Marketing Plan Basics

.. omotions on the World Wide Web are almost commonplace.

Businesses are developing Web pages sometimes just to appear up-to-date. Using the Web for advertising requires certain equipment and expertise, including getting a computer, getting an Internet service provider, buying (usually renting) a Web site name, designing and installing the Web site graphics and other functions as needed (for example, an on-line store for e-commerce), promoting the Web site (via various search engines, directories, etc.) and maintaining the Web site.

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(See Building, Managing and Promoting Your Web Site and On-Line Advertising and Promotions.) Yellow Pages –The Yellow Pages can be very effective advertising if your ads are well-placed in the directory’s categories of services, and the name of your business is descriptive of your services and/or your ad stands out (for example, is bolded, in a large box on the page, etc.).The phone company will offer free advice about placing your ad in the Yellow Pages. They usually have special packages where you get a business phone line along with a certain number of ads. Promotional Activities Through the Media (Reporters, Newspapers, etc.) Articles that you write — Is there something in your industry or market about you have a strong impression? Consider writing an article for the local newspaper or a magazine. In your article, use the opportunity to describe what you’re doing to address the issue through use of your business.

(See Basic Writing Skills.) Editorials and letters to the editor — Often, program providers are experts at their service and understanding a particular need in the community; newspapers often take strong interest in information about these needs, so staff should regularly offer articles (of about 200 to 900 words) for publication. (See Managing Media Relations and Basic Writing Skills.) Press kits — This kit is handy when working with the media or training employees about working with the media. The kit usually includes information about your business, pictures, information about your products, commentary from happy customers, etc.(See Managing Media Relations.) Press releases or news alerts — They alert the press to a major event or accomplishment and requesting, e.

g., it get included in the newspaper; they explain who, what, where, why and when; some include pictures, quotes, etc. to make it easier for the reporter to develop an announcement or story.

(See Managing Media Relations.) Public service announcements (PSA)s — Many radio and some television stations will provide public service announcements for nonprofit efforts. Usually, these PSAs are free. Other Promotional Activities and Events Annual reports – Disseminate these to key stakeholders; they’re ripe with information if they include an overview of your year’s activities, accomplishments, challenges and financial status.

(See Annual Reports.) Collaboration or strategic restructuring – If you’re organization is undertaking these activities, celebrate it publicly. (See Organizational Alliances.) Networking – Spread the word to peers, professional organizations and those with whom you interact outside the organizations, e.g., educators, consultants, suppliers, clients, etc. (See Networking.) Novelties — It seems more common to find ads placed on pens and pencils, coffee cups, T-shirts, etc.

These can be powerful means of advertising if indeed current and potential customers see the novelties. This condition often implies additional costs to mail novelties, print T-shirts, etc. Presentations — You’re probably an expert at something.Find ways to give even short presentations, for example, at local seminars, Chamber of Commerce meetings, trade shows, conventions, seminars, etc.

It’s amazing that one can send out 500 brochures and be lucky to get 5 people who respond. Yet, you can give a presentation to 30 people and 15 of them will be very interested in staying in touch with you. (See Presenting.

) Relationships with key stakeholders — Identify at least one representative from each major stakeholder group and take them to lunch once a year. What seem as short, informal exchanges can cultivate powerful relationships of interest and concern. Special events — These tend to attract attention, and can include, e.g.

, an open house, granting a special award, announcing a major program or service or campaign, etc. Special offers — We see these offers all the time. They include, for example, coupons, discounts, sweepstakes, sales, etc. SALES FORECASTING Sales forecasting is the process of organizing and analyzing information in a way that makes it possible to estimate what your sales will be. This document outlines some simple methods of forecasting sales using easy to find data.Books containing simple and sophisticated techniques of forecasting sales can be found in libraries and business oriented book stores. If you sell more than one type of product or service, prepare a separate sales forecast for each service or product group.

There are many sources of information to assist with your sales forecast. Some key sources are: Competitors Neighbouring Businesses Trade suppliers Downtown business associations Trade associations Trade publications Trade directories Statistics Factors that can affect Sales. External: Seasons Family formations Fashions or styles Holidays Births and deaths Population changes Special Events Political events Consumer earnings Competition, direct External labour events Weather Competition, indirect Productivity changes Internal: Product changes, style, quality Sales Motivation plans Credit policy changes Service changes, type, quality Shortages, inventory Labour Problems Shortages, production capability Shortages/working capital Price changes Promotional effort changes Distribution methods used Sales Forecasting for a New Business These steps for developing a sales forecast can be applied to most kinds of businesses: Step 1 Develop a customer profile and determine the trends in your industry. Make some basic assumptions about the customers in your target market.

Experienced business people will tell you that a good rule of thumb is that 20% of your customers account for 80% of your sales. If you can identify this 20% you can begin to develop a profile of your principal markets. Sample customer profiles: 1. Male, ages 20-34, professional, middle income, fitness conscious. 2.

Young families, parents 25 to 39, middle income, home owners. 3. Small to medium sized magazine and book publishers with sales from $500,000 to $2,000,000. Determine trends by talking to trade suppliers about what is selling well and what is not. Check out recent copies of your industry’s trade magazines. Search the Business Periodicals Index (found in larger libraries) for articles related to your type of business.

Step 2 Establish the approximate size and location of your planned trading area. Use available statistics to determine the general characteristics of this area. Use local sources to determine unique characteristics about your trading area. How far will your average customer travel to buy from your shop? Where do you intend to distribute or promote your product? This is your trading area. Estimating the number of individuals or households can be done with little difficulty using Statistics Canada [or U.S.] census data.

Statistics Canada’s Family Expenditure Survey can identify what the average household spends on goods and services. BC Stats has population forecasts for areas in British Columbia. Information on planned construction is available from a variety of sources.Directories like Contacts Target Marketing, BC Manufacturers Directory, or the Yellow Pages can help identify names of companies located in your trading area. Neighbourhood business owners, the local Chamber of Commerce, the Government Agent and the community newspaper are some sources that can give you insight into unique characteristics of your area. Step 3 List and profile competitors selling in your trading area.

Get out on the street and study your competitors. Visit their stores or the locations where their product is offered. Analyze the location, customer volumes, traffic patterns, hours of operation, busy periods, prices, quality of their goods and services, product lines carried, promotional techniques, positioning, product catalogues and other handouts.If feasible, talk to customers and sales staff. Step 4 Use your research to estimate your sales on a monthly basis for your first year.

The basis for your sales forecast can be the average monthly sales of a similar-sized competitor’s operations who is operating in a similar market. It is recommended that you make adjustments for this year’s predicted trend for the industry. Be sure to reduce your figures by a start-up year factor of about 50% a month for the start-up months. Consider how well your competition satisfies the needs of potential customers in your trading area. Determine how you fit in to this picture and what niche you plan to fill.Will you offer a better location, convenience, a better price, later hours, better quality, better service? Consider population and economic growth in your trading area. Using your research, make an educated guess at your market share. If possible, express this as the number of customers you can hope to attract.

You may want to keep it conservative and reduce your figure by approximately 15%. Prepare sales estimates month by month. Be sure to assess how seasonal your business is and consider your start up months.

Sales Forecasting for an Existing Business Sales revenues from the same month in the previous year make a good base for predicting sales for that month in the succeeding year. For example, if the trend forecasters in the economy and the industry predict a general growth of 4% for the next year, it will be entirely acceptable for you to show each month’s projected sales at 4% higher than your actual sales the previous year. Credible forecasts can come from those who have the actual customer contact. Get the salespersons most closely associated with a particular product line, service, market or territory to give their best estimates. Experience has proven the grass roots forecasts can be surprisingly accurate.

Sales Forecasting and the Business Plan Summarize the data after it has been reviewed and revised. The summary will form a part of your business plan. The sales forecast for the first year should be monthly, while the forecast for the next two years could be expressed as a quarterly figure. Get a second opinion.Have the forecast checked by someone else familiar with your line of business. Show them the factors you have considered and explain why you think the figures are realistic. Your skills at forecasting will improve with experience particularly if you treat it as a “live” forecast.

Review your forecast monthly, insert your actuals, and revise the forecast if you see any significant discrepancy that cannot be explained in terms of a one-time only situation. In this manner, your forecasting technique will rapidly improve and your forecast will become increasingly accurate. http://www.mapnp.org/library/grp skll/focusgrp/focusgrp.htm Basics Of advertising http://www.sbaonline.sba.gov/gopher/Business-Devel opment/Success-Series/Vol3/Ads/ads2.txt Marketing Essays.