IV. Marketing Plan Market research No matter what do you think about your product/service, you need to do a market research to make sure your business it’s in a right way. Who knows, maybe there’s no room for you in this niche, you should consider this too. Methods Use published information like industry profiles, newspaper, magazines, trade journals etc. This information is very easy to find, you should check libraries, chamber of commerce etc. Do not forget to use the online environment, this is maybe the best place to gather some good informations. The second method requires a little more work to do, you should gather your own data here. Use surveys for example to learn what the consumers prefer. Identify competition on the Internet, yellow pages etc. Gather as much of information as you can, use specific information like statistics, numbers; do not forget to give your sources for this information. Economics Economical things you must know: · The demand in target market. · What are the trends in target market? Write down trends in consumer preferences, growth trend etc · Is there a growth potential? There’s any room left for you business? · What barriers do you encounter? Do you encounter high capital costs? High marketing costs? Shipping costs? Pricing barriers? Write down how do you think you’ll overcome this barriers. · Change in industry, change in the economy, different changes….do you think those could become a problem for your business? Are you prepared to encounter its? How? Product’s Features and Benefits List all of your products or services and for each of its try to describe the most important features, benefits for the customer, if there’s something special about its and so on. Write down the after-sale services like warranty, support, refund policy etc. Customers Construct a demographic profile for your customers: age, gender, location, level of income, social class, education. This will be only available if you sell your product directly to consumer. If you target other businesses like wholesalers and retailers you should consider constructing a demographic factor for business customers too: industry, location, size of company, price preferences. Competition This is where you have to work a little more. Knowing your competition the best means knowing how to overcome them. What companies will compete with you? What products and prices do they offer. Will you have indirect competitors? How will you compare with them? Try to analyze your strengths and weaknesses in comparison with the competition. Be honest, write down where you think you’ll have problems. After that you’ll know how to overcome your minuses and how to take advantage of your pluses. Niche After you analyzed your industry, competition, customers, write 2-3 paragraphs in which you define your niche. Discover where you fit better. Strategy Try to make the body of your strategy, how will you market yourself. 1. Promotion You must be heard, customers must talk about you. How will you do that? In advertising, what media will you use? Why that media and not other? Identify and write down low-cost methods to promote yourself. Will you use paid advertising? What image do you want to create for your customers, how do you want them to see you? Think about your logo design, brochures, cards, things that could have a good impact on your customers. If you make something unique it will be the best. 2. Budget What will be the budget for promoting you? You’ll have to make two kinds of budgets: startup budget and ongoing budget( promotion is used even after years, and it costs money, so you should make a little calculation and write it down.) 3. Price Write down how you set your prices. Take in consideration that setting the lowest price in a small business it is not a good strategy, you should think about average prices and compete more on quality. Compare your prices to your competition’s ones. Where your price is situated? Do you intend you customers purchase your product because it has the lowest price or because it’s quality is better than your competition? 4. Location Think about where will your business be situated. You can think about you home for startup, it will lower the costs severely. Is the location important to customers? It is consistent with your image? Do you want to make it only an online business? Where your competitions have its’ location? 5. Distribution Channels Write down how will you sell your product: Retail, Direct (mail order, Web, catalog), Wholesale, own sales force, independent sales agencies. Sales Forecast Prepare a monthly projection for your sales. Do two forecasts: what you expect scenario and worst case scenario. Keep notes on the research as you build this sales forecasts.