A marketing strategy is important for all businesses because it clearly outlines how they will find new customers and promote their products and services to ultimately get more sales. You can use the marketing strategy as a stand-alone tool, as part of a marketing plan, or as part of a business plan—all with slightly different components. Let's focus on creating a marketing strategy for your business plan.
The marketing strategy section of your business plan builds upon the market analysis section. The marketing strategy outlines where your business fits into the market and how you will price, promote, and sell your product or service. It can also act as a source of important information for potential investors who are analyzing your business.
The 4 Ps
You can break down the key information in the marketing strategy section using the 4 Ps of marketing concept.
Product refers to either a physical product or a service you plan on offering. Some of the product areas that should be included in this section are:
- Brand name
- Related products or services
This part covers the various aspects of how you plan on marketing your product or service. The areas you will need to address include:
- Marketing budget
- Promotional strategy
- Publicity and public relations
- Sales force
- Sales promotion
This part addresses the way you plan on pricing your product or service. The aspects of pricing you will need to address are:
- Bundling (if you have related products/services)
- Pricing flexibility
- Pricing strategy
- Retail price
- Seasonal price (if applicable)
- Wholesale (volume) price
Also known as Distribution, this part is all about the delivery of your product or service to your customer. Here are the areas you will need to cover:
- Distribution centers
- Distribution channels
- Inventory management
- Order processing
7 Tips for Writing a Marketing Strategy
As you write the marketing strategy section of your business plan, keep seven things in mind to make it as effective and relevant as possible.
1. Show Your Uniqueness
The foundation of your marketing strategy should be your unique selling proposition (USP)—the statement that outlines what differentiates you from everyone else in the market. Create your USP first and then build upon it by relating it to each of the 4 Ps. The common thread through each part of your marketing strategy should be how your business solves a problem or meets a need better than anyone else.
2. Know Your Customers/Clients
The information you include in your marketing strategy should incorporate all of the research you conducted in your market analysis. Make sure you have a clear idea of who your ideal customers or clients are, what they like, what they need, and what they expect. This will make your marketing strategy more accurate and applicable to your target audience.
3. Be Flexible
While the 4 Ps of marketing work well for physical products, they may need to be tweaked a bit for services. For example, for the place section, you may use your website instead of a physical location. Your website should also be a part of your promotion section, as should any social media that you participate in.
4. Do Your Research
When you’re determining your pricing, you should have plenty of data to back up your decision. Include industry reports, competitor ads, and comparisons that demonstrate the research you conducted and how you came to the conclusion that you are pricing your product or service correctly.
5. Use Visuals
As in other sections of your business plan, using charts, graphs, and images to illustrate your facts can make them easier for your audience to absorb. Is your pricing right at the median in the industry? Are you planning to use a four-step distribution process? Use visual aids to drive your point home.
6. Remember Your Budget
You will outline the financial analysis of your company in another section of your business plan, but keep those numbers in mind as you write your marketing strategy. Your marketing process may look good by itself, but unless you tie it directly to your financial status, you will have a difficult time meeting your goals.
7. Include Your Collateral
If you're going to talk about your marketing collateral in your marketing section, you should include samples as exhibits. These might include brochures, fact sheets, videos, and photos.