chapter 5

The Marketing Plan

“Making promises and keeping them is a great way to build a brand.”

― Seth Godin

Customer Segmentation

Now it’s time to slice and dice your market into segments and identify your target customer. You’re going to want to describe a number of both general and specific demographic characteristics that apply. Some of the questions you’ll want to answer are:

  • Where do they live?

  • What’s their age range?

  • What’s their level of education?

  • How many of them are there?

  • What are some common behaviour patterns?

  • What do they spend their free time on?

  • Where do they work?

  • What technology do they use?

  • What ethnicity are they?

  • How much do they earn?

  • Where are they commonly employed?

  • What are their values, beliefs, or opinions?

The details and the questions you’ll answer will vary greatly based on what it  is  you’re selling, but you should get a gist. Essentially, you want to paint as detailed a picture as possible with both the qualitative and quantitative information you can gather.

Another way to frame your customers which can be useful to paint another layer onto what you already know is the Product Diffusion Curve, in other words how quickly your customers are likely to adopt a new technology. There are five major categories this breaks down into, they are:

  • Innovators - These are the folks who’ve done their research on the latest product launches, follow all the hype, and will wait for any amount of time in a line to get their hands on the latest gizmo.

  • Early adopters - Based on the feedback and response from innovators, early adopters then decide whether to jump on the bandwagon or not.

  • Early majority - Once a products been tested and proved by a larger pool, these customers listen closely to the recommendations of the groups listed above when deciding whether to purchase something or not.

  • Late majority - These individuals don’t trust anything until it becomes commonplace and popular

  • Laggards - They only change their consumption habits when what they’re used to no longer exists and becomes obsolete. Only when that occurs do they start looking for alternatives

There are certainly no shortage of ways to break down your customer segments, but you’ll want to do it in a way that’s most meaningful for what you’re trying to market. Speaking of marketing, you’re going to have to provide a detailed plan for how you’re actually going to go from generating awareness to ultimately getting what you’re selling into the hands of your target customers.

Marketing Your Products

Here’s something to keep in mind before you start jotting down a detailed plan, this is referred to as the Buyer’s Five-Step Adoption Process. This model highlights the sequence of steps a buyer goes through before making the final purchase decision.

  • Awareness - Customers are aware you exist, but don’t know what it is you do or sell

  • Interest - Customers have now heard of you and because of what they see, they want to learn more

  • Evaluation - Customers are now decided whether to give you a shot or not

  • Trial - Customers are willing to make an initial purchase to take your products and services for a spin

  • Adoption - Customers now love what you have to sell and will regularly purchase from you.

The first half of that adoption process gets covered through your advertising and promotions plan, while the later half requires a solid sales and distribution plan. Some of the questions that you’ll want to answer for each are outlined below.

Advertising and Promotion Plan

  • Will you have a dedicated presence across many of the popular online channels (ex. website, social media, relevant marketplaces…etc.) used today to gain brand awareness?

  • Will your marketing plan be primarily inbound focused (ex. SEO, social media, blogging…etc...), outbound focused (ex. PPC, affiliate marketing, sales teams…etc.), traditional focused (ex direct mail, brochures, and print advertising) or a mix of all three?

  • What are other low-cost yet effective marketing mediums that you’ll leverage to get attention?

  • What is your PR strategy? Why would the press be interested in your story?

Sales and Distribution Plan

  • What channels will you use to get your product out there? Will you sell via your website, a retailer, wholesaler, or a different channel all together?

  • How will customers be able to pay for your product?

  • What will your return policy look like? Will you offer any guarantees? If so, what will they look like?

  • What happens after a customer makes a purchase? What type of customer support will you provide?

Once you get all these details down, the next chapter will walk you through putting together an operations plan. This will give your business plan reader a boost in trust that you’ll be able to deliver on your vision highlighting how you’ll get from manufacturing to shipping.

Next chapter

6. The Operations Plan

2 min

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