Everything rise and fall in the sales & marketing section of your business plan. A great idea is meaningless when you cannot find customers.
You need to define what you’re selling, at what price(s), from where, and how you’re going to spread the word. Begin with the fundamentals of your marketing plan.
State target market segments you wish to penetrate, how you plan to do this (e.g. through retail, mail order, multi-level marketing, the Internet) and the period for capturing a specific percentage of the market share.
Your sales & marketing strategies should include the following:
1. Positioning Strategy
Here you will include the strategy you will use to place your product vis-à-vis competitors. It will detail how you are positioning your business and your product/service that you are offering. Positioning is how you present your business to your customers.
Some of the common product positioning strategies include:
Positioning with the competitor (head-to-head comparisons, differential advantage) – What features or benefits do you offer that your competitors don’t?
Positioning with a product class or attribute (e.g. low energy consumption, environmentally friendly, efficient, time saver) – How are your competitors positioning themselves?
Positioning with target market – What are your customers’ primary needs and wants?
Positioning by price and quality (high-quality, low-price leader, luxury) – How do you plan on differentiating from the competition? In other words, why should a customer choose you instead of someone else?
Repositioning (gives old product new image) – Where do you see your company in the landscape of other solutions?
Describe how your product/service is designed and tailored to meet the needs of your target customer and how it will compete in your target market
What specific product/service features meet the needs of your customers?
What differentiates your product in your target market?
How does it differ from that of your competitors?
What are the strengths of your product/service? what are its weaknesses?
Why will customers in your target market buy your product and not the competitions?
How will you differentiate yourself from your competitors?
Why will customers switch to or select your product?
How quickly and how effectively can competitors respond to your business?
What’s the life’s cycle of your product?
What is the market size for your product?
3. Pricing Strategy
Immediately you are done with your positioning and product strategy, one of the most important decisions you must make in a business plan is what price to charge for what product/services. Your positioning strategy will repeatedly be the main driver of how you price your product/services.
Pricing determines many things, from your profit margin per unit to your overall sales volume. It influences decisions in other areas, such as what level of service you will offer and how much you will spend on marketing.
Pricing must be a process you conduct concurrently with other jobs, including estimating sales volume, determining market trends and calculating costs.
Determining your price can feel more like an art than a science, but there are some basic rules that you should follow:
Your pricing should cover your costs.
Your first price may not be your primary profit center.
Your prices need to match up with consumer demand and expectations. Price too high and you may have no customers. Price too low and people may undervalue your offering.
Your pricing can be based on several factors. Looking at your costs and then mark up your offering from there. This is usually called “cost-plus pricing” and can be effective for manufacturers where covering initial costs is critical.
Another method is to look at the current landscape of competitors and then price based on what the market is expecting. You could price at the high-end or low-end of the market to set up your positioning.
4. Distribution Channel
A distribution channel consists of the set of people and processes involved in the transfer of a product from producer to ultimate consumer.
Every industry has different distribution channels and the best way to create your distribution plan is to interview others in your industry to figure out what their distribution model is to describe your distribution strategy and explain why it is the best for your marketplace.
This can be very simple: Retailers and many service businesses (restaurants, personal services, business services) rely primarily on location.
For manufacturers, conventional distribution systems have three steps: producer, wholesaler, and retailer. You may occupy or sell to members of any one of these steps.
Begin by providing the distribution channels your business will use and how they are good fits for your end users.
Then point out the distribution channels used by your competition and the reasons why your choice of distribution channels is helpful for you.
Here are a few common distribution models that you may consider for your business:
Direct: A direct channel of distribution describes a situation in which the producer sells a product directly to a consumer without the help of intermediaries.
Indirect: This is a chain of businesses or intermediaries through which a good or service passes until it reaches the end consumer. It can include wholesalers, retailers, distributors and even the internet itself.
Manufacturers’ representatives: Here the salesperson works as a representative agency to the mother company. They typically work based on commission
Original Equipment Manufacturer: This is where the manufacturer of a certain product sells to another company who will, in turn, reassemble the product into finished good before selling it to the end users.
5. Promotion and Advertising Strategy
How you advertise and promote your products and services is crucial to gaining acceptance in the market and successfully generating a profitable sales volume.
A promotion plan details how you plan on communicating with your prospects and customers. Not all promotions are suitable for all products, of course, so your plan should select the ones that will work best for you, explain why they were chosen, and tell how you’re going to use them.
The promotion aims to tell, persuade, and remind customers to buy your products. It uses a mix that includes four elements: advertising, personal selling, sales promotion, and publicity or public relations.
Here are a few areas that you might consider as part of your promotional plan:
Does your packaging match your positioning strategy?
How does your packaging communicate your key value proposition?
How does your packaging compare to your competition?
What kind of advertising are you looking to use?
How will the business advertise and promote its product or service?
How will the business communicate with its customers?
Will you be advertising online? Or perhaps in traditional media?
Others include Public relations, Content marketing, Social media etc.
6. Strategic alliances
As part of your marketing plan, you may rely on working closely with another company in a form of partnership. This partnership may help provide access to a target market segment for your company while allowing your partner to offer a new product or service to their customers.
7. Sales Strategy
Depending on your business, a strong sales team may be a critical part of your success. Remember: “nothing happens until the sale is made.” An effective sales strategy is critically important for most manufacturers, publishers, software firms, and many service providers. Do not overlook the importance of formulating an effective sales strategy.
8. Sales Forecasts
Now that you have described your products, services, customers, markets, and marketing plans in detail, it is time to attach some numbers to your plan. Prepare a month-by-month sales forecast for a projected twelve-month period. The forecast should be based on your historical sales, the marketing strategies that you have just described, market research, and industry data if available.
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