Category Archives: tips for business plan writing

Optimal Marketing Campaign Strategy

Zero in on your optimal marketing strategies.

Zero in on your optimal marketing strategies.

As a copy writer for web/print, I know that the most effective campaigns are guided by thoroughly planned out marketing strategies.  I’ve written the following brief article to help you grow your revenue faster with less risk.

Optimal marketing campaigns—those that result in the highest net profit return on your investment of time and money—are the result of sufficient research, strategy, planning, and careful decision making, weighing all the factors.  As a seasoned marketing strategist with experience in a wide variety of industries, I can help guide you every step of the way, preventing you from wasting your precious time and money.  Then, when it comes time to design the format and write your copy for web sites, sales letters, post cards, flyers, and promotional audio or video, I can either write it for you or write it with you, teaching you how to do it yourself in the future.

Without the necessary research, strategy, and planning, the likelihood that you’ll have a strong ROI, or even have ANY profit from a marketing campaign, is much lower.  If you take the time to develop a strategy that answers the following questions, you’re like to find much more success in all of your campaigns:

Which strategy is most likely to produce the greatest net profit in the shortest amount of time with the least amount of risk?

So, let’s break that down.  Which strategy (or optional promotional opportunity) is 1) most likely (probability expressed as a percentage, e.g. 50% probability of success) to produce the greatest 2) net profit (a $100 net profit versus a $1000 net profit) in the shortest amount of 3) time (recorded in days, weeks, months, or years) with the least amount of 4) risk (the subjective emotional as well as financial component of the company’s decision makers).

Risk assessment is probably one of the most challenging of the 4 factors.  If you had $1 million in your company’s accounts, you probably wouldn’t mind investing $50,000 in a marketing campaign.  But, if you only had a total of $50,000 in your company’s “war chest,” you would be far less comfortable investing your entire amount of capital.  So, for our purposes, we will express this risk factor as a percentage of total capital available.

This single question, involving several variables, will guide all of your marketing and sales process decision-making.  It can be graphically illustrated in the following table, where the Options are the various marketing channels or promotional opportunities available to most small businesses. Then, you give a numeric value to each of the factors according to how important it is to YOU relative to each other.

Options Probability Net Profit Time Frame Level of Risk/

% of total budget

Option A 90% $100 1 week 5%
Option B 40% $2,000 3 weeks 30%
Option C 20% $50,000 8 weeks 60%

Based on this matrix of marketing campaign decision making, which type of decision is easier, faster to make, and one that you’d be willing to go ahead with time and time again.  Let’s look at Option A:  Is it a “no-brainer” to make a decision that is 90% likely to work, only involves a 1 week time span, and requires only 5% of your overall marketing budget at risk?  So, even though the net profit of $100 is not a lot, you could make this “bet” several times a week, couldn’t you?  And you’d still be able to feel very comfortable with the level of risk, wouldn’t you?

Whereas, Option C, with it’s high net profit potential, is less of an attractive option, since it is only 20% likely to work and requires both a longer wait time of 8 weeks and a much larger risk factor, taking 60% of your marketing budget to execute.

Now, are you starting to see how analyzing every marketing opportunity available to you is a crucial step to making sure you don’t waste time and money?  In fact, this one formula for comparing marketing channels can guide your every decision, making sure you are comfortable with the risk, and can improve your chances of a successful campaign many times over.

For testimonials from clients, enjoy reviewing my LinkedIn professional profile at http://www.linkedin.com/in/andrewbarden

Sample copy writing sites:

www.eggurl.com/dV

www.AndrewBarden.com

www.SoccerMarketingInc.com

www.TrainingInLA.org

www.MackeySalesTeam.com

Which Comes First, the Product or the Promotion?

I often answer marketing strategy questions on social networking sites, which typically lands me new clients. While I was on LinkedIn’s group called eOffice, I read the following posted question:

Which comes first, the product or the marketing?

I stumbled upon this post by the genius Seth Godin, The Marketing Guru. “Well, if you define marketing as advertising, then it’s clear you need the product first (Captain Crunch being the only exception I can think of… they made the ads first.)

This great clip from Mad Men brings the point home. If the Kodak guys hadn’t invented the Carousel slide projector, Don Draper could never have pitched this ad. But wait. Marketing is not the same as advertising. Advertising is a tiny slice of what marketing is today, and in fact, it’s pretty clear that the marketing has to come before the product, not after. As Jon points out, the Prius was developed after the marketing thinking was done.

Jones Soda, too. In fact, just about every successful product or service is the result of smart marketing thinking first, followed by a great product that makes the marketing story come true. If someone comes to you with a ‘great’ product that just needs some marketing, the game is probably already over.” http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2009/02/which-comes-first-the-product-or-the-marketing.html

Then, I replied with the following:

As you already know, Seth is among the best in the industry. So, to agree with him is a bit redundant. But, since you asked, it is definitely the promotion/marketing. If you haven’t already read Tim Ferriss’s 4-Hour Work Week book, you’ll find in there several simple ways to test, at least online, the sales process, including all marketing channels and finally to the point on a web page that someone gives their credit card information.

If you can get traffic to your site, convert enough of them to either register for some free report or actually make a purchase (with the last page saying, “Sorry, we are in the product launch phase, your credit card has not been charged. We will notify you when the product is available.”), then you’ll know you’ve got the right marketing message and the right sales process.

One key for online traffic via Google Adwords is to apply a filter to your ad so that you only get people clicking through who are most likely to make a purchase. Often, you’ll see ads that give the price ranges of the products. So, if viewers are not ready to spend at least the minimum, they will likely not click. Lowering your marketing cost is equivalent to making more sales.

If you can develop a strong ROI by testing one or more marketing / sales process strategies first, for a product that you plan on developing, you will 1) be able to adjust the actual product’s features according to what is going to sell better and 2) know that once the product is made, you can quickly set up your marketing channels and get them sold immediately.

In another OFFLINE approach, you do surveys. Simply 1) determine a psychological profile of your ideal client, 2) locate them locally (once you know someone’s preferences, you’ll know where they shop/eat), and 3) canvas your ideal clients, meaning, ask them in person or over the phone all the market research questions. One trick is to get permission to set up a table in front of where your ideal clients shop (and if you have voter registration forms on half of your table, no one can deny you!).

Even if 20% of respondents don’t reply accurately (some people have a hard time predicting their own future behavior), so long as the majority reply accurately, you’ll have some primary market research that will help you set up a proof of concept / feasibility study and both convince yourself that you have the right product at the right time, and you’ll then know how to send the right message to the right people.

Since you know Seth’s work, I’m guessing this is all review for you. However, perhaps others on this group would find some of what I explained of value.
So, do you have any stories that showcase this principle at work?

Tips for Effective Business Plan Writing


Hello. If you are thinking about starting your first business, writing a business plan can seem, …well… overwhelming! If you feel you are not a researcher and writer, you’ll likely want to hire someone who “plays” at doing those things. If you are a good researcher and writer, here are some tips that will help you develop a much better business plan. The more thorough and better written the plan, the more likely you’ll both greatly increase the speed and amount of sales as well as significantly increase the likelihood that you’ll get funded.

Looking for start up capital? Well, lately, just about the only banks giving businesses loans are those that are guaranteed by the Small Business Administration (SBA). Soooo… if you are smart, you’ll visit your local SBDC (Small Business Development Center) and get your first draft of a business plan reviewed by trained experts.

Ok. So, here are the tips, written in the order of a typical plan outline. Keep in mind that the executive summary may be placed in the beginning but it is always written in the end, after you’ve written almost everything else.

Tip #1: What sets your apart from your competition? What is your Unique Selling Proposition (USP)?

Think about the number of business plans your readers must plow through each day (if they are angel investors, venture capitalists, or bankers). An average venture capitalists, for example, usually sees about 1,000 plans a year and likley invests in up about 10! What distinguishes yours from the rest of the stack?

Highlight the qualities that set you apart from all the other businesses early on in your Executive Summary. Put your winning concept up front and make sure your readers get it. Really emphasize that you’ve done your marketing research and concisely explain why you will dominate your particular market (with sufficient capital to send the message out, of course!).

Tip #2 The eye loves white space. Give your words breathing room.

Separate out your summary into paragraphs that mirror the sections of your business plan, giving at least 1/2 an inch of white space between each topic. It gives the reader’s mind a chance to breath. Summaries are best written very dense, with the lease words possible to say the most important things. So, the reader will want to take a moment to soak it in. Give them the white space to take a “mental breath” before taking on the next big gulp of information.

Tip #3 Inc and grow rich.

If you are presenting a business plan to someone other than your friend or relative, be sure to have incorporated already. Have your incorporation information listed in the Company Description section of the website. Telling the reader that you have yet to incorporate could lead them to think that you’re not taking your business seriously. When you show that you have at least an LLC (which can later be converted to a C Corp or S Corp), then they see that “you mean business.” Now, which state to incorporate in? Did you know that there are good reasons NOT to incorporate in the state in which you currently reside? Talk to a good business attorney and ask about which states give the most protection in court. Also, never sell more than 49% of your stocks unless you are willing to give up all control to other stock holders.

Tip #4 Milestones show maturity.

You’ll want to develop a history of your company that makes you look smart. You’ll want to list milestones that you’ve already achieved. For example, show a chronology of the following, providing the dates of when you:

Incorporated

Completed your prototype

Shipped your first product

Secured major accounts / customers

Secured key strategic partnerships

Reached a significant sales level

You’ll want to indicate at what phase of development your company is currently. Choose one of the following that best describes where you are:

Seed Company: The business concept is developed, but the product or service is not yet finalized. Not yet making sales.

Start-Up: In the early state of operation. Securing first customers.

Expanding: Established company adding new products, services, or branches. Rapidly increasing sales growth.

Stable: Established company with modest ongoing sales growth.

Retrenchment: Consolidating or repositioning product lines. Little or no sales growth.

Tip #5 Avoid Disclosing Sensitive Information

Be careful about putting highly proprietary or technical details in your plan, even if your reader has signed a non-disclosure agreement. You can present these details at a later stage of discussion.

Tip #5 Research, Research, Research – spot trends before they take you out of the game

Researching industry trends enables you to provide facts supporting your claims for your company’s potential success. You’ll need to show that your industry is growing instead of dying or flat. Even more convincing are sales figures for similar companies in the industry.

Tip #6 Invest in Yourself

Most lenders and investors want to see that the business owners have already made a significant personal financial investment in their own company. Many loan programs require owners to contribute 20 to 30% towards any funds sought. So, make certain you highlight the amount of money–as well as the time and other resources–you’ve already committed to your company.

Tip #7 Targeting your Market Shows Exactly How You’ll Reach Certain People

A strong target market definition is:

Definable: It identifies the specific characteristics potential customers have in common

Meaningful: These characteristics directly relate to purchasing decisions

Sizable: The number of those potential customers is large enough to sustain your business.

Reachable: You can affordably and effectively market to them and have proven they will respond via cost effective marketing campaigns.

MORE TIPS TO COME… that’s it for now, but, I’ll post more tips soon… be sure to sign up for my RSS feed