The Marketing Plan

The marketing plan is the second stage of preparing your business plan. This phase is highly critical because it provides the basis for the organizational, operational and financial plans. You will need to conduct a market research i.e., an in-depth analysis of your
intended market. This will enable you to describe your market opportunities and challenges. You can then develop the marketing strategies, tactics and policies required to exploit the market opportunities. You should note the sources of any market data you use
and present your facts convincingly.

Customers

  • Describe your potential customers
  • Classify your customers into groups

Conducting Market Research and Analysis
You need adequate information about your market so that you can have a good marketing plan. This information can be attained through marketing research. In this part of the marketing plan, you are required to gather information relating to the following:

  • Customer profiles.
  • Market area, size and trend
  • Competition.

You can then use the information gathered to estimate your market share and sales. Discussed below are the pertinent information that you will need in relation to the above (i.e. customer profiles, competition and market area, size and trend).

Customer profile
It is important to understand your potential or current customers because without customers, there is no business.
Steps in researching your customers
You can use the following steps when conducting research about your customers.

1. Determine who your customer are Customers can be:

  • Wholesalers – businessman who buy the product to re-sell to retailers and sometimes to final customers.
  • Retailers – businessman who buy the product and sell to the final consumers.
  • Final consumers or end-users – Persons or groups of persons who use the products to sanctify their needs. Final consumers may be individuals, households and institutions such as schools, churches, hospitals, etc.

Determine the key characteristics of the potential customers

  • Income
  • Age
  • Sex
  • Education
  • Occupation and any other relevant characteristics
  • Characteristics of the customers, income and occupation – demographic and location of customers.

This information will be useful in determining the appropriate pricing, promotion and advertising strategies. Determine why customers buy certain products and/or services. Some of reasons could be Value propositions Businesses address needs by putting forth a value proposition i.e. a set of benefits they offer to customers to justify their needs e.g. the intangible value proposition is made physical by an offering that can be a combination of products s, services information and experience

A brand is also an offering and all businesses strife to build brand strength i.e. a strong favourable brand image, the offering will be successful if it delivers value and satisfaction to the target buyer. Customers buy products and/or services to satisfy various needs and determine the factors that influence the customers to buy or not buy products and/or service. Many factors influence the customers to buy product and/or service. Some of the factors you should investigate are Product considerations

  • Price
  • Quality
  •  Appearance (colour, texture, shape, materials, etc.)
  • Packaging
  • Size (Weight and volume)
  • Fragility, ease of handling, transportability
  • Servicing, warranties, durability
  • Operating characteristics (efficiency, adaptability, etc)

Business considerations

  • Location and facilities
  • Reputation of company
  • Methods of selling
  • Timing (hours of operation, delivery times)
  • Credit facilities
  • Advertising and promotion
  • Variety of goods and/or services.
  • Capability of employees

Other considerations

  • Shift in income
  • Seasonality, or weather changes
  • Changing customers attitudes and lifestyles
  • Changes in the economy (recession, depression, inflation, etc).
  • When and why they purchase
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