MARKETING PLAN

Posted on November 26, 2007 | Filed Under Marketing 

MARKETING PLAN

Small business owners seek the most powerful marketing strategy. Generally, it has little to do with advertising, direct mail, web sites, referrals or blogs. The objective is to differentiate the product from others and dominate the market.

It is a necessity for the business owner to define and explain to others why the product(s) is(are) different from every other product that might be a competitor. The product cannot be a commodity but must be positioned to offer a product/service that fills a need and/or appeals to prospective customers. There must be something unique about the product/service.

The following are criteria to consider when establishing strategies and tactical criteria designed to achieve successful market entry and sales.

DEFINE ACTIVITIES AND TIME FRAME FOR MARKET ENTRY

Identify activities that need to be completed before market entry

Examples are:

  • Prototype design and construction
  • Protection
  • Market analysis
  • Competitive analysis
  • Product definition, benefits, key features
  • Price strategy
  • Advertising, publicity program (even if this responsibility falls upon a licensee or purchaser of the asset, establish expectations and ask the purchaser what their publicity program will be – if no plan seek another buyer/licensee.)
  • Licensee or buyer selection strategy and search
  • Vendor/manufacturer/franchise agreement negotiation
  • Inventory creation
  • First sale

Prepare a diagram or timeline

Create a GANTT or PERT chart in which activities, timeframe and cost are projected. Implement the market plan and if some activities are delayed or take longer to complete than planned make the necessary adjustments to “catch up” or revise the plan to reflect a change in market entry. Remember delays cost money in two ways; added cost and absence of sales when expected, both of which impact the financial projections and needs.

Buyer or seller plan?

These requirements should be established by both the seller and buyer so the two parties can arrive at a mutually satisfactory agreement that reflects these expectations on the part of both parties. These expectations become the basis for a term sheet and negotiation strategy and tactics.

ESTABLISH UNIQUENESS/ADVANTAGES OF A PRODUCT OR SERVICE

Define the product

Is the product so unique or even trendy that the business is associated with that offering? Can a product be “extended” so a valuable service can be offered to make the product more useful to a customer?

Provide quality service

This can be the packaging of a service as a product. Consulting is often delivered on an hourly basis. Packaging a consulting engagement based on an outcome, with defined deliverables and fixed package price is a very effective way to differentiate a service offering. Don’t forget to give the service a powerful name!

Identify market niche

Carve out an industry or two and become the most dominant player serving that industry. A nice attribute with this approach is the justification to raise prices dramatically with specialization.

Solicit referrals

Can the business become known and associated with a guarantee or terms of a relationship that is made? For example, an accountant may offer tax preparation clients a 100% refund for a tax preparation fee if they refer four new clients. They are the 100% refund tax firm.

Solve a Problem

Is there a common issue, real or perceived, that customers contend with and how does the business address and eliminate the problem/issue. Talk it up! Tell customers what and how the business or product improves the outcome for the customers benefit. Maybe it leads to fewer side effects, less environmental problems, more potential for revenue, etc.

Explain value to customer

Many times a businessperson overlooks what may be common to them but not that common to the customer. Identify what it is and make sure the customer is aware of these “extras”. The product or service may add value to the customer’s business or enhance their product line, or open doors into new business ventures or relationships.

Unique advertising

Maybe a customer receives a gift certificate, or auto detail coupon, or a dinner for two. Select some item that is unique and memorable. That customer might be the next best salesperson.

Guarantee

Is it possible to offer a guarantee so strong that no one else in the industry would think of doing it. It may frighten some people but, most work is guaranteed anyway, but one does not say so. Boldly announce that results are guaranteed and see what happens!

Emphasize customer service

Everyone knows the excellent customer service leads to exceptional customer response and word of mouth advertising that is invaluable. It is essential that this be imprinted on the first customer contact. Provide something more than was promised; i.e. a gift or free related service.

Analyze the competition

It is often possible to create a market niche by identifying flaws in a competitor’s product or service. If no one in an industry addresses a certain problem, analyze and solve the problem. Capitalize on successfully solving a problem that will yield desired revenue and explain to the consumer why the solution is better than that offered by the competition or if there is no competition capitalize on the market position ASAP.

Identify differences

Analyze and interview current clients. What common elements exist among the best clients? What makes them interested in your products, will they remain a customer, if so will they recommend your firm and products or services? Study the competition. What do they do that you could do better, what are some things they do that appeal to customers, how do they enter and maintain market share?

Emphasize how public relations enhance product awareness

Choose a strategy or combination of strategies to differentiate the business and then focus all advertising and promotion to emphasize the difference or advantages related to products or services. Be committed, and persistent. Resist any temptation to divert attention or wander off in a new direction. Establishing a well-recognized brand takes time and patience. The payoff, however, is what differentiates winners from losers in the marketplace.

Focus on revenue

Carefully construct the financials for the business. Research the cost for research, development, manufacture, and marketing. What market strategy will enable the best market penetration? What pricing plan will maximize income and profit? Time spent on the financials will be invaluable as decisions are made on how to maximize income. The bottom line in any business is to make enough money to sustain the business and/or increase business value for management and investors.

Excerpts from “Technology Commercialization Manual. Strategy, Tactics and Economics for Business Success.” by Melvin J. DeGeeter (http:// www.tclearningcenter.com)


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