This 3-part series is intended to illuminate what goes into developing a superior business plan-one worth funding. I hope that you enjoyed Part I of the series last week. In this installment, we will examine the Marketing and Sales Section of the typical business plan.

The Marketing and Sales Section is the "guts" of a business plan. Generally divided into three parts, the section traditionally begins with a Market Examination which includes:

  • Market Analysis, which presents a discussion of the Market Needs, Market Trends and Market Growth Projections and the Distribution and Buying Patterns for each of your business' core products and services, and;
  • Industry Analysis, which includes a delineation of Major Competitors (with a discussion of their strategies) and Important Industry Participants and the roles that they play within the sector.

Your Marketing Strategy is presented next. It starts with a Value Proposition Statement that describes, both, what value you deliver to the marketplace and the competitive edge you garner by doing what you do the way that you do it.

Other major parts of the Marketing Strategy include the tactics and budgeted activities required to gain market share. It contains:

  • Positioning Statements, which describe your offerings and outline their key selling points;
  • Pricing Strategy, which outlines how you will price your offerings and discusses the way your model was designed, including any service, discount or volume pricing assumptions that underpin it;
  • Promotion Strategy, which is typically conferred in phases to match your offering's evolution through its maturity curve, this part of the Marketing Strategy offers your approach to attracting and retaining customers;
  • Distribution and Delivery Strategy, which defines your tactics for providing your offerings to your target customers, and;
  • Marketing Programs, which encapsulates the work described above and packages it into distinct initiatives that must be staffed, funded and executed over time in order to realize the outcomes described in the business plan.

The Marketing and Sales Section of a business plan closes with your Sales Strategy. It contains a discussion of the following:

  • Strategic Partners, which outlines a business relationships that you have which can be leveraged to grow the business;
  • Sales Forecast, which provides an estimate of sales by offering over time while charting the critical success factors necessary for achieving the sales projected, and;
  • Sales Plan, which translates the Sales Forecast into specific actions to be taken by you and your Strategic Partners in order to reach the targeted sales goals.

As you can see, developing the Marketing and Sales Section of your business plan can be a challenging endeavor. However, finding lenders and investors for your start-up will be even more grueling than this, if you don't do a good job in presenting your marketing and sales approach. Plus, as mentioned earlier in the series, driving through the issues outlined above will only make you and your business stronger in the long run. So, spend the time needed to do it justice.

Please be sure to come back next week for the last installment of the series, when we review the Financial Modeling section of the business plan.

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