It is worth writing down your marketing plan even if you don’t need it to impress a potential investor or bank manager. The process of creating it will help you arrange your thoughts and justify your decisions.
Your marketing plan should include a detailed description of each Of the potential markets or customer groups that you feel your idea could be sold to. For each group describe the problem you solve and the form you think your idea should take to satisfy the customers.
For each of these market opportunities, find out as much as possible about the potential market size and the behaviour of the market (is it growing, static or likely to change soon).
Next, identity and justify your choice for your first target market. This one will need to be investigated in more detail. You will need to know how many potential customers there are, what they would be willing to pay for your product, who they are currently buying from and as much as possible about the problem you are going to solve for them.
If there is competition in the target market, start a file on each of them. Collect product literature, print out a copy of their website and scrutinise it to find out how and why you are going to be better then them. Try to imagine what they might be able to do to resist your entry into the market and how you will cope when they do. Start to collect lists of potential customers so that when the time comes, you know who to call and see. Try to find out who the key opinion leaders are, where they meet, even where they socialise or network. It should go without saying, that if there is a networking event, society or club where your customers meet, then you should join and attend without delay.
Next, identify the next few market segments and describe the route you plan to take to break into them. You will not need as much detail on these sectors yet, but it is best to have at least identified them and made a start early on. Creating this plan should not be done in isolation. The plan will benefit greatly if the whole team takes part in the thinking process and decisions. If there are enough of you involved, you could even set up teams to investigate different opportunities, everyone then coming back together to decide on the segmentation strategy. The more you involve all your team, the more they will understand where the company is going and be in a position to help achieve the goals. Motivation can be a very welcome by product of this process.
Once the plan is written, don’t just put it on a shelf, keep it up to date and refer to it. When it is time to move onto the next segment, use the plan as a reference to judge how closely your original research matched what you found in the market. Use this to judge how much work you need to do to understand the next segment.