5 | The Marketing Plan

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Chapter 5

The Marketing Plan


Go to The Marketing Plan Overview Video

Click the image above to play the "Marketing Plan Overview Video"

Focus Area 1

Introducing the Marketing Plan

Two men sitting across from each other looking at laptopsIntroduction

The marketing plan is the part of the business plan where you describe what you will do to attract customers. Marketing describes everything you do to promote your business to potential customers. In your marketing plan you should describe:

  • The need for your product or service
  • Your target customers
  • Growth trends in your industry
  • Your competition
  • The marketing strategies you wlll use to reach your target customers

It is important to describe how and where you found this information so that people who review your marketing plan understand that you are basing your ideas on research and not guesses.

Click on the Parts of the Marketing Plan button for an overview of what goes into a marketing plan.

If you are unsure how to navigate this site, click on the Website Navigation heading at the very top of the page.

You can download a print-only version of Chapter 5: The Marketing Plan (PDF) for reference.


Neon sign in window that says, "Central Cafe"Business Features

Business features are the things that make your product or service valuable to customers. They help you target your marketing efforts to stand out from the competition. They can also be used to help you refine your business name. 

Click on the Business Traits button to begin identifying special features of your business and to refine your business name.

Once you have completed this section, take a short quiz by clicking on the Quiz Yourself button. 


Woman sitting at counter smilingCustomers

This section describes characteristics of your potential customers. Start by describing the different people or businesses who can benefit from the features of your business.   

Potential customers can be:

  • Individuals who will buy your product or service
  • A business that will use the product or service to produce their own product
  • A reseller that will resell your product or service

You might have groups of customers who are very different from each other and have different characteristics and needs.

Click on the Customer Segments button to learn about defining your customer base.


Doors to a small businessCompetition

In order to create a good marketing plan, it is important to know about your competition. You should know about:

  • Your competitors’ products and services
  • What your competitors charge for their products and services
  • Your competitors’ weaknesses and strengths
  • How your business’ features and benefits differ from your competitors
  • How your business will gain market share

Go to the next tab, Market Research, to learn about how to search for this information.

Laptop with notebook in front of itMarket Research

You will need to do market research to figure out who your potential customers are, learn about your competition, and estimate your expected sales and potential growth. Most of this information can be found online. Once you do some online research, you can get information that is more specific from surveys, interviews, or focus groups.

Click on the buttons below to learn about different ways to conduct market research.


Design that says "Strategy" and "Info" Marketing Strategy & Methods

Marketing describes everything a business owner does to tell potential customers about their business. You build on information from market research about customers and competition to develop a strategy or marketing plan to reach customers.

Click on Customer Outreach for some general information about developing a marketing plan and reaching customers. Click on Marketing Methods to learn about different ways to reach customer groups.  After you are done, Quiz Yourself on the material.


Books lined up on a bookshelfChapter Review

The marketing plan contains information about your business features, target customers, and how you will advertise and reach out to customer groups. To develop a good marketing plan you need to:

  • Describe your products or services and the features and benefits your business
  • Conduct research about your industry, competition, and potential customers
  • Define your customer segments
  • Develop your marketing materials, such as logo, website, and business cards
  • Describe advertising and promotion strategies and methods

Click on the Prepare button to start writing your marketing plan.

Counselors, click on the Counselor Review button for things to consider as you discuss marketing activities with your client.


Focus Area 2

Check Your Understanding

Question mark drawn in notebookChecking the Marketing Plan

This section helps you check your understanding of the material covered in this chapter.  First, click on the Check Your Understanding button and go through the questions on the slides.  Write down your answers on a separate piece of paper. Check your answers in the Review Your Answers button.