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Written by: Christopher Chitty

A marketing plan is crucial to you forming a business. It may be written as a standalone document to direct your focus on your venture or be part of a larger business plan to rope in investors.

The marketing plan implements your marketing strategy. The plan itself is not the strategy. The plan will constantly be updated to reflect your growing and shifting business comprising of several key sections.

The purpose of the marketing plan is to explain to would be investors and other relevant people how you intend to get customers to purchase your goods or services.

Every marketing plan must possess these things:

1. Products/Services and USP (Unique Selling Point):  You will need to detail what your product is and how it will benefit, enrich and/or thrive. Describe the physical attributes of your product or service and how it differs from your competition. Having a USP will give you a leg up but it has to be well justified or something that's in practice. Theorizing at this point will be detrimental to your cause. 

2. Pricing Strategy: How you intend to price your services and/or goods and how you derived those numbers will be described here. This includes things like shipping, buying or producing if you are creating the product or service yourself.  If you are selling a product at a much cheaper rate than your competitors, you will include it in here and describe how this is possible. List your providers and explain how stable this strategy will be. Do not forget to include the ROI (return of investment) you expect and within what period of time are you expecting to achieve this. Also include a line or two describing where you believe, based on the numbers, your venture will be in a year's time after breaking even.

3. Sales/Distribution Plan:  The distribution channel is very important here. You have to detail how you intend to sell to your customers. Do you have a delivery driver or are you intending to do deliveries yourself? Will you be opening a restaurant and will focus your efforts in marketing and building your brand? You will also need to explain the transaction process between you and your customer; the method of payment, what credit cards are accepted, warranties, after-sales support and any other feedback that is crucial for the betterment of your business. If your business is sales oriented, you will need to describe the sales proposes, what type of salespeople will be involved, your expectations, sales training (if any) and sales incentives for employees who hit or exceed targets.

4. Advertising and Promotions Plan:  This in a nutshell, describes how you intend to advertise and push your USP to your customers to achieve the financial growth expounded in your business plan. The success of your advertising and promotions plan determines the overall success of your business so you will need to plan and explain this down to the tiniest detail. Things such as your annual marketing budget and what percentages of the budget will you pump into areas such as the internet, radio, television, newspapers, magazines etc. etc. If you have any upcoming sales promotions, describe the activities you are planning and include any marketing collaterals you will be utilizing. 

A marketing plan is essential and it will inform your audience of your methods, procedures and forward thinking process on your business. A bad marketing plan is the proverbial nail in the coffin while a good one may land you a sizable influx of capital.

Read as much as you can on the internet and speak to friends who have written marketing plans before to help you if you are not familiar with the creation process.

Pay careful attention to it and be as meticulous as possible in your execution.

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