This week, we are writing the Marketing portion of the Business Plan in three parts. On Tuesday we covered research and economics. Yesterday, we focused on products and services, customer demographics, and competition. Today, we are going to cover niche, marketing strategy, and sales forecasting.
Onward and upward!
What is your niche? Where does your company fit in the market? What is that sweet spot? What is the best personal match between you and the customer? Wendy Robinson, owner of Sacred Moment Weddings in Phoenix, Arizona, writes “Aspire to Plan” a valuable blog for aspiring planners. She recently wrote that the best niche for a business is one that matches your talent and passion with the customers’ needs and wants. By having synergy between these three elements you can create a unique niche for your product or service.
Last month, we discussed marketing strategy and explored the definition of marketing as the process or technique of promoting, selling, and distributing a product or service. For the marketing strategy section of the business plan, we’ll have three subsections: promotion, sales, and distribution.
What is your strategy for promoting your business? How do you get the word out to customers? What is the cost of these methods of promotion? How effective are they at getting you business?
Here are the most common methods of promotion within the wedding industry. You can elaborate on them in the marketing plan to the extent that they are applicable to your business.
- paid print advertising
- paid online advertising
- blogging on your company website
- networking within your industry and your community
- facebook and twitter
- exhibiting at wedding shows
- customer referrals
- vendor referrals
If you want to track their performance and determine how effective they are in yielding returns, I recommend the following two posts:
In this sub-section discuss your sales approach. What is the process by which you make a sale? When the client contacts you, what happens? When is the sale recognized? How do your clients make their decisions? Here are some helpful Secrets of Selling (little unique cost-effective sales tips).
An important part of the sale equation is Pricing. Recently, we discussed why Pricing (and under-pricing) is a common mistake that people make in the wedding industry, particularly when one enters the market. Think hard about your pricing and how under-pricing your services is not only impacting your business, but the industry on a whole. It is better to compete on value, quality, and service as opposed to competing on price. Write about your pricing in your plan.
Distribution answers the question: how will you get your product or service to clients? The ability to deliver and to do so efficiently and effectively is the cornerstone of marketing your product.
Here are some questions to think about:
- How do you distribute your product or service: online, mail-order, appointment-only, retail?
- Where is the competition located?
- What time frames are relevant to this distribution?
- What personnel (if any) are required for this distribution?
- What is the transaction process involved?
- What sort of training of employees will be required?
- What sort of payment is accepted?
We are at the end of the marketing plan – YAY! The last piece we need is the sales forecast to pull of the pieces together. A forecast is a plan that shows your future sales expectations. You’ll need to create a month by month plan. Start with year 1 and if you feel ready flesh it out for 2, 3, 4, or 5 years. I find it helpful to incorporate my promotional activities in my sales forecast. My plan looks something like this:
(If you need an Excel refresher/intro class, check out our classes and workshops.)
Here are some tips from SCORE:
- Base the forecast on your historical sales, the marketing strategies that you have just described, your market research, and industry data, if available.
- You may want to do two forecasts: 1) a “best guess,” which is what you really expect, and 2) a “worst case” low estimate that you are confident you can reach no matter what happens.
- Remember to keep notes on your research and your assumptions as you build this sales forecast and all subsequent spreadsheets in the plan.
- Relate the forecast to your sales history, explaining the major differences between past and projected sales. (This is critical if you are going to present it to funding sources.)
YAY! We’ve unearthed the marketing plan! We’ll see you here Monday for a continuation of business plan writing: the operational plan. Tomorrow, we’ll feature another great industry insider with her sage wedding business advice!