By Matthew Jenkin, theguardian.com
Experts offer advice on writing the fourth part of the business plan, which focuses on your sales and marketing strategy
Having a great idea is a good start. But going from that initial spark of genius to turning a profit is unlikely without a clearly thought-out strategy outlining who your customers will be, how you will sell to them and how you intend to promote that product once it is launched.We asked the experts for their advice on how to write the sales and marketing part of the business plan:
Mark Posniak, head of marketing and sales at Dragonfly Property Finance
When dealing with potential investors or your bank, it's vital that you are strategic in everything you do. Showing a clearly defined and well thought-out marketing strategy will give them confidence in your proposal and make them more likely to want to be a part of your business.
Use the marketing section of your business plan to communicate how you intend to reach your target consumers through various channels, from advertising and PR to social media and email campaigns. Break down the strategy into the various areas and cover each one in detail, to explain exactly what you intend to do and why you think it will be successful. In the digital age that we live in, social media cannot be overlooked for most products and services, and will almost always play a part in your communication strategy. Not being on social media can even count against your brand.
Richard Kenyon, chair of The Chartered Institute of Marketing in Merseyside and chief executive of marketing consultants Kenyon Fraser
The type and detail of a marketing plan will, of course, depend on the type of company and the sector it operates in. However, there are some key elements of good practice that underpin any good marketing plan. Firstly, a detailed situational analysis and review of the competition will help shape the next stage of this process, which concerns objective setting. Objectives need to be realistic and attainable within the time and with the resources available to the company. Strategy comes next and details how you will go about achieving the objectives – this is often the stage where professional support can be valuable. Next is the tactical implementation of the strategy – map out what activity happens and when, and details who's going to be responsible. Finally, make sure that regular review and control measures are in place so that the overarching strategy and the tactics can be reviewed and adapted if required.
John Hall, founder and director of Capology
A key question to consider when writing the marketing section of a business plan is: how are you going to provide potential customers with a tangible experience of your product/service before they buy? This is especially true if you are setting up an e-commerce business, as generally speaking, the first experience a customer will have of your product/service will be when it is delivered.
You need to know exactly how you are going to implement "physical evidence" at a much earlier stage in the buying process in order to reduce uncertainty. Service providers may want to implement testimonials on their website as a way of providing evidence that you can deliver what you have promised. Alternatively, if you are planning on having a bricks and mortar store, you need to make sure that the environment you create is one that is likely to resonate with your target audience and confirm their assumptions about your business; fashion retailers are a prime example of how this should be done.