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The Marketing Plan: Essential Elements

By: Will Adams



The marketing plan is a critically important part of the business plan for a new business owner. Even if you don’t include a detailed marketing plan in the business plan, you absolutely need to complete one before formally beginning your new business. There are many elements of a good marketing plan, and you’ll want to think about all of them.

Advertising Materials. Your advertising materials can cover a wide range, including on-site with signs, posters, and banners; remote, with billboards; print, in newspapers, magazines, yellow pages, and other publications; and media, such as television and radio. You also have options when it comes to producing advertising materials, whether you work through an advertising agency or directly with a production company or media outlet. Although you might think your budget can’t afford media advertising, it’s often possible to contract on a commission basis, where the media company is paid only when sales occur. You should also think about ways you can get free local publicity.

Sales Materials. With a new business, your sales materials can include a sales proposal, product brochures, flyers, business cards, and stationery. It’s important to make a good first impression, particularly with a new business. Have the marketing materials ready that you’ll need to make professional and organized presentations and sales calls.

Customer Lists. One of the most important parts of your marketing plan is identifying the target market for your business. Once you know your market, you can come up with customer lists to start advertising by making sales calls and distributing materials from your business. There are many sources for customer lists, including list service companies, Internet websites, and government agencies.

Internet Website. The Internet can be an incredibly effective marketing tool for your business. How you choose to use this tool can depend on the type of product or service you are providing. If you’re selling your products or services on your own website, that will require developing and maintaining your website, which can be a major investment. On the other hand, if you’re advertising a service, you can use website marketing to drive attention and business to your company. Not only do you use your own website, but you can also get ads on other business sites that might have similar customers to your own and put your company on Internet business directories. E-Commerce is a rapidly growing field, can be an important part of your marketing plan.

Other Companies. Your marketing plan ought to account for other companies, both competitors and potential partners. It’s rare for a business not to have some competition in its field, so it’s important for you to outline in your marketing plan how you will distinguish your business from your competitors. Think about what makes you unique, and how you’ll be able to compete with other companies. On the other hand, there are many products and services that might be good complements to your own, making them natural partners rather than competitors. An efficient way to market your business is to network with other companies that share a similar customer base to your own. Possibilities include joint advertising or sale proposals, network events, and trade shows.

Alternative Strategies. You ought to demonstrate in your marketing plan that you have the flexibility to adapt to changes in the business environment. Your competition may change, technology may rapidly advance, or your products and services might be modified over time. Think about contingency plans for ways to adjust your marketing strategy to changing conditions, demonstrating that your business will have the adaptability to be a lasting success.

Published: December 21, 2012

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Will Adams

As the President of Business Development at Tarkenton, Will works directly with Tarkenton’s partners to identify and understand their organizational needs. He then assembles a cross-functional team to develop and deliver the solutions to meet the needs of the partner. Since joining Tarkenton in 2010, Will has helped develop new partnerships, plan strategic growth initiatives, and mentor organizational leaders. Connect with him on

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