September 22, 2010
The Four Pillars of a Sturdy Marketing Plan
Is your business working for you?
In other words… Is your business growing as fast as you imagined it would when you first started it?
If not, then you need a new marketing plan.
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The four pillars are Product, Promotions, Price, and Place. These terms, while easy to memorize, can be misleading. In fact, the very term â€œmarketingâ€ is widely misunderstood, as will be described below. Get a firm grasp on these concepts when creating your Marketing Plan, and you will be positioned to make a good impression on investors reading your business plan.
Your marketing plan must describe the product(s) or service(s) you offer. This is where you get to expound on the idea that started your business in the first place. Describe the product features and how they work. Explain why they are unique, and mention any proprietary technology your product uses to perform its function. Feel at liberty to refer to any backing materials â€“ diagrams, patents, etc. â€“ but insert those materials in the Appendix at the back of your business plan.
Additionally, future products and services can and should be mentioned in the marketing plan. You can expound on their development and release timelines as milestones in the Operations Plan, but the Marketing Plan should mostly focus on near to intermediate-term future product lines.
Promotions are what most people normally think of when we say â€œmarketing.â€ Promotions can take the form of advertising in the media, public relations efforts, free sample offerings, special discounts, direct mailings, telemarketing operations, strategic partnerships, and so on.
This aspect of the marketing Plan must be specific. For example, which kind of advertising in what markets will you do? To whom will your public relations professionals reach out? What companies will your company partner with, and how will that help you to penetrate your customer base? When will these tactics be implemented?
Also include a few words on position, also known as reputation. How will customers refer to your company? How will the public distinguish you in comparison to your competition?
Outline your pricing strategies for your products or services. Steer clear of being too specific about numbers, as markets can change rapidly. Instead, focus on how your pricing will compare to your competition, as well as the pricing hierarchies of your product line. Explain why your pricing is the way it is.
Place is the most oversimplified concept in marketing. By â€œplaceâ€ we mean your entire supply chain, from raw materials to customer consumption. Where are your vendors located? How will their products reach you? Where are you located? Where do your customers live?
Even the Internet counts as a â€œplace.â€ The moral of the story is that each link in the supply chain must be described in your Marketing Plan.
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