What is a marketing plan and what is the importance of this for someone writing a business plan, applying for business finance or starting a new business?
During a conversation yesterday with a decision maker at a well known South African business finance provider, I was pleasantly surprised when the it came to light that funding institutions in South Africa are increasingly looking at the viability of the marketing plan attached to the business plan when someone is applying for business funding.
To me this is logical. One of the biggest challenges a new business will face is to find and keep customers. It seems unthinkable that banks, SEDA, the IDC, angel investors and venture capital firms will not consider this part of your business strategy as key to future success.
Take a minute to consider the start-up process. It really dies not matter how good your idea for a product or s service is. If know one knows about it, it will remain as that, a good idea. With frightening statistics about business closure rates being banded about in so many articles and blogs today, the solution is a simple one. As a business you need to focus on finding clients and keeping them.
What is a marketing plan? Well it really depends on what type of business you are running. A marketing plan is a road map detailing the "route" you'll take to get your business noticed by potential clients. By following a properly crafted plan, you'll know what to do and why you're doing it, while avoiding some of the mistakes that can cost you money and future growth. When it comes to applying for business funding, the funding institution wants to know that you as an entrepreneur knows how to get your product to the market in such a way that those people buying your product will do so again in the future and maybe even tell their friends about you.
Without getting into to much detail and boring you with theoretical speak at a basic level you still need to consider your:
Product or service you will be selling and how that will benefit those buying it.
The Price you will be charging and whether this can be used as a marketing tool and how it will help you attract your customers.
Place of sale, whether it be on the internet, a physical location such as a shop, or which ever which way you can think of that is effective and cost efficient.
The Promotional method or how people will come to know about your product
The People who sell your product or service and this is especially important when dealing with people face to face. Your sales people and this providing the service is the face of your business, they need to reflect what you envision your business as being.
When starting or running a business these issues need to be thought through carefully and implemented with attention to detail and adjusted on a regular basis based on what works and what does not. It not rocket science, but it needs a marketing plan and constant attention to detail.