A marketing plan is essential for your Internet-based small business because it focuses your attention on actions that will take your business in the direction you want it to go. A marketing plan will help you understand how to fit your business into the Internet’s market potential.
By creating a new marketing plan each year you’ll be able to track your profitable decisions and redirect your efforts when needed. Rewriting of your marketing plan annually should be part of your yearly planning process – to include a revised strategic plan, business plan, marketing plan, and action plan.
Marketing plans analyze your direction and focus your goal-setting efforts. They will help you introduce new products or revenue streams into your business. They are also essential if you seek funding opportunities.
Below you’ll find fourteen essential elements of a marketing plan, along with comments about each section to help you know what must be done to fill in the blanks.
|1. Purpose||Example: This marketing plan is an initial guideline for my new children’s clothing and toys website, NicolesChildhoodTreasures.Com which has a target launch date of November 11, 2012.||Notes:Write a statement to say why you’re writing this particular marketing plan.|
|2. Usage||Example:This plan is being written to help me focus my promotional efforts on an essential target market.||Notes:Who are you writing the plan for? How will it be put to use?
|3. Mission Statement||Example:Nicole’s Childhood Treasures provides top quality, upscale clothing and educational toys for today’s well-cared-for preschoolers from birth through age five.||Notes:What does your business do for people?|
|4. Core Products||Example: 1. dresses for preschool aged girls
2. shirt and pant sets for preschool 3. aged boys
4. accessories for boys and girls
5. educational preschool toys
|Notes:This lists exactly what types of things you intend to sell, or what services you plan to offer.|
|5. Consumer Benefits||Example:Nicole’s Childhood Treasures sells only top-quality clothing and toys made in the USA by independent craftspeople.||Notes:How will people benefit by buying from you instead of purchasing other similar products or services?
|6. Geography||Example:1. USA Internet
2. Inyo County, California
|Notes:Where exactly do you plan to sell your goods or offer your services? What states or countries will your consumers live in?|
|7. Consumer Profile||Example:The ideal customer for Nicole’s Childhood Treasures is a retired schoolteacher buying clothes and toys for her grandchildren. She is about 65 years old, and has about five grandchildren in need of preschool sized new clothing. Her retirement pay is generous and she can afford upscale pricing in order to get only the best for her loved ones. She loves to shop online for family members.||Notes:Who are you selling to? What does the ideal buyer of your products, or user of your services look like? Describe this person in as much detail as possible. What is this person’s age, gender, occupation, and education? Where does he or she live? What lifestyle does this person have? What beliefs, feelings, and attitudes? What is his or her family like? What does he or she like to do for recreation?|
|8. Market Potential||Example:There are six million women in the USA aged 65-69. If only 1% of them are retired schoolteachers with grandchildren, that gives a market potential of 60,000 possible buyers.||Notes:Here’s where you’ll have to stop and do some research. Go to the census website for your country and find out how many people there are in your target market’s age range in your preferred geographic area.|
|Notes:Search the web for other online businesses similar to yours. List them and compare them to your business.|
|10. Competitive Market Share Estimation||Example:I expect that only about 1% of the market will find my web store during the coming year; that’s 600 people.||Notes:How much of this market do you expect to attract to your store during the coming year?|
|11. Unique Niche||Example:I will sell only high-end clothing of the best quality, and only high quality educational toys.||Notes:How is your store different than all the others? What makes it unique?|
|12. Messaging Platform||Example:“Your children are worth everything to you.”
“Only the best for the best!”
|Notes:Phrases you’ll use to attract people to your business.|
|13. Branding Strategies||Example:“Childhood Treasures” will be associated with finding a chest full of gold.||Notes:How will you make your brand name memorable to your customers or clients?|
|14. Marketing Strategies||Example:Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Advertisements on mom and grandma websites. Monthly newsletter.
|Notes:What strategies do you plan to use to let people know about your website?|
|15. Pricing Strategies||Example:Keep prices high so that people will know my merchandise is the best they can buy.
|Notes:How will you price your merchandise or services and why?|
|16. Sales Goals||Example:1. Sell at least 300 items of clothing.
2. Sell at least 100 educational toys.
|Notes:Your sales goals for the coming year.|
|17. Distribution Strategies||Example:XYZ Warehouse will take care of all packaging and shipping, which will be done exclusively by UPS.||Notes:How will the customer receive your product or services.|
NEXT: After this, you’ll need to work on an Action Plan. What will you do, and when? Set yourself some deadlines so you can reach your goals!