Your business plan's mission statement will succinctly describe its marketing strategy. This will be expanded in the marketing strategy section (Chapter 11) of your business plan. For now, all you need is a summary.
Marketing involves finding out what a customer wants and supplying it. There are many components of marketing, including market research, analysis, distribution, sales, and customer relations. All operate under the umbrella of marketing and are vital to your business.
Marketing answers a variety of questions for your business, including: What are you selling? Who buys it? Why do they buy? and How can you sell to them? Before you begin your business, you must know the answers to these questions in detail. For now, all you need is a summary of your market.
Your new or growing business plan requires a succinct summary of what it is you are selling. Make sure you know what it is and have developed a list of related products and services that your customers are interested in.
What Are You Selling?
This first question may seem like a no-brainer: What are you selling? However, many new businesses get lost quickly because they don't knowthe answer. For example, a retail bookstore may open, then decide that it wants to sell organic teas. The two product lines are unrelated, the business structures are different, and the customers are not always the same. Either sell books or teas, not both.
One of the most important questions your business plan answers is: Who are your customers? Who will buy your product or service from you? If you are manufacturing jewelry for wholesale distribution, your customers are retailers. If you are starting a pet-sitting service, your clients are pet owners within a specific geographic region.
In many cases, you are your own typical customer. That is, you have identified a need for a specific business because you are a frustrated buyer who cannot find a needed product or service, so you've decided to start a business supplying it. However, you cannot build a successful business by selling to yourself. You must identify and sell to others who have similar needs.
For now, attempt to summarize who it is you will be selling your defined products and or services to. What is your market? In Chapter 11, you will expand on this topic and thoroughly understand your customers.
Why Do They Buy?
Everything is sold based on a need or want. You buy milk at the store not because the price is low, but because you need it. You purchase a new high-definition television because you want it more than you want the money it costs.
To sell your defined products or services to specific customers, you must understand why they buy. Do the majority of your customers buy on need or on want? What factors initiate the need or develop the desire to buy what you sell? How will you satisfy both types of customers? Your business plan must answer these questions. The plan's executive summary will recap customer purchase motivations. For now, simply put yourself in your potential customers’ shoes and consider why they may want to buy from you.
All products and services are designed to solve a specific problem. Before you sell any product or service to another, make sure that you fully understand what explicit problems it solves and for whom. Then you will better understand your market and be able to capitalize on it.
How Can You Sell to Them?
In one room you have sellers with products and services. In another room there are buyers who have related needs and wants. Marketing is the hallway between these rooms. It's the path that sellers and buyers take to meet and transact business. Yes, marketing is a little more complicated than that, but it illustrates the function. Without the hallway, buyers and sellers remain separated. Smart sellers say, “Let's use the hallway to find buyers” or “Let's entice buyers through their senses and they will find us.”
There is more to marketing than simply setting up a store, printing a catalog, or building a website. Much more. At this early stage of your business plan, summarize your ideas for marketing what you sell to those who have an associated need or want.