My Marketing Thing

You need a business plan first

business plan cartoon

If you’re starting a new business DO NOT start thinking about your business name or website writing until you’ve done a basic business plan for yourself.

Why? So you really know:

  • what you are offering
  • why you are offering it
  • who you are offering it to
  • why they should choose you over someone else

This is fundamental stuff, people!

Yes, your plan is your foundation. It’s dealing with the basics. Get the foundation right and everything will flow soooooo much better.


Here are the key questions you need to answer:

The basics

  1. What is the business?
  2. How does it help people?


About the marketplace

  1. What other businesses are out there are doing something along the lines of what you want to do?
    Write a paragraph or two about what you think is going on out there for your industry at the moment (industry/marketplace description).
  2. Who would you consider your most likely competitors?
    (note: competition exists and it’s not a bad thing – this is about building awareness of your place in the marketplace)
  3. What makes your proposed business different from theirs?
  4. What do you think you can learn from them?
  5. Where are the obvious opportunities for you? 
(i.e. servicing in ways that aren’t currently being attended to?)

About your ideal client

  1. Who will be the folks you want buying your stuff?
  2. Why them?
  3. What are your ideal clients like? Describe them…
Where are they? (geographic radius) 
How much money do they have? 
What are their values?, etc.
  4. What are their biggest/deepest concerns regarding using your industry’s offerings?
 (cost, quality of service, after-sales service, etc.?)
  5. What feelings and emotions will your clients associate with your business? (this is called identifying your ‘brand values’)
  6. How would they normally find someone like you?
    e.g. do they rely on friend recommendations, do google searches, be inspired by magazine articles/advertising, tv/radio programs, etc.


About the big picture

  1. Can you see distinct development phases for your business?
 (describe them, set some ballpark timeframes if you can)
  2. What are your key weaknesses and strengths
    e.g. weakness – lack of finance
    e.g. strength – knowledge of the industry
  3. Thinking about what’s going on ‘out there’ (society’s trends), what threats and opportunities are there? (can be cultural, social, technological, environmental, etc.)
    e.g. opportunities – surge of interest in your area of expertise
    e.g. threats – e.g. the economy is currently under-confident
  4. What’s the biggest job you’re prepared to do?
  5. What’s the smallest job you’re prepared to do?
  6. What’s the most complex job you’re prepared to do?


Your quick pitch

How would you describe your business in a nutshell?
Three short sentences maximum, addressing:

  1. what you do that’s special
  2. who your business is for
  3. what the greatest benefit(s) is (are) for your client

About your goals

  1. What are your main goals?
    (next 12 months, next 2-3 years), 
include desired timeframes
  2. How will you measure how you’re going with achieving these goals?

Drilling down to specifics

1. Service strategy

  • what’s your fee structure? (i.e. what are you going to charge?)
  • how do your fees compare with your competition?
  • what’s your quotation process? (incl. terms & conditions)
  • what’s your client service process?
  • what’s payment process? (incl. terms & conditions)

2. Marketing strategy

Consider what might be required to get the word out there:

  • branding
  • biz card and other corporate material
  • signage
 (premises, vehicle, etc.)
  • website
  • online directories submissions
  • Google Places
  • digital flyer
  • social media strategy
  • article marketing online
  • advertising (online/printed)
  • PR (e.g. media releases)
  • networking strategies
  • affiliate opportunities
  • anything else?

Consider setting some SMART goals for your marketing – related to these vehicles.

SMART = specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound

How will you inspire the potential client/customer to take the first step?

  • testimonials?
  • free trials?
  • time-limited discount?
  • loyalty packages?
  • up-front payment discounts?
  • affiliate promotion?


3. Product development/sales strategy

Describe the following:

  • Product range
  • Pricing: wholesale and RRP prices (factor in tax)
  • Suppliers required
  • Manufacturing process
  • Branding development
  • Packaging
  • Promotion/sales strategy (online, retail outlets?)
  • Distribution (process and costs
  • Sales terms and conditions

Create an expenses budget, projected turnover 
and identify your profit margin.


4. Organisation and management strategy

Describe the following:

  • your ‘HQ ‘premises (e.g. your home office)
  • What’s required for it to operate efficiently for you and staff (storage, admin, vehicles, etc.),
  • How does the geographic location affect your business (e.g. 
central to target market?)
  • Supplier relationships
  • Recruitment process for staff (incl. contracts/award info)
  • How many staff members do you need?
  • Any other contractors? (bookkeeper, accountant,, etc.)
  • Training process(es)
  • Software system requirements (e.g. MYOB)
  • Sales and admin systems

What is basic overview of organizational structure as your business grows


5. Financial strategy

Write a budget. What are the likely expenses of your business? 
(both upfront and ongoing).

  • business name registration
  • domain name/hosting
  • vehicle expenses (fuel, servicing)
  • insurance
  • marketing material (branding, biz card, website, vehicle signage)
  • phone/broadband
  • association membership
  • equipment
  • superannuation
  • taxes
- etc.

What you think you might make? (i.e. what’s your projected turnover?)

Compare that income to your expenses to identify your projected profit margin (gross/net).

Provide a monthly forecast of your cash-flows for the next 12 months.


Do you need a loan? Then describe the following:

  • How much money you need
  • What the money will be used for
  • How you intend to repay the loan

6. About protecting yourself

  • Outline the major risks to your business.
  • What strategies will you employ to mitigate these risks?
    (e.g. what if you get really sick and can’t work? Income insurance? Train someone you trust in your quoting/booking/payments processes?)
  • What legal protection do you need? (Protect your home by making your business a company? Insurance? Contracts?)

That’s a lot of questions, I know.

But, believe me, it’s worth taking the time to flesh that baby out.

This post was written by Megan Hills. Megan is a writer, cartoonist and marketing consultant who is prepared to get her hands dirty while building business foundations. Find out more about Megan.


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