The essence of marketing is to understand your customers’ needs and develop a plan that responds to those needs. A good marketing plan contains at least:
- an analysis of the situation (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats)
- a description of the target market (demographics, demand, motivations)
- clear objectives
- a strategy and means of action
The way a business sells its goods and services is determined by practices in its industry. So it is important for entrepreneurs to clearly understand their industry, competition, market and products.
- Who are your competitors?
- Who are their customers?
- What are their pricing, promotional, advertising and distribution policies?
- Will your response to your competitors reflect market conditions?
- What are the commission rates paid to middlemen in the industry?
- How big is the market?
- How is the market evolving?
- Is there still room for growth?
- What are your target markets and how will you convince customers?
- Who will produce the goods or provide the services?
- How will the goods or services be offered?
- Will there be after-sale service and guarantees?
- Is there real demand for these goods or services?
- Statistics Canada, for data on different industries
- Montréal en statistiques, for Montréal sociodemographic and economic data (in French)
7 sales tips
- Assume that sales cycles are long and customers will take a longer time than you expect to say yes.
- Set aside time for sales and business development – lots of time! The best person to market your goods and services is you, the entrepreneur.
- Never assume that your goods and services will sell themselves. You have to invest plenty of time and energy.
- Follow up with business contacts and build long-term relationships.
- Seek help from professionals, business incubators, mentors or a steering committee. There are excellent marketing training programs available, and they are good investments.
- Give customers time to say “yes." It’s a back-and-forth negotiating process.
- Develop a list of potential customers and rank them by the likelihood of making a sale to them.
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