First Posted: 10/30/2009
Hi again from Surry Community College! We are nearing the end of these entrepreneurship articles and there is still so much to cover in such a short space. I encourage you to enroll in the Entrepreneurship Program at SCC and develop a much more in-depth understanding of the concepts we have discussed.
In the last column I mentioned a marketing plan and stated its importance to the overall business plan. I also mentioned that some entrepreneurs either underestimate the marketing of their business or forget about it entirely. Both of those options can, and probably will, spell failure for your business venture. Attracting and retaining customers for your business is very important because, according to marketing research, attracting a new customer costs five times as much as keeping an existing customer. So today lets focus on the marketing plan and what should be included in this very important document.
According to Longenecker, the marketing plan is a section of the business plan that describes the user benefits of the product or service and the type of market that exists. The marketing plan should accomplish four objectives according to Zimmer and Scarborough, and it is these four objectives that will be the theme of todays article as we discuss each area in-depth.
Objective 1 The marketing plan should determine customer needs and wants through market research. The way to accomplish this objective is through market research and analyzing the data. There are three types of information that is very important during this phase: geographic, demographic, and psychographic. Geographic data will tell you where your customers live, demographic data will tell you their age, income, sex and other important characteristics, and psychographic data will tell you about your customers values and their buying behaviors so that you know how to best reach and communicate with them successfully.
Objective 2 The marketing plan should pinpoint the specific target markets your business will serve. Your target market is the customers that your products or service is aimed at and those that are most likely to purchase your product. Sure, you can market your product to the entire population and hope that enough people will buy your product to make your business a success. This approach to marketing can lead to serious problems for your business. Why? Well, you will have to enroll in the entrepreneurship program to find the answer!
Objective 3 The marketing plan should analyze the firms competitive advantages and build a marketing strategy around them. What will make customers want to buy products from your business instead of some other business? Could it be your business hours, your focus on the customer and making sure they are happy, the quality of your products, or the convenience of your business to the customer?
Objective 4 The marketing plan should help to create a marketing mix that meets customer needs and wants. The marketing mix is comprised of the 4 Ps: product, price, place, and promotion. As the business owner, you need to have the right product, at a price that the customer is willing to pay, at a place where the customer can purchase the product. You also need to promote your products benefits to the customers so they will want to buy your product.
These four objectives and the marketing plan itself will be covered in more depth in the Entrepreneurship Program at SCC in the ETR-230 Entrepreneur Marketing, BUS-110 Introduction to Business, and other courses in the program. I will leave you with this quote from one entrepreneur If youre not taking care of your customers and nurturing that relationship, you can bet theres someone else out there who will.
Michael Miller is the program leader for the Entrepreneur Associates Program at Surry Community College.