How to Plan Your Marketing

When you're preparing a business plan and need to discuss the marketing you intend to employ to promote your product or service, you might find yourself wondering, "wait, how will I market this?" Such quandaries are not uncommon; oftentimes, entrepreneurs get so absorbed in the concept of their business offering—or so in awe of its potential revenue—that they lose sight of the simple yet vital piece that draws consumers to the business: marketing. Your business plan has to address this, so now might be a good time to take a step back from the concept of the company, and instead consider how you would let potential customers know about it. There are many and varied forms of business marketing, so the task of choosing may seem daunting. But take heart: several different methods might work, and there should always be room in the marketing budget for a bit of trial and error. You're bound to find the right one, even if it's not the exact type your business plan describes.

Broadly, your choices can be broken down into several categories, any of which can make a compelling case in your business plan. One of the most traditional avenues is print adverting. Print advertising can take many different forms, but some of the most popular are newspaper ads (color or black and white, full-page or small box), magazine advertisements (a great way to do targeted marketing), flyers (easily distributed), direct mailings and bulk mailings (often available at discount rates), Yellow Pages ads (traditional and effective), and so on. You can also use the Internet, either by sending emails (bulk or targeted), buying banner ads, paying for placement, or, perhaps most logical, generating your own web presence through a business homepage. Several of these methods have proven highly effective, though the success rate tends to vary by industry. One final method that reaches a large audience and has been called upon for decades is "live media"-based advertising, such as television commercials and radio spots. These reach huge numbers of people, though they tend to be expensive options.

There are still other advertising methods, many of which have the simple goal of getting your brand or image in front of as many eyes as possible. Billboards, bus stops, park benches, stickers, brochures, pamphlets, telephone calls, T-shirts, trade shows—all of these are marketing angles that might serve your business model well. Never discount word of mouth advertising, either; while it's not easy to obtain, it's a surefire method to promote your business in a positive way. No matter which of these methods you choose, be sure to include them in the marketing section of your business plan.