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Writing A Marketing Plan: Part IIProduct Description

The first thing you should do when forming a marketing plan is define the structure in which it will be presented. The structure of the plan should allow the presentation of strategic information in a logical and progressive manner. This structure should be prepared in a written outline detailing the progression of topics and how they will appear in the marketing plan.

The structure of a marketing plan will usually vary according to the business, its product or service, and the objectives of the marketing plan. Generally, however, each marketing plan will include the following information:

Executive summary

Product description

Market analysis

Competitive analysis

Product development

Operations

Goals & objectives

Marketing tactics

Financial projections

Summary

Keep in mind that the outline illustrated above is just an example. Go through and determine just what topics will be appropriate for your own marketing plan. You'll find that some of the items listed above will not be relevant to what you are proposing, or will require a different approach in order to define them in your marketing plan.

Product Description

Unlike the executive summary, the product description is not a synopsis of the overall plan, but a detailed discussion of your proposed project. In the product description, you need to explain what your product or service is, the specific thrust of your plan, and the main strategies that will be used to accomplish your objectives. The whole idea behind the product description is to make sure that you communicate the purpose of your plan so there is a clear explanation of what your product or service is and what you intend to do with it.

Like the executive summary, the product description can be a few paragraphs in length to a few pages, depending on the complexity of your plan. If your plan is not too complicated, keep your product description short, describing your product or service in one paragraph and your objectives and strategies in another. While you may need to have a lengthy product description in some cases, a short product description that conveys the required information in a succinct manner is the most effective. It doesn't attempt to hold the reader's attention for a extended period of time. If your product description is long and drawn-out, you will lose the reader's attention, and possibly any chance of receiving the necessary funding for the project.

When writing your product description, you should use any support statistics from the body of your plan. Make sure that you credit any secondary or primary sources so the reader knows that your statistics aren't just arbitrary figures.

To continue with our example of the biodegradable diapers, your product description would look like the following:

Sample Product Description

The purpose of this plan is to demonstrate the need for a high-quality, biodegradable disposable diaper that will fill a gap left in the marketplace by large disposable-diaper manufacturers. In a survey of 1,000 parents commissioned by Softie Baby Care Inc. and conducted by Timmons Research, over 60 percent of the respondents were extremely concerned about the environment and the effects of non-degradable diapers; 20 percent were mildly concerned; 15 percent were concerned; and 5 percent used cloth diapers or a service. Clearly this survey points to the importance parents are placing upon the environment.

The solution we are providing to these consumers is a biodegradable disposable diaper at a price point that is just 20 percent above that of regular disposable diapers. The "Bio-Diaper" will be produced in all standard diaper sizes and will feature various nursery designs to appeal to a more affluent, brand-name-oriented consumer. To reach these consumers, we will introduce the Bio-Diaper through specialty stores and mail order to begin with, slowly moving to large retail chains and supermarkets. It is our goal to supplant the need for regular disposable diapers.

As you can see, the sample introduction starts with an explanation detailing the reason for the plan and quickly moves into supporting evidence that plainly illustrates the need described in the preceding sentence. From the first paragraph, the introduction moves into the second paragraph that details the whole thrust of the plan. The readers learn that the proposed product is a biodegradable diaper that is priced very competitively with regular disposable diapers. It also goes on to indicate an entry point into the market that provides a better understanding of the marketing strategy suggested to reach the goal listed at the end of the introduction.

In part III of our Marketing Plan series, we'll be covering the Market Analysis. Tips are updated daily at 5:00a.m. PST.

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