If you’re thinking about opening a new business, one of your biggest efforts should be marketing it effectively. You can develop a comprehensive marketing plan by assessing the various aspects of your business. A simple worksheet will help you determine what you can sell and how to market the products or services successfully.
You can print this blank worksheet and fill it in with the following:
- Services you will offer: What is it you will be offering clients? The more you offer, the more clients you can attract; so think of the largest variety that is manageable. Just be sure you understand your product or service completely. If not, you could be asking for trouble when a client wants a service you can’t provide.
- Target markets: Next assess what types of clients will need these services. For example, if you are selling graphic design services, you could look for new, small businesses that will need a Web presence and marketing materials. You might also target existing businesses that aren’t advertising and convince them new brochures or ads could enhance their existing business.
- How often clients will need your service: If you design a Web page, your clients may need you for periodic updates and site maintenance. If you design marketing materials, clients may need you to occasionally design new ads. If you don’t know how often clients will need your services, ask them. They can tell you what could lead them to seek out a service like yours and what will keep them coming back for more.
- The benefits of your service: This is where you need to get very specific. You need to be quite clear on what advantages you can offer to your clients. If you are a graphic designer, you could offer several years of design and advertising experience, which translates to better quality Web sites for your clients. You might also highlight your affordable rates, which is a distinct advantage over competitors. It’s important to know what problems you can solve and what advantages you have over other companies when you are pitching your work. If you can’t articulate the advantages your company offers, you won’t gain the clients your business needs to survive.
- Similar services in your area: Finally, assess how many other services like yours exist in your area. If there are dozens, you may not be able to break into the market effectively, so be thorough about this part of the process. Can you make your service different somehow, to edge out competitors? Can you offer more to your clients than your competitors?
Once you complete your worksheet, you’ll have a much better idea of who will use your business or service and why. That can help you target a market and understand how to reach it. But don’t put the plan away; you’re not finished. You still have several questions that cannot be answered until you actually implement your marketing plan. The worksheet is really just a beginning, and your business will continue to present questions. You should expect your marketing plan to change as your business grows.