A business plan is the blueprint for taking an idea for a product or service and turning it into a commercially viable reality. The marketing portion of the business plan addresses four main topics:
- Product: what is the good or service that your business will offer? How is that product better than those against which it will compete? Why will people buy it?
- Price: how much can you charge? How do you balance between sales volume and price to maximize income?
- Promotion: how will your product or service be positioned in the marketplace? Will your product carry a premium image with a price to match? Will it be an inexpensive, no-frills alternative to similar offerings from other businesses? What kinds of advertising will you use? When will ads be run? How will the product be packaged?
- Place: which sales channels will you use? Will you sell by telephone or will your product be carried in retail outlets? Which channel will let you economically reach your target audience?
The marketing portion of a business plan addresses how you will get people to buy your product or service in sufficient quantities to make your business profitable. It consists of:
- a market analysis, which assesses the market environment in which you compete, identifies your competitors and analyzes their strengths and weaknesses, and identifies and quantifies your target market
- your marketing strategy, which explains how you will differentiate your business from your competitors' businesses and what approach you will take to get customers to buy from you
- your marketing and sales plans, which specify the nature and timing of promotional and other advertising activities that will support specific sales targets