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Eight Steps to Developing A Simple Marketing Plan-ways to promote a product

Eight Steps to Developing A Simple Marketing Plan1
Edward A. Evans and Fredy H. Ballen2
Marketing is an essential component of a business (Guidry
2013). In fact, it is the heart of any business, serving the
vital function of transforming production activities into
financial performance, thus ensuring the survival of the
business. Marketing is key regardless of the type of business
(this includes agriculture). Despite the important role of
marketing, many smallholding operators/growers are reluc-
tant to create a marketing plan. These operators continue to
operate on the basis of trying to sell what they can produce
rather than producing what they can sell. Some claim they
do not have time to develop a marketing plan, while others
claim there is no need for such a plan. The result of such
shortsightedness is that some operators eke out a meager
living, witnessing their profit margins evaporate as they
continue being price takers instead of price makers. As Credits: Thinkstock.com
the saying goes, "if you fail to plan, then you plan to fail." Rationale for Marketing Plan
Whether you are a large-farm or small-farm business, you
can benefit from developing a marketing plan. Contrary to A quick online search will provide a list of reasons why a
popular belief, preparing such a plan does not require an marketing plan is essential for your business operation. A
enormous amount of time and resources, but it does result marketing plan
in benefits that greatly exceed the costs. ? Helps you reach your target audience
In this article, we show how smallholders can develop a ? Helps you boost your customer base
simple marketing plan using our eight-step guide and our ? Increases your bottom line
marketing plan worksheet (Table 1). First, we explain why
a marketing plan is important for your business and define ? Assists you with obtaining finances
what a marketing plan is. Second, we list eight steps to fol- ? Helps you set clear, realistic, measurable objectives
low to develop a simple marketing plan. Third, we provide a ? Helps you focus your total marketing efforts
marketing plan worksheet for your individual use.
1. This document is FE967, one of a series of the Food and Resource Economics Department, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date April 2015.
Reviewed September 2018. Visit the EDIS website at https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu for the currently supported version of this publication.
2. Edward A. Evans, associate professor, and Fredy H. Ballen, economic analyst, UF/IFAS Tropical Research and Education Center, Homestead, FL 33031.
The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to
individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national
origin, political opinions or affiliations. For more information on obtaining other UF/IFAS Extension publications, contact your county's UF/IFAS Extension office.
U.S. Department of Agriculture, UF/IFAS Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A & M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County
Commissioners Cooperating. Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension.
Definitions of a Marketing Plan Preparation of a Marketing Plan
Marketing has different definitions depending on the As we say in economics, "there is no such thing as a free
person you ask. Many people define marketing as selling lunch." The good news is that preparing a marketing plan
and advertising; however, marketing is much more than is not as difficult as it sounds. It does require a minimum
just selling and advertising. Concentrating only on selling amount of market research, which involves collecting,
(closing the deal) will not ensure that you develop a long- analyzing, and organizing information so you can plan
term customer base. Marketing is about discovering and your actions. Market research entails obtaining information
satisfying your customers' needs and wants while earning a from whatever sources are available to help you answer the
profit. This involves attracting and retaining customers. You following questions:
attract customers by promising and delivering better value
than your competitors. You retain customers by continuing ? What is your product/service?
to deliver satisfaction. Marketing is creating value for your ? What market(s) do you serve?
customers while extracting value from them (McDonald
and Wilson 2011). ? What unique (special) features distinguish your product/
service from the others?
How do you create value for and extract value from ? What is the best way to get your product/service into the
customers? Without getting too theoretical, it involves hands of targeted consumers?
creating the best mix of what is known as the 4Ps so that ? Who are your customers?
the customer realizes the highest level of benefits per unit of
cost (Value = Benefits/Cost). The 4Ps include ? How should you price your product/service?
1. Product/service (having something to offer that your
? How should you promote (advertise) your product/
customers or potential customers need) ? How is the targeted market changing or is likely to
2. Price (charging a price that is in line with the value change?
customers place on your offering) Such information can be obtained in a variety of ways
3. Promotion (letting customers know what you have to besides hiring paid consultants. You can search for informa-
offer and what is special about it) tion online, use social media to network, communicate
with others in the industry, visit similar businesses, attend
4. Place/distribution (getting your product/service to trade shows and conferences, and/or join professional
customers at a time and in a form that is most beneficial organizations. Once you have gathered sufficient informa-
to the customers) tion to answer the above questions, you can then follow
our eight-step guide below and use our marketing plan
A marketing plan is a set of orderly actions aimed at achiev- worksheet (Table 1), to be on your way to developing
ing specific objective(s) within a given timeframe. First, a successful marketing plan. Over time, you can refine
you first must have a set of objectives when creating a plan. and elaborate on aspects of the marketing plan as more
Second, you should specify a timeframe (usually a calendar resources become available and your business expands. It
year) within which to achieve your set of objectives. is important to remember that your marketing plan is not
static. It is a living document that needs to be routinely
Therefore, a marketing plan is a strategic document outlin- checked for relevance and revised accordingly. It also
ing the actions/steps you propose to take to achieve your provides you the basis to assess each new opportunity to see
marketing objectives. A marketing plan helps you focus if it is in accordance with your overall goals and objectives
your efforts on maximizing profits for your business. It and to make adjustments as needed.
helps you to clearly define the product and/or service you
are offering, to identify your customers and competitors, Steps for Creating a Simple
to outline a strategy for attracting and retaining customers,
and to anticipate changes in the marketplace. While the Marketing Plan
actual document is of tremendous importance, the process Below are the eight steps to follow in developing a simple
of preparing that document is invaluable. Developing a marketing plan. Follow these steps and fill out the market-
marketing plan will help you spend your time, energy, and ing plan worksheet (Table 1) to get you started.
resources as efficiently as possible.
Eight Steps to Developing A Simple Marketing Plan 2
Step 1: State your marketing objectives weaknesses? What do the customers think about your
Perhaps you would like to increase awareness of the prod- competitors' product/service? Can you capitalize on some
uct or service you provide, increase sales and revenues by a of your competitors' weaknesses? How can you create better
certain percentage, and/or increase the number of custom- value for your customers? What pricing strategies are your
ers who purchase your product or service. For example, competitors using? Can you improve on their strategies?
your objective(s) could be to increase sales by 10 percent by
the end of next year, sell 50 more boxes of your product, sell ? TIP: Select a set of competitors and identify their
10 percent of what you produce directly to consumers, or strengths and weaknesses. How do they promote
participate in at least one trade show. their product? What is their pricing strategy? Is there
anything unique or special about their products?
? TIP: Be realistic about your marketing objectives;
make sure they are specific and quantifiable so you can Step 4: Describe your product/service
measure your progress toward achieving them A product may be a commodity or service, or both. What
? TIP: Your marketing objectives can be expressed in products/services are you offering? How is what you offer
terms such as sales dollars, sales units, market share, different from your competitors' product or service? How
distribution levels/channel, and awareness do customers perceive the benefits of the product/service
? TIP: Try to limit the number of marketing objectives to
you are providing? What do customers perceive as the
less than four; two is ideal for most companies
special features of your product/service?
Other questions to keep in mind when defining your
Step 2: Identify demographics of your product/service include the following: Can you appeal to
target market environmentally conscious or health-conscious customers?
One way to determine your customer demographics (e.g., How are you going to present your product/service to
age, sex, profession, income level, education level, resi- customers? Is there an increase or decrease in the supply of
dency, individual or business, etc.) is to write a description your product/service on the market?
of your target audiences. Once you have done so, focus on ? TIP: Remember that without customers your business
only those customers who are most likely to purchase your is out of business; it is important that you give your
product or service. As your business and resources grow, customers a reason to buy your product and to remain
you can focus on a wider segment of the overall market. loyal (long-term, repeat customers)
? TIP: The target market is a group of customers (people ? TIP: Always aim to produce what you can sell rather
or firms/packinghouses) for whom your marketing ef- than sell what you can produce
fort is intended; your target choice will determine your
production and marketing practices, not vice versa Step 5: Define place (distribution strategy)
? TIP: A target market is not simply whoever is buying, When we talk about place, we are thinking about more than
or will buy, your products; rather it consists of the just the physical location of a business; place also includes
individuals or businesses you identify as your most how you plan to get the product/service into the hands of
desirable customers your customers (the place they need it). To do this, you
need to answer the following questions: How widely do you
Step 3: Identify your competition plan to geographically distribute your product/service (e.g.,
There are several ways to go about identifying the competi- locally, in-state, multi-state, nationally, internationally)?
tion. One way is to identify other farm businesses that Are you going to be selling directly (direct marketing) to
are offering somewhat similar products or services to the customers? (Direct marketing includes community sup-
customers you are targeting and within your price range. ported agriculture (CSA), home delivery, farmers' markets,
Once you have identified your competitors, analyze two to mail order and internet sales, pick your own (U-pick), and
four such businesses by answering the following questions. roadside stands.) Are you going to be selling indirectly
How are these businesses doing in terms of sales and (intermediary marketing) to packing houses or retailers?
demand for their product/service? What are the similarities ? TIP: Consider your product distribution plan and
and dissimilarities between your product/service and determine the best type of packaging
theirs? What are some of your competitors' strengths and
Eight Steps to Developing A Simple Marketing Plan 3

How to pick and promote the most profitable products? Divide a page into three columns: demand, skills and interests. Do some research and fill in your demand section first as this is arguably the most important category to your store’s success. Once you have an idea of which products are high in demand, fill in a list of all of your interests – everything that comes to mind. More items...