o the mere terms business plan’ or 'marketing plan' tighten your chest? It doesn't have to be like that. As complex as the terms sound, These plans are actually designed for an understandable and clear evaluation of business ideas.
"A Business plan is the blueprint of every business."
You can think of it as laying out all your business ideas into one planner, so that you can see which marketing strategy to do, and make right adjustments to your plan. This article will help you understand the sequence of a business plan as well as its sections.
Section 1: Executive Summary
The executive summary is considered as the miniature version of the business plan. Its contents summarises each part of the business plan from cover to cover.
The importance of this business plan is to provide an executive summary for your investors or business prospects without having to read the entire business plan.
As the saying "first impression lasts," executive summary is like the so called "first impression" of your business plan. If your executive summary is not compelling enough, then investors would probably stop reading the summary, and you won't get the funding for your business.
Essentially, an executive summary should be concise and should be kept within less than one and a half pages. For this section, you'll be having to ask yourself "will this information bring success to my business?"
Section 2: Elevator Pitch
The elevator pitch part of a business plan is a quick persuasive speech that aims to build interest to your business plan. It simplifies your ideas, enumerates your value points, differentiates your business plan among other businesses in the industry, and brings curiosity to make your prospect want to hear more.
Types of Elevation Pitches:
- Generic Elevator Pitch - standard format
- Sales Pitch - when pitching in a sales situation
- One-Word Pitch - uses a single word
- Question Pitch - asking your audience
- Rhyming Pitch - easier to mentally process
- Subject Line Pitch - utilizes value or curiosity
Section 3: Company Mission Statement
The company mission statement part of your business plan clarifies your business' overall goals, objectives and the direction you're going. It simplifies every facet of your business: the nature and range of the products or services that you offer, quality, pricing, growth potential, relationship with customers, employees and the community as a whole.
Your company mission statement should answer the following questions:
- who are you in the industry?
- who are your target customers?
- what brand image do you want to convey?
- what are the core benefits your customers gain by using your product or service?
- what is the nature of the products & services that you offer?
- how will you make use of the technology?
- what are your underlying vales & philosophies?
Section 4: SWOT
SWOT is the acronym for the words Strength,Weakness, Opportunity and Threat. A company's SWOT analysis contains both inward (strengths and weaknesses) and outward (opportunities and threats) to come up with a strategy, and make the appropriate action for the overall furtherance of the business.
The primary purpose of creating a SWOT analysis is to have an insight of the critical and potential factors affecting your business. A SWOT analysis starts by assessing your business' internal strengths and weaknesses. Then you will note the external opportunities and threats that hinders you to reach your business goals.
Section 5: Goals
Your business goals describes the specific objectives that you want to carry out in your business plan. These goals maybe quotas, tasks, improvement of key performance index, or any performance-based benchmarks that you use as a measure for your marketing success.
Here are some examples of marketing goals:
- creating brand awareness
- generating higher volume of sales leads
- establishing a long-term and profitable relationship among your customers
Section 6: Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)
Key Performance Indicators are the metrics used to measure and track your progress toward your business goals. KPIs lets you know your business' status, whether your business is on the right track, or you will be needing to do some adjustments for the betterment of your business.
KPIs plays a huge part in every business.By using the right marketing analytics tool to track, identify and evaluate your KPIs, you will get the results you’re hoping for.
Section 7: Target Customers & Persona Analysis
Your “target customers” refers to a group of potential clients that your company wants to offer its products and services to. Consumers who are part of a target market share characteristics such as: buying power, market geography, income and demographics.
Identifying your business' target market or customers is necessary in creating a business plan, because not knowing who your prospects are could cost you a lot of money and time from your business.
Section 8: Industry Analysis
Industry analysis is an integral part of every business plan, especially for start-up businesses. It helps your prospects and investors see the potential of your business and enables you to position your brand among your industry competitors.
The primary use of industry analysis in a business plan is to help you understand the trends and the history of your business' industry. Moreover, it also enables you to have a closer look on the external factors that may affect your business such as government, economic forecasts, socio-demographic movements and technological advancements.
Section 9: Competitive Analysis &Advantage
The competitive analysis section is a vital part of your business plan. It shows the investors that you know your competitors, that you understand your business industry and that you have strategies hidden in your sleeves to compete among your industry.
Competitive advantage on the other hand refers to something that your business does, does not, can or cannot do. This could be anything from a new way of advertising or a new kind of product that is different from what is available on the market.
Section 10: Unique Selling Proposition(USP)
The unique selling proposition part of your business plan consists of statements that outlines how your products, services or overall business is different from what your competitors offer. It states the reason why your business is the better choice, and why your target customers should choose you over your industry competitors.
In writing your USP, you should be able to answer these following questions:
- what products or services are you offering?
- what is the value do they bring to your customers, your market?
- who are your target customers?
- what is your most essential customer-focused business goal?
Section 11: Marketing Strategy
Marketing strategies are the actions that you do in order to make your business goals true to reality. It is shaped by and must reflect your overall business plan.
a. Go-To-Market – Your GTM is the action plan that specifically show you intend to reach your target customers and what it is that will make them buy from you. “The purpose of a GTM strategy is to provide a blueprint for delivering a product or service to the end customer”. it is the plan of utilizing your internal and external resources to deliver and bring your product’s value to your customers.
b. Pricing and Positioning Strategy - pricing is part of the classic "4 Ps" of marketing. In here, you'll be needing to study the products and services that you offer, and determine how you will position them in the minds of your target customers price-wise.
c. Distribution Plan - this part of your business plan shows where your target clients would buy, where your industry competitors are selling, the effect of selling your brand in a particular place, and the members of your distribution channel.
d. Marketing Collateral - it is the concept that refers to the collection of a variety of media items used, in order to help the sales of a business' products and services.
e. Promotions Strategy - this part aims to persuade, inform or remind your customers about the products and services that you offer. Make sure that you are directing your promotional efforts to your target audience.
f. Online Marketing Strategy - in this fast-paced and modern generation, more and more businesses are incorporating their strategies through social media and online platforms to reach a wider range of audience in an affordable way.
g. Social Strategy – with the amount of time people spend on social media, and the precise targeting capabilities each channel enables for your campaigns, a well-built social media strategy is essential for (almost) any business, whether b2b or b2c. You need to know your audience, where they “hang out” online, what they want to see and when they want to see it. A good social strategy will enable you with close direct engagement with your audiences.
h. Conversion Strategy - involves a tactic that encourages customers to do a specific action. It is like converting a person from checking your product, into a purchaser of the products or services that you offer.
i. Retention Strategy - it is the act of increasing your customers' loyalty to your brand and decreasing churn. This involves creating profitable and long-term relationship with your customers.
j. Joint Ventures & Partnerships - the act of combining business facets and running as one institution. This involves an agreement between two or more companies with the same business goals.
k. Referral Strategy - this occurs through the process of word of mouth or recommendations from your previous clients. This strategy can be a double-edged sword, because the outcome depends on your customers' experience and perception of your brand.
Section 12: Financial Projection
In a business plan, financial projection contains financial forecasts for years down the road. It typically includes projections for your business' expenses budget, sales forecast, balance sheet, cash flow statement, and a profit and loss statement.
It is important to keep in mind that you should follow the generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) in this section.
Section 13: Team
If you are seeking investment, this is one, of not THE most important part of your plan. Investors, eventually, don’t invest in mere technology or products, they invest in PEOPLE. They want to know they are placing their faith in people with knowledge, expertise, experience, and most of all a burning drive to succeed.
Section 14: The Ask & Use of Proceeds (if you are seeking investment)
In this of your plan, you will further describe where the investors' funds will go. Businesses all have different goals, are driven by different motivations, and have different needs to help make that happen. In this part, you will further explain your management's spending plans and priorities.
For instance, if your business is a non-profit organisation, the donations or funds that your business will gain will be used for the furtherance of the business, and none of them will be distributable as profit or dividends.
It it takes quite a bit of thought and work to get your business business plan right, but don’t dismiss the need for one, as it a fundamental component in your business’ success.
* Another important last note:
These plans are NOT to be prepared once and stored away. These are living, breathing, dynamic plans, which need to be revisited frequently, updated and adjusted, to suit your business at every stage, your budget, your fluctuating market, and interests of your target audiences.
If you have any questions or need any assistance – leave us a comment below.