronn’s short video to hear how he explains the difference between the two.
You’ll need to be clear on what methods you’ll use to both market and promote your product or service. Here are a few suggestions to help you plan.
Ways to market
Create a website/blog
Internet banner ads
Ways to promote
4. Evaluate the competition
This is where you’ll do some market research and show that you know and understand your competitors. If you don’t know them, it will be impossible to stand out. You need to find out:
Who they are
What they do well (and not so well!)
The quality of their work
What challenges they may have faced
How and where they sell
Depending on the nature of your business, this information may be hard to come by. But don’t think this means you have no competition. There’s always someone else offering either something very similar or exactly the same as you.
Use Google to find and check out your competitor’s websites, call them to ask their pricing, follow them on social media to see what they’re saying about themselves or their products.