Business plans part 4: marketing and sales
It’s day 4 in our five-part series on writing a business plan.
One of the interesting and creative parts in your business plan will be when you look at the marketing and sales sections because you have to work our how you will promote your business (and be as creative and out-of0the0box as you want), and how you intend to sell your product or services.
The marketing and sales section of your business plan should describe the specific activities you intend to use to promote and sell your products and services. It’s often the weak link in business plans so it’s worth spending time on it to make sure it’s both realistic and achievable.
A strong sales and marketing section means you have a clear idea of how you will get your products and services to market.
Your plan will need to provide answers to these questions:
- How do you plan to position your product or service in the market place? For further information, see our guide on how to create your marketing strategy.
- Who are your customers? Include details of customers who have shown an interest in your product or service and explain how you plan to go about attracting new customers. See our guide: know your customers’ needs.
- What is your pricing policy? How much will you charge for different customer segments, quantities, etc? See our guide on how to price your product or service.
- How will you promote your product or service? Identify your sales methods, eg direct marketing, advertising, PR, email, e-sales. See our guide on sales & marketing: the basics.
- How will you reach your customers? What channels will you use?
- Which partners will be needed in your distribution channels? See our guide on how to reach your customers effectively.
- How will you do your selling? Do you have a sales plan? For example, will you sell by phone, via a website, face-to-face or through retail outlets?
Your team’s skills
Your business plan needs to set out the structure and key skills of both your management team and your staff. It should identify the strengths in your team and your plans to deal with any obvious weaknesses.
The management team
If you’re looking for external funding, your management team can be a decisive factor. Explain who is involved, their role and how it fits into the organisation. Include a paragraph on each individual, outlining their background, relevant experience and qualifications. Include any advisors you might have such as accountants or lawyers.
If you’re looking to satisfy your bank manager or other investors, you need to demonstrate that your management team has the right balance of skills, drive and experience to enable your business to succeed. Key skills include sales, marketing and financial management as well as production, operational and market experience.
Your investors will also want to be convinced that you and your team are fully committed. Therefore it’s a good idea to set out how much time and money each person will contribute to the business and the salaries and benefits you plan to draw. You can find more practical tips in our guide on how to use your business plan to get funding.
Give details of your workforce in terms of total numbers and by department. Spell out what work you plan to do internally and if you plan to outsource any work. Other useful figures might be sales or profit per employee, average salaries, employee retention rates and productivity.
Your plan should also outline any recruitment or training plans, including timescales and costs.
It’s vital to be realistic about the commitment and motivation of your people and spell out any plans to improve or maintain staff morale.
Your business plan also needs to outline your operational capabilities and any planned improvements. There are certain areas you should focus on.
- Do you have any business property?
- What are your long-term commitments to the property?
- Do you own or rent it?
- What are the advantages and disadvantages of your current location?
- Do you need your own production facilities or would it be cheaper to outsource any manufacturing processes?
- If you do have your own facilities, how modern are they?
- What is the capacity compared with existing and forecasted demand?
- Will any investment be needed?
- Have you got established procedures for stock control, management accounts and quality control?
- Can they cope with any proposed expansion?
Information technology (IT)
IT is a key factor in most businesses, so include your strengths and weaknesses in this area and outline the reliability and the planned development of your systems.
Founder and editor of www.motherswhowork.co.uk, a mother of two wonderful children, wife, entrepreneur (check out www.geekschool.co.uk) and journalist.