In order to write an effective Marketing Plan, you’ll need to answer three underlying questions. The first two questions stem from market research, and the answers will be included in the Customer Analysis section of the business plan you’re creating. The third question stems from the first two, and the answer will be set forth in the Marketing Plan section.
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Answering these three basic questions is a bit like learning how to be a good marksman.
1. Who are your target customers? Research your target market, and then combine your results with the market research performed by a reputable research firm you hire. Have a precise understanding of what your target customers buy, but also be familiar with their income levels, how many vehicles they own, where they live, their occupations, how many employees they have, and so on. The more you know about your customer demographics (and psychographics), the better off you will be. This information will enable you to develop a reasonably accurate estimate of the number of customers in your target market. And venture capitalists and other investors love seeing hard data about customer segments.
2. What do your target customers need but don’t have? Once again, the answer lies in market research. Identifying the products or services your target customers have purchased in the past and are relevant to the needs your business fulfills can give you some clues. You can also use a research service that can discover whether your target customers would be likely to buy your product or service. Armed with this information, you can estimate how many customers might be apt to switch to your product or service, if they were able to do so.
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3. How can you give your target customers what they need? You’ll need to affirmatively reach out to potential customers, but you’ll also need to make it easy for them to reach out to your business. Your Marketing Plan comes into play at this point. You learned a lot while you were creating the Customer Analysis section of your business plan, and you can use that information to reach your target customers where they live.
These three easy steps will give you a compelling marketing strategy that’s capable of penetrating your industry and allowing you to stake your claim to your target market.