Writing a Business Plan: The Marketing Plan Section

This is the 6th post in our “Writing a Business Plan” series.

After you’ve done the marketing analysis, you’re probably ready for writing the marketing plan. If you’re like me, it was probably difficult (and slightly annoying) to stop yourself from including specific marketing tactics in the analysis section. Well, the Marketing Plan section is where you can describe, organize, and plan the tactics you’ll use to sell your products. This won’t be a complete Marketing Plan–that’s a whole document itself.

This section is a condensed version that focuses on reasons rather than implementation.

What You Getbusinessplanchalk

This section will help you determine the most effective methods for creating and increasing your sales. You’ll use all the research from the previous section to create your plan, so all that work won’t go to waste.  Honestly, one of the most valuable benefits of writing this chapter is that it will be like a summary for your full-fledged corporate Marketing Plan.

This section should give you an actual plan of action when you start your marketing and sales efforts.  When you have a marketing decision to make in the future, you should be able to open this section of your business plan and determine the best choice.

What To Include

After all that research and analysis, you can now put it to good use. You’ll want to outline this section by listing out every possible marketing and sales tactic that you thought of while writing the analysis section.  In the list, you should include as much detail as possible. You can include things your competitors have tried, things you don’t like, and techniques you think will work

What you should probably start with is a detailed description of your specific target market. Note, there’s no “s” at the end of that market.  It’s singular because it’s your product’s first, most-important, and most probable customers. If you think you have multiple target markets, pick the “best” one. That’s tricky, because you have to define “best,” but usually it comes down to which one will be easiest to reach, cheapest to convert to paying customers (lowest customer acquisition cost), and the quickest to start purchasing my product.  You can mention the others, but focus the rest of this section on that single primary target market. It’s even a good idea to explain why you’ve chosen them as your target market, and are using the other targets for future growth.  You should include demographic information to support your reasoning.

Once you’ve defined your target market, it will make the tactics sub-section easier to write. You’ll have the ability to focus your plan on the methods that will work specifically for the target. Don’t underestimate this advantage.  Reaching several thousand people is much easier and cheaper than trying to reach several million.

Your tactics could include things like specific advertising campaigns on Google AdWords, industry trade show attendance or booths, direct sales techniques, and anything else that describes how you’ll make contact with your potential customers. I can’t say it enough: be specific.  Never include a tactic of “Social Media.”   That is not a marketing strategy or tactic. Writing a tactic that uses Facebook directed ads to focus on age/location/gender and interest is a much more useful plan.SC2forweb1

Don’t forget that this section isn’t written in stone. It’s very likely that some tactics won’t work at all. Expect to experiment to find what works and what doesn’t. It’s a matter of keeping focus and learning from past decisions.  If you have dynamic tactics, it makes the strategies more clear.

What The Reader Wants

The investors reading this section will want to know how you’re going to turn their investment dollars into customers and revenue.  If your proforma describe a marketing budget of $500K, you better be able to show exactly how, where, and why you’re spending that money, and if you’re going to turn it directly into revenue.  Listing out private concerts and “social media” will not keep them interested. They want to see a specific plan.

Steve Cook

Coming up next: Operations and Organization

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