In a three part series, Entrepreneur.com describes
the essentials of creating a marketing plan.
The long and the short of it: A
successful business owner or entrepreneur has to understand who the customer
is, who the competition is, and create a plan on how to move forward within
- The plan should cover at least a year, but
look beyond that to several years out as well.
- It should be used every day by everyone in
the company. It is the flag everyone
- It takes time to develop, and should be an
effort that includes staff, customers, and outside stakeholders.
- The first step in developing a marketing plan is to
research your market. Sounds daunting,
what does that mean anyway? Simple ways
of conducting this may be:
- Surveying potential customers about their
needs and wants. Do they have needs your
business could fulfill?
- Doing phone surveys or interviews in
person. Are you sure your concept is
needed and wanted? What are people
willing to pay? What do they do now to
satisfy the need, who is the competition?
- The two methods above are known as primary
research. You are gathering the
Another way of finding out about the marketplace is to
find what others already have published, known as secondary research. You are learning from information that others
have gathered. What are some sources for
states, “Government statistics are among the most plentiful and wide-ranging
public sources of information. Start with the Census Bureau's helpful Hidden
Treasures--Census Bureau Data and Where to Find It! In seconds, you'll find
out where to find federal and state information. Other government publications
that are helpful include:
- Statistical and
Metropolitan Area Data Book. Offers statistics for metropolitan
areas, central cities and counties.
Abstract of the United States. Data books with statistics from
numerous sources, government to private.
- U.S. Global
Traces the growth of 200 industries and gives five-year forecasts for
Don't neglect to contact
specific government agencies such as the Small Business Administration (SBA).
They sponsor several helpful programs such as SCORE and Small Business
Development Centers (SBDCs) which can provide you with free counseling and a
wealth of business information. The Department of Commerce not only publishes
helpful books like the U.S. Global Outlook, it also produces an array of
products with information regarding both domestic industries and foreign
markets through its International Trade Administration (ITA) branch. The above
items are available from the U.S. Government
Printing Office .
One of the best public
sources is the business section of public libraries. The services provided vary
from city to city, but usually include a wide range of government and market
statistics, a large collection of directories including information on domestic
and foreign businesses, as well as a wide selection of magazines, newspapers
Getting down to the actual
components of your marketing plan, you will be
your current situation: Products,
Threats and Opportunities facing you now and in the future.
Objectives and Goals for your company, and your various product lines.
Tracking mechanisms: how will you
measure your progress, and when.
Success for your company, maintaining revenues, and
supporting your employees, requires thoughtful planning. A Marketing Plan is a key component of
understanding the niche your company occupies in the greater marketplace.
Content contributed by Maria Brown, SoMNSourceLink.
SoMNSourceLink is a proud affiliate of U.S.SourceLink, America’s largest resource network for entrepreneurs.