The marketing plan of a small business reveals the ways and methods adopted to reach out to new customers and persuade existing ones to buy more of the product on offer. It contains targets and goals, and the way to reach them. Effective marketing strategies definitely revolve around a clear cut marketing plan. A marketing plan may be prepared for a year, six months or any other period considered appropriate for the small business. There are short term and long term marketing plans as well, which list the short term gains expected and the long term impact of the marketing strategy. The marketing plan is similar to a roadmap guiding the path towards higher sales, larger customer base, and finally, higher profits and growth.
The task of the marketing plan is to assist with:
- Identifying new customers
- Listing the customers offering the brightest prospects to the small business
- Evaluating the market for the industry
- Analyzing the position of the small business in this product market
- Understanding what is required to make customers buy
The marketing plan has to provide the direction the business is heading. It has to be focused and be able to delineate clear cut goals. Above all it has to make an impact in the market by positioning the product in a manner that it can command an exclusive clientele.
The Practical Marketing Plan
A marketing plan has to be grounded and framed according to the requirements of the business. The best marketing plan may be inappropriate or inapplicable for the small business or product it is marketing. Therefore it must be practical and provide the perfect fit for the business and its market. It must have the following:
- Product positioning is the first task that needs to be addressed and the marketing plan must elaborate on this is going to be accomplished. It may involve product promotion strategies, competitive pricing, advertising and media coverage. The aim is to place the right product in the right place at the right time and at the right price. This is the biggest marketing challenge for the small business.
- Pricing is an essential part of the marketing plan-the pricing policy adopted must be such that does not focus on short term high sales volume, but instead, concentrates on higher profits.
- Customer profile-the marketing plan must be customer centered, as to who the customers are, their needs, what they are using presently and how they would switch to the new product, their thoughts and perceptions about the products and so on.
- The product strengths and weaknesses especially in comparison to the other similar products.
The Plan Draft should have the following sections:
- A market summary with the position of the small business in it
- The targets set to be accomplished in a specific time period covered by the plan
- The markets to be tapped during the time
- Strategy for various market segments
- Expenses involved and resources available
- Marketing channels like the materials and distribution channels to be used
- Strategies to meet competition from rival companies and products
- Result tracking listing the achievements of the marketing team in the past.
Once the marketing plan is ready, the job is not over, but has only begun as newer challenges in the form of new market situations appear.