Marketing Research and Planning

Woman with a yarn business

Drive Profits Through Market Research and Planning

Marketing is all about customers: Knowing their needs, wants, and creating the environment in which it is easy for them to buy. Your business plan should contain your core elements of your marketing strategy. Your marketing plan brings your strategy into action.

Completing basic research – like market research – can save time, money and a lot of trouble.  The most successful businesses will:

  • Find people who will be willing to pay for your product or service (and there must be enough of them to make it worth your while) – research market potential using census data and demographic databases
  • Deliver the service or manufacture the product – research production options using business databases
  • Know who you compete with – research competitors using business databases
  • Understand whether your product is unique or proprietary – research patent filings
Marketing pictorial

The Small Business Administration (SBA) identifies six categories that your marketing plan should include:

  1. Target Market: Describe your audience in detail. Look at market size, demographics, unique traits, and trends that relate to the demand for your business.
  2. Competitive Advantage: Indicate what gives your product or service an advantage over the competition. It could be a better product, a lower price, or factors in the development of your product, such as being environmentally friendly.
  3. Marketing and Sales Goals: Identify your marketing and sales goals for the next year. Common goals include increasing email subscribers, increasing sales by a certain percentage, or increasing social media interactions.
  4. Marketing Action Plan: Describe how you will achieve your marketing and sales goals. List the marketing channels you will utilize (online advertising, radio, etc.) Explain how you will use promotions and customer support after the sale happens.
  5. Budget: Include a complete breakdown of the costs of your marketing plan. You will probably have to estimate in some areas, but try to be as accurate as possible. You will also want to keep track of your costs once you put your plan into action.

It’s important to revisit your marketing plan throughout the year. At minimum, it should be maintained on an annual basis. Measuring ROI will help you know which areas of your plan worked and which areas need to be updated.

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Guide: Grow Your Business