Before you jump in and enthusiastically create a clever marketing campaign, you need to start by structuring or reviewing the organisation’s business plan. The business plan will drive the direction of the campaign.
Many start- ups have ambitions to scale up, but they have to focus on the opportunities that have assigned resources, anchored to specific business objectives.
A robust, realistic business plan will set out how to make the organisation a success by delivering targeted goals over specific periods of time. These will run typically for 12 months to three years, sometimes five years.
Inspired by the Smart Insights business plan template, I have offered tips to help you start to define profitable, growth strategies.
Remember you may need to tailor your plan to a specific audience, for example you may require to raise finance, to dispose of a business or even attract business partners, the objectives need to be set out accordingly.
So focus on what your reader/audience needs to know; these outline tips to help shape your thoughts.
Top 10 tips for a successful business plan
1. Financial performance – build a review of your financial performance, demonstrate a clear understanding of which products/services are profitable and where costs need to be managed more closely.
2. Business objectives – clearly outline where you want your business to be, you may aim to identify new revenue sources to expand, or develop new products to gain a competitive advantage – these need to be quantified against timescales.
3. Business strategies – if you have established clear, realistic goals you need to develop specific strategies to fulfil the objectives to differentiate you from the competition – state how to get to where you want to be.
4. Business proposition – identify your current products and services and define what makes your offer different, outline the benefits and current disadvantages and planned new developments to optimise future planned profitability.
5. Sales tactics – how to translate your strategies into action, this develops the detail of what happens, so if you want to position a high quality, high price product
how will you generate new leads that will want that type of product to help improve sales conversion?
6. Marketing tactics – unpack the classic 7Ps marketing mix, for example, audit your Product (the quality, branding, support); Promotion (how you communicate via PR or Direct Marketing): Price (do you discount, offer credit); Place (how can the customer access it by the Trade, direct salesforce, shop); People (employees, the culture and image conveyed): Process (do you focus on R&D, or being design-led); and finally Physical evidence (the packaging or online experience).
7. Operations – what is the operational structure and processes that deliver the products and services, including systems, procedures and resources; clarify the key areas of production, sales, marketing, finance and administration and any areas of existing weakness.
8. Financial forecasting – provide a forecast for the next three to five years, it may only be profit and loss or working capital requirements, state the assumptions behind the forecasts. Be realistic about the forecasts, planning a regular review process to take corrective action when you’re not hitting your forecasted financial targets, consider ‘what-if’ scenarios if not on target.
9. Employees – review existing workforce and assess the need to recruit new employees and outline the plans to develop new skills to achieve the objectives and action the strategies.
10. Potential threats and opportunities – a threat might be a downturn in the economy or a new competitor, what strategies do you have planned to address this possibility; an opportunity might be a dramatic increase in demand or a competitor going out of business, how can you scale up quickly to gain a competitive advantage.
To summarise a business plan outlines the long-term corporate strategy of an organisation. Once you have established your business plan, it will remain a benchmark for your ongoing business performance, a guide to step up to the next profitable level over three to five years.
We’re interested in your thoughts on business planning, have your say on Twitter or comment below.
alexandrapatrick provides original, cost-effective strategic marketing services in Kent, UK. alexandrapatrick has particular experience and expertise in digital marketing, copywriting, marketing consultancy and location/destination marketing.