I’ve been working with several start-ups recently who are looking to put together a marketing plan. Their goals are lofty, but they have the willingness to work to achieve those goals. The problem is that they are not yet ready for the type of strategic marketing plan that will actively attract prospects.
A business in its infancy is usually not ready to act on an aggressive strategic marketing campaign. Much as the owner would love to get business rolling in the door so they can pay off debt and put money in their pockets, care must be taken to ensure that effective systems are in place to handle product orders and/or requests for service and that there are sufficient resources available to deliver on any and every marketing promise that is made.
The first marketing plan should develop the marketing infrastructure of the company. The four basic marketing P’s (product, price, place and promotion) along with procedures for production and delivery should be explored, defined and planned for.
Not having a solid framework in place may lead to a pie-in-the-sky structure of products and/or services that cannot be supported based on where the business is today and what the actual available resources are. Any promise of products and services to be delivered must be kept! If you don’t have the resources to do so before offering them, put them on the back burner. You can’t depend on future sales to fund your current production line and delivery capabilities. Keeping your clients waiting beyond what they (not you) consider a reasonable amount of time will result in loss of business and angry customers.
If pricing is not well thought out and based on actual production costs, a fair profit margin and perceived value to the consumer, than a situation may arise where pricing either needs to be reduced to encourage sales or raised in order to keep the business open. Either situation results in customers feeling distrust and possible anger towards the company. They may feel ripped off if prices come down after they’ve made their purchase; on the flip side, they may be hesitant to invest their loyalty in a company that raises prices in a seemingly unreasonable fashion. The worst one is when a company raises their prices, sees a drop off in business and then lowers them back to their original levels – gives a definite perception of bad business planning and incompetence.
Of course, if where your product (place) is offered and how you market (promote) it so that you most effectively reach and appeal to your primary target market is not well-thought out, then you may be spending all the time, effort and resources you have to no avail.
All-in-all a good business plan (infrastructure), which includes the four basic marketing P’s, will give the budding business a solid basis on which to build a marketing plan that can be carried out to success.