Continued from Describing the Company: Business Plan Part Three.
Marketing: Once you have a complete understanding of what your target market is, it is critical to have a plan to capture a competitive share of that market. The Marketing section of your business plan should tell the prospective investor exactly how you intend to accomplish this important goal. Your marketing strategy should be unique, creative and effective. It’s important to tell the reader in this section: how the company intends to penetrate existing markets; how the company intends to distribute its products; what the company’s plans for growth are; and what the company’s marketing strategy is or will be. Explain the business’ strategies in detail. Does it intend to expand via acquisition of other businesses or franchising? Does it intend to expand the customer base via advertising and promotion? How will the company use various marketing tools to grow the business? There is no “one size fits all” marketing strategy. However, zeroing in on these fundamental components assists in the development of a strategy that has the best chance of success.
The Marketing sections should also set forth your sales strategy if your business relies on or will rely on a sales force. What type of sales force will you use? How will you recruit and train them? Will they be independent contractors or employees? How will they be compensated? What type of system will you have in place to identify and prioritize customers? Will they be contacted by phone or in person? What is or will be the average number of calls necessary to make one sale? Show the reader that the sales force will be productive.
Service or Product Line: The Service/Product Line section describes what the company is selling, and explains why potential and current customers will benefit from your particular product or service. What distinct advantages will your business offer? Will you provide customers solutions they cannot find elsewhere? Do you own, have pending or intend to obtain copyrights, patents, trademarks, trade secrets or licenses that will provide an advantage? If so, in what way will they be advantageous to the company? Is there any research and development (R&D) underway? What about competitors? Describe your R&D goals and compare them with other R&D efforts in the industry. Explain why your solutions are important to the client base, and anything else that will set your business apart from its competitors. Provide a detailed description of the company’s services and/or products and pricing schedules. Include promotional and marketing materials. Is the product or service seasonal? If so, how will the company deal with seasonal trends? What is the availability and cost of necessary supplies and raw materials? Who are the company’s suppliers? This is your opportunity to pitch the product or service to the prospective investor or lender, to explain why people will be willing to purchase your product or service at profitable price points and to explain how you will be able to meet those price points.
Continued in Funding and Finances: Business Plan Part Five.