Planning For Success

Marketing Plan

Define your business' market and sales potential. This will help you develop successful sales, pricing and distribution strategies and will give an indication of growth potential within your industry.

Begin your market analysis by defining the market in terms of size, structure, growth prospects, trends and sales potential. Your potential market can be defined by total sales of your primary competitors (those within your target market) or by a combination of sales figures from primary and secondary competitors (less frequent competitors within your target market). Most of this information is available through trade associations, periodicals and government agencies. You can also gather information from the annual reports of publicly held firms or by surveying private competitors.

Lenders or investors will be most interested in your sales potential figures. Make sure this forecast is conservative and has its basis in a well-developed methodology that supports your claim for market share.

Your marketing strategies, based on your market research, will impact your market share, and consequently your sales potential. They should encompass pricing, distribution, advertising and sales, and illustrate how you will achieve sales. Explain why you are adopting specific strategies. For instance, if you are positioning your product as an upscale item, due to the quality of the components or ingredients, and you set your price at 10 percent above the competition's product, explain this in the plan.

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This article was originally published in the March 1996 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Planning For Success.

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