Writing Your Business Plan, Step 6: Marketing Plan (Niche, Strategy, and Forecasting)

May 14, 2009 at 6:20 am 2 comments

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License

This week, we are writing the Marketing portion of the Business Plan in three parts.  On Tuesday we covered research and economics.  Yesterday, we focused on products and services, customer demographics, and competition.  Today, we are going to cover niche, marketing strategy, and sales forecasting.

Onward and upward!

Niche

What is your niche?  Where does your company fit in the market?  What is that sweet spot?  What is the best personal match between you and the customer?  Wendy Robinson, owner of Sacred Moment Weddings in Phoenix, Arizona, writes “Aspire to Plan” a valuable blog for aspiring planners.  She recently wrote that the best niche for a business is one that matches your talent and passion with the customers’ needs and wants.  By having synergy between these  three elements you can create a unique niche for your product or service.

Marketing Strategy

Last month, we discussed marketing strategy and explored the definition of marketing as the process or technique of promoting, selling, and distributing a product or service.  For the marketing strategy section of the business plan, we’ll have three subsections: promotion, sales, and distribution.

Promotion

What is your strategy for promoting your business?  How do you get the word out to customers?  What is the cost of these methods of promotion?  How effective are they at getting you business?

Here are the most common methods of promotion within the wedding industry.  You can elaborate on them in the marketing plan to the extent that they are applicable to your business.

  • paid print advertising
  • paid online advertising
  • blogging on your company website
  • networking within your industry and your community
  • facebook and twitter
  • exhibiting at wedding shows
  • customer referrals
  • vendor referrals

If you want to track their performance and determine how effective they are in yielding returns, I recommend the following two posts:

Sales

In this sub-section discuss your sales approach.  What is the process by which you make a sale?  When the client contacts you, what happens?  When is the sale recognized?  How do your clients make their decisions?  Here are some helpful Secrets of Selling (little unique cost-effective sales tips).

An important part of the sale equation is Pricing. Recently, we discussed why Pricing (and under-pricing) is a common mistake that people make in the wedding industry, particularly when one enters the market.  Think hard about your pricing and how under-pricing your services is not only impacting your business, but the industry on a whole.  It is better to compete on value, quality, and service as opposed to competing on price.  Write about your pricing in your plan.

Distribution

Distribution answers the question: how will you get your product or service to clients? The ability to deliver and to do so efficiently and effectively is the cornerstone of marketing your product.

Here are some questions to think about:

  • How do you distribute your product or service: online, mail-order, appointment-only, retail?
  • Where is the competition located?
  • What time frames are relevant to this distribution?
  • What personnel (if any) are required for this distribution?
  • What is the transaction process involved?
  • What sort of training of employees will be required?
  • What sort of payment is accepted?

Sales Forecast

We are at the end of the marketing plan – YAY!  The last piece we need is the sales forecast to pull of the pieces together.  A forecast is a plan that shows your future sales expectations.  You’ll need to create a month by month plan.  Start with year 1 and if you feel ready flesh it out for 2, 3, 4, or 5 years.  I find it helpful to incorporate my promotional activities in my sales forecast.  My plan looks something like this:

salesforecast

(If you need an Excel refresher/intro class, check out our classes.)

Here are some tips from SCORE:

  • Base the forecast on your historical sales, the marketing strategies that you have just described, your market research, and industry data, if available.
  • You may want to do two forecasts: 1) a “best guess,” which is what you really expect, and 2) a “worst case” low estimate that you are confident you can reach no matter what happens.
  • Remember to keep notes on your research and your assumptions as you build this sales forecast and all subsequent spreadsheets in the plan.
  • Relate the forecast to your sales history, explaining the major differences between past and projected sales. (This is critical if you are going to present it to funding sources.)

Next Step

YAY!  We’ve unearthed the marketing plan!  We’ll see you here Monday for a continuation of business plan writing: the operational plan.  Tomorrow, we’ll feature another great industry insider with her sage wedding business advice!

Advertisements

Entry filed under: 13 Step Business Plan, Excercises, Market It, Plan It, Pricing, Sales, Strategy.

Writing Your Business Plan, Step 5: Marketing Plan (Products/Services, Customers, Competition) Insider to Insider: Heather Kleiner, Owner of Marrylicious

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. papercutindustries  |  May 21, 2009 at 9:40 pm

    I am finding all your information really helpful. Can you explain the chart above a little more? The numbers, are they representative of expected sales total amounts from those particular ADs?

    Reply
    • 2. Michelle Loretta  |  May 21, 2009 at 9:56 pm

      Hi Monica! Thanks! The chart above is a sales forecast done by month by particular ad… and yes, they are dollar values. So online ad 1 is expected to generate $5000 in January. (They are TOTALLY fictitious ads and fictitious numbers.) Does that help you? – Michelle

      Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Trackback this post  |  Subscribe to the comments via RSS Feed


Categories

Recent Posts

Use Google? Subscribe in Reader:

www.google.com/reader

Follow us on Twitter

Error: Twitter did not respond. Please wait a few minutes and refresh this page.


%d bloggers like this: