Writing a business plan for the first time is never easy. There are many lists of mistakes to avoid and advice on the web, unfortunately most of them are content to give vague indications of the type: “do not overestimate sales and do not underestimate costs”. We wanted to take it a step further by giving you a detailed list of mistakes to avoid and tips to improve your plan.
Marketing plan = trust
The only way to start a business with confidence is to develop a good marketing plan, backed by facts and research results. This document clearly demonstrates how you will go about getting customers interested in your product or services, and convincing them to buy them. The marketing plan also helps instill confidence in lenders by demonstrating that your business has a good chance of becoming successful.
Contrary to popular belief, a marketing plan is not a one-off document that should be tucked away in a filing cabinet on your desk. Rather, it should be updated regularly to reflect the changing needs of your business and your customers.
There are many models of marketing plans. Here are five essential ingredients.
1.Have a short-term vision
Many businesses start by doing a SWOT analysis, that is, they assess their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats they may face. It is all about figuring out who your competition is, fully understanding how they operate, and knowing their strengths and weaknesses.
Strengths: These are the competitive advantages, aptitudes, expertise, skills or any other factors that allow your company to better position itself in the market and which cannot be easily copied. Examples are a well-trained sales team, low staff turnover, very loyal customer base, and low production costs due to the superior technology used.
Weaknesses: These are the factors that reduce your company’s ability to independently achieve its goals, such as unreliable inventory delivery, outdated production tools, poor marketing, and lack of planning.
Opportunities: These are the things that can contribute to the growth and profitability of your business. This may include finding new markets, managing technological change, or adapting to new consumer trends. You need to determine how to use the core competencies of your business to take advantage of these opportunities.
Threats: These are the obstacles that prevent you from entering your main markets, such as a labor shortage, legislative restrictions, or an unfavorable economic or political environment.
2-Copy paste a business plan template purchased on the internet
It is true that it is tempting: because you may think that it saves you from spending hours carrying out your market research and gives you an indication to carry out your financial forecast.
Unfortunately, the market study you will get will either be too specific because it is adapted to a local market.
In short, not really useful.
As for the financial forecast, it will also be very dependent on the original project: the planned margins will depend on the specific financial choices made for the occasion which may be very different from yours (for example taking a lease on a machine rather than leasing it). ‘buy, or subcontract part of the activity). And then you will have no proof that the forecast was not completely off the mark!
You also run the risk that the banker realizes fairly quickly that you have neither carried out a serious market study, nor a financial forecast that holds up.
3.you don’t target clear marketing objectives
At this stage, you describe the desired impact of your marketing plan by setting achievable and realistic objectives, targets and a precise deadline.
The most common approach is to use activity measures. For example, your marketing goals might consider:
your market share and total market segments;
of your total number of customers and retention rate
the share of your potential market that purchases (penetration rate);
the average volume of your sales.
4-You don’t create your own marketing strategy
Once you have determined your goals and targets, you need to find ways to market your business to potential customers. Strategies generally take into account the 4 Ps of marketing: product, price, place and promotion.product
The choice of your marketing tools will be guided by the profile of your target market. So, you need to understand how different marketing tools reach different audiences. Don’t always assume that you’ll have to spend a lot of money on expensive ads. If you’re targeting a specific niche, for example, you can take advantage of inexpensive marketing strategies like email delivery.
The most expensive options are usually advertising, sales promotion, and public relations campaigns. Client referrals and networking are inexpensive ways to reach your clients. Digital marketing is a very interesting strategy because it is cheap and allows you to reach target markets.
5-You don’t Prepare your financial statements
A marketing plan without financial statements is more imprecise. Financial statements can also be inserted into a general business plan.
One of the documents you will need to produce will include a budget and sales forecasts. Preparing this document does not have to be a complex exercise. In fact, it is wise to strive for simplicity. To help you begin the exercise, answer the following questions:
What turnover do you expect to achieve?
Price will you ask?
How much will be the cost of producing your products or the cost associated with providing your services?
Don’t forget to include the cost of recruiting and salaries. What will your basic operating costs be?
How much financing will you need to operate your business?
Answering these questions will allow you to forecast profit and expenses.
Another important step in developing your marketing plan is a business case. This analysis tells you exactly how much you need to sell to cover your operating costs. If you can break your breakeven point and get more from your sales than is necessary to cover your costs, you have a good chance of making a profit.