One of the larger sections of any business plan, the marketing plan explains to your reader what you are going to sell, how much you will charge, how you will position and promote your product or service, and what sales channels you plan to use.
The marketing plan accomplishes this by introducing your unique selling proposition (USP), your pricing strategy, your sales and distribution plan, and finally, your advertising and promotions plan. If you’re developing the marketing plan as a standalone piece, we recommend including details on your target market and market analysis.
Here is how to write the marketing plan of a business plan.
Unique Selling Proposition
Your Unique Selling Proposition or USP describes what sets your product or service apart from the rest, because of its features and tangible and intangible benefits. Your USP should be short and concise. We recommend under a sentence. Think Domino’s Pizza (“We deliver hot, fresh pizza in 30 minutes or less, or it’s free”) or M&M’s (“The milk chocolate melts in your mouth, not in your hand).
Pricing and Positioning Strategy
Your pricing and position strategy outlines how you will price your product or service to be competitive, and carry a reasonable profit that takes the consumer threshold into account. After all, there is always a limit to how much your customer will be willing to pay.
We often get asked, “How do I know what price to charge?” Our rule of thumb is to set your pricing by first calculating your fixed and variable costs (labour, materials, freight costs, admin costs, selling costs), then estimating the benefits to consumers, and finally, comparing your products, services and prices to others that are similar. Take what it takes to produce your product or service and then mark it up reflective of the customer’s benefits. A breakeven analysis can come in handy here for figuring out your minimum threshold. Competitor pricing can shed light on fair market value and how high your pricing can comfortably go.
Your marketing plan pricing strategy should also include:
- Why your pricing is competitive – for example if you plan to charge lower for your product or service, why are you able to? If you charge higher, why will your customers want to pay more? Where is the sweet spot in your pricing?
- What kind of return on investment (ROI) do you expect and when?
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Sales and Distribution Plan
Next, it’s time to detail how you’ll deliver your products and services to the customer. You can break this section into three parts:
Part #1: Distribution Methods
- How are you getting your product or service to the customer? Is it through a website? Mail or home delivery? Via a sales representative? Or will you have a retail presence?
- Are you using a direct distribution (manufacturer -> consumer), one-stage distribution (manufacturer -> retail -> consumer), or traditional distribution (manufacturer -> wholesaler -> retailer -> consumer)? Be sure to include all the companies, people, and technologies involved.
- What are your distribution costs?
- What are the terms of delivery?
- How will your production time frames or delivery be affected by your chosen distribution method(s)?
- How long will it take for your customer to receive your product or service?
If you’re selling a product, you also want to include details on your inventory levels and packaging, for example:
- How will your products be packaged for shipping? For display?
- Does your packaging meet all regulatory requirements?
- Is the packaging appropriately coded and priced? Does it complement your product?
- What will your minimum inventory levels look like to avoid a loss of sales due to late shipments or backorders?
Part #2: Transaction Process
Here is where you lay out the systems you will use for order processing, shipping, and billing, methods of payment available, and available customer credit terms (including any early payment discounts or late payment penalties). You also want to include your return policy, warranties, details on after-sale support, and the systems you have to track and address customer feedback.
Part #3: Sales Strategy
This section should provide an overview of:
- The salespeople involved in your marketing plan, for example, commissioned salespeople, product demonstrators, telephone solicitors)
- Your expectations of these salespeople and how you’ll measure their effectiveness
- Your sales training program, if applicable
- The incentives you’ll offer your salespeople
Advertising and Promotion Plan
Next, it’s time to describe how and when you’re going to capture the attention of your customer. What tools are you going to use to reach them? What does the timeline for doing so look like? Be sure to specify both the nature and timing of the plan and why you have selected each specific medium.
Here are some avenues to consider:
- Online (business website, email, social media campaigns, SEM, SEO)
- Direct mail
- Door-to-door flyer delivery
- Cooperative advertising with wholesalers, retailers, or other businesses
- Radio advertising
- Print advertising (newspapers, magazines, directories)
- Outdoor advertising (billboards, bench/bus/subway ads)
- Television advertising
- Marketing collateral (business cards, brochures, pamphlets, service sheets)
Next, consider how much you will spend on each medium. Be sure to include not only the cost of the advertising itself but how you will assess results. In addition to paid advertising, you may also want to incorporate promotional and publicity activities into your plan. Promotional items might include free samples, coupons, point of purchase displays, or product demonstrations. Possible publicity avenues could consist of product launches, social media, special events, trade shows, article writing, or testimonial sharing.
By identifying the good or service you will offer, how much you will charge for it, how you will position it in the marketplace, and the sales channels you will use, the digital marketing strategy of your business plan will help solidify that you will be able to sell sufficient quantities to make your business profitable. It’s a section of your business plan that we always recommend spending extra time and due diligence on, to ensure it’s a blueprint that represents the viability of your business’s future.
For more information on how to write the marketing plan of a business case or any other required areas of a standard business plan, we invite you to reach out to our knowledgeable team of experts here. We recognize that business plans are the foundation of your business’ success. The right goals pave the way for suitable investments, which establishes a solid direction for your business. Although, understanding where you want to be doesn’t illuminate the path there.
Your bespoke Bsbcon business plan will act as a road map for your business. Each of our plans is tailor-made (without templates or plugins) and designed to be easily implementable in practice. Accomplish everything you’ve dreamed with consumer-tested, expert panel-approved business plans that outline your steps to success!