Thursday, June 02, 2005

"Your Marketing Plan is More Than a Component of Your Business Plan"

All to often when developing a business plan the marketing aspect plays a minor role giving way to other areas such as management or finances. You can't develop a business plan until you identify someone who wants to buy what you have to sell; therefore I say that the marketing plan should be written first and foremost. This should be set as priority number one. A new marketing plan should be made every time your business develops a new product, offers a new service, or enters a new market. It doesn't have to be a long, drawn out, formal plan each time, but it should give you a strategy to reach your desired market.

The best marketing plan will specify what is distinct and unique about your product or service; it focuses on what will make your company stand out from the rest. It should identify the size of your expected market and the share which you can reasonably expect to capture. It should describe who your typical customer is, why they will buy from you, and how you plan on attaining them. It should identify competitors and highlight advantages and disadvantages your business has in the market. And of course, no plan is complete without a time table, budget, and means for measuring results.

Without a strong marketing plan a company simply cannot grow. Unless you have developed a cure for aging, a time machine, or car that runs on water, people are not going to run to you. You must run to them. The marketing plan will provide a strategy to efficiently and effectively find, reach, and attract your customers.

Never forget profits come directly from customers; they don't come from managers, and they don't come from accountants. When the accountant starts paying you, then they can receive your primary focus. Until then the only way your business can flourish is with a steady market base, and that can only be achieved with a strong marketing plan.

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