Consider Abbreviated Plans
If you are in a business that is continually launching new services or products, you won’t necessarily want to do a full-scale marketing plan during each planning phase of your year. If you decide on a trimmed-down plan, the most important part to include is an overview with positioning statement. This, in reality, comprises the main strategy points for the particular product or service, and typically has more importance than any budget numbers.
You should also include a detailed look at any areas of the plan that are significantly different from your other product or service plans. Thirdly, include a projected sales, costs, and profitability statement.
When you have multiple products or services, you will be much more successful if you can assign primary responsibility for each product or service to a particular person. With all of your responsibilities, you may not have adequate time to devote to managing each product or service line. Other people in your organization may not have as much experience as you do, but that will usually be more than made up for by the extra focus they will be able to bring to developing and maintaining the goals of a marketing plan, or parts thereof, for their assigned product or service.
Remember, however, that in order to really give other people a sense of responsibility for a product or service, you must let them play a primary role in creating the marketing plan. Help them and encourage them, but give them space so they can really feel that the marketing plan is theirs, not yours.
A marketing plan can be a terrific tool for evaluating whether or not you should launch a new product or service. If you are using a marketing plan for this purpose, keep the focus on the larger issues. Don’t get carried away with such details as the frequency and size of advertising. Instead, focus on broader issues, such as market size, competitor implications, pricing, and projected sales.
Later, if you decide to go ahead with the proposed product or service, you can fill in the details for the highly specific marketing tactics you intend to implement.
People who are new to business often underprice their products and services. Luckily, one of the real blessings of computerized spreadsheets is the ability to quickly change key items such as price or sales projections. So don’t be afraid to run different scenarios and get feedback from prospective customers on such issues as price or product features and benefits.
Be sure to work in a nice fat profit margin for yourself, even if you have to spend days thinking through different pricing and/or positioning alternatives to achieve this goal. A fat profit margin can prove to be a lifesaver if you need to cover the cost of any one of a multitude of possible oversights and mistakes that can be made in starting up and running a small business.
Get Feedback from Customers
Don’t be afraid to run different scenarios and get feedback from prospective customers on such issues as price or product features and benefits.