Even if you decide to skip out on writing your business plan (which is totally a bad idea), you still need this action step. It shapes the moves you will make in your business to gain awareness for your brand, make sales and generate revenue.
Your Business Depends on a Solid Marketing and Sales Plan
Call me biased because I’m a marketing professional, but I would say a marketing plan is the single most important part of your business plan. Why? Because if no one knows you exist, you will make zero dollars in sales.
People first have to discover you. Then they have to be feeling you enough to keep listening. To do that your message needs to capture their attention and your product needs to solve their problem. It also has to be something they can afford and feel is worth the investment.
Your marketing plan helps you clearly identify your target market. That’s a core step in choosing the right form of communication and converting your audience to buyers. Your marketing and sales plan illustrates how to do this.
What is a Marketing and Sales Plan?
The marketing and sales section of your business plan is where you will explain how you plan to gain exposure and sell your product. It answers the question, “How will you get customers to take notice of your business and buy from you?” In this section, you need to be specific about how you will make the sale. It includes your sales and marketing strategy.
Don’t just think about your marketing in terms of advertising. Advertising is only a portion of your marketing strategy. Marketing is the overall investment of funds, time and creative expertise that you will invest- or pay to include- in your business.
The Small Business Administration also states that you will use the sales and marketing information while calculating your financial projections. I can tell you this is true from my personal experience with writing my business plan. You can hear more about how that went in my business planning video series on Instagram.
So Here’s How to Nail your Business Plan’s Marketing and Sales Plan
List all products and services you plan to offer. Don’t overextend yourself starting out. Think about how you plan to operate. If it will be just you or if you will have a partner and/or employees. You can always start small and scale up to expand your product line later.
Think about your target market. Creating that ideal customer profile is to identify the behavior of your target market. These are the customers who’s problems your services will solve.
So, when writing your business plan, you want to think about their activities. What they read, where they shop, their hobbies, where they hangout offline and online. What type of offers they will respond to.
Heck, you might even want to find out what their favorite color is. You will need to do a little homework to get this information. Start by using IBIS World or the U.S. Census Bureau. Then head to social media. If you have started building social media following. Use your analytics to gather demographic information.
If you’re a member of groups that fit your niche topic, ask them questions or look at the type of questions and comments members post. Using these methods to learn about the behavior of your target audience will tell you the activities you need to focus on in your marketing strategy.
Get to know your competition. See what market share your competitors have and what they are doing to gain customers. Make note of the strengths and weaknesses of their marketing strategy. You can gather this information from some of the same resources you use to do target market research. Then use it as inspiration and work to make improvements.
Include a layout of your pricing. Your pricing is almost guaranteed to change, but you still need a clear starting point. When pricing your products, think about your cost for the product and any costs of doing business that you want to include and divide among the products.
For a service, it’s common to use either an hourly, flat rate, or retainer setup. But think about the value of your service and how much you want to make per hour for the time you invest. You also want to think about the direct costs of doing business.
Talk about your specific promotion methods.If you’re starting as a solopreneur, don’t feel pressured to use every marketing outlet in the collection. Lord knows there’s a plethora of them and a new one sprouting up everyday.
Choose a few of digital and print marketing sources. Yes, print marketing still works. That’s why you see major brands still using it, but that’s another discussion for another day.
Communicate payment options you will offer. How do you plan to accept payments from your customers. If you have a brick-and-mortar business, will you have a sales terminal? Do you plan to use invoicing or an online payment system? Will it be a membership site where everything will be on automatic draft. List all of the options you will have.
Once you decide on your couple of marketing options study them, learn them, master them and grow them. Focus on growing a community of friends and fans. After you ask for and land the sale, provide brag worthy service. Those customers will help you market the business through their satisfaction that they just can’t keep to themselves.
Anyway, back to the subject at hand. For each marketing resource you choose to start with, write down a simple draft of what actions you plan to take to promote your business. You will write the full marketing strategy layout at a later date before you launch the business.
Share how you will attract customers to your business. Besides print and digital marketing, what other catchy tactics will you use to make yourself irresistible to customers. Will you have frequent flash sales or discount codes? Will you feature a new “fruit of the month” such as introducing a new hot item each month or quarter? Or will be the luxury brand of your industry?
Need help writing your business plan? Use Live Plan like I did. The software come has examples, descriptions and instructions to make planning for your dream business as easy as possible. Right now, you can use this link to get started for just $9.95.
All Business Plan Topics Matter
All in all, each part of your plan works together to communicate and accomplish your business goals. That’s why I stress the importance of writing a business plan even before working with me to help build a website, build a community on social media or establish a brand identity.
That’s also why I created resources to help you plan for your dream business and write your sales and marketing strategy. Once you’ve written your business plan, you can use my Dream Sales and Marketing Strategy Planner to layout your every digital marketing move.
The planner includes tools to help you plan your content for the year, month and week. Aaaand…you also get customizable design templates for you social media posts. Snag this hot item before the sale ends!