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Creating a Marketing Plan| USGEA

Marketing success grows out of a good marketing plan. Design it as well as you can, and then make adjustments as needed. Business conditions can change quickly as markets evolve, new technologies develop or customers go out of business. Your carefully conceived plan will serve as a reliable road map, even when detours arise.

Any potential lender or investor will want to see a marketing plan for your new product before making a commitment. Developing a marketing plan also gives you the opportunity to organize your thoughts and discover any trouble spots in your strategy.

Remember that your marketing position can, and should, change to meet the current conditions of the market for your product. The capacity of your company to adjust will be enhanced greatly by an up-to-date knowledge of the marketplace gained through continual monitoring. By having good data about your customers, the segments they fit into and the buying motives of those segments, you can select the position that makes the most sense.

While there are many possible marketing positions, most would fit into one of the following categories:

Product features - A very common approach, especially for industrial products. If your product or service has some unique features that have obvious value this may be the way to go.

Benefits - Strongly related to positioning on product features. Generally, this is more effective because you can talk to your customers about what your product or service can do for them. The features may be nice, but unless customers can be made to understand why the product will benefit them, you may not get the sale.

Specific Use - Related to benefit positioning. This works best when you can teach your customers how to use your product or when you use a promotional medium that allows a demonstration.

User Category -Show your product being used by models with whom the customers can identify.

Competition- A strategy that ranges from implicit to explicit comparison. Implicit comparisons can be quite pointed; explicit comparisons can take two major forms. The first form makes a comparison with a direct competitor and is aimed at attracting customers from the compared brand, which is usually the category leader. The second type does not attempt to attract the customers of the compared product, but rather uses the comparison as a reference point.

Disassociation – This is particularly effective when used to introduce a new product that differs from traditional products. Lead-free gasoline and tubeless tires were new product classes positioned against older products. People have become accustomed to change and new products and are more willing to experiment than was true few years ago. Even so, some people are more adventuresome and trusting than others and more apt to try a revolutionary product. The trick is to find out who are the potential brand switchers or experimenters and find out what it would take to get them to try your product. The obvious disadvantage of dealing with those who try new products is that they may move on to another brand just as easily.

Hybrid bases - Incorporates elements from several types of positioning. Given the variety of possible bases for positioning, small business owners should consider the possibility of a hybrid approach. This is particularly true in smaller towns where there aren't enough customers in any segment to justify the expense of separate marketing approaches.
Your business plan spells out what your business is about and what your ultimate goals are. It encompasses more than marketing; it can include discussions of locations, staffing, financing, strategic alliances and so on. Your company's business plan provides the environment in which your marketing plan must flourish.

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