How to Write a Sales and Marketing Plan
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- 4 April, 2022
How to Develop a Complete Sales and Marketing Strategy
Peanut butter and jelly. Salt and pepper. Puppies and treats. Beach days and ice cream.
Some things are inseparable and are bound to go together.
Sales and marketing cannot be done well without the other.
Creating a synergy between sales and marketing lets you build a connected business that attracts more leads and converts higher-quality customers.
In this article, we’ll share everything you need to know to create a cohesive sales and marketing strategy. You’ll learn:
- What sales and marketing are.
- How to develop a sales and marketing strategy.
- How to align them to maximize growth and productivity.
Building a sales and marketing strategy to create alignment and increase revenue
The first step is to distinguish the differences between the two and learn how to integrate them , so they work in tandem.
Traditionally, sales and marketing teams have worked on polar opposites of the spectrum. In reality, they are two alliances working together to accomplish the same mission — grow your business.
A marketing strategy is how you reach your target audience, while a sales strategy is how you convert those leads into customers.
Your marketing efforts should deliver your core message and build interest in your brand.
Conversely, a sales strategy maps the process of turning leads and prospects into paying customers.
Both endeavors are crucial to the success of a business. Each side plays a vital role in the customer journey from awareness to end purchase.
Why is it important to have a sales AND marketing strategy?
Every aspect of your business needs a plan. Without a plan, your business is bound to wander aimlessly.
Your marketing strategy should clearly define the activities and processes needed to attract the right audience to your business.
Additionally, the marketing needs to nurture prospects so they are more likely to buy.
The sales strategy focuses on tactics and processes to forge a relationship with prospective clients to convert them faster.
A sales and marketing strategy is the cornerstone of alignment. If the two teams aren’t fully in-sync about their responsibilities and what is going on on both sides of the fence, you will end up with a lot of miscommunication, missed opportunities, and stagnant growth.
58% of marketing and sales professionals reported that collaboration provides increased customer retention. Furthermore, highly-aligned sales and marketing strategies experience 32% year-over-year growth, while less aligned businesses see a 7% decline in revenue.
Understanding the competitive landscape
Before developing your sales and marketing strategy, a business owner should clearly understand the market landscape.
A competitive landscape analysis lets you analyze your competitor’s strategies, so you can define your value proposition and develop strategies that can outperform the competition.
Here are two competitive landscape frameworks you can implement to collect insights for your marketing and sales processes.
A SWOT analysis is a strategic planning method that puts your organization in perspective using a visual quadrant with strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.
Using a SWOT analysis helps identify areas where your business can improve and maximize opportunities while simultaneously determining negative aspects that could reduce your chances of success.
Use the SWOT analysis to identify:
- What do you do better than others (strengths)?
- What are weak areas in your business (weaknesses)?
- Opportunities to stand out above the competition.
- Things that could be a roadblock, such as competitors, market conditions, lack of automation, etc.
How does this tie into sales and marketing strategy?
Using SWOT analysis lets you identify your value proposition so that you can identify the right audience for your product or service.
You’ll also know opportunities you can leverage to help build your brand and help your brand “stick” in the minds of other companies.
For example, Peloton offers convenience to customers by providing customers the ability to create a fitness regime around their own timetable instead of a gym’s schedule. It’s highly customizable since they allow users to attend live-streaming studio cycling classes based on their fitness level.
In fact, it was the ultimate “covid proof” business model. While many gyms were forced to implement restrictions and shut down, Peloton was growing.
Peloton sees the lack of convenience in most fitness models. Gyms can be inconvenient because consumers have to go to the location physically. Online personal classes or trainers were great, but it’s difficult to customize to your personal needs and interests. Peloton has developed equipment and an array of classes that suit the end-user.
The BCG Matrix is a framework that helps businesses decide how to strategically prioritize products, services, or particular areas of the business. This matrix categorizes products into four categories:
- Pets: Products with low market growth and low market share.
- Question marks: Products with high market growth but low market share.
- Stars: Products with high market growth and high market share.
- Cash Cow: Products with low market growth and high market share.
To place your products into one of these four categories, you’ll need to gather data on your sales growth year over year and compare that to the market share within the industry.
Here’s an example of what Apple’s BCG Matrix would look like:
Apple BCG Matrix
Why are these products categorized this way?
Question mark: Apple TV has seen tremendous growth, but it still is a question mark as to how it’ll perform long term. It may become more popular when people begin to appreciate the importance of the Apple ecosystem.
Star: The iPhone is the clear star product of Apple. With every new update, they are adding an innovative feature that is breaking record sales and cementing themselves further as the leader in market share for mobile devices.
Pet: iPods are probably one of their least purchased items compared to the iPhone and iPads. Although they one sold many of them, the longevity of the music player isn’t viable.
Cash cow: Macbooks and iPad still hold a lot of popularity and dominance in their respective markets. These products may not grow exponentially in revenue but offer a steady repeatable source of sales for Apple.
How it applies to your sales and marketing strategy:
Getting clear on how your product fits can help your sales and marketing teams determine which products to push.
When there is a disconnect between what your audience wants and what you’re trying to sell, there’s a lack of product-market fit.
Your sales team should have a strong pulse on what the product does and its benefits. Ideally, the sales and marketing personnel should actively use the product themselves so that they can put themselves in the customer’s shoes.
Developing a Marketing Strategy
When developing a marketing strategy, it’s crucial to understand the sales funnel stages and define the leads based on their demographics, firmographics, and readiness to buy.
These are the 7 most commonly used leads that you’ll run across in your business:
Cold leads are generally unresponsive to interactions. Perhaps, they recently signed up to your email list but haven’t yet opened any of the emails. Fortunately, with a good lead nurturing email sequence , you can turn a cold lead into a warm lead.
Information qualified leads
Informational leads have performed an action where they request more information from you. This could be submitting their contact information to receive a free webinar or report about a form on your website.
Warm leads have demonstrated interest in your product or service. Maybe they’ve gone through your webinar or viewed your sales page but haven’t taken action yet.
Hot leads have shown significant interest in your product. They may have booked a call with your sales rep to learn more about your product.
sales-ready leads have contacted your businesses inquiring about your help. These prospects may have reached your live chat or customer service to learn more about your product.
Marketing qualified leads (MQLs)
Marketing qualified leads have been qualified by your marketing team. The process entails leading scoring your leads by assigning numerical values to them based on their behaviors, demographics, and psychographics. Once they pass a given threshold, they’ll be considered as MQLs and sent to your sales team for contact.
Sales qualified leads (MQLs)
Sales-qualified leads have been qualified by your sales team. You have many appointment setters to hop on brief calls to qualify your prospects. They typically ask qualifying questions to ensure the person is a good fit for your product.
Demand generation is the process of generating awareness and interest for your products and services. It means growing your audience and attracting new visitors to your website and introducing them to your offerings. Generally, it’s when the prospect first becomes aware of your brand.
Demand generation entails:
- Increasing brand awareness to attract the target audience
- Educate your audience
- Build trust
- Spark interest
Lead generation is the process of converting your audience into leads by capturing their information. Note that most people aren’t ready to opt-in immediately; therefore, demand generation is essential to generate interest in your brand and product.
Marketing channel strategy
With new platforms arising every year, many marketers are getting “shiny-object syndrome” trying to hop from one platform to the next. Learning where your audience hangs out, and each platform’s value is critical to determining your marketing channel strategy. Without knowing where to distribute your content, you won’t be able to build demand or lead generation.
According to HubSpot, the top marketing channels are social media, SEO, email, and content marketing.
We’ll cover the best channels you can use for your business.
Search engine optimization (SEO)
62% of customers turn to the search engine when they want to learn more about a new product, service, or business, while 41% use the search engine when they’re ready to make a purchase. Not to mention trillions of searches on Google are made annually, making them the go-to place for finding information online.
Search engine optimization is the process of getting your website to rank high on the search engine results pages for a specific keyword or term. This ensures your content is easily accessible and visible to people searching for the term.
Some of the common ranking factors include
- Keywords: What’s your website’s content about?
- Site structure: How can the search engine organize and prioritize your content?
- Crawlability: Can your content be easily found by the search engines?
- Backlinks: Does your content provide credible information on the topics you’re writing about
Most users never scroll past the first page on the search engine result pages. That’s why it’s critical to rank high on Google. Here are some ways to improve your SEO.
- Learn keyword optimization: Find relevant keywords that your ideal audience is searching for online. Make sure it has a large volume yet is still realistic enough to rank for.
- Optimize your website for mobile search: 48% of buyers use their mobile phones to begin their search, and they account for 53% of paid-search clicks. Mobile optimization means adjusting your site’s structure, design, and speed so that it is more conducive for mobile browsing. Google has a mobile-first indexing policy, meaning they predominantly use the mobile version of your site for indexing and ranking.
- Produce high-quality content: Visitors won’t stay on your site very long if you’re not providing them with valuable content. Over-deliver on content by providing better, easy-to-read, or more in-depth content than other sites.
Bombarding prospective customers with “buy now” messages simply doesn’t work anymore. They’ll likely run to hills and avoid you like the plague. Not to mention, that’ll earn you a negative word of mouth and a bad reputation for being overly salesy.
Content marketing is a consumer-centric approach centered on consistently producing and distributing valuable content such as blog posts, infographics , case studies , videos, white papers, interviews, and others to attract a targeted audience. The goal is to attract the right audience, drive leads and nurture them into customers.
Most organizations use content marketing for the following reasons:
- Build and position a brand
- Generate leads
- Improve brand awareness
- Increase sales
- Provide pre-and post-sale information that their prospects are looking for
- Established credibility and authority in their market
- Support social media marketing and SEO initiatives
- Retain customers
Here are ways you can get content marketing to work in your favor:
Content marketing is meant to help you in the long run: Rome wasn’t built overnight, and neither are digital companies. It takes time to build trust and authority. However, consistently delivering highly shareable and valuable content helps to become the go-to expert in your industry. Content lets you reach out to prospects and customers, address their pain points, and allow them to get to know, like, and trust you.
It shouldn’t be used as a standalone marketing distribution strategy: Content marketing helps drive other forms of marketing. Therefore it’s best used in combination with other digital marketing channels. For instance, social media marketing can amplify the reach of your high-quality content, while gated content like email can bridge the gap between a traffic visitor to a buyer.
By the end of 2023, there will be over 4.3 billion email users worldwide. The widespread use of emails is why they are a powerful way to engage your audience, especially if they have demonstrated interest in your brand, product, or service.
Email marketing is the process of using emails to forge relationships with prospective and current customers. It’s a channel typically used to nurture leads based on where they are in the buying journey, as well as onboard trial users and customers .
Here are tips to help you succeed with email marketing:
Personalize your campaigns and messages with segmentation:
Don’t send out random emails to random people on your list. Instead, you should find ways to segment your audience . Create multiple lead magnets to better segment your list and categorize them by groups. Then create unique email sequences based on their segmentation.
Improve your subject lines and email copy skills:
64% of people will determine whether or not to open the email based on the subject line. You can follow these guidelines to improve your email copy instantly:
- Personalize emails by referring to their name
- Take commonly asked questions about your product or service, and answer that in your email. For example, let’s say prospects are concerned that marketing automation is expensive. Your email subject line could be “Es marketing automation expensive?” Then we’ll explain how Encharge can save you money based on not hiring X employees and saving you time from doing unnecessary tasks.
- Use specific numbers in your subject line. Numbers add specificity and prevent your message from sounding vague. For example, if I was writing an email for Encharge, our subject line could be, “how this one mistake cost me $109,894” Then I’d write about how marketing automation cost me a lot of money and a big mistake. Tie the message back to the product, which is Encharge.
Need some subject line inspiration? Try out our Free AI-powered Email Subject Line Generator .
Social media marketing
3.6 billion people use social media, and the average person spends 144 minutes per day on it.
Social media marketing leverages social platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Linkedin, YouTube, Pinterest to build their brand, establish relationships, grow their audience, and generate sales. Follow these tips to boost your social media marketing strategy:
- Create a social media calendar. Just like content marketing, you’ll need to post high-quality and relevant content on a regular basis to build a strong social media presence. A social media calendar helps you to build brand voice consistency and demonstrates to followers that you are a reliable source of information.
- Focus on in-platform strategies: Each strategy has its own algorithms that make them unique. YouTube is a search platform; therefore, using keywords, attractive thumbnails, and increasing watch time will help YouTube push your content to new people. Conversely, Instagram posts won’t be seen on the feed more than a few days out. Thus, it’s better to use hashtags and collaborate with other people within your niche to grow.
Online advertising uses various platforms to promote a product or service. These ads typically appear on Google, Facebook , Youtube, Twitter, Instagram, and others. Advertisement types include
- PPC Ads: Advertisers pay every time a visitor clicks on their search ad. These ads appear on the first page of the search engine, typically at the top or bottom of SERPs.
- Social Ads: Ads in the form of pictures or videos that appear on the social platform. In the case of Facebook, they can appear on the timeline, messenger, or right column.
- Retargeting Ads: Retargeting ads consist of targeting people who have already seen or interacted with your content.
- Influencer ads: An brand pays an influencer to promote their product or service to their audience.
There’s a place for every marketing channel. The challenge is to choose the right channels that are best suited for your business. It may be advantageous to leverage multiple channels together to increase your chances of success. For instance, producing blog content consistently while sending paid ads to visitors who didn’t opt-in your leads is a great way to ensure you’re maximizing the traffic visitors you’re receiving from search engines.
Lead nurturing is the process of developing relations with prospects to move them to the sales funnel . Unlike demand or lead generation, lead nurturing is focused on getting to know your prospects and tailoring your marketing and sales communication according to their needs and preferences. Here are the types of lead nurturing campaigns you can use:
- Educational content: Use education content to set up promotions in the future. This means describing the problem in greater detail. Perhaps answer common questions or misconceptions in your industry.
- Promotional content: Advertise your product by finding creative ways like customer testimonials, case studies, brand stories, etc.
- Product/Demo offer: If a prospect has already signed up for a free trial, they might be interested in delving deeper into the full functionalities of the product or service.
Developing a Sales Strategy
Without a sales strategy in place, your sales teams will make decisions based on what’s in front of them. Not because they’re careless but rather unaware of the company’s long-term goals. Creating processes for sales and making data-driven decisions will help to improve your sales and increase your conversion rates. The last thing you want is to accumulate a lot of leads only to let them slip through the cracks with a poor sales strategy.
Proactive outreach to inbound leads
Relying sole on outbound sales strategies isn’t sustainable for a company. It takes a lot of investment in the form of prospecting tools, contact lists, hiring more reps, and promoting a “churn and burn” environment.
Inbound marketing allows you to build lasting relationships with prospects and converts them when they are ready to purchase.
Inbound leads cost 61% less than outbound leads and coverts 10x more effective when executed properly.
Fortunately, outbound tactics can still be done in an inbound way to complement your marketing team’s inbound efforts.
When prospects subscribe to your email list, you can simply have a sales rep reach out. This can help speed up the process and shorten the lifecycle.
Here are scenarios when a salesperson can reach out to inbound leads:
- A prospect submits a form to learn more information about a product or service.
- A prospect has recently attended an event such as a virtual webinar, training, or even a live event.
- A prospect has recently purchased from you, and a sales rep can help to push a complimentary product.
The key is to be proactive and reach out promptly. When a prospect interacts with your brand by submitting contact forms, attending your training, or even having already made a purchase, they are hot leads begging to be closed.
The longer you wait, the more likely they’ll look elsewhere or simply change their mind about purchasing in front of you. Most businesses are scared to reach out to leads in fear of “bombarding” them. However, it’s ironic that the opposite is true. They become less responsive if you wait longer.
Many of the current studies and data compiled point to the importance of timeliness and how delayed responses can impact your results:
- It takes B2B sales departments 42 hours to respond to new leads, and 38% never respond. Additionally, it takes 4.3 days of back-and-forth communication before the first call happens.
- Companies are 7x more likely to have meaningful conversations with decisions made when they are contacted within an hour of submitting a query.
Companies that try to contact potential customers within an hour of receiving queries are nearly 7 times as likely to have meaningful conversations with key decision-makers as firms that try to contact prospects even an hour later. Yet only 37% of companies respond to queries within an hour. Source: HubSpot
Moreover, if leads are already in your lead nurturing funnel, your sales reps can start contacting them when they’re about halfway through the funnel. Businesses should meet their buyers where they are within the sales process . If the buyer has already gone through 57% of your sales process, there’s a good chance they are already educated, warmed up, and ready to talk.
One study even found that 35 to 50% of sales will go to the vendor that reaches out first. It pays to reach out to your prospects first before your competitors do.
Create a warm pitch
The warm pitch is contacting prospective customers when they are already familiar with your brand. There are different channels you can use to pitch your prospects, such as through email, text, social messaging like LinkedIn, or even calling them.
The most important factor in the success of your warm pitch is to focus on the actual prospect, not your personal agenda. If the thought of:
- Closing more deals
- Hitting your sales quota
- Beating another rep on the sales leaderboard
enters your mind, it’s likely you’re warm pitch will reflect that.
You could come off as desperate, pushy, and arrogant, which decreases your odds of a sale. Instead, focus on the prospect and how you can help them.
Furthermore, it’s important to refer to your ideal customer profiles to help you craft your pitch.
Every pitch should consist of an:
- Introduction: Mention something that you like about their business or something relatable you’ve found out about them
- Hook: State the problem they might be facing
- Value and Solution : State your solution and the benefits or results they’ll receive from your product or service
- CTA: Deliver a clear call to action
For a warm pitch, the CTA generally involves hopping on a sales call. However, the call to action might also be to refer you to a decision-maker in the company, click on a link, start a free trial, etc.
If you’re unsure what problem your prospect is facing, you can use the warm pitch to clarify what the problem is and tailor your offering to meet their needs.
Here’s an example of a 1,2,3 warm pitch:
This pitch works incredibly well because it’s easy to respond to and shows that you probably understand the problems that they face. Not to mention, you are telling them you’ll send something to fix that.
Once you send them the lead magnet or something quick to help their problem, you can then pitch the idea of hopping on a sales call.
Just like with the warm pitch, it’s important to focus on the customer and get clear on the problems they’re facing with their business. Rather than diving straight into your product and the features, it’s vital to leave that until the end.
Think of a doctor who diagnoses a problem before prescribing a solution. Here’s an outline of how you can conduct your sales calls:
- Meet – build rapport
- Probe – ask the right questions
- Prescribe – tell them about your solution
- Close – ask for their sale and get paid right away
Here’s a quick guide on how to go about each phase of the sales call.
“I see that that you’re working towards [goal] , but are currently facing [challenges] , is that right?”
The idea is to build rapport and get them to do the talking. Let them explain to you their situation in their own words. Make sure to truly listen and get a sense of how they’re feeling.
You can segue into the probe by saying,
“I’m not sure if I can help or if you’d be a good fit for us. But to see if I may help you, would you might if I ask you some questions?”
Ask the following questions to get them to describe their problem. Also, these questions will help them understand the cost of not getting the problem fixed immediately.
- Why is it important to get [problem] solved?
- What is the cost of not having [goal] ?
- If you did ultimately achieve [goal] , what would that mean to you?
- What are the roadblocks that are preventing you from getting [goal] ?
Then transition from the probe to prescribe.
“So, what you’re looking for is ___ [repeat back what the prospect has told you in the probe stage] ”
“Based on what you’re telling me, here’s what I recommend [your offer] ”
Talk about your solution, but only in terms of what the prospect has told you they want. Make sure to describe the benefits of your product that they told you were important to them. Prove to your prospect that you are the person to help them get to their desired result.
Here you can mention your company’s features, accolades, or unique value proposition to prove that you’re credible to help them.
Now ask them, “how does that sound to you?”
When they respond, “is there anything that would keep you from going ahead with this [offer]?”
At that point, you can handle all objections before you close.
Once you’ve handled the objections, you can tell them the price and get to sending the invoice or taking their credit card info to charge them on the phone.
The idea of this sales framework is to get clear on your prospect’s problems and aspirations. Then help them see that you have the solution that can bridge the gap between their current situation and the ideal situation.
You can’t improve if you aren’t measuring your results. Decisions should be driven by concrete data so that you aren’t relying solely on intuition.
Sales metrics are data points that represent your sales team’s performance. They can the conversion rates, progress towards goals, and other metrics that identify strategic issues.
When it comes to your sales team, there are several types of sales metrics:
Conversion metrics determine how effective your sales strategies are. If your reps are struggling to close hot leads, it can be a sign that you need more in-depth sales training.
Here are some examples of conversion metrics to track:
- Percentage of opportunities lose
- Percentage of opportunities won
- Average number of won opportunities for each sales rep
- Average number of lost opportunities for each sales rep
Sales team productivity
It’s vital to measure how productive your sales reps are. For example, are your reps focused on selling, or are they busy with administrative tasks?
Follow these metrics to see how productive your sales reps are:
- Average time spent on manual data entry
- Percentage of time spent on selling activities
- Percentage of marketing collateral used by sales reps
- Average times a high-quality lead is followed up with
- Percentage of high-quality leads followed up with
- Average number of sales tools used
Email warm pitch metrics
As your team is reaching out to inbound leads, it’s important to measure the results. Is your sales team struggling to book sales calls? Look for data points such as open rate, response rate, engagement rate, and percentage of prospects who move onto the sales call.
Sales hiring metrics
Many organizations overlook the sales hiring process. HR managers typically feel pressured to fill the sales roles quickly, leading to settling for mediocre candidates. Here are some hiring metrics to look at:
- Time spent recruiting
- Average time spent hiring
- Average cost to replace a sales position
- Average turnover rate
Read next: The 3 Types of Sales and Marketing Analytics that Will Help You Grow
Align sales and marketing
Aligning your sales and marketing teams means sharing data so that both parties have access to any lead that enters the funnel. By cross-sharing data, each team can utilize the data points to help in their daily roles.
For instance, the marketing team can run through sales notes to learn more information about the buyer persona, common challenges, etc. As a result, they can generate content, lead magnets, and other marketing collateral to attract higher-quality leads.
Additionally, the marketing team can lead score each prospect and categorize each by certain lead types (hot, warm, or cold lead) and whether they are sales-ready or not.
To achieve this alignment, you’d want to integrate your CRM with your marketing automation suite . The marketing automation tool needs to be able to lead score and segment leads effectively. Conversely, CRM software is required to track the sales process of each lead.
Fortunately, Encharge offers a robust HubSpot CRM integration along with other CRM integrations allowing you to easily cross-share data. The Encharge integration supports a two-way sync of contact and company data. That means that when a contact field in Encharge is updated, it will automatically sync with your CRM, so sales will have the latest up-to-date contact information, as well as a full view of the marketing journey of the lead.
Apart from contact data, Encharge syncs email marketing activity – email opens, clicks, and replies. That way, sales reps can find which marketing messages your leads are interacting with and be more prepared when following up and selling to them.
Last but not least, you can automate sales processes in your CRM by using flows. The example below automates the whole CRM deal creation process based on the stage of the lead in the customer journey – when they book a demo call, and when they become a customer.
You can learn more about our HubSpot integration here . The end result is better sales and marking alignment.
- 12 Sales and Marketing Strategy Examples from Real Companies
- Understanding the Difference Between Sales and Marketing
- The Last Guide to Marketing and Sales Automation You’ll Need
- 15 Ways Marketing and Sales Work Together to Drive Growth
- The 8 Critical Elements of Sales and Marketing Operations
- 10 Steps to Create a Sales and Marketing Business Plan [Templates included]
Your turn – develop your strategy and execute it
Running a thriving online business requires a robust sales and marketing strategy. There’s no “winging” it when it comes to business practices.
Creating thorough processes that align both teams together helps to create synergy in your company.
Take advantage of Encharge to level up your business and convert more customers! Sign up for a free 14-day trial today!
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- Building Your Business
- Becoming an Owner
- Business Plans
Marketing & Sales Section in Your Home Business Plan
How to write the marketing section of your business plan.
- Why You Need a Business Plan
- What To Include in the Marketing & Sales Section
- The 5 P's of Marketing
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
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Before starting your home business, it's important to outline all the details in a business plan. Creating the plan not only forces you take a good look at all aspects of your business, but it also becomes the roadmap for your success.
One of the most important sections of a business plan is the Marketing and Sales Strategies section, which outlines your plan for reaching and selling to your target market . While you want to have a wonderful product or provide stellar service, it's all for nothing if you don't have customers or clients.
Your marketing plan is the key to effectively and affordably finding your buyers, and is crucial for potential investors and lenders.
- A marketing plan is an essential part of a business plan.
- Business plans and marketing plans are important even if you're not seeking funding.
- A marketing plan can be built around the 5 P's: product, price, place, promotion, and people.
- You should set up metrics to measure how your marketing plan is working.
Why You Need a Business Plan for a Home Business
There is some debate regarding the need for home business owners to have a formal business plan, especially if you're not asking for startup funding. However, a business plan isn't only about appealing to banks and investors. The truth is, every business, regardless of size, needs a business plan . A business plan helps you:
Make smart decisions : A business plan helps you focus your ideas and forces you to spell out strategies for everything from human resources, to technology, to marketing.
Identify potential weaknesses : As you go through the work of creating a business plan, you may spot pitfalls in your ideas. It's also a good idea to share the plan with experts who can give you advice and tell you what they think won't work.
Convince people to give you money : If you do need startup funding, investors and lenders will definitely want to see a detailed business plan so that they can assess how likely you are to be successful with your business.
Communicate your ideas with other stakeholders : You can share your plan with people you want to recruit to work with you, suppliers you need to ask for credit, and potential clients.
What To Include in the Marketing & Sales Section
The basics of the marketing and sales section have to do with knowing your market and competition, and designing your product messaging, pricing, and other marketing strategies to maximize sales. It involves the 5 P's of marketing , as well as figuring out how you'll measure your marketing mix 's success.
The 5 P's of Marketing
The 5 P's started out as 4 P's, a construct developed by E. Jerome McCarthy more than 50 years ago. The 4 P's include basic elements of marketing, which are product, price, place, and promotion. In later years, people or personnel was added by some marketers to become the fifth P.
Describe the product or service offered to the customer by your home business, including the physical attributes of your products or services, what they do, how they differ from your competitors', and what benefits they provide to your potential customers.
Outline pricing strategies that will help you reach your target profit margin . How you will price your product or service so that the price remains competitive while still allowing you to make a good profit ?
When calculating price, make sure you take into consideration both fixed expenses (those that don't change) and variable expenses (costs that aren't set), as well as your time and expertise, to insure you're charging enough to make a profit. Also discuss if your price will be lower or higher than your competition, and how you can justify the difference (i.e. what do buyers get by paying more for your product?).
Indicate where your business will sell its products or services, and how it will get those products or services to consumers. For example, will you sell online ? Will you consign your products into local stores?
When you know what outlets your product and services will be available in, indicate how much you expect to sell in each location. For example, will 65% of your sales be done online and 35% through face-to-face appointments?
Also include any delivery terms and costs, and how those expenses will be covered (e.g., added to the sale of the item). Indicate if there are any shipping or labeling requirements that need to be considered and how you will meet those requirements. Finally, outline the transaction process and your return policies.
What methods of promotion will you use to communicate the features and benefits of your products or services to your target customers? Will you advertise? If so, where? What percentage of advertising will be handled by each advertising option? How much business do you anticipate each form of advertising will result in? How much is this all going to cost?
Also indicate if you plan to offer coupons or other incentives to get customers in the door.
Decide on the people who will the provide sales and service that will be used in marketing your products or services to the customer. Who are the people or sales team that will be selling or providing customer service, and what kind of training will they receive? Do you plan to offer any incentives to your customer service representatives and how do you plan to measure customer satisfaction?
Essentially, the 5 P's of marketing forms the basis of your marketing plan. If you want to make your marketing plan a standalone document, you'll also want to include the information you prepared in the Market Analysis section for your business plan.
Some marketers consider the 4 P's or 5 P's to be too focused on the producer and have instead adopted the 4 C's, which look at marketing from the customer's point of view. So, "place" becomes "convenience," "price" becomes "cost to the user," "promotion" becomes "communication," and "product" becomes "customer needs and wants."
Evaluating Marketing Effectiveness
As you make your marketing decisions, consider how you'll know what strategies are working and those that aren't. There's no sense in wasting time or money on promotional tactics that don't work.
If you use social media to promote your business, you'll want to measure changes in your social media analytics. Consider using A/B testing techniques to make sure you're using marketing messages or materials that customers respond to best.
Whatever form of marketing you use, find a way to quantify results so you can know whether it's worth your time and money to continue to use it.
What is a marketing plan in a business plan?
A marketing plan is a strategic document outlining the steps you intend to take to achieve your marketing objectives. It helps you define your product or service, identify customers and competitors, think about how you'll attract customers, and how you'll react to marketplace changes. It's an important component of a business plan, which also includes strategies for other parts of the business.
How can I promote my home-based business?
You'll want to start with some free or low-cost ways to get the word out about your business. Some to consider: setting up a blog, using social media (either to post information on your personal or business page, or to buy ads), pitching media outlets that are a good fit for your business, and offering deals through sites like Goupon that can help you attract new customers fast.
Small Business Development Center, Duquesne University. " Do You Really Need a Business Plan? "
University of Maryland Extension. " Marketing Mix ."
University of Florida, IFAS Extension. " Eight Steps To Developing a Simple Marketing Plan ."
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