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Business Strategy

Business Plan Project

Market Analysis

I. Introduction
· Market analysis breaks the industry into segments and zeroes in on the specific
segment (or target market) that the firm will tackle
· The market analysis section of a business plan is distinctly different from the
marketing section
· The market analysis section focuses on describing a firm’s target market,
customers, and competitors, how it will compete in the marketplace, and
potential sales and market share
· The market analysis is an extremely important section of a business plan for
two reasons:
o The market analysis helps define the nature of the business and the
remainder of the plan
o It affirms that a company has a well-thought-out target market,
understands its customers, and can generate sales in the face of
competition
· To raise investment capital, a firm must demonstrate that its target market has
sufficient potential to enable it to rapidly increase sales and return to its
investors an amount that is 5 to 20 times the original investment

II. Market Segmentation and Target Market Selection


· A firm must answer the basic question, “Who are our customers, and how will
we appeal to them?”
· In some cases, a firm will have two markets, and you should describe the
characteristics of both markets

a. Market Segmentation
o Markets can be segmented in many ways, such as by geography
(city, state, country), demographic variables (age, gender,
family size, income), psychographic variables (personality,
lifestyle, values), behavioral variables (benefits sought, product
usage rate, brand loyalty), and product type (varies by product)
o There are requirements for successful market segmentation:
· Homogeneity of needs and wants within the segment
· Heterogeneity of needs and wants among segments
· Differences within the segment are small compared to
differences across segments
· The segment is distinct enough that its members can be
easily identified
· It should be possible to determine the size of the
segment
· The segment should be large enough to be profitable
o IBISWorld and Mintel provide suggestions for segmenting the
industries that they follow
o The entrepreneurial process often results in the identification of
new segments of an industry that weren’t previously considered

b. Selecting a Target Market


o After a firm segments its market, it selects a segment within the
market to target
o A big mistake is to define the target market too broadly or to
try to target more than one segment simultaneously
o Focusing intently on a single market allows a firm to become
an expert in a specialized area rather than trying to spread itself
too thin
o A firm should assess the size of the market to make sure it is
large and healthy enough to meet the firm’s objectives

c. Target Market Size and Trends


o Estimating the size of a target market can be tricky; in many
cases, you must literally invent a methodology for making an
estimate
o The key is to explain the path that led to your conclusions
o If you are producing an enhanced version of something that is
already available, numbers will be fairly easy to get
o Estimating the size of a target market for a market that doesn’t
currently exist, or a market that is specific to a particular
location or geographic area, is harder
o Readers will normally judge projections based on (1) the
reasonableness of the assumptions made, (2) the degree to
which the numbers are anchored in facts, and (3) the extent to
which it appears that a good faith effort was made to be as
accurate as possible
o The best recourse, if you are stuck, is to talk with a reference
librarian to see if there are additional information resources;
editors of industry-specific trade journals and directors of trade
associations are also good sources of information
o This section should also comment on industry trends that have
the potential to affect the target market positively or negatively

III. Buyer Behavior


· It’s important to include a section that deals directly with the behavior of the
consumers in a firm’s target market
· In many business-to-business start-ups, it’s important to discern specifically
who the “decision makers” are in the businesses you’ll be trying to sell to
· The length of a customer’s buying process is often an important concern
o A high-involvement purchase is one for which the buyer is prepared to
spend a considerable amount of time and effort searching
o A low-involvement purchase is one that a buyer makes with minimum
thought because it does not have much impact on his or her life
IV. Competitor Analysis
· A competitor analysis is a detailed analysis of a firm’s competition
· It helps a firm understand the positions of its major competitors and the
opportunities that are available
· You should never say that you don’t have any competitors

a. Identification of Direct, Indirect, and Future Competitors


o The first step in a competitor analysis is determining who the
competition is
o You should list a handful of competitors from each category
comprising your direct competitors, indirect competitors, and
future competitors:
o You should provide a short assessment of the scope and
intensity of your competition
o The next section focuses on your competitive analysis grid,
which compares your firm to your major competitors
o The competitive analysis grid will require you to engage in
competitive intelligence, which is the process of gathering
information about your competitors

b. Competitive Analysis Grid


o A competitive analysis grid is a tool for organizing and
presenting the information you collect about your competitors
· Show the key success factors for firms in your target
market on the vertical axis of the grid, and then show
your firm along with your four or five major direct
competitors on the horizontal axis
· In each box, rate yourself relative to your competitors
on each of key success factors
o Completing the competitive analysis grid may reveal that
you’re at a disadvantage over your competitors and help you
make adjustments

V. Estimate of Annual Sales and Market Share


· The final section of the market analysis focuses on computing an estimate of
your firm’s initial annual sales and market share
· There are four basic ways for a new firm to estimate its initial sales:
o Contact the premier trade associations in your industry and ask if they
track sales numbers for businesses that are similar to the business you
plan to start
o Find a comparable firm, or a company that sells a comparable product
o Conduct Internet searches to try to find magazine and newspaper
articles that focus on firms in your industry
o Use a multiplication method to try to arrive at a reasonable number
· Sometimes the multiplication method gets fairly complicated,
requiring that you consider several industries and conduct
primary research to get a good estimate
· The ideal scenario for start-ups is to use all four methods of estimating initial
sales, and then compare estimates
Marketing Plan

I. Introduction
· This chapter focuses on how the firm will actually find customers and close
sales
· It deals with the nuts and bolts of marketing in terms of price, promotions,
distribution, and sales
· Describe a company’s marketing plan by articulating its marketing strategy,
positioning, and points of differentiation and how they will be supported by
price, promotional mix, and sales process and distribution strategy
· The marketing section of the business plan must lay out specifically how you
plan to make your target market aware of the existence of your product or
service
· Reinforce how your product provides its user unique value and differs from
similar products in the marketplace
· There are two things to be mindful of as you write this section:
o The elements of a firm’s marketing plan should be developed with the
customer plainly in mind
o You must detail exactly who will sell your product and how your sales
process will work
· Describe your sales process and the methods that you’ll use to sell your
product (e.g., via direct sales force, through distributors or wholesalers,
through an alliance with companies that sell complementary products, or
through some other means)

II. Overall Marketing Strategy


· Marketing strategy refers to a firm’s approach to marketing its products and
services in broad terms, which forms the basis of all its marketing-related
activities
· Begin the marketing plan section by articulating your marketing strategy
because it sets the tone for the entire section
· Another important reason for having a marketing strategy and for articulating
it in a business plan is to make sure that a firm’s marketing efforts are
consistent with its overall mission and understanding of the market

a. Positioning Strategy
o After selecting a target market, the next step is for a firm to
select a “position” in the market
o Position is concerned with how a firm is situated relative to its
rivals (or potential rivals)
o Determining which position to occupy and compete in is
simply a judgment call on the part of a company based on its
mission, its overall approach to the marketplace, and its
competitive landscape
b. Points of Differentiation
o You should also clearly articulate your specific points of
differentiation early in the marketing plan section of your
business plan
o It’s typically best to limit the points of differentiation that you
talk about to two or three points, to make them memorable and
distinct
o Make sure your points of differentiation aren’t liabilities, if a
discerning reader starts playing devil’s advocate
o The most compelling forms of differentiation are created
through innovations that are difficult to imitate because they
are created by competencies unique to a firm
o A useful way for a start-up to visually depict its primary point
of differentiation is through a product attribute map
· A product attribute map is created by articulating two of
a product’s most important attributes, one on the x-axis
and the other on the y-axis

III. Pricing Strategy


· This section should explain how you plan to price your product or service
· The price a company charges for its products also sends a clear message to its
target customers
· State how you plan to price your product or services and provide a brief
rationale for your pricing philosophy

a. Cost-Based Pricing vs. Value-Based Pricing


o The two methods for determining the price of a product or
service are cost-based pricing and value-based pricing:
· In cost-based pricing, the list price is determined by
adding a markup percentage to a product’s cost
· The advantage of this method is that it’s
straightforward and easy to justify
· The disadvantage is that it’s not always easy to
estimate what the costs of a product will be,
particularly for a start-up
· Companies are also finding it increasingly
difficult to dictate prices to customers given
customers’ ability to comparison shop on the
Internet to find what they believe is the best
price
· In value-based pricing, the list price is determined by
estimating what consumers are willing to pay for a
product and then backing off a bit to provide a cushion
· Sometimes, to make this determination, a company has to conduct
focus groups or try different pricing options in test markets
o Most experts recommend value-based pricing because it hinges
on the perceived value of a product or service rather than cost-
based pricing, which ignores the customer
o Value-based pricing also frequently produces a higher gross
margin (a company’s net sales minus cost of goods sold)

b. Other Pricing-Related Issues


o Most experts warn start-ups to resist the temptation to charge a
low price for their products in hopes of capturing market share
o Most consumers make a price-quality attribution, naturally
assuming that the higher-price product is also the better quality
product
o The price you’re able to charge is largely a function of: (1) the
objective quality of your product or service and (2) the
perception of value that you create in the minds of your
customers relative to competing products in the marketplace

IV. Sales Process and Promotions Mix


· A firm’s sales process (or cycle) depicts the steps it goes through to identify
prospects and close sales
· Promotions mix refers to the specific tactics it uses, such as advertising and
public relations, to support the sales process and enhance its overall brand
· Sales and promotions is one area where hard work and ingenuity can make up
for a lack of funds
· Money can also be easily wasted if the sales process is not carefully thought
through and executed

a. Sales Process
o Sales process (or cycle) varies by firm, but normally includes
the following steps:
1. Prospect for (or gather) sales leads
2. Make the initial contact
3. Qualify the lead
4. Make the sales presentation
5. Meet objections and concerns
6. Close the sale
7. Follow up
o Following a structured process to generate and close sales
benefits a firm in two ways: (1) it enables a firm to fine-tune its
approach to sales and build uniformity into the process and (2)
it helps a firm qualify leads, so the firm can spend its time and
money pursuing the most likely buyers

b. Promotions Mix
o Promotions mix includes the specific tactics that a firm uses to
communicate with potential customers including advertising,
public relations, and other promotions-related activities

i. Advertising
· Advertising is making people aware of a product
in hopes of persuading them to buy it
· The major goals of advertising are to raise
customer awareness of a product, explain a
product’s comparative features and benefits, and
create an association between a product and a
certain lifestyle (or a certain objective in a
business-to-business context)
· Media include direct mail, magazines,
newspapers, radio, the Internet, television, and
billboard advertising
· Media used normally depends on the firm’s
target market
· There are many downsides to conventional
forms of advertising, which steers start-ups
away from advertising on a broad basis:
· Low credibility
· Possibility that high percentage of
viewers will not be interested
· Message clutter
· Relative costliness
· Perception that advertising is intrusive
· Possibility that poorly crafted ads run
risk of irking target market
· Most start-ups tend to be selective in advertising
efforts, such as limiting their print ads to
industry trade journals or using focused pay-per-
click

ii. Public Relations


· Public relations refers to efforts to establish and
maintain a company’s image with the public
· The major difference between public relations
and advertising is that public relations isn’t paid
for
· Examples of public relations techniques include:
· Press releases
· Media coverage
· Articles about the firm in newspapers,
magazines, or industry press
· Blogging
· Monthly newsletters
· Civic, social, and community
involvement
· Generating favorable public relations is better
than advertising because it is more grassroots
and doesn’t seem to be as self-serving
· The key to getting media coverage is to have a
story to tell, rather than simply extolling the
value of your product or service
iii. Other Promotions-Related Activities
· Some firms give away free samples or trial
memberships as a way of exposing potential
customers to their product or service
· This type of initiative is often pursued to create
“buzz” or word-of-mouth advertising
· Buzz means creating awareness and a sense of
anticipation about a company
· In most cases, putting together a specific budget
for promotional activities is helpful

V. Distribution and Sales


· Distribution encompasses all the activities that move a firm’s product from its
place of origin to the consumer
· This section of your business plan clearly identifies your distribution and sales
plan in terms of who will make the sales

a. Distribution and Sales Alternatives


o The first step in determining a distribution and sales strategy is
to sort through the choices
o The key to making the right choices among the alternatives is
to think carefully about where people in your target market
shop, and then about the most effective and economical ways to
get your products in these outlets
o Selecting the manner to distribute and sell a product or service
is not a trivial issue; this critical issue lies at the heart of a
firm’s overall marketing plan and its ability to effectively reach
its target market

b. Sales Strategy and Related Issues


o Your description should make it clear whether you plan to field
your own sales force
o Describe how many salespeople you will initially need, how
their numbers will be ramped up as your company grows, and
how they will be compensated
o If distributing via intermediaries, describe how they will be
chosen, and the ways in which the intermediaries will interface
with the sales outlets in your industry
o One way a new firm can innovate and provide unique value in
the marketplace is via distribution and sales