Business Plan Writing: Marketing and Sales Plans
Updated: Dec 12, 2019
“If you believe your product or service can fulfil a true need, it’s your moral obligation to sell it.” - Zig Ziglar
In the last instalment of our creating a business plan series, we talked about the approach for detailing your products and services.
In the sixth “creating your business plan” instalment, we’ll expand on this, and help you to develop your marketing and sales plans, so that your business plan readers will gain an appreciation for how you’re going to advertise your offerings to your target core customer base.
To be thorough in your process, there a few key aspects that you will need to answer.
Recognising Your Customers
Before you can develop brilliant marketing and sales plans, you need to identify whom you’re selling your services too.
Who is your ideal customer?
A helpful way to define your target market is to construct customer personas — fictional customer biographies that represent members of your target demographics. Personas are useful because they create “people” that you can speak to when designing your marketing and sales messaging.
Customer personas describe your ideal customers; you may have more than one customer persona, especially if you have a diverse product or service offering. Focus on describing real people, including their name, profession, income, interests, preferences, previous purchase histories and more.
The more you flesh out a persona, the better you can target your strategies and the more effectively you can reach them, please them, and keep them.
You’ve defined your target market. Now you need to decide what you’re going to charge for your products or services. There are several factors you should consider when setting your price points.
First, you need to consider the real costs associated with the materials, labour, rent and other fixed expenses that go into producing your product or support your service offerings. It would help if you charged enough to cover these direct costs while allowing a reasonable profit to support future business growth.
Re-visit the market research you did in earlier business plan sections to determine your price point versus what your competition is charging and identify what price point fluctuations the market can sustain.
Assess your points that differentiate your product from your competition. Do these features bring customers extra value that they’ll be willing to pay more? Or are you looking to develop longer-term contract opportunities allowing you to offer customers a bespoke pricing proposition?
Finally, depending on what your customers are looking for, are you going to engage in flat pricing or are you going to use tiered price points that allow for a broader range of customers?
Marketing Your Product or Service
Luckily, and conveniently for you, there are a plethora of ways to support endorsing your products and services today, and it’s often not financially feasible to use all of them, especially not at the beginning of your growth journey when you are starting your business. It’s necessary to analyse your market research and choose a handful of methods that will most effectively bring awareness to your offerings.
Depending on where your customer personas spend their time if you’re marketing to a broad spectrum of tech-savvy millennials you’ll want to focus on mobility, ease of access, digital media and social marketing.
Across the generations and different business industry sectors, customers might be best served using traditional marketing methods like direct mail and radio or television advertising. Industry events, networking and workshops are a popular method for some companies to identify potential customer collaborations based on their preferred purchasing and supplier engagement habits.
Identify the method that works for you and fits your budget. Set a meaningful timeframe to assess the marketing method before you move onto an alternative offering – give yourself time to see the results.
Customer Engagement Channels
You also need to describe the channels where you’ll be engaging with your prospective customers. To a degree, the answers you gave in the last section will guide your answers to this question, but there are still decisions to make.
As an example, if you decided that social marketing was going to be the primary driver of your customer engagement efforts, then you’ll be reaching your customers through social media channels, i.e. Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn. However, other advertising methods are available across multiple channels, so you need to analyse which ones will be most effective for your target market.
Companies are available to support this aspect of building your brand presence, and if you’re feeling overwhelmed or short on time, you may want to explore specialist marketing and digital partners to help with brand and product promotion. They will also be able to provide support on how you’ll continue to engage with your customers following a successful sale transaction, helping you to develop a long-lasting customer engagement lifecycle strategy.
Making the Sale
The last part of your sales plan determines how you’ll close the deal for prospects that enter your sales funnel based on your marketing efforts. Will you use an in-house sales team that also attempts to make outgoing cold calls? How will you manage lead generation and new customer engagement? Will you employ a soft or hard sell?
These decisions are important because your sales plan determines how well you’ll convert prospects into customers and can help with customer retention and managing your financial cash-flow.
Most companies will share their experience that it’s far more cost-effective to retain and nurture a current customer versus the costs of engaging new customers.
Need Help Creating Your Business Plan?
We know that creating your comprehensive investor-ready business plan can take time and is for many people, an excellent opportunity to reflect on their business goals and ensure they have identified their business niche. If at any point, you want an expert “second opinion” to review your business plan or financial forecasts? Let’s talk!
Noirwolf Consulting is a global strategy and change management consulting firm in Leeds.
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