The development of an effective Marketing Plan should follow the outline presented below. This is also discussed in the Marketing Plan section of the page on Developing a Business Plan. This outline presents a twelve step guide that includes the following:
1. Carefully define your products or services, that is, what will your product line include or what services will you offer.
2. Document a comparison of your products or services with those of your three strongest competitors. Determine why customors will be drawn to your products rather than the competition.
3. Determine if your products or services should be protected in any way by a patent, copyright or trademark. If necessary, discuss this issue with a patent attorney.
4. Define your customer base. That is, who will your customers be, where are they located, how many there are and the needs or wants that they have that your products or services will satisfy.
5. Document critical data about your three strongest competitors. Who are the owners, who are the key management members, where are they located, what is their sales volume, how many people do they employ, how do they price their products or services and what are their strengths and weakness.
6. Understand any external factors that could affect the long term sale of your products or services. This might include laws or government regulations, zoning of your proposed location or new innovative product development by competitors.
7. Develop a pricing strategy. Do you plan to emphacize quality and service with a high price, or a volume sales approach with a very competitive price. Determing exactly how your products or services will be price.
8. Determine how you will sell your products or services. Will you sell them yourself or will you employ sales personnel?
9. What will be your sales policies, including credit terms, warranties, returns or other sales policies.
10. Will you need packaging capability, labeling or technical sales literature and, if so, describe their requirements.
11. If you have sales people, how will they be compensated . . . by salary, commissions or both.
12. Determine how you will advertise and promote your products and services and at what cost.