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How to Write a Business Plan: Target Market Analysis

The Business Plan and the Importance of Defining Your Target Market

Susan Ward wrote about small businesses for The Balance for 18 years. She has run an IT consulting firm and designed and presented courses on how to promote small businesses.

business plan target customers

Conducting a Market Analysis

Polling your target market, writing the market analysis, online tools for market research, u.s. online market research sources, canadian online market research, local sources of market research, doing your own market research.

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The market analysis is basically the target market section of your business plan . It is a thorough examination of the ideal people to whom you intend to sell your products or services.  

Even if you intend on selling a product or service only in your community, you won't be selling that service to everyone who lives there. Knowing exactly what type(s) of people might be interested in buying your product or service and how many of them reside in your projected area or region is fundamental in creating your market analysis.

Once target market data has been established, you'll also work on sales projections within specific time frames, as well as how prospective sales might be affected by trends and policies.

Research is key and cornerstone of any solid  business plan .

Don't Skip This Step!

Don't skip market research; otherwise, you could end up starting a business that doesn't have a paying market.

Use these general terms as linchpins in research data for the market analysis section of your business plan, and to identify your target market:

But don't stop here. To succinctly define your target market, poll or survey members of your prospective clients or customers to ask specific questions directly related to your products or services. For instance, if you plan to sell computer-related services, ask questions relating to the number of computing devices your prospective customers own and how often they require servicing. If you plan on selling garden furniture and accessories, ask what kinds of garden furniture or accessories your potential customers have bought in the past, how often, and what they expect to buy within the next one, three, and five years.

Answers to these and other questions related to your market are to help you understand your market potential.

The goal of the information you collect is to help you project how much of your product or service you'll be able to sell. Review these important questions you need to try to answer using the data you collect:

  • What proportion of your target market has used a product similar to yours before?
  • How much of your product or service might your target market buy? (Estimate this in gross sales and/or in units of product/service sold.)
  • What proportion of your target market might be repeat customers?
  • How might your target market be affected by demographic shifts?
  • How might your target market be affected by economic events (e.g. a local mill closing or a big-box retailer opening locally)?
  • How might your target market be affected by larger socio-economic trends?
  • How might your target market be affected by government policies (e.g. new bylaws or changes in taxes)?

One purpose of the market analysis is to ensure you have a viable business idea.

Find Your Buying Market

Use your market research to make sure people don't just like your business idea, but they're also willing to pay for it.

If you have information suggesting that you have a large enough market to sustain your business goals, write the market analysis in the form of several short paragraphs using appropriate headings for each. If you have several target markets, you may want to number each. 

Sections of your market analysis should include:

  • Industry Description and Outlook
  • Target Market
  • Market Research Results
  • Competitive Analysis

Remember to properly cite your sources of information within the body of your market analysis as you write it. You and other readers of your business plan, such as potential investors, will need to know the sources of the statistics or opinions that you've gathered.

There are several online resources to learn if your business idea is something worth pursing, including:

  • Keyword searches can give you an overall sense of potential demand for your product or service based on the number of searches.
  • Google Trends analysis can tell you how the number of searches has changed over time.
  • Social media campaigns can give you an indication of the potential customer interest in your business idea.

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has information on doing your market research and analysis , as well as a list of free small business data and trends resources you can use to conduct your research. Consider these sources for data collection:

  • SBA  Business Data and Statistics  
  • The U.S. Census Bureau maintains a huge database of demographic information that is searchable by state, county, city/town, or zip code using its census data tool . Community, housing, economic, and population surveys are also available.
  • The U.S. Department of Commerce Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) has extensive statistics on the economy including consumer income/spending/consumption, business activity, GDP, and more, all of which are searchable by location.

The Government of Canada offers a guide on doing market research and tips for understanding the data you collect. Canadian data resources include:

  • Statistics Canada  offers demographic and economic data.
  • The  Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC)  offers market research and consulting with industry experts.
  • The Canada Business Network provides business information to entrepreneurs by province/territory, including market research data.

There are also a great many local resources for building target market information to explore, including:

  • Local library
  • Local Chamber of Commerce
  • Board of Trade
  • Economic Development Centre
  • Local government agent's office
  • Provincial business ministry
  • Local phone book

All of these will have information helpful in defining your target market and providing insights into trends.

The above resources are secondary sources of information, in which others have collected and compiled the data. To get specific information about your business, consider conducting your own market research . For instance, you might want to design a questionnaire and survey your target market to learn more about their habits and preferences relating to your product or service.

Market research is time-consuming but is an important step in affording your business plan validity. If you don't have the time or the research skills to thoroughly define your target market yourself, hiring a person or firm to do the research for you can be a wise investment.​

Small Business Administration. " Market Research and Competitive Analysis. " Accessed Jan. 13, 2020.

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How to Write the Customer Analysis Section of Your Business Plan

Written by Dave Lavinsky

explaining customer demographics

What is a Customer Analysis?

The customer analysis section which incorporates the essential steps of writing a business plan step-by-step is a key component of your business plan and assesses the customer segments your company serves. The objective of the customer analysis is to justify your market choice, identify differentiators, and prioritize the segments you are targeting.

Components of a Customer Analysis

A complete customer analysis contains 3 primary sections:

  • Identify your target customers
  • Convey the needs of these customers
  • Show how your products and/or services satisfy these needs

Download our Ultimate Business Plan Template here

Why Conduct a Customer Analysis?

A thorough customer analysis provides the following benefits:

  • Supports your market choice and helps you avoid entering too broad a market
  • Helps you focus on serving current customers rather than trying to find new ones
  • Enables you to determine which segments to prioritize and how much effort to put into each one
  • Helps you craft a strategic marketing plan and platform to reach these customer segments

How to Write Your Customer Analysis

The first step of the customer analysis is to define exactly which customers the company is serving. This requires specificity. It is not adequate to say the company is targeting small businesses, for example, because there are several million of these types of customers. Rather, an expert business plan writer must identify precisely the customers it is serving, such as small businesses with 10 to 50 employees based in large metropolitan cities on the West Coast.

When defining your target market, be sure to identify the following:

  • The market segment you are choosing to serve (i.e., age range, annual income, etc.)
  • The geographic location of these customers (i.e., city, region, state)
  • What is the average revenues/income of these customers?

Once the plan has clearly identified and defined the company’s target customers and the customer demographics, it is necessary to determine the size of your target market: How many potential customers fit the given definition and is this customer base growing or decreasing?

Next, the business plan must detail these customers’ needs. Conveying customer needs could take the form of past actions (X% have purchased a similar product in the past), future projections (when interviewed, X% said that they would purchase product/service Y), and/or implications (because X% use a product/service which our product/service enhances/replaces, then X% need our product/service).

Prioritize the needs of your target customer according to how critical they are, and include a description of each in your customer analysis. Be sure to answer questions such as: 

  • What pain points do these customers have? How is their current situation lacking? 
  • What will your product/service do to help solve these problems?

The business plan customer analysis must also detail the drivers of customer decision-making. Sample questions to answer include:

  • Do the customers find price to be more important than the quality of the product or service?
  • Are customers looking for the highest level of reliability, or will they have their own support and just seek a basic level of service?
  • Why will customers purchase your product and/or service rather than look for cheaper alternatives?

Prioritize the benefits of your products and services according to how much difference they make for customers and include a description of each in your customer analysis. Be sure to answer questions such as:

  • What does your product do? How is it unique or better than other similar products?
  • What type of customer could benefit the most from this feature/benefit and why?

Be sure to also show an understanding of the actual decision-making process. Examples of questions to be answered here include:

  • Will the customer consult others in their organization/family before making a decision?
  • Will the customer seek multiple bids?
  • Will the product/service require significant operational changes (e.g., will the customer have to invest time to learn new technologies, and will the product/service cause other members within the organization to lose their jobs? etc.)

Finally, identify each segment you are targeting and how much effort you will put into reaching them. Be sure to answer questions such as:

  • How many customers are in each segment and how much revenue will they generate?
  • What percentage of total industry sales does this represent?
  • What market potential did we estimate for each segment and how does that compare with actual sales? Include the number of leads converted and average deal size.

Example Customer Analysis Template for a Candle Making Company

The needs of this customer segment are that they are looking for high-quality candles that are made with all-natural ingredients. The benefits of their product that are most important to them are that the candles are vegan, eco-friendly, and made with essential oils. Drivers of customer purchase decisions include quality, price, and unique offerings. The company’s target market size is 750,000 people which represent a significant portion of the candle industry. They will put effort into reaching these customers through online advertising, social media posts, and word-of-mouth.

It is essential to truly understand customers to develop a successful business and marketing plan. That’s why including a customer analysis in your business plan is so crucial. Likewise, sophisticated investors require comprehensive profiles of a company’s target customers. By spending the time researching and analyzing customers in your target market, you will develop both enhance your business strategy and funding success.

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Other Resources for Writing Your Business Plan

How to Write a Great Business Plan Executive Summary How to Expertly Write the Company Description in Your Business Plan How to Write the Market Analysis Section of a Business Plan Completing the Competitive Analysis Section of Your Business Plan The Management Team Section of Your Business Plan Financial Assumptions and Your Business Plan How to Create Financial Projections for Your Business Plan Best Business Plan Software Everything You Need to Know about the Business Plan Appendix Business Plan Conclusion: Summary & Recap

Other Helpful Business Plan Articles & Templates

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How to Write a Market Analysis for a Business Plan

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A lot of preparation goes into starting a business before you can open your doors to the public or launch your online store. One of your first steps should be to write a business plan . A business plan will serve as your roadmap when building your business.

Within your business plan, there’s an important section you should pay careful attention to: your market analysis. Your market analysis helps you understand your target market and how you can thrive within it.

Simply put, your market analysis shows that you’ve done your research. It also contributes to your marketing strategy by defining your target customer and researching their buying habits. Overall, a market analysis will yield invaluable data if you have limited knowledge about your market, the market has fierce competition, and if you require a business loan. In this guide, we'll explore how to conduct your own market analysis.

How to conduct a market analysis: A step-by-step guide

In your market analysis, you can expect to cover the following:

Industry outlook

Target market

Market value

Competition

Barriers to entry

Let’s dive into an in-depth look into each section:

Step 1: Define your objective

Before you begin your market analysis, it’s important to define your objective for writing a market analysis. Are you writing it for internal purposes or for external purposes?

If you were doing a market analysis for internal purposes, you might be brainstorming new products to launch or adjusting your marketing tactics. An example of an external purpose might be that you need a market analysis to get approved for a business loan .

The comprehensiveness of your market analysis will depend on your objective. If you’re preparing for a new product launch, you might focus more heavily on researching the competition. A market analysis for a loan approval would require heavy data and research into market size and growth, share potential, and pricing.

Step 2: Provide an industry outlook

An industry outlook is a general direction of where your industry is heading. Lenders want to know whether you’re targeting a growing industry or declining industry. For example, if you’re looking to sell VCRs in 2020, it’s unlikely that your business will succeed.

Starting your market analysis with an industry outlook offers a preliminary view of the market and what to expect in your market analysis. When writing this section, you'll want to include:

Market size

Are you chasing big markets or are you targeting very niche markets? If you’re targeting a niche market, are there enough customers to support your business and buy your product?

Product life cycle

If you develop a product, what will its life cycle look like? Lenders want an overview of how your product will come into fruition after it’s developed and launched. In this section, you can discuss your product’s:

Research and development

Projected growth

How do you see your company performing over time? Calculating your year-over-year growth will help you and lenders see how your business has grown thus far. Calculating your projected growth shows how your business will fare in future projected market conditions.

Step 3: Determine your target market

This section of your market analysis is dedicated to your potential customer. Who is your ideal target customer? How can you cater your product to serve them specifically?

Don’t make the mistake of wanting to sell your product to everybody. Your target customer should be specific. For example, if you’re selling mittens, you wouldn’t want to market to warmer climates like Hawaii. You should target customers who live in colder regions. The more nuanced your target market is, the more information you’ll have to inform your business and marketing strategy.

With that in mind, your target market section should include the following points:

Demographics

This is where you leave nothing to mystery about your ideal customer. You want to know every aspect of your customer so you can best serve them. Dedicate time to researching the following demographics:

Income level

Create a customer persona

Creating a customer persona can help you better understand your customer. It can be easier to market to a person than data on paper. You can give this persona a name, background, and job. Mold this persona into your target customer.

What are your customer’s pain points? How do these pain points influence how they buy products? What matters most to them? Why do they choose one brand over another?

Research and supporting material

Information without data are just claims. To add credibility to your market analysis, you need to include data. Some methods for collecting data include:

Target group surveys

Focus groups

Reading reviews

Feedback surveys

You can also consult resources online. For example, the U.S. Census Bureau can help you find demographics in calculating your market share. The U.S. Department of Commerce and the U.S. Small Business Administration also offer general data that can help you research your target industry.

Step 4: Calculate market value

You can use either top-down analysis or bottom-up analysis to calculate an estimate of your market value.

A top-down analysis tends to be the easier option of the two. It requires for you to calculate the entire market and then estimate how much of a share you expect your business to get. For example, let’s assume your target market consists of 100,000 people. If you’re optimistic and manage to get 1% of that market, you can expect to make 1,000 sales.

A bottom-up analysis is more data-driven and requires more research. You calculate the individual factors of your business and then estimate how high you can scale them to arrive at a projected market share. Some factors to consider when doing a bottom-up analysis include:

Where products are sold

Who your competition is

The price per unit

How many consumers you expect to reach

The average amount a customer would buy over time

While a bottom-up analysis requires more data than a top-down analysis, you can usually arrive at a more accurate calculation.

Step 5: Get to know your competition

Before you start a business, you need to research the level of competition within your market. Are there certain companies getting the lion’s share of the market? How can you position yourself to stand out from the competition?

There are two types of competitors that you should be aware of: direct competitors and indirect competitors.

Direct competitors are other businesses who sell the same product as you. If you and the company across town both sell apples, you are direct competitors.

An indirect competitor sells a different but similar product to yours. If that company across town sells oranges instead, they are an indirect competitor. Apples and oranges are different but they still target a similar market: people who eat fruits.

Also, here are some questions you want to answer when writing this section of your market analysis:

What are your competitor’s strengths?

What are your competitor’s weaknesses?

How can you cover your competitor’s weaknesses in your own business?

How can you solve the same problems better or differently than your competitors?

How can you leverage technology to better serve your customers?

How big of a threat are your competitors if you open your business?

Step 6: Identify your barriers

Writing a market analysis can help you identify some glaring barriers to starting your business. Researching these barriers will help you avoid any costly legal or business mistakes down the line. Some entry barriers to address in your marketing analysis include:

Technology: How rapid is technology advancing and can it render your product obsolete within the next five years?

Branding: You need to establish your brand identity to stand out in a saturated market.

Cost of entry: Startup costs, like renting a space and hiring employees, are expensive. Also, specialty equipment often comes with hefty price tags. (Consider researching equipment financing to help finance these purchases.)

Location: You need to secure a prime location if you’re opening a physical store.

Competition: A market with fierce competition can be a steep uphill battle (like attempting to go toe-to-toe with Apple or Amazon).

Step 7: Know the regulations

When starting a business, it’s your responsibility to research governmental and state business regulations within your market. Some regulations to keep in mind include (but aren’t limited to):

Employment and labor laws

Advertising

Environmental regulations

If you’re a newer entrepreneur and this is your first business, this part can be daunting so you might want to consult with a business attorney. A legal professional will help you identify the legal requirements specific to your business. You can also check online legal help sites like LegalZoom or Rocket Lawyer.

Tips when writing your market analysis

We wouldn’t be surprised if you feel overwhelmed by the sheer volume of information needed in a market analysis. Keep in mind, though, this research is key to launching a successful business. You don’t want to cut corners, but here are a few tips to help you out when writing your market analysis:

Use visual aids

Nobody likes 30 pages of nothing but text. Using visual aids can break up those text blocks, making your market analysis more visually appealing. When discussing statistics and metrics, charts and graphs will help you better communicate your data.

Include a summary

If you’ve ever read an article from an academic journal, you’ll notice that writers include an abstract that offers the reader a preview.

Use this same tactic when writing your market analysis. It will prime the reader of your market highlights before they dive into the hard data.

Get to the point

It’s better to keep your market analysis concise than to stuff it with fluff and repetition. You’ll want to present your data, analyze it, and then tie it back into how your business can thrive within your target market.

Revisit your market analysis regularly

Markets are always changing and it's important that your business changes with your target market. Revisiting your market analysis ensures that your business operations align with changing market conditions. The best businesses are the ones that can adapt.

Why should you write a market analysis?

Your market analysis helps you look at factors within your market to determine if it’s a good fit for your business model. A market analysis will help you:

1. Learn how to analyze the market need

Markets are always shifting and it’s a good idea to identify current and projected market conditions. These trends will help you understand the size of your market and whether there are paying customers waiting for you. Doing a market analysis helps you confirm that your target market is a lucrative market.

2. Learn about your customers

The best way to serve your customer is to understand them. A market analysis will examine your customer’s buying habits, pain points, and desires. This information will aid you in developing a business that addresses those points.

3. Get approved for a business loan

Starting a business, especially if it’s your first one, requires startup funding. A good first step is to apply for a business loan with your bank or other financial institution.

A thorough market analysis shows that you’re professional, prepared, and worth the investment from lenders. This preparation inspires confidence within the lender that you can build a business and repay the loan.

4. Beat the competition

Your research will offer valuable insight and certain advantages that the competition might not have. For example, thoroughly understanding your customer’s pain points and desires will help you develop a superior product or service than your competitors. If your business is already up and running, an updated market analysis can upgrade your marketing strategy or help you launch a new product.

Final thoughts

There is a saying that the first step to cutting down a tree is to sharpen an axe. In other words, preparation is the key to success. In business, preparation increases the chances that your business will succeed, even in a competitive market.

The market analysis section of your business plan separates the entrepreneurs who have done their homework from those who haven’t. Now that you’ve learned how to write a market analysis, it’s time for you to sharpen your axe and grow a successful business. And keep in mind, if you need help crafting your business plan, you can always turn to business plan software or a free template to help you stay organized.

This article originally appeared on JustBusiness, a subsidiary of NerdWallet.

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Plan Projections

ideas to numbers .. simple financial projections

Home > Business Plan > Target Market in a Business Plan

Market Size in a Business Plan

Target Market in a Business Plan

… we are targeting this part of the market …

What is the Target Market?

Target Market in a Business Plan

Target Market Segments

Your product will not be of equal interest to all potential customers, as they do not all have the same needs and characteristics. This section of the business plan deals with the analysis of the target market into different groups of customers (customer or target market segments) each having distinct characteristics and needs from the product.

The target market segmentation strategy depends on the business and the product, but generally segmentation falls into the following customer characteristics groups.

Psychographic segmentation

Psychographic segmentation splits up a sales market of a business based on such things as the social class, lifestyle choices, personality traits, tastes, attitudes, and the opinions of its customers.

Psychographic market segmentation examples include the promotion of products such as cars as these often reflect a customers lifestyle, and leisure activities. For example, a car business might identify customers who are interested in keeping the environment green and promote hybrid cars to them, or a business involved in activity holidays will seek to market to customers who show a preference for an active lifestyle.

Demographic segmentation

  • Social class
  • Size of family
  • Nationality

Geographic Segmentation

Geographic segmentation is the process of splitting up a sales market of a business based on the geographical location of the customers. It is a particularly important marketing tool when the business is a multinational, worldwide business, but is also used by businesses to split their markets into region, county, state, city, neighborhood, or postal code.

A geographic segmentation example would be seasonal clothing items such as coats and swimwear. In contrast, in a colder climate coats would be marketed and sold all year round whereas swimwear would be highly seasonal during the holiday period. In a hot climate swimwear would be the all year round product and winter coats might not be sold at all.

Behavioral segmentation

Behavioral segmentation is the process of splitting up the sales market based on brand loyalty, usage, benefits required.

Target Market Presentation in the Business Plan

The business plan target market section can be presented in a number of formats, but a listing of the major customer segments together with a pie chart will show the investor where the main potential for the product lies. In the example below, the market is split into four main segments both in terms of number of customers and percentage of the total target market.

target market 1.0

The average customer spend is also included, to reconcile the total target market back to the served available market (SAM) in monetary terms. Finally, a brief statement about the growth prospects for the market is included to show the investor the potential for growth in your chosen customer segments.

When identifying the target-market segments, it is important to be as specific as possible about the customer characteristics which make up each segment. In choosing which segments to concentrate on, take into account the size and potential for growth of each segment, and identify clearly what benefits, both emotional and financial, the product provides for the customer.

This is part of the financial projections and Contents of a Business Plan Guide , a series of posts on what each section of a simple business plan should include. The next post in this series is about the analysis of the competition for the target-market.

About the Author

Chartered accountant Michael Brown is the founder and CEO of Plan Projections. He has worked as an accountant and consultant for more than 25 years and has built financial models for all types of industries. He has been the CFO or controller of both small and medium sized companies and has run small businesses of his own. He has been a manager and an auditor with Deloitte, a big 4 accountancy firm, and holds a degree from Loughborough University.

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Target Markets: Why They Aren't Just for Marketers [A Quick Guide]

Sean Higgins

Published: August 08, 2022

Sales teams and entrepreneurs need to know their target market. You can get there by asking yourself, "Who is the ideal fit for my offering? What are their interests and priorities?"

target market brainstorming meeting with four co-workers.

Answering these questions can help you prioritize the deals you're most likely to win. But how can you really understand the ins-and-outs of your target market?

Let's take a closer look at what a target market is, go over how to conduct a target market analysis, see some helpful examples, review target market segmentation, and look into how sales teams can leverage target markets.

→ Download Now: Market Research Templates [Free Kit]

Table of Contents

How to analyze your target market, target market analysis example, target market examples, target market segmentation.

How Sales Teams Can Leverage Target Markets

What Is a Target Market?

A target market is a group of customers for which your products and services are aimed. First defined by an industry (i.e., healthcare, travel, technology, etc.), it represents a specific subset of the broader market the industry covers. It's usually based on factors like behavioral tendencies, geographic location, and demographic characteristics.

Let's say you've created a B2B software product that helps remote construction teams. In that case (and to state the obvious), you'd probably focus on companies within the construction industry. But defining your target market doesn't stop there.

You know your industry, but there's no one-size-fits-all mold for the businesses within it. If you were pinning down a target market for your product, you'd have to start with business characteristics — for instance, scale would be a good place to begin.

Your product will suit certain companies better than others, and selling to a Fortune 1000 company isn't the same as a small construction business with less than 100 employees.

In this case, you'd want to pin down the size of your ideal customer's business — and this number would be the start of a target market analysis.

Let's take a closer look at what that process looks like.

  • Analyze your product or service.
  • Check out the competition.
  • Choose criteria to segment by.
  • Perform research.
  • Track and evaluate your results.

As the name implies, target market analysis is the basis for identifying your target market. Here are the five steps you can take to do one of your own.

1. Analyze your product or service.

Take a look at what you're selling to understand which consumers would get value from your product. The questions below will help with the brainstorming process:

  • "What need does your product or service fill?"
  • "Are there any problems or pain points it solves for?"
  • "Who would benefit most from your product or service?"

Once you've answered these questions, you might want to consider getting feedback from current customers. Conduct a focus group or ask your service department about their common problems.

Analyzing your product or service in this way will help you better understand your target market. In fact, you might learn that your current customers aren't the people you're trying to target. If you notice a disconnect in this process, you'll want to better align your target market with your actual marketing goals so you can realign.

2. Check out the competition.

Perform an analysis of your competitors to see who they're targeting. Take a look at their customer base, and see if you can find an area of the market you could focus on that they might be missing.

The best way to do this is to conduct a competitive analysis . This entails researching who your competitors are, what they offer, and even review their sales tactics.

Looking at your competitors will even help you identify target market gaps that you can fill. Are there any target markets they do not focusing on?

This could lead you to expand into new markets geographically or develop new products to target a different market.

3. Choose criteria to segment by.

A target market can be segmented by a few different variables. Consumers can be split by demographic, geographic, and behavioral factors.

This is essentially the process of creating a buyer persona . You'll divide your target market into several target customers — also known as (you guessed it) buyer personas.

For example, perhaps your target market is midsized companies looking to purchase marketing automation software. You could divide your target customers into several groups, including marketing department leaders, sales leaders, founders, or CEOs.

Here are some of the most common ways to segment a target market:

4. Perform research.

As you begin narrowing your market, the research phase doesn't end there. What marketing strategies should you use to reach your potential target market? Is the target market large enough for your product or service? Market research will help you learn more about your target market.

Picking the right target market can tell you a great deal about your business. Are you looking to become a true velocity business, or do you see yourself as a steadier flow of pipeline with enterprises and consumers?

5. Track and evaluate your results.

Target market analysis should never be static — you don't just conduct one, be immediately content with the results, and stop there. It's an ongoing process. You need to continuously track your results, evaluate what you see, and iterate on the conception of your target market to more effectively appeal to it.

Let's imagine a company that sells inexpensive, "function-over-form" athletic footwear that stresses comfort and arch support instead of trendy aesthetics.

1. Analyze the product or service.

When conducting its target market analysis, the business in question would have to start by taking a thorough, objective look at its product to get a solid grip on its value and differentiating factors.

The company would likely find that its shoes are better suited for day-to-day wear instead of legitimate athletic competition, lack trendy appeal, and can help with sore feet while standing.

This initial insight can help shape the personas that the company will ultimately target. It would have a better picture of how to construct its value proposition. In this case, the business might find that suburban men over 50 who don't exercise regularly appear to be the most likely to buy its shoes.

Next, the company would dig into its competitor's products, how they were selling them, and any noticeable gaps in their potential target markets. After conducting a competitive analysis, the company might find that its competition was ignoring some geographical trends embedded in its target markets.

Let's say its competitors' retail locations and store placements were primarily in cities — ignoring locations like suburban strip malls and local "mom and pop" retail stores. With that information in mind, the company in question could have a starting point for appealing to a target market its competition is ignoring.

Here, the company would begin to string more detailed personas together. Again, it would base its segmentation criteria on its product analysis and refine it according to its competitive analysis.

In this case, a significant portion of the criteria would revolve around age, social class, location, and interests — making one of its personas older, working class, suburban consumers who prioritize function over form.

After creating its target persona, the company would conduct a market analysis, survey consumers that fit its target market bill, potentially employ more direct tactics like hosting focus groups, and take any other strides it sees fit to ensure that it has a thorough understanding of its target consumers.

From there, it can shape a thoughtful value proposition that will guide its sales messaging, outreach strategies, pricing structure, and other crucial sales-related factors that influence how it reaches consumers.

5. Track and evaluate results.

Once the other steps have been covered, the company would continue to monitor how its efforts resonate with its target persona. If sales aren't where they need to be — or it appears the company might have other personas it can cater to — it might restart this process and shift gears on its messaging, strategies, or target market as a whole.

Let's look at some of the best-in-class companies — both B2C and B2B — to see how they set up their target markets.

1. Atlassian Target Market

Atlassian offers a suite of collaboration tools designed to help developers and product leaders take their projects from concept to completion.

Like most larger companies, Atlassian uses target market segmentation to look at different markets and break up its unique value propositions, terminology, and values.

By diving into one segment, like retail, we see they're working with several large companies — especially with their support-related products.

This tells us that while Atlassian can work with almost anyone doing software development, it recognizes how its value proposition changes depending on the market segment in question.

Even the same product for two different customer types creates different levels of value.

2. Nike Target Market

Nike offers products to athletes and other consumers who want to exercise regularly. They offer apparel, equipment, shoes, and accessories.

They work with athletes and a fitness-minded audience, but we know a good target market definition can't be that broad. Let's break two of their segments down:

  • Young athletes — Kids who get frequent exercise and play sports growing up are a huge, growing category for Nike. Nike engages with this market through sports leagues and associations and with endorsements from popular sports stars like LeBron James.
  • Runners — With a focus on new types of shoes, Nike shows it targets consumers based on both demographic information and lifestyle. Nike launches shoes and apparel designed to help the avid runner stay on the road a bit longer.

3. Starbucks Target Market

Next time you're sipping your cold foam Cascara cold brew, ponder the target market of the top coffee destination in town: Starbucks .

Many of their locations have been remodeled and offer a hip, contemporary look. Not that surprising since about half of their customers are between the ages of 25 and 40.

If you spend more than five minutes sitting and drinking your coffee, you'll probably hear a barista shout, "mobile order!" The mobile process now accounts for 24% of Starbucks' transactions which shows they're catering to a tech-savvy crowd.

The next clue we have on their target market is the location of their shops. By positioning its locations in heavily urban areas, Starbucks is attracting on-the-go professionals. To recap, here are a few of Starbucks' target markets:

  • 25 - 40-year-olds — Remodeled locations accommodate their largest demographic base.
  • Tech-savvy adults — Their mobile app has caught on and lends itself to a forward-thinking crowd.
  • Working professionals — Their urban focus tells us the type of lifestyle they're catering to.

target market example: Starbucks

4. Apple Target Market

What about a company that occupies both the B2B and B2C spaces? How can it develop a target market with such a broad set of customers? Apple is the textbook case for innovation and product design.

But how does that apply to finding a target market? With its wide array of product offerings, Apple has a little something for everyone. Here are two of their target markets:

  • Tech enthusiasts — A customer category that launched Apple's brand decades ago, technology enthusiasts still get attention from the company. With launches of new tech categories (including wearables, Apple TVs, and HomePods), Apple has shown it's still creating value for this segment. There is also a tremendous ecosystem where owning a suite of Apple products enables better interoperability among your tech.
  • Healthcare — One market Apple has its eyes on is healthcare. By focusing on the appeal of having information right at your fingertips with mobile and the iPad, they've positioned healthcare workers to more conveniently communicate with patients.

Apple doesn't seem to exclude many people from its target market and has positioned itself to benefit both consumers and businesses — even with the same products like the iPad.

Its success has been more about understanding the value of its different segments rather than excluding people from them.

5. McDonald's Target Market

McDonald's target market is broad and encompasses a wide variety of customer personas. Younger professionals represent one of the chain's more prominent target market segments — and that trend is reflected in many of the company's location remodels. Several McDonald's franchises have been revamped to look sleeker, more modern, and better suited for millennials.

target market example: McDonalds

Image Source: Community Impact

"Full nest" families with children over six represent another key base for the chain. The franchise takes many strides to appeal to this specific segment, primarily reflected in its Happy Meal options.

But there's another factor that underscores virtually every target market McDonald's tries to appeal to — social class. The chain makes a conscious effort to resonate with lower, working, and middle-class patrons.

Pricing is the basis of McDonald's value proposition. It tries to bill itself as an affordable alternative to more expensive options in the spaces it attempts to sell in. For instance, when promoting its McCafe line, the chain stressed the brand's particularly low price points as a major selling point.

Mcdonalds target market

Image Source: McDonald's

Ultimately, the franchise's target market isn't singular and clear-cut in terms of most demographics — but it is specific in terms of its various personas' economic circumstances. Its value proposition fundamentally rests on the fact that its food is inexpensive.

Target Customers

A target customer is an individual that's most likely to buy your product. And it's a subset of the broader target market. For example, if your target market is female athletes between the ages of 13 to 25, a target customer could be female athletes in the specific age range of 13 to 16.

You need to have a firm grasp of your target customers if you're going to develop pointed, effective value propositions. The success and viability of your sales messaging, prospecting efforts, and broader sales process rests on your knowledge of who's buying your product or service and the mindset that makes them do it.

That starts with target market segmentation.

Target market segmentation is the process of partitioning your target audience into more focused, identifiable, and approachable groups (or segments). It's a broad concept that can take on a lot of forms, including:

  • Geographic segmentation — Dividing your target market based on geographical boundaries
  • Firmographic segmentation — A practice specific to B2B sales where firms are divided based on characteristics like company size or number of employees
  • Behavioral segmentation — Dividing your target market based on behavioral tendencies and decision-making patterns
  • Demographic segmentation — Dividing your target market based on factors like income, education, race, gender, or occupation
  • Psychographic segmentation — Dividing your target market-based elements like personality traits, values, and opinions

How you elect to segment your target market will be specific to your company's needs and interests. In many — if not most — cases, you'll employ more than one of the segmentation methods listed above when defining a target market.

When you identify the customers you want to serve — and the ones you don't — ask:

  • "Do my target customers have different problems they're solving with my product?"
  • "Do my target customers get different value from my product?"
  • "Are either of these things related to demographic, geographic, or lifestyle components?"

In order to segment effectively, you must have a decent way of measuring the value you provide to the market. Then, identify if certain groups are getting more value than others.

This will power the positioning of your product. Suddenly, you can pinpoint pain for your customers while speaking their language.

This helps you refine your position in the market and connect on a deeper level with your customer. Having a target market (or target customer) is all about relevancy and relating to the person on the other side of the cash register.

How Sales Teams Can Leverage Target Markets + Segmentation

Segmentation poses several benefits for sales teams. If you know who will be most receptive to your product or service, you get a leg up when conducting most steps of your sales process.

sales teams and target markets

For one, effective segmentation can be a major asset in prospecting. If your SDRs have a solid picture of the types of customers that show an interest in your offering, cold leads can become a little warmer — letting those reps make more thoughtfully guided use of your sales messaging when connecting with prospects.

Beyond that, segmentation can also help with lead qualification. Knowing whether a lead fits the bill of a class of high-converting customers gives reps a head start during that stage.

You need to have some kind of criteria that can immediately distinguish a prospect who needs your product or service from one that lacks the decision-making tendencies, location, or economic circumstances to actually get something out of it. Target market segmentation gets you there.

Finally, target markets provide sales teams with the necessary information to breach new markets and sell to them effectively. If you're not on top of any emerging markets that might need your product or service, you could hit a wall with your sales potential and lose out on incredibly lucrative business opportunities.

Ultimately, knowing your target markets inside and out is one of the most fundamental tenets of successful sales efforts. If you're not actively analyzing, pursuing, and refining your understanding of your target markets, you're losing out on sales and painting yourself into a corner with your business potential.

Editor's note: This post was originally published in July 2018 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

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Target market – calculate the size and potential of your audience

Market research

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When starting your business, most likely on a shoestring budget, there’ll be many things you’ll have to forgo initially in order to keep costs down, but the one thing you won’t be able to survive long without is customers.

So, a pivotal point in starting your business will be sizing up your market and finding out how many customers you can potentially sell to, who these people actually are, what traits they share, and who they’re already buying from.

At Startups.co.uk, we’re here to help small UK businesses to get started, grow and succeed. We have helpful resources for helping new businesses get off the ground – you can use the tool below to get started today.

What Does Your Business Need Help With?

There are four steps to take when measuring your market:

Step one: market size calculation, step two: target market analysis.

  • Step three: Divide your market into target audiences

Step four: Identify potential competitors

The size of the market you intend to get into is a key figure that will be used by anyone reading your business plan, yourself included. That figure represents the total scope of the opportunity ahead and is the starting point in shaping your marketing strategy.

Thankfully, finding this magic figure isn’t too difficult – at least in theory.

Some simple desk research (secondary data available in published form, accessible either online or via business sections of public libraries throughout the UK) should provide lots of statistics with varying degrees of reliability.

You should use this process to try and finetune who exactly you’re selling to – as an over-optimistic market appraisal will lead to bloated sales forecasts, create a bigger marketing budget than necessary and instil a large degree of distrust among potential investors who’ll see your optimism as misplaced arrogance, poor business acumen, and a risk not worth not taking.

Generally, there are two different approaches when it comes to calculating the size of your market – a top-down, or bottom-up analysis.

While in theory, you could only undertake one approach when researching potential customers, it’s preferable that you do both.

A top-down analysis : A top-down analysis is completed by calculating the entire total market you’ll be entering and then estimating your share of that market.

For example, the UK clothing market is worth £51.2bn. Even if your business is targeting a market share of just 0.5%, that’s still £256,000,000. Naturally, a top-down analysis is often widely optimistic.

A bottom-up analysis : A bottom-down analysis is completed by estimating potential sales in order to calculate an overall sales figure. It takes into account where products can be sold, the sales of comparable products, and the slice of current sales you can carve out. While it is a lot more work than a top-down analysis, the final figure will often be much more accurate.

Colin Barrow, author of Business Plans for Small Businesses, gives the following example of how entrepreneurs should start to think more precisely when working out who they’ll be selling to.

“If bread is your business you will be able to discover rapidly that the consumption of bread in Europe is £10bn a year. But bread is a very broad industry. The industry-wide definition of bread includes sliced and unsliced bread, rolls, bakery snacks and speciality breads. It covers plant- baked products, those that are baked by in-store bakers, and products sold through craft bakers.

“Assessing the relevant market, then, involves refining global statistics to provide the real scope of your market. If your business only operates in the UK the market is worth over £2.7bn, equivalent to 12 million loaves a day, one of the largest sectors in food. If you are only operating in the craft bakery segment, the relevant market shrinks down to £13.5m; this in turn contracts still further to £9.7m if you are, say, only operating within the M25.

“This is the hurdle that nine out of every 10 business plans fail to cross. Entrepreneurs like to think big, but a business plan based on attacking the £10bn European bread market, rather than the much smaller near £10m market for craft bread products they are really going into, will lack all credibility.”

Once you’ve determined how to calculate market size, you then need to assess its value.

These are four useful rules to help you decide if a market segment is worth building into your business plan.

  • Measurability: Measurability is all about estimating how many customers you’re looking to sell to, and judging whether this number is large enough to make it worth your while selling to them. While your initial target market might shrink when you pinpoint exactly who you’ll sell to, you may actually generate higher sales once you’ve carved out this niche in the market. Not only will you calculate consumers in this period, you’ll also calculate what part of your business’s offering applies to them. For example, if you run a clothing store you can segment your market by online or in-store, and also, by men, women and children.
  • Accessibility: Identifying a viable market is one thing, but if you can’t reach these customers and sell to them – then they may as well not exist. You need to ask yourself how you can reach them, preferably in a way that connects and resonates with them on an individual basis. For example, you could reach the over-50s by advertising in a specialist ‘older people’s’ magazine with reasonable confidence that younger people will not read it. So, if you were trying to promote Scrabble with tiles 50% larger, you might prefer that young people did not hear about it. If they did, it might give the product an old-fashioned image.
  • Open to profitable development: The customers must have money to spend on the benefits that you propose to offer. One of the fastest growing market segments comprises occupants of retirement homes, but there is not much evidence that they have the cash to spend on new products and services, however worthwhile or desirable.
  • Size: As touched on above, the size of your market can both be too big or too small. If it’s too niche, you won’t be able to generate enough sales to survive long-term. While if it’s too big, you won’t have the resources to compete against large corporates who’ll drown you out.

Step three: Divide your market into different types of target audiences

Market segmentation is a process that helps gather different consumers of similar tastes into the same groups – to make it easier to tailor your product/service and target a viable audience, rather than just flogging your business to the wind.

There are several ways by which markets can be segmented and the following table shows some target audience examples:

  • Demographics: age, gender, marital status, ethnic background, income
  • Psychographics: activities, personality, values, attitude
  • Behavioural: benefits, usage rates, patterns
  • Geographical: local, national, international, regional

Here we explain some of the terms in more detail:

Psychographic:  While demographics explain  who  your customer is, psychographics explains  why  they buy your product and service. While demographic information on consumers includes information like their age, income, and marital status, psychography divides individual consumers into social groups – all of whom share collective traits such as lifestyle, opinions, values, personality and even social class.

Traditional examples of psychographic groups include:

  • Yuckies:  Young, unwitting, costly kids – who are still at home at 30.
  • Yuppies:  Young, upwardly mobile professionals.
  • Bumps:  Borrowed to-the-hilt, upwardly mobile, professional show-offs.
  • Jollies:  Jetsetting oldies with lots of loot.

Understanding consumer buying behaviour is best served by thinking about both demographics and psychographics, however, a consumer’s attitude/opinion towards something is often a better indicator of their spending habits than their age, race or gender.

Two easy methods of obtaining psychographics of your current customers include:

  • Conversing with them through surveys and questionnaires, or even just having a chat when they reach the checkout. Consumers should generally react well if you appear to be tailoring your offering to them specifically. As the demographic of the person should be pretty easy to pick up on, especially if you’re meeting them face-to-face, you’ll need to ask more psychographic-based questions – such as what motivates them to shop, and whether they value price or quality and vice-versa.
  • A less personal and more technical approach, though one that will offer up a more ‘honest’ set of data, will be to investigate your website analytics – which should accurately tell you what has motivated someone to buy a product. While few people might openly admit to a stranger they’re a bargain hunter and after the cheapest deal possible, the fact they’ve used that discount code tells you all you need to know.

Benefit segmentation:

This process recognises that different people can get different satisfaction from the same product or service – and is very popular among clothing, cosmetic and other consumer businesses.

For consumers, benefit segmentation should answer the key question: “What is this product going to do for me?” and this in turn will help you plan relative and applicable marketing activities.

Extending beyond the physical reward of a product, benefits for the consumer may extend to the emotional or psychological.

The classic marketing story used to explain this is that of toothpaste companies which target those motivated largely by health emphasising clinical benefits, while whiteness as cosmetic appeal is pitched at another group.

Benefit segmentation may include:

  • Convenience

Geographical

This form of segmentation arises when consumers have different needs based on where they are located, and is a common marketing approach for small retail businesses that serve a wide demographic.

When deciding what products to stock, the process of geographical segmentation should have business owners thinking about everything from what sort of services local shoppers have access to, and what popular pastimes they enjoy, to what delicacies they eat, and what the climate is like.

For example, an inner-city location may be a heavy user of motorcycle dispatch services, but a light user of gardening products.

Industrial (B2B)

This groups together commercial customers according to a combination of their geographical location, principal business activity, relative size, frequency of product use, buying policies and a range of other factors.

How to Segment Industrial Markets  by Benson P. Shapiro and Thomas V. Bonoma, published by Harvard Business Review suggests that most industrial/B2B businesses use segmentation to explain results rather than to plan.

Multivariant

Naturally, market segments can be made using more than one variable – which can give a more precise picture of a market than just using one factor.

Regardless of how innovative you believe your business to be, the likelihood is that you will have plenty of competitors and rival businesses in the marketplace – targeting the same customers as you.

As a result, obtaining a detailed understanding of the competition will be vital when measuring the size of your market and proving the viability of your own business idea.

If your research discovers that your potential competitors are very expensive, offer poor customer service, or use outdated tech, then you can position your business as the antidote to these problems.

A good example of this is the spate of tech start-ups operating in the insurance and property sectors focusing on excellent customer service, low commission rates, and greater transparency.

However, if you discover that your rival appears to be doing very well on all fronts, you’ll have a much tougher battle on your hands – and might have to carry out extensive research to find yourself a niche worth carving.

As the expression goes however, imitation is the best form of flattery, so don’t be afraid to mimic your competitors’ strongest skills for your own business.

In his book  Developing Business Strategies , David A. Aaker suggests four areas entrepreneurs need to concentrate on when determining the successful skills within a particular industry. These are:

  • The reasons behind successful as well as unsuccessful firms
  • Prime customer motivators
  • Major component costs
  • Industry mobility barriers

According to theory, the performance of a business within a sector is a direct result of a certain set of desirable assets and skills.

Therefore, an analysis of the best performing businesses within a particular sector should explain the reasons behind their success.

Combining this with a similar study of failed businesses and the reasons behind their undoing should provide a good overview of what key assets and skills are needed to survive within that particular market or industry.

Once you have identified these key assets and skills, they should form a good part of your strategic plan – which is where you attempt to win a market share.

Competitive strategies usually fall into these five areas:

  • Distribution
  • Advertising

If you work your way through the four steps above, this should help you to calculate your start-up’s market potential and determine your total addressable market.

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What Is a Target Market (And How to Find Yours)

The better you understand your target market, the more you’ll be able to focus your ads and reach the audience most likely to convert into customers.

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Table of Contents

Your target market sets the tone for your entire marketing strategy — from how you develop and name your products or services right through to the marketing channels you use to promote them.

Here’s a hint before we dig in: Your target market is not “everyone” ( unless you’re Google ). Your task in defining your target market is to identify and understand a smaller, relevant niche so you can dominate it. It’s all about narrowing your focus while expanding your reach.

In this guide, we’ll help you learn who’s already interacting with your business and your competitors, then use that information to develop a clear target market as you build your brand .

Bonus: Get the free template to easily craft a detailed profile of your ideal customer and/or target audience.

What is a target market?

A target market is the specific group of people you want to reach with your marketing message . They are the people who are most likely to buy your products or services, and they are united by some common characteristics, like demographics and behaviors.

The more clearly you define your target market, the better you can understand how and where to reach your ideal potential customers. You can start with broad categories like millennials or single dads, but you need to get much more detailed than that to achieve the best possible conversion rates.

Don’t be afraid to get highly specific. This is all about targeting your marketing efforts effectively, not stopping people from buying your product.

People who are not included in your targeted marketing can still buy from you—they’re just not your top focus when crafting your marketing strategy. You can’t target everyone, but you can sell to everyone.

Your target market should be based on research, not a gut feeling . You need to go after the people who really want to buy from you, even if they’re not the customers you originally set out to reach.

What is target market segmentation?

Target market segmentation is the process of dividing your target market into smaller, more specific groups. It allows you to create a more relevant marketing message for each group.

Remember — you can’t be all things to all people. But you can be different things to different groups of people.

For example, as a vegetarian, I’ve eaten plenty of Impossible Burgers. I’m definitely a target customer. But vegetarians are a surprisingly small target market segment for Impossible Foods: only 10% of their customer base.

That’s why Impossible Foods’ first national advertising campaign was definitely not targeted at me:

https://www.facebook.com/ImpossibleFoods/videos/158779836141556

The target market segment for this ad campaign was “meat eaters who haven’t yet tried Impossible products.”

Vegetarians and meat eaters have different reasons for eating plant-based burgers and want different things from the experience. Target market segmentation ensures the company reaches the right audience with the right message.

How to define your target market

Step 1. compile data on your current customers.

A great first step in figuring out who most wants to buy from you is to identify who is already using your products or services. Once you understand the defining characteristics of your existing customer base, you can go after more people like that.

Depending on how someone connects with your business, you might have only a little information about them, or a lot.

This doesn’t mean you should add a lot of questions to your order or opt-in process just for audience research purposes — this can annoy customers and result in abandoned shopping carts.

But do be sure to use the information you naturally acquire to understand trends and averages .

Your CRM is a goldmine here. UTM parameters combined with Google Analytics can also provide useful information about your customers.

Some data points you might want to consider are:

  • Age: You don’t need to get too specific here. It won’t likely make a difference whether your average customer is 24 or 27. But knowing which decade of life your customers are in can be very useful.
  • Location (and time zone): Where in the world do your existing customers live? In addition to understanding which geographic areas to target, this helps you figure out what hours are most important for your customer service and sales reps to be online, and what time you should schedule your social ads and posts to ensure best visibility.
  • Language: Don’t assume your customers speak the same language you do. And don’t assume they speak the dominant language of their (or your) current physical location.
  • Spending power and patterns: How much money do your current customers have to spend? How do they approach purchases in your price category?
  • Interests: What do your customers like to do, besides using your products or services? What TV shows do they watch? What other businesses do they interact with?
  • Challenges: What pain points are your customers facing? Do you understand how your product or service helps them address those challenges?
  • Stage of life: Are your customers likely to be college students? New parents? Parents of teens? Retirees?

If you’re selling B2B products, your categories will look a little different. You might want to collect information about the size of businesses that buy from you, and information about the titles of the people who tend to make the buying decisions. Are you marketing to the CEO? The CTO? The social marketing manager?

Step 2. Incorporate social data

Social media analytics can be a great way of filling out the picture of your target market. They help you understand who’s interacting with your social accounts, even if those people are not yet customers.

These people are interested in your brand. Social analytics can provide a lot of information that might help you understand why. You’ll also learn about potential market segments you may not have thought to target before.

You can also use social listening to help identify the people who are talking about you and your product on social media, even if they don’t follow you.

If you want to reach your target market with social ads, lookalike audiences are an easy way to reach more people who share characteristics with your best customers.

Step 3. Check out the competition

Now that you know who’s already interacting with your business and buying your products or services, it’s time to see who’s engaging with the competition.

Knowing what your competitors are up to can help you answer some key questions:

  • Are your competitors going after the same target market segments as you are?
  • Are they reaching segments you hadn’t thought to consider?
  • How are they positioning themselves?

Our guide on how to do competitor research on social media walks you through the best ways to use social tools to gather competitor insights.

You won’t be able to get detailed audience information about the people interacting with your competitors, but you’ll be able to get a general sense of the approach they’re taking and whether it’s allowing them to create engagement online.

This analysis will help you understand which markets competitors are targeting and whether their efforts appear to be effective for those segments.

Step 4. Clarify the value of your product or service

This comes down to the key distinction all marketers must understand between features and benefits. You can list the features of your product all day long, but no one will be convinced to buy from you unless you can explain the benefits .

Features are what your product is or does. The benefits are the results. How does your product make someone’s life easier, or better, or just more interesting?

If you don’t already have a clear list of the benefits of your product, it’s time to start brainstorming now. As you create your benefit statements, you’ll also by default be stating some basic information about your target audience.

For example, if your service helps people find someone to look after their pets while they’re away, you can be pretty confident that your market will have two main segments: (1) pet owners and (2) existing or potential pet-sitters.

If you’re not sure exactly how customers benefit from using your products, why not ask them in a survey, or even a social media poll ?

You might find that people use your products or services for purposes you haven’t even thought of. That might, in turn, change how you perceive your target market for future sales.

Step 5. Create a target market statement

Now it’s time to boil everything you’ve discovered so far into one simple statement that defines your target market. This is actually the first step in creating a brand positioning statement , but that’s a project for another day. For now, let’s stick to creating a statement that clearly defines your target market.

For example, here’s Zipcar’s brand positioning statement, as cited in the classic marketing text Kellogg on Marketing . We’re interested in the first part of the statement, which defines the target market:

“To urban-dwelling, educated, techno-savvy consumers who worry about the environment that future generations will inherit, Zipcar is the car-sharing service that lets you save money and reduce your carbon footprint, making you feel you’ve made a smart, responsible choice that demonstrates your commitment to protecting the environment.”

Zipcar is not targeting all residents of a particular city. They’re not even targeting all the people in a given city who don’t own a car. They’re specifically targeting people who:

  • live in an urban area
  • have a certain degree of education
  • are comfortable with technology
  • are concerned about the environment

These are all interests and behaviors that Zipcar can specifically target using social content and social ads .

View this post on Instagram A post shared by Zipcar (@zipcar)

They also help to guide the company’s overall approach to its service, as evidenced by the rest of the positioning statement.

When crafting your target market statement, try to incorporate the most important demographic and behavior characteristics you’ve identified. For example:

Our target market is [gender(s)] aged [age range], who live in [place or type of place], and like to [activity].

Don’t feel like you need to stick to these particular identifiers. Maybe gender is irrelevant for your market, but you have three or four key behaviors to incorporate in your statement.

If you offer multiple products or services, you might need to create a target market statement for each market segment. In this case, it’s useful to define buyer personas .

Target market examples

Nike target market.

Despite its current market domination, Nike actually provides a great example of what can go wrong when you try to target too general of an audience.

Nike started out as a running shoe company. In the 1980s, they tried to expand their target market beyond runners to include anyone who wanted comfortable shoes. They launched a line of casual shoes, and it flopped.

Here’s the thing: Non-runners were already buying Nike shoes to walk to work, or for other casual purposes. Nike spotted this as an opportunity to expand. Instead, they diluted their brand promise, and the company actually started losing money.

The lesson, according to company founder Phil Knight?

“Ultimately, we determined that we wanted Nike to be the world’s best sports and fitness company and the Nike brand to represent sports and fitness activities. Once you say that, you have focus.”

While Nike would certainly not stop casual users from buying its shoes, the company refocused everything from product development to marketing on its target market: athletes of all levels, from pro to beer league.

In fact, understanding the importance of focus led Nike into a highly effective strategy of target market segmentation. The brand has multiple target markets for its various product lines.

On social, that means they use multiple accounts to reach their different target market groups. No one account tries to be all things to all customers.

The post below from Nike’s general Instagram account targets the segment of their audience interested in fashion and lifestyle products.

View this post on Instagram A post shared by Nike Basketball (@nikebasketball)

But the company also has channels dedicated to specific sports. Here’s an example of the content they create for runners:

View this post on Instagram A post shared by Nike Running (@nikerunning)

And that means … the brand has been able to return to marketing its products specifically for casual wear. It just reaches the casual target market through different channels than it uses for its athletic markets. It’s a different target market segment, and a different marketing message

View this post on Instagram A post shared by Nike Sportswear (@nikesportswear)

Like Nike, you might have one target market, or many, depending on the size of your brand. Remember that you can only speak effectively to one target market segment at a time.

Takasa target market

Takasa is a Canadian retail homewares company that specializes in organic, fair trade bedding and bath linens.

Here’s their target market as defined by founders Ruby and Kuljit Rakhra:

“ Our target market is the LOHAS segment, which means Family Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability. This group of people is already living, or striving to live, a green lifestyle … We know our target demo is very conscious about what their families consume, as well as the impact this consumption has on the environment.”

In their social content, they clearly identify the product features most important to their target market: organic materials and fair labor practices.

View this post on Instagram A post shared by Organic + Fairtrade Home Goods (@takasa.co)

The City of Port Alberni’s target market

Why does a city need a target market? In Port Alberni’s case, the city is working to “attract investment, business opportunities and new residents.” To that end, they launched a rebranding and marketing campaign.

And a marketing campaign, of course, needs a target market. Here’s how the city defined it:

“ Our target market is young people and young families 25 to 45 years of age who are entrepreneurial-minded, family oriented, adventurous, enjoy an active lifestyle, desire an opportunity to contribute to growth, well-educated and skilled professionals or tradespeople.”

In their social content, they highlight recreational opportunities aimed at those active and adventurous young families, even using the handle @PlayinPA.

View this post on Instagram A post shared by City of Port Alberni (@playinpa)

White House Black Market target market

White House Black Market is a women’s fashion brand. Here’s how they describe their target customer on their website :

“Our customer … is strong yet subtle, modern yet timeless, hard-working yet easy-going.”

That’s a fine description when talking directly to customers. But the marketing department needs a target market definition with a few more specifics. Here’s the detailed target market as described by the company’s former president:

“ Our target market is women [with a] median age of about 45 … at a stage in her life where she’s very busy, primarily a working woman. She’s probably got one or two kids left at home [or] … her children may be out of the house and on their way to college.”

With their hashtag #WHBMPowerhouse, they focus on this key demographic of women in their 40s with busy home lives and careers.

View this post on Instagram A post shared by White House Black Market (@whbm)

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Christina Newberry is an award-winning writer and editor whose greatest passions include food, travel, urban gardening, and the Oxford comma—not necessarily in that order.

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What Is a Target Market?

  • Defining a Product's Target Market
  • 4 Target Markets

Why Are Target Markets Important?

What are market segments, target market and product sales.

  • Target Market FAQs

The Bottom Line

  • Marketing Essentials

Target Market: Definition, Purpose, Examples, Market Segments

business plan target customers

Investopedia / Mira Norian

A target market is a group of people that have been identified as the most likely potential customers for a product because of their shared characteristics, such as age, income, and lifestyle.

Identifying the target market is a key part of the decision-making process when a company designs, packages, and advertises its product.

Key Takeaways

  • A target market is a group of customers with shared demographics who have been identified as the most likely buyers of a company's product or service.
  • Identifying the target market is important in the development and implementation of a successful marketing plan for any new product.
  • The target market also can inform a product's specifications, packaging, and distribution.

How Do I Define My Product's Target Market?

Part of creating a new product is envisioning the consumers who will want it.

A new product must satisfy a need or solve a problem, or both. That need or problem is probably not universal unless it reaches the level of indoor plumbing. More likely, it is needed by a subset of consumers, such as environmentally-conscious vegetarians, or science nerds, or outdoor enthusiasts. It may appeal to a teenager or a middle-aged professional, a bargain-hunter or a snob.

Envisioning your likely target market is part of the process of creating and refining a product, and informs decisions about its packaging, marketing, and placement.

What Are the 4 Target Markets?

Market researchers use activity, interest, and opinion (AIO) surveys to construct psychographic profiles of their target customers. Marketing professionals divide consumers into four major segments:

Demographic: These are the main characteristics that define your target market. Everyone can be identified as belonging to a specific age group, income level, gender, occupation, and education level.

Geographic: This segment is increasingly relevant in the era of globalization. Regional preferences need to be taken into account.

Psychographic: This segment goes beyond the basics of demographics to consider lifestyle, attitudes, interests, and values.

Behavioral: This is the one segment that relies on research into the decisions of a company's current customers. New products may be introduced based on research into the proven appeal of past products.

What Is an Example of a Target Market?

Each of the four target markets can be used to consider who the customer for a new product is.

For example, there are an estimated 100,000 Italian restaurants in the U.S. Clearly, they have enormous appeal.

But a corner pizza joint might appeal mostly, although by no means entirely, to a younger and more budget-conscious consumer, while an old-fashioned white tablecloth place might be dominated by older folks and families who live in the neighborhood. Meanwhile, a newer place down the street might cater to an upscale and trend-conscious crowd who will travel a good distance for the restaurant's innovative menu and fancy wine list.

In each successful case, a savvy business person has consciously considered the ideal target market for the restaurant and has tweaked the menu, decor, and advertising strategy to appeal to that market.

Few products today are designed to appeal to absolutely everyone. The Aveda Rosemary Mint Bath Bar, available for $26 a bar at Aveda beauty stores, is marketed to the upscale and eco-conscious woman who will pay extra for quality. Cle de Peau Beaute Synactif Soap retails for $110 a bar and is marketed to wealthy, fashion-conscious women who are willing to pay a premium for a luxury product. An eight-pack of Dial soap costs $12 at CVS, and it is known to get the job done.

Part of the success of selling a good or service is knowing to whom it will appeal and who will ultimately buy it. Its user base can grow over time through additional marketing, advertising, and word of mouth.

That's why businesses spend a lot of time and money in defining their initial target markets, and why they follow through with special offers, social media campaigns , and specialized advertising.

Dividing a target market into segments means grouping the population according to the key characteristics that drive their spending decisions. Some of these are gender, age, income level, race, education level, religion, marital status, and geographic location.

Consumers with the same demographics tend to value the same products and services, which is why narrowing down the segments is one of the most important factors in determining target markets.

For example, people who fall into a higher income bracket may be more likely to buy specialty coffee from Starbucks instead of Dunkin' Donuts. The parent companies of both of these brands need to know that in order to decide where to locate their stores, where to stock their products, and where to advertise their brand.

A business may have more than one target market—a primary target market, which is the main focus, and a secondary target market, which is smaller but has growth potential. Toy commercials are targeted directly to children. Their parents are the secondary market.

Identifying the target market is an essential part of a product development plan, along with manufacturing, distribution, price, and promotion planning. The target market determines significant factors about the product itself. A company may tweak certain aspects of a product, such as the amount of sugar in a soft drink or the style of the packaging, so that it appeals more to consumers in its target group.

As a company’s product sales grow, it may expand its target market internationally. International expansion allows a company to reach a broader subset of its target market in other regions of the world.

In addition to international expansion, a company may find its domestic target market expands as its products gain more traction in the marketplace. Expanding a product's target market is a revenue opportunity worth pursuing.

How Detailed Should a Target Market Be?

It depends. Broadly speaking, a product may be designed for a mass market or a niche market, and a niche market can be a very small group indeed, especially in a product's early introductory phase.

Some carbonated beverages aim for a practically universal market. Coca-Cola had to branch out to 200 markets abroad to continue growing its customer base. Gatorade is owned by Pepsi Cola, but the brand is positioned as a drink for athletes. The soda brand Poppi, which is branded as a healthy, sparkling, prebiotic soda with real fruit juice, gut health, and immunity benefits, is clearly aimed at a younger, healthier, and more trend-conscious target market.

Consider a casual apparel company that is working to build its distribution channels abroad. In order to determine where its apparel will be most successful, it conducts some research to identify its primary target market. It discovers that the people most likely to buy their products are middle-class women between the ages of 35 and 55 who live in cold climates.

It's reasonable for the company to focus its advertising efforts on northern European websites that have a strong female audience.

But first, the company may consider how its apparel can be most attractive to that target market. It may revise its styles and colors and tweak its advertising strategy to optimize its appeal to this new prospective market.

What Is the Purpose of a Target Market?

A target market defines a product as well as vice versa.

Once a target market is identified, it can influence a product's design, packaging, price, promotion, and distribution.

A product aimed at men won't be packaged in pink plastic. A luxury cosmetic won't be sold in a pharmacy. An expensive pair of shoes comes with a branded cloth drawstring bag as well as a shoebox. All of those factors are signals to the target audience that they have found the right product.

Identifying the target market is part of the process of creating and refining a new product.

A target market can be translated into a profile of the consumer to whom a product is most likely to appeal. The profile considers four main characteristics of that person: demographic, geographic, psychographic, and behavioral.

National Geographic. " How Italian Cuisine Became as American as Apple Pie ."

Aveda. " Rosemary Mint Bath Bar ."

Cle de Peau. " Synactif Soap ."

CVS. " Dial Antibacterial Deodorant Bar Soap, White ."

Coca-Cola Australia. " Coca-Cola: From Start-Up to Global Enterprise ."

Pepsico Partners. " Gatorade ."

DrinkPoppi. " Home ."

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6 Real-Life Target Audience Examples to Help You Define Your Own (B2B and B2C)

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Target audience research allows you to better understand your potential customer(s) and their underlying pain points.

The more you drill down into your high-value audience groups through strategic market segmentation, the closer you are to your next sale.

Learn the ins and outs of target marketing with plenty of examples to inform your strategy.

What Is a Target Audience?

How a target audience differs from a buyer persona, how psychographic and demographic data informs marketing campaigns.

  • How To Analyze and Define Your Target Audience

Do Target Audiences Vary by Channel?

3 b2b target audience examples.

  • 3 B2C Target Audience Examples

A target audience is a group of consumers within a predefined target market that has been identified as the best recipients for a particular marketing message. And a target market broadly describes B2C or B2B consumers who care about your product or service and, under the right conditions, are most likely to spend money with your company.

An audience is a segment within that market.

For example, the target market for an online bookkeeping tool might include businesses with over $500K in annual revenue.

So a target audience profile for our bookkeeping program might be technology stakeholders with influence on decision-makers at companies that haven’t reviewed their accounting software needs in over two years. It’s much more specific than our target market, which is important because we can craft content marketing collateral that speaks directly to the challenges and needs of this influential group.

To create effective messaging within your marketing campaigns, you first need to define your target audience.

When marketers try to appeal to the broadest possible audience for their products and services, they often end up feeling exhausted without much to show for their efforts. Their messaging seems inauthentic and doesn’t really resonate with anyone in particular.

To create effective messaging within your marketing campaigns, you first need to define your target audience. Doing so will help you engage key decision-makers and eventually convert them into loyal customers.

At this point, you might be asking, “Isn’t that just a buyer persona?” And while the two concepts are similar, they are distinct enough to warrant further discussion.

A buyer persona is a fictional character who represents one of your ideal customers . They have names, occupations, likes and dislikes, as well as challenges and ambitions.

While target audiences are valuable tools for many types of content marketing campaigns, buyer personas tend to be more useful in a B2B context, because they focus on challenges and business information. For example, a B2C company that sells protein bars would not need to create multiple personas, because people from many backgrounds and with varying job titles might purchase their products.

In a B2B context, targeting personas can be extremely valuable, especially when employing content marketing strategies. A SaaS company might create personas for each stakeholder involved in the buying process, for instance. An HR persona might be interested in blog content that addresses common pain points, while a CFO persona would be more interested in white papers with lots of data.

Personas aren’t entirely without value to B2C marketers, however. They can serve as useful guides when crafting messages to engage and inform consumers.

A persona typically includes:

  • Personal information: Name, age and geographic location.
  • Content preferences: Favorite channels, content formats, tone and style.
  • Business background information: Job title, level of influence in decision making processes.
  • Objectives: Measurable goals related to the persona’s job.
  • Challenges: Frustrations and pain points standing in the way of the persona’s goals.

Your target audiences should be informed by both demographic and psychographic information. The former category describes your intended audience on a superficial level, while the latter describes their motivations.

  • Demographics may include cursory information such as gender, age, income and marital status.
  • Psychographics include personal interests, attitudes, values, desires and specific behaviors.

When defining and targeting an audience, demographics will only get you so far. For example, if you’re promoting a B2B SaaS solution, your specific audience may be made up of men and women ages 35-49 who earn more than $100,000 annually. That’s all good information to have, but it applies to too broad of a cohort.

Psychographic data for this specific audience could include: worrying about lost resources throughout a supply chain, wanting to eliminate redundancies, or being skeptical of flashy new technology.

Combined, demographic and psychographic information can help you fine-tune your audience targeting goals.

Combined, demographic and psychographic information can help you fine-tune your audience targeting goals. The challenge is where to find this data. Psychographic research may include interviewing existing clients, conducting polls and analyzing your site traffic.

How to Analyze and Define Your Target Audience

Defining the target audience for a particular marketing campaign requires data. Unfortunately, there isn’t a crystal ball that can tell you how to adjust your messages to bring in the right audience. But that’s not to say you can’t trust your gut.

You know your business better than anyone, so combine that experience with hard data to generate a market segment and target audience that is characteristically human, and also strategically defined by scientifically gathered data.

business plan target customers

A Three-Step Approach To Defining A Target Audience

1. Conduct target customer research

Your business plan , content marketing strategy, professional experience and prior knowledge of your target customers will lay the foundation for your research. Compile all of your existing intelligence on your target market, and look for opportunities to learn more about it. For example, you might know that most of your customers are senior-level business people, but you may not know if they all have the same job title, or if they all consume content through the same channels.

To uncover key audience insights, use Google Analytics to drill down into your site traffic and perform a deep audience analysis. Custom audience reports can show you demographic and psychographic data, geographic locations as well as the types of technology your site visitors use.

2. Analyze the market

Once you know a little more about your target customers and have compared that data with your business process or goals, it’s time to get some context. Not only are you attempting to place the right messages in front of the right people at the right time, but you’re also competing with potentially thousands of other messages.

Review your competitors’ marketing efforts and business plans to better understand what you’re up against. Likewise, you’ll want to be aware of any other campaigns your business is currently running, as you don’t want to cannibalize your share of audience attention.

3. Define the audience

With hard data in tow and a thorough understanding of your audience’s interests, challenges and needs, it’s time to create a concise target audience to which you can direct your content marketing efforts.

Ask yourself these questions as you work to define your target audience:

  • What problems does your product or service solve?
  • Which demographic characteristics influence the decision-making process?
  • Which psychographic traits impact content consumption?
  • How does your audience prefer to engage with brands similar to yours?
  • Is your audience segment large enough?

That last question is particularly important, because it will prevent you from sinking resources into ultra-niche campaigns with low ROI. Niche marketing is certainly a useful tactic, but your target audiences should represent a group large enough to reach through social and organic channels.

3-step approach to defining target audience

Knowing your intended audience is only one half of the equation. The next step in the target audience analysis process is to determine where this group consumes content so you can develop an actionable marketing strategy.

Depending on the demographic and psychographic data you’ve collected, some channels will be more effective at engaging your intended audience than others. For instance, some decision-makers in a market segment may be more likely to open an email than to click on a social media ad.

Within channels, a specific audience may prefer unique platforms. B2B buyers are more inclined to seek out information on LinkedIn than Instagram, for example.

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(Keep in mind the following custom audiences are meant to inform specific campaign messages! These companies may have different audience segments for other targeting efforts. Each example is based on a real client I’ve worked with.)

1. Bookkeeping SaaS Solution

Key demographics

  • Age range: 35-49.
  • Gender: 65% male, 35% female.
  • Common job titles: Head of Digital, Senior Accountant, Chief Financial Officer.

Key psychographics

  • Values job security.
  • Likes to review all the data before making a decision.
  • Striving for a better work-life balance.
  • Skeptical of solutions that promise to solve all their problems.
  • Their current digital solution is showing its age.
  • Current lack of third-party integration is slowing down internal processes.
  • Boss/shareholder demands are making work stressful.

Preferred channels

  • Email for first contact, then phone conversations.
  • Browses social media platforms like LinkedIn , mostly looking for news.

Preferred content types

  • Data-rich white papers.
  • Case studies.

target audience examples - example 1

2. Business Travel Company

  • Age range: 30-55.
  • Gender: 70% female, 30% male.
  • Common job titles: Procurement Officer, Travel Buyer, Supplier Relations Expert.
  • Values relationships when working with suppliers.
  • Dislikes working on repetitive, mundane tasks.
  • Is wary of handing off responsibilities to a third party.
  • Suppliers fail to deliver on promised rates.
  • Doesn’t have enough data to make informed decisions.
  • Not familiar with ground-level travel concerns.
  • Looks for answers via organic search.
  • Communicates with other procurement professionals on social media platforms.
  • Easily digestible blog posts.

target audience examples - example 2

3. Facility Security Services

  • Age range: 45-60.
  • Gender: 80% male, 20% female.
  • Common job titles: Facility Manager, Head of Security.
  • Doesn’t like drawn-out negotiations.
  • Likes to be prepared for everything; gets nervous when things are uncertain.
  • Prefers to get pitches from two or three companies before making a decision.
  • Needs to save costs, but isn’t willing to sacrifice quality of service.
  • Needs a third-party supplier with technology integrations.
  • Email for marketing materials.
  • Blogs and news sites for industry trends.
  • Data-rich infographics.
  • Email newsletters.

target audience examples - example 3

B2C Target Audience Examples

4. athletic shoes.

  • Age range: 18-29
  • Gender: 60% male, 40% female
  • Wants to look stylish, but doesn’t like to follow trends.
  • Looks up to sports figures.
  • Strongly values friendships and community.
  • Loyal to one or two athletic brands.
  • Finding athletic footwear that is both stylish and comfortable.
  • Loves the look of designer sneakers, but can’t afford them.
  • Follows athletes and influencers on social media.
  • Watches sponsored events on YouTube.
  • Looks for exercise tips on Google.
  • Social media posts.
  • Image-rich articles.

target audience examples -example 4

5. Organic Protein Bars

  • Age range: 18-35.
  • Gender: 50% female, 50% male.
  • Strives to eat food that is nutritious and sustainable, but isn’t always successful.
  • Loves to hang out with friends in nature.
  • Feels loyalty toward brands with values similar to their own.
  • Finds it difficult to eat healthy food when they’re busy.
  • Has a limited food budget.
  • Needs a protein source that is compact and easy to transport.
  • Follows nature photography accounts on Instagram.
  • Watches supplement reviews on YouTube.
  • Follows health gurus on Twitter.
  • Event marketing.

target audience examples - example 5

6. Credit Union Mortgage Products

  • Age range: 25-39.
  • Gender: 50% male, 50% female.
  • Enjoys spending time with friends and family at home.
  • Tries to spend their money wisely, but isn’t always sure how to do that.
  • Craves stability, but fears another economic recession.
  • Feels anxious every time they think about having a mortgage.
  • Is thinking about mortgages for the first time ever.
  • Unclear on the difference between a bank and a credit union.
  • Reads online news sites.
  • Downloads how-to guides online.
  • Watches home-hunting videos on YouTube.

target audience examples - example 6

When you have well-defined, custom audiences informed by strong research, you can stop waiting for buyers to stumble upon your brand and start actively pursuing them with precise messaging.

business plan target customers

Editor’s note: Updated November 2021.

Michael O'Neill

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business plan target customers

Mike O'Neill is a writer, editor and content manager in Chicago. When he's not keeping a close eye on Brafton's editorial content, he's auditioning to narrate the next Ken Burns documentary. All buzzwords are his own.

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Small Business Trends

How to create a business plan: examples & free template.

This is the ultimate guide to creating a comprehensive and effective plan to start a business . In today’s dynamic business landscape, having a well-crafted business plan is an important first step to securing funding, attracting partners, and navigating the challenges of entrepreneurship.

This guide has been designed to help you create a winning plan that stands out in the ever-evolving marketplace. U sing real-world examples and a free downloadable template, it will walk you through each step of the process.

Whether you’re a seasoned entrepreneur or launching your very first startup, the guide will give you the insights, tools, and confidence you need to create a solid foundation for your business.

Table of Contents

How to Write a Business Plan

Embarking on the journey of creating a successful business requires a solid foundation, and a well-crafted business plan is the cornerstone. Here is the process of writing a comprehensive business plan and the main parts of a winning business plan . From setting objectives to conducting market research, this guide will have everything you need.

Executive Summary

business plan

The Executive Summary serves as the gateway to your business plan, offering a snapshot of your venture’s core aspects. This section should captivate and inform, succinctly summarizing the essence of your plan.

It’s crucial to include a clear mission statement, a brief description of your primary products or services, an overview of your target market, and key financial projections or achievements.

Think of it as an elevator pitch in written form: it should be compelling enough to engage potential investors or stakeholders and provide them with a clear understanding of what your business is about, its goals, and why it’s a promising investment.

Example: EcoTech is a technology company specializing in eco-friendly and sustainable products designed to reduce energy consumption and minimize waste. Our mission is to create innovative solutions that contribute to a cleaner, greener environment.

Our target market includes environmentally conscious consumers and businesses seeking to reduce their carbon footprint. We project a 200% increase in revenue within the first three years of operation.

Overview and Business Objectives

business plan

In the Overview and Business Objectives section, outline your business’s core goals and the strategic approaches you plan to use to achieve them. This section should set forth clear, specific objectives that are attainable and time-bound, providing a roadmap for your business’s growth and success.

It’s important to detail how these objectives align with your company’s overall mission and vision. Discuss the milestones you aim to achieve and the timeframe you’ve set for these accomplishments.

This part of the plan demonstrates to investors and stakeholders your vision for growth and the practical steps you’ll take to get there.

Example: EcoTech’s primary objective is to become a market leader in sustainable technology products within the next five years. Our key objectives include:

  • Introducing three new products within the first two years of operation.
  • Achieving annual revenue growth of 30%.
  • Expanding our customer base to over 10,000 clients by the end of the third year.

Company Description

business plan

The Company Description section is your opportunity to delve into the details of your business. Provide a comprehensive overview that includes your company’s history, its mission statement, and its vision for the future.

Highlight your unique selling proposition (USP) – what makes your business stand out in the market. Explain the problems your company solves and how it benefits your customers.

Include information about the company’s founders, their expertise, and why they are suited to lead the business to success. This section should paint a vivid picture of your business, its values, and its place in the industry.

Example: EcoTech is committed to developing cutting-edge sustainable technology products that benefit both the environment and our customers. Our unique combination of innovative solutions and eco-friendly design sets us apart from the competition. We envision a future where technology and sustainability go hand in hand, leading to a greener planet.

Define Your Target Market

business plan

Defining Your Target Market is critical for tailoring your business strategy effectively. This section should describe your ideal customer base in detail, including demographic information (such as age, gender, income level, and location) and psychographic data (like interests, values, and lifestyle).

Elucidate on the specific needs or pain points of your target audience and how your product or service addresses these. This information will help you know your target market and develop targeted marketing strategies.

Example: Our target market comprises environmentally conscious consumers and businesses looking for innovative solutions to reduce their carbon footprint. Our ideal customers are those who prioritize sustainability and are willing to invest in eco-friendly products.

Market Analysis

business plan

The Market Analysis section requires thorough research and a keen understanding of the industry. It involves examining the current trends within your industry, understanding the needs and preferences of your customers, and analyzing the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors.

This analysis will enable you to spot market opportunities and anticipate potential challenges. Include data and statistics to back up your claims, and use graphs or charts to illustrate market trends.

This section should demonstrate that you have a deep understanding of the market in which you operate and that your business is well-positioned to capitalize on its opportunities.

Example: The market for eco-friendly technology products has experienced significant growth in recent years, with an estimated annual growth rate of 10%. As consumers become increasingly aware of environmental issues, the demand for sustainable solutions continues to rise.

Our research indicates a gap in the market for high-quality, innovative eco-friendly technology products that cater to both individual and business clients.

SWOT Analysis

business plan

A SWOT analysis in your business plan offers a comprehensive examination of your company’s internal and external factors. By assessing Strengths, you showcase what your business does best and where your capabilities lie.

Weaknesses involve an honest introspection of areas where your business may be lacking or could improve. Opportunities can be external factors that your business could capitalize on, such as market gaps or emerging trends.

Threats include external challenges your business may face, like competition or market changes. This analysis is crucial for strategic planning, as it helps in recognizing and leveraging your strengths, addressing weaknesses, seizing opportunities, and preparing for potential threats.

Including a SWOT analysis demonstrates to stakeholders that you have a balanced and realistic understanding of your business in its operational context.

  • Innovative and eco-friendly product offerings.
  • Strong commitment to sustainability and environmental responsibility.
  • Skilled and experienced team with expertise in technology and sustainability.

Weaknesses:

  • Limited brand recognition compared to established competitors.
  • Reliance on third-party manufacturers for product development.

Opportunities:

  • Growing consumer interest in sustainable products.
  • Partnerships with environmentally-focused organizations and influencers.
  • Expansion into international markets.
  • Intense competition from established technology companies.
  • Regulatory changes could impact the sustainable technology market.

Competitive Analysis

business plan

In this section, you’ll analyze your competitors in-depth, examining their products, services, market positioning, and pricing strategies. Understanding your competition allows you to identify gaps in the market and tailor your offerings to outperform them.

By conducting a thorough competitive analysis, you can gain insights into your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses, enabling you to develop strategies to differentiate your business and gain a competitive advantage in the marketplace.

Example: Key competitors include:

GreenTech: A well-known brand offering eco-friendly technology products, but with a narrower focus on energy-saving devices.

EarthSolutions: A direct competitor specializing in sustainable technology, but with a limited product range and higher prices.

By offering a diverse product portfolio, competitive pricing, and continuous innovation, we believe we can capture a significant share of the growing sustainable technology market.

Organization and Management Team

business plan

Provide an overview of your company’s organizational structure, including key roles and responsibilities. Introduce your management team, highlighting their expertise and experience to demonstrate that your team is capable of executing the business plan successfully.

Showcasing your team’s background, skills, and accomplishments instills confidence in investors and other stakeholders, proving that your business has the leadership and talent necessary to achieve its objectives and manage growth effectively.

Example: EcoTech’s organizational structure comprises the following key roles: CEO, CTO, CFO, Sales Director, Marketing Director, and R&D Manager. Our management team has extensive experience in technology, sustainability, and business development, ensuring that we are well-equipped to execute our business plan successfully.

Products and Services Offered

business plan

Describe the products or services your business offers, focusing on their unique features and benefits. Explain how your offerings solve customer pain points and why they will choose your products or services over the competition.

This section should emphasize the value you provide to customers, demonstrating that your business has a deep understanding of customer needs and is well-positioned to deliver innovative solutions that address those needs and set your company apart from competitors.

Example: EcoTech offers a range of eco-friendly technology products, including energy-efficient lighting solutions, solar chargers, and smart home devices that optimize energy usage. Our products are designed to help customers reduce energy consumption, minimize waste, and contribute to a cleaner environment.

Marketing and Sales Strategy

business plan

In this section, articulate your comprehensive strategy for reaching your target market and driving sales. Detail the specific marketing channels you plan to use, such as social media, email marketing, SEO, or traditional advertising.

Describe the nature of your advertising campaigns and promotional activities, explaining how they will capture the attention of your target audience and convey the value of your products or services. Outline your sales strategy, including your sales process, team structure, and sales targets.

Discuss how these marketing and sales efforts will work together to attract and retain customers, generate leads, and ultimately contribute to achieving your business’s revenue goals.

This section is critical to convey to investors and stakeholders that you have a well-thought-out approach to market your business effectively and drive sales growth.

Example: Our marketing strategy includes digital advertising, content marketing, social media promotion, and influencer partnerships. We will also attend trade shows and conferences to showcase our products and connect with potential clients. Our sales strategy involves both direct sales and partnerships with retail stores, as well as online sales through our website and e-commerce platforms.

Logistics and Operations Plan

business plan

The Logistics and Operations Plan is a critical component that outlines the inner workings of your business. It encompasses the management of your supply chain, detailing how you acquire raw materials and manage vendor relationships.

Inventory control is another crucial aspect, where you explain strategies for inventory management to ensure efficiency and reduce wastage. The section should also describe your production processes, emphasizing scalability and adaptability to meet changing market demands.

Quality control measures are essential to maintain product standards and customer satisfaction. This plan assures investors and stakeholders of your operational competency and readiness to meet business demands.

Highlighting your commitment to operational efficiency and customer satisfaction underlines your business’s capability to maintain smooth, effective operations even as it scales.

Example: EcoTech partners with reliable third-party manufacturers to produce our eco-friendly technology products. Our operations involve maintaining strong relationships with suppliers, ensuring quality control, and managing inventory.

We also prioritize efficient distribution through various channels, including online platforms and retail partners, to deliver products to our customers in a timely manner.

Financial Projections Plan

business plan

In the Financial Projections Plan, lay out a clear and realistic financial future for your business. This should include detailed projections for revenue, costs, and profitability over the next three to five years.

Ground these projections in solid assumptions based on your market analysis, industry benchmarks, and realistic growth scenarios. Break down revenue streams and include an analysis of the cost of goods sold, operating expenses, and potential investments.

This section should also discuss your break-even analysis, cash flow projections, and any assumptions about external funding requirements.

By presenting a thorough and data-backed financial forecast, you instill confidence in potential investors and lenders, showcasing your business’s potential for profitability and financial stability.

This forward-looking financial plan is crucial for demonstrating that you have a firm grasp of the financial nuances of your business and are prepared to manage its financial health effectively.

Example: Over the next three years, we expect to see significant growth in revenue, driven by new product launches and market expansion. Our financial projections include:

  • Year 1: $1.5 million in revenue, with a net profit of $200,000.
  • Year 2: $3 million in revenue, with a net profit of $500,000.
  • Year 3: $4.5 million in revenue, with a net profit of $1 million.

These projections are based on realistic market analysis, growth rates, and product pricing.

Income Statement

business plan

The income statement , also known as the profit and loss statement, provides a summary of your company’s revenues and expenses over a specified period. It helps you track your business’s financial performance and identify trends, ensuring you stay on track to achieve your financial goals.

Regularly reviewing and analyzing your income statement allows you to monitor the health of your business, evaluate the effectiveness of your strategies, and make data-driven decisions to optimize profitability and growth.

Example: The income statement for EcoTech’s first year of operation is as follows:

  • Revenue: $1,500,000
  • Cost of Goods Sold: $800,000
  • Gross Profit: $700,000
  • Operating Expenses: $450,000
  • Net Income: $250,000

This statement highlights our company’s profitability and overall financial health during the first year of operation.

Cash Flow Statement

business plan

A cash flow statement is a crucial part of a financial business plan that shows the inflows and outflows of cash within your business. It helps you monitor your company’s liquidity, ensuring you have enough cash on hand to cover operating expenses, pay debts, and invest in growth opportunities.

By including a cash flow statement in your business plan, you demonstrate your ability to manage your company’s finances effectively.

Example:  The cash flow statement for EcoTech’s first year of operation is as follows:

Operating Activities:

  • Depreciation: $10,000
  • Changes in Working Capital: -$50,000
  • Net Cash from Operating Activities: $210,000

Investing Activities:

  •  Capital Expenditures: -$100,000
  • Net Cash from Investing Activities: -$100,000

Financing Activities:

  • Proceeds from Loans: $150,000
  • Loan Repayments: -$50,000
  • Net Cash from Financing Activities: $100,000
  • Net Increase in Cash: $210,000

This statement demonstrates EcoTech’s ability to generate positive cash flow from operations, maintain sufficient liquidity, and invest in growth opportunities.

Tips on Writing a Business Plan

business plan

1. Be clear and concise: Keep your language simple and straightforward. Avoid jargon and overly technical terms. A clear and concise business plan is easier for investors and stakeholders to understand and demonstrates your ability to communicate effectively.

2. Conduct thorough research: Before writing your business plan, gather as much information as possible about your industry, competitors, and target market. Use reliable sources and industry reports to inform your analysis and make data-driven decisions.

3. Set realistic goals: Your business plan should outline achievable objectives that are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART). Setting realistic goals demonstrates your understanding of the market and increases the likelihood of success.

4. Focus on your unique selling proposition (USP): Clearly articulate what sets your business apart from the competition. Emphasize your USP throughout your business plan to showcase your company’s value and potential for success.

5. Be flexible and adaptable: A business plan is a living document that should evolve as your business grows and changes. Be prepared to update and revise your plan as you gather new information and learn from your experiences.

6. Use visuals to enhance understanding: Include charts, graphs, and other visuals to help convey complex data and ideas. Visuals can make your business plan more engaging and easier to digest, especially for those who prefer visual learning.

7. Seek feedback from trusted sources: Share your business plan with mentors, industry experts, or colleagues and ask for their feedback. Their insights can help you identify areas for improvement and strengthen your plan before presenting it to potential investors or partners.

FREE Business Plan Template

To help you get started on your business plan, we have created a template that includes all the essential components discussed in the “How to Write a Business Plan” section. This easy-to-use template will guide you through each step of the process, ensuring you don’t miss any critical details.

The template is divided into the following sections:

  • Mission statement
  • Business Overview
  • Key products or services
  • Target market
  • Financial highlights
  • Company goals
  • Strategies to achieve goals
  • Measurable, time-bound objectives
  • Company History
  • Mission and vision
  • Unique selling proposition
  • Demographics
  • Psychographics
  • Pain points
  • Industry trends
  • Customer needs
  • Competitor strengths and weaknesses
  • Opportunities
  • Competitor products and services
  • Market positioning
  • Pricing strategies
  • Organizational structure
  • Key roles and responsibilities
  • Management team backgrounds
  • Product or service features
  • Competitive advantages
  • Marketing channels
  • Advertising campaigns
  • Promotional activities
  • Sales strategies
  • Supply chain management
  • Inventory control
  • Production processes
  • Quality control measures
  • Projected revenue
  • Assumptions
  • Cash inflows
  • Cash outflows
  • Net cash flow

What is a Business Plan?

A business plan is a strategic document that outlines an organization’s goals, objectives, and the steps required to achieve them. It serves as a roadmap as you start a business , guiding the company’s direction and growth while identifying potential obstacles and opportunities.

Typically, a business plan covers areas such as market analysis, financial projections, marketing strategies, and organizational structure. It not only helps in securing funding from investors and lenders but also provides clarity and focus to the management team.

A well-crafted business plan is a very important part of your business startup checklist because it fosters informed decision-making and long-term success.

business plan

Why You Should Write a Business Plan

Understanding the importance of a business plan in today’s competitive environment is crucial for entrepreneurs and business owners. Here are five compelling reasons to write a business plan:

  • Attract Investors and Secure Funding : A well-written business plan demonstrates your venture’s potential and profitability, making it easier to attract investors and secure the necessary funding for growth and development. It provides a detailed overview of your business model, target market, financial projections, and growth strategies, instilling confidence in potential investors and lenders that your company is a worthy investment.
  • Clarify Business Objectives and Strategies : Crafting a business plan forces you to think critically about your goals and the strategies you’ll employ to achieve them, providing a clear roadmap for success. This process helps you refine your vision and prioritize the most critical objectives, ensuring that your efforts are focused on achieving the desired results.
  • Identify Potential Risks and Opportunities : Analyzing the market, competition, and industry trends within your business plan helps identify potential risks and uncover untapped opportunities for growth and expansion. This insight enables you to develop proactive strategies to mitigate risks and capitalize on opportunities, positioning your business for long-term success.
  • Improve Decision-Making : A business plan serves as a reference point so you can make informed decisions that align with your company’s overall objectives and long-term vision. By consistently referring to your plan and adjusting it as needed, you can ensure that your business remains on track and adapts to changes in the market, industry, or internal operations.
  • Foster Team Alignment and Communication : A shared business plan helps ensure that all team members are on the same page, promoting clear communication, collaboration, and a unified approach to achieving the company’s goals. By involving your team in the planning process and regularly reviewing the plan together, you can foster a sense of ownership, commitment, and accountability that drives success.

What are the Different Types of Business Plans?

In today’s fast-paced business world, having a well-structured roadmap is more important than ever. A traditional business plan provides a comprehensive overview of your company’s goals and strategies, helping you make informed decisions and achieve long-term success. There are various types of business plans, each designed to suit different needs and purposes. Let’s explore the main types:

  • Startup Business Plan: Tailored for new ventures, a startup business plan outlines the company’s mission, objectives, target market, competition, marketing strategies, and financial projections. It helps entrepreneurs clarify their vision, secure funding from investors, and create a roadmap for their business’s future. Additionally, this plan identifies potential challenges and opportunities, which are crucial for making informed decisions and adapting to changing market conditions.
  • Internal Business Plan: This type of plan is intended for internal use, focusing on strategies, milestones, deadlines, and resource allocation. It serves as a management tool for guiding the company’s growth, evaluating its progress, and ensuring that all departments are aligned with the overall vision. The internal business plan also helps identify areas of improvement, fosters collaboration among team members, and provides a reference point for measuring performance.
  • Strategic Business Plan: A strategic business plan outlines long-term goals and the steps to achieve them, providing a clear roadmap for the company’s direction. It typically includes a SWOT analysis, market research, and competitive analysis. This plan allows businesses to align their resources with their objectives, anticipate changes in the market, and develop contingency plans. By focusing on the big picture, a strategic business plan fosters long-term success and stability.
  • Feasibility Business Plan: This plan is designed to assess the viability of a business idea, examining factors such as market demand, competition, and financial projections. It is often used to decide whether or not to pursue a particular venture. By conducting a thorough feasibility analysis, entrepreneurs can avoid investing time and resources into an unviable business concept. This plan also helps refine the business idea, identify potential obstacles, and determine the necessary resources for success.
  • Growth Business Plan: Also known as an expansion plan, a growth business plan focuses on strategies for scaling up an existing business. It includes market analysis, new product or service offerings, and financial projections to support expansion plans. This type of plan is essential for businesses looking to enter new markets, increase their customer base, or launch new products or services. By outlining clear growth strategies, the plan helps ensure that expansion efforts are well-coordinated and sustainable.
  • Operational Business Plan: This type of plan outlines the company’s day-to-day operations, detailing the processes, procedures, and organizational structure. It is an essential tool for managing resources, streamlining workflows, and ensuring smooth operations. The operational business plan also helps identify inefficiencies, implement best practices, and establish a strong foundation for future growth. By providing a clear understanding of daily operations, this plan enables businesses to optimize their resources and enhance productivity.
  • Lean Business Plan: A lean business plan is a simplified, agile version of a traditional plan, focusing on key elements such as value proposition, customer segments, revenue streams, and cost structure. It is perfect for startups looking for a flexible, adaptable planning approach. The lean business plan allows for rapid iteration and continuous improvement, enabling businesses to pivot and adapt to changing market conditions. This streamlined approach is particularly beneficial for businesses in fast-paced or uncertain industries.
  • One-Page Business Plan: As the name suggests, a one-page business plan is a concise summary of your company’s key objectives, strategies, and milestones. It serves as a quick reference guide and is ideal for pitching to potential investors or partners. This plan helps keep teams focused on essential goals and priorities, fosters clear communication, and provides a snapshot of the company’s progress. While not as comprehensive as other plans, a one-page business plan is an effective tool for maintaining clarity and direction.
  • Nonprofit Business Plan: Specifically designed for nonprofit organizations, this plan outlines the mission, goals, target audience, fundraising strategies, and budget allocation. It helps secure grants and donations while ensuring the organization stays on track with its objectives. The nonprofit business plan also helps attract volunteers, board members, and community support. By demonstrating the organization’s impact and plans for the future, this plan is essential for maintaining transparency, accountability, and long-term sustainability within the nonprofit sector.
  • Franchise Business Plan: For entrepreneurs seeking to open a franchise, this type of plan focuses on the franchisor’s requirements, as well as the franchisee’s goals, strategies, and financial projections. It is crucial for securing a franchise agreement and ensuring the business’s success within the franchise system. This plan outlines the franchisee’s commitment to brand standards, marketing efforts, and operational procedures, while also addressing local market conditions and opportunities. By creating a solid franchise business plan, entrepreneurs can demonstrate their ability to effectively manage and grow their franchise, increasing the likelihood of a successful partnership with the franchisor.

Using Business Plan Software

business plan

Creating a comprehensive business plan can be intimidating, but business plan software can streamline the process and help you produce a professional document. These tools offer a number of benefits, including guided step-by-step instructions, financial projections, and industry-specific templates. Here are the top 5 business plan software options available to help you craft a great business plan.

1. LivePlan

LivePlan is a popular choice for its user-friendly interface and comprehensive features. It offers over 500 sample plans, financial forecasting tools, and the ability to track your progress against key performance indicators. With LivePlan, you can create visually appealing, professional business plans that will impress investors and stakeholders.

2. Upmetrics

Upmetrics provides a simple and intuitive platform for creating a well-structured business plan. It features customizable templates, financial forecasting tools, and collaboration capabilities, allowing you to work with team members and advisors. Upmetrics also offers a library of resources to guide you through the business planning process.

Bizplan is designed to simplify the business planning process with a drag-and-drop builder and modular sections. It offers financial forecasting tools, progress tracking, and a visually appealing interface. With Bizplan, you can create a business plan that is both easy to understand and visually engaging.

Enloop is a robust business plan software that automatically generates a tailored plan based on your inputs. It provides industry-specific templates, financial forecasting, and a unique performance score that updates as you make changes to your plan. Enloop also offers a free version, making it accessible for businesses on a budget.

5. Tarkenton GoSmallBiz

Developed by NFL Hall of Famer Fran Tarkenton, GoSmallBiz is tailored for small businesses and startups. It features a guided business plan builder, customizable templates, and financial projection tools. GoSmallBiz also offers additional resources, such as CRM tools and legal document templates, to support your business beyond the planning stage.

Business Plan FAQs

What is a good business plan.

A good business plan is a well-researched, clear, and concise document that outlines a company’s goals, strategies, target market, competitive advantages, and financial projections. It should be adaptable to change and provide a roadmap for achieving success.

What are the 3 main purposes of a business plan?

The three main purposes of a business plan are to guide the company’s strategy, attract investment, and evaluate performance against objectives. Here’s a closer look at each of these:

  • It outlines the company’s purpose and core values to ensure that all activities align with its mission and vision.
  • It provides an in-depth analysis of the market, including trends, customer needs, and competition, helping the company tailor its products and services to meet market demands.
  • It defines the company’s marketing and sales strategies, guiding how the company will attract and retain customers.
  • It describes the company’s organizational structure and management team, outlining roles and responsibilities to ensure effective operation and leadership.
  • It sets measurable, time-bound objectives, allowing the company to plan its activities effectively and make strategic decisions to achieve these goals.
  • It provides a comprehensive overview of the company and its business model, demonstrating its uniqueness and potential for success.
  • It presents the company’s financial projections, showing its potential for profitability and return on investment.
  • It demonstrates the company’s understanding of the market, including its target customers and competition, convincing investors that the company is capable of gaining a significant market share.
  • It showcases the management team’s expertise and experience, instilling confidence in investors that the team is capable of executing the business plan successfully.
  • It establishes clear, measurable objectives that serve as performance benchmarks.
  • It provides a basis for regular performance reviews, allowing the company to monitor its progress and identify areas for improvement.
  • It enables the company to assess the effectiveness of its strategies and make adjustments as needed to achieve its objectives.
  • It helps the company identify potential risks and challenges, enabling it to develop contingency plans and manage risks effectively.
  • It provides a mechanism for evaluating the company’s financial performance, including revenue, expenses, profitability, and cash flow.

Can I write a business plan by myself?

Yes, you can write a business plan by yourself, but it can be helpful to consult with mentors, colleagues, or industry experts to gather feedback and insights. There are also many creative business plan templates and business plan examples available online, including those above.

We also have examples for specific industries, including a using food truck business plan , salon business plan , farm business plan , daycare business plan , and restaurant business plan .

Is it possible to create a one-page business plan?

Yes, a one-page business plan is a condensed version that highlights the most essential elements, including the company’s mission, target market, unique selling proposition, and financial goals.

How long should a business plan be?

A typical business plan ranges from 20 to 50 pages, but the length may vary depending on the complexity and needs of the business.

What is a business plan outline?

A business plan outline is a structured framework that organizes the content of a business plan into sections, such as the executive summary, company description, market analysis, and financial projections.

What are the 5 most common business plan mistakes?

The five most common business plan mistakes include inadequate research, unrealistic financial projections, lack of focus on the unique selling proposition, poor organization and structure, and failure to update the plan as circumstances change.

What questions should be asked in a business plan?

A business plan should address questions such as: What problem does the business solve? Who is the specific target market ? What is the unique selling proposition? What are the company’s objectives? How will it achieve those objectives?

What’s the difference between a business plan and a strategic plan?

A business plan focuses on the overall vision, goals, and tactics of a company, while a strategic plan outlines the specific strategies, action steps, and performance measures necessary to achieve the company’s objectives.

How is business planning for a nonprofit different?

Nonprofit business planning focuses on the organization’s mission, social impact, and resource management, rather than profit generation. The financial section typically includes funding sources, expenses, and projected budgets for programs and operations.

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How to Write a Customer Analysis Section for Your Business Plan

Customer Analysis Template

Free Customer Analysis Template

Ayush Jalan

  • February 12, 2024

Customer Analysis_ Step-by-step Guide Understanding Your Customer

A successful business idea equips customers with the tools necessary to help them reach their goals and fulfill their needs—professional or personal. To create such products and services that meet (and exceed) your customers’ expectations, you need to study their personas via customer analysis.

Customer analysis is a vital part of your business plan that helps you identify, define, and understand your customer base. Analyzing your customers is also crucial for creating a successful marketing plan, as it helps you communicate better with your customers.

In this article, you will learn how to conduct a customer analysis section for your business plan paired with a customer analysis example to help you create customer personas to study their personality traits, goals, challenges they face, and more.

What Is Customer Analysis?

Customer analysis is a comprehensive understanding of your customer base. It helps identify and describe your ideal customer. Through this in-depth analysis, you determine their needs, challenges, goals, and other important considerations. Given this info, it then helps you understand how effectively your products cater to them.

It further helps you optimize your strategic marketing process to create targeted advertisements, customize and prioritize specific features during product development, and make adjustments in your current business plan to align with your customer’s ever-changing demands.

How to Write a Customer Analysis Section

Writing a customer analysis includes extensive research and collecting data from various sources. This data consists of qualitative and quantitative aspects which help you write an accurate customer analysis for your business plan.

Steps to create customer analysis for your business plan

Writing a customer analysis has four main steps:

Step 1: Identify your customers

The primary step is to identify your potential customers and define their specific characteristics about them. The attained factual information is segmented into the following categories:

  • Demographic: Age, gender, income
  • Geographic: Location, type of area (Rural, suburban, urban)
  • Psychographic: Values, interests, beliefs, personality, lifestyle, social class
  • Technographic: Type of technology the buyer is using; tech-savviness
  • Behavioral: Habits, frequent actions, buying patterns
  • Industry (For B2B): Based on the industry a company belongs to.
  • Business size (For B2B): Size of the company

To obtain the above data, a great place to start for established businesses is your customer database. If you aim to expand this information, you can use your existing communication channels to gather further details through surveys.

If you are a startup, conducting an audience analysis  might seem impossible as you don’t have an existing customer base. Fortunately, there are numerous ways through which you can study your potential customers. A few of them are:

  • Identifying who would benefit from your product/service
  • Analyzing your competitors to understand their target customers
  • Using social media to prompt potential buyers to answer questionnaires

business plan target customers

Want to create a Customer Persona in Easy Steps?

Generate valuable customer insights in minutes with Free Customer Persona Generator .

Step 2: Define the needs of your Customers

Now that you have identified your customers, the next step is to understand and specify their needs and challenges. This is the step where you need to go hands-on with your research. Getting to know your customers’ needs helps you determine whether or not your product or service hits the mark.

To understand the needs of your customers, you can adopt the following approaches:

1. Engage directly with potential Customers

A very reliable way to get to know your customers is to simply ask them, either in person or on a call. You can reach out to your customers, conduct one-on-one interviews, create focus groups, and invite buyers to test your new products. You can collect an ample amount of data through these techniques.

However, we recommend prioritizing accuracy over the quantity of data.

A technique that can help you get a deeper insight into your customer’s needs and opinions is the five whys technique . While practicing so, be mindful of the way you conduct the interview. It is essential to keep the customers in a comfortable and conversational environment to attain accurate answers.

2. Collect data from your Customer support

Customer support is the place where you can find feedback and criticism given by your customers. Analyzing this data helps you understand the pain points of your customers. You can further elaborate on this data by interacting with the customers who had issues with your products.

3. Run surveys and mention statistics

Talking to your customers helps you get qualitative information that you can use to alter your product or services according to your customers. The next part is to attain quantitative information, in other words, presenting numbers to support the previous data.

Conducting surveys is one of the commonly used methods for quantifying information. You can conduct in-app surveys, post-purchase surveys, or link surveys in email and apps, etc.

The second method is by collecting statistical data to support your conclusions from the interviews. These include stating studies related to customer choices, results from popular surveys, etc.

Step 3: Create a Customer Persona

Now, it’s time you present the information using a customer persona. A customer persona is a representation of a segment of customers with similar traits. Creating customer personas helps you process the data more efficiently.

You can use customer persona templates that are available online. To help get you started, we have created a customer persona example.

Customer Persona Example

Customer profile example of an internet service provider:

customer persona example

  • About: A lot of customers remain at home and have a minimal and easy-going lifestyle. They need high-speed, interruption-free internet access.
  • Demographics: Age is between 30 and 40, has a laid-back lifestyle, lives in suburban areas, and the income range is between $10,000 to $40,000.
  • Professional role: Shop owners, employees, freelancers, etc.
  • Identifiers/Personality traits: Introverts, like routines, makes schedules prefer online shopping, and stick with the companies they trust.
  • Goals: Wants easily available service, and 24×7 customer support, prefers self-service technologies and chatbots over interacting with representatives.
  • Challenges: Fluctuating internet connection while working or consuming media. Not enough signal coverage.

Step 4: Explain the product alignment to the Customer’s Needs

You’ve gathered info and created customer personas. The final step is to explain how your product or service caters to the needs of your customers. Here, you specify the solution you offer to your customers to tackle the challenges they face.

Mention the USPs of your product and its features, and they benefit the customer. Here, you also mention how your offerings make your customers’ lives better.

Create Better Solutions with Customer Analysis

Understanding your customers inside out helps you assist them better in solving their problems while also achieving success. Analyze your customers as often as required to stay updated about their ever-changing needs.

This helps you create better offerings to consistently fulfill their expectations. As a result, this builds up loyalty over time with each success.

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About the Author

business plan target customers

Ayush is a writer with an academic background in business and marketing. Being a tech-enthusiast, he likes to keep a sharp eye on the latest tech gadgets and innovations. When he's not working, you can find him writing poetry, gaming, playing the ukulele, catching up with friends, and indulging in creative philosophies.

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Why Identifying Your Target Audience Is Important to Your Marketing Strategy

Two marketing professionals examining target audience attributes at a whiteboard

  • 23 Jan 2024

Have you ever encountered an ad and wondered, “Why am I seeing this?” That’s because many marketing campaigns fail to appropriately target and resonate with their intended audiences. As a result, the customer experience suffers.

According to a Zendesk report , 68 percent of consumers expect all experiences to be personalized. But how can you achieve that if you don’t know who you’re catering to?

If you struggle to connect with consumers, here’s a breakdown of how to build your target audience and enhance your digital marketing plan.

Access your free e-book today.

What Is a Target Audience?

According to the online course Digital Marketing Strategy , target audience refers to the group of consumers most likely interested in your products or services and who should be the focus of your marketing campaign.

While you can identify your target audience in several ways, doing so without customer data can be extremely difficult. According to a HubSpot survey , 82 percent of marketers say high-quality customer data is important to succeed in their roles.

Digital Marketing Strategy offers three categories of customer data you should consider collecting: demographic, customer behavior, and consumer motivations.

Demographic Data

This first set of data focuses on your typical customer’s demographic information, which can include:

  • Lifestyle and interests

This data can be especially useful when making implicit assumptions about your customers. For example, if your business mostly sells to millennial women, preferences such as business sustainability typically align with that demographic.

Your customers’ personal details can provide valuable insights when building and executing your marketing plan. Yet, many marketers struggle to collect it. According to HubSpot , 42 percent of marketers know their audience’s demographic information, and less than half know their interests and hobbies.

Customer Behavior

Analyzing customer behavior is another method for determining your target audience. Unlike preferences and lifestyle information, this category focuses on behavior related to your products or services.

Examples of customer behavior include:

  • Purchase history and frequency
  • Email marketing open rates
  • Website interaction habits

By examining these behaviors, you can gain invaluable insights into your target audience and learn how to best engage them through email marketing, online ads, and blog content.

Consumer Motivations

The final approach to identifying your target audience is focusing on consumers’ primary motivations, which often requires asking, “What are they searching for?”

When it comes to products, consumers often seek:

  • Convenience

One of the best ways to determine your customers’ motivations is by conducting market research using surveys and focus groups. The information you gather can help you group your consumers and understand their purchasing motives.

Digital Marketing Strategy | Develop digital marketing strategies that reach and retain customers | Learn More

Top Benefits of Identifying Your Target Audience

Understanding your target audience is essential to successful digital marketing. Here are the top benefits of identifying who your customers are and what they need.

Segmentation

Segmentation is vital to your digital marketing plan. It entails organizing consumers with similar needs and preferences into groups called “segments,” enabling you to provide them with personalized experiences.

“While you can try and market a product to everyone, consumers have different needs and preferences,” says Harvard Business School Professor Sunil Gupta, who teaches Digital Marketing Strategy . “What appeals to one group of consumers may not appeal to another group.”

Consider Nike’s segmentation of its audience, 40 percent of which is female. To cater to that group, Nike implements messaging around female athlete endorsements , inclusive models , and holistic health in its ads. At the same time, the company successfully connects with its other target audiences— male fitness enthusiasts and youth athletes .

In addition to ensuring customer personalization, segmentation offers financial benefits and can increase revenue by up to 760 percent .

Adaptability

Identifying your target audience doesn’t just inform current marketing initiatives; it also helps you adapt to changes your customers may experience.

For example, if most of your consumers aren’t price sensitive, your communications don’t have to focus on value proposition.

Consider fast-food chain McDonald’s adaptability among increased price sensitivity during the 2008 financial crisis. While many businesses struggled as consumers tightened their belts, McDonald’s modified its marketing strategy to highlight its offerings’ value and affordability. It ramped up Dollar Menu ads and introduced value meals and promotional deals via online platforms its target audience commonly used.

By understanding your target audience, you can modify your marketing strategy to meet customers’ evolving needs.

Related: 3 Methods for Identifying & Leveraging Your Customers’ Needs

Return on Investment

You must spend money efficiently to ensure your marketing plan stays on budget and generates a return on investment . That means your marketing efforts need to be focused and relevant.

Learn about return on investment in the video below. Subscribe to our YouTube channel for more explainer content!

Consider HelloFresh's marketing communications. While some food companies pride themselves on quality ingredients, HelloFresh customers primarily want the convenience of a healthy, prepackaged delivery service.

As a result, the company has invested in advertisements for young consumers searching for cost-effective food options, including streaming ads to reach the gaming community and YouTube videos to appeal to young home chefs.

HelloFresh highlights why you should leverage your target audience’s preferred publications and platforms: To ensure the money you spend on advertising reaches the right people.

Consumer Relationships

Consumer relationships are crucial to your company’s success. According to a McKinsey report , word of mouth is the primary factor behind 20 to 50 percent of all purchasing decisions.

Fitness apparel company GymShark is one example of how strong relationships with your target audience can lead to long-term success. Despite fierce competition in the athletic market, GymShark has achieved record-breaking sales .

Its secret? Strong relationships with athletic influencers who promote, wear, and even design clothing lines with the brand. Through its partnerships, GymShark gets cost-effective advertising from those its target audience trusts.

“In general, influencers have a significant following on social media and have the power to influence purchase decisions of their followers,” Gupta says in Digital Marketing Strategy . “Some research studies show that 82 percent of people are highly likely to act upon the recommendation of an influencer, and 92 percent of consumers trust the recommendations of people they follow on social media more than they trust commercial messages from companies.”

While working with influencers may not be the right choice for your business, GymShark exemplifies how engaging with your target audience can benefit your marketing strategy.

Your Guide to Online Learning Success | Download Your Free E-Book

Find Your Target Audience

Choosing the right target audience can pay dividends for your digital marketing strategy. To ensure you’re equipped to reach your desired customers, developing digital marketing skills is critical.

One of the most effective ways to do so is by enrolling in an online marketing course, such as Digital Marketing Strategy . Through real-world case studies, you can learn how to leverage your target audience in your marketing plan.

Do you need help identifying your target audience? Explore Digital Marketing Strategy to discover how. If you’re interested in exploring online education but aren’t sure where to start, download our free guide to online learning success .

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How to Write a Marketing Plan

Marketing starts with your customers.

Your marketing plan details how you intend to meet your customers’ needs and communicate the benefits of your products or services to them. When deciding about market positioning, pricing, promotions, and sales, your customers should be top of mind.

The Four Key Components of Your Marketing Plan

Your marketing plan should describe how you will segment your target market, how you will position your products or services compared to your competition, what your pricing strategy will be, and how you will effectively reach and influence your customers.

The Target Market

Your target market is a group of customers that has a similar need for a product or service, money to purchase the product or service, and willingness and ability to buy it.

To identify your target market and best serve your market, you need to:

  • Know your customers
  • Understand what your customers need
  • Why they buy

Because you have limited time, resources, and budget, you cannot be everything to everyone. To effectively reach customers, you need to segment your target market into one primary market on which you focus most of your energy, and at most three secondary markets.

You can segment your target market along four key characteristics:

Demographic:  Who are your customers? Include information such as:

  • Family size
  • Family life cycle (single, married with or without kids, divorced)
  • Nationality

Geographic:  Where do they live? Include information such as:

  • Their country
  • Region (e.g. Pacific, Prairies, Eastern seaboard)
  • City and density (rural, urban)

Psychographic:  Why do they buy? Include information such as:

  • Social class (lower, middle, upper)
  • Lifestyle (leisure activities, exotic vacationer, saver)
  • Personality (gregarious, authoritarian, ambitious)

Behaviouristic:  How do they buy? Include information such as:

  • The purchase occasion (household staples, special occasion)
  • Benefits sought (quality, service, economy)
  • Consumption status (from never having tried your product to frequent purchaser)
  • Usage frequency (light, medium, heavy)
  • Loyalty (not, somewhat, devout)
  • Readiness to buy (unaware, aware, informed, interested, desirous, intending to buy)
  • Attitude toward product (enthusiastic, positive, indifferent, negative, hostile)

Market Positioning

Positioning is the image of your product or service that you create in the mind of your target market. Your goal is to create an image that’s unique, differentiated, and definable in the mind of your customers. To position your product or service, try the following:

It’s essential that all of your marketing materials support the position or image you are creating.

It’s also critical for you to know your present and potential competitors, both direct and indirect. Examine their strengths and weaknesses relative to yours. This will help you select a market position that provides a competitive advantage.

Your overall position should emphasize those factors that your customers value most, and those which make you stand out from your competition.

Pricing Strategy

Price is a very important factor in your marketing plan. It affects:

Key factors that affect your pricing strategy include:

  • Competition
  • Perceived value of your product
  • How much it cost to develop
  • Broader economic trends
  • Level of market demand
  • Income range of target market

Promotion is the activity of informing, persuading, and influencing your customers’ purchase decisions.

The type and scope of promotional activities that you need to undertake will depend on what the promotion is intended to do, and what goals and objectives you want to achieve. There are four general types of promotional activities:

  • Advertising
  • Sales promotion
  • Publicity and Public Relations
  • Personal Selling

No matter what stage of business, or what problem you face, Small Business BC offers a range of webinars , our on-demand E-Learning education , and one-on-one advisory sessions to suit any business.

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How to Write a Business Plan: Step-by-Step Guide + Examples

Determined female African-American entrepreneur scaling a mountain while wearing a large backpack. Represents the journey to starting and growing a business and needing to write a business plan to get there.

Noah Parsons

24 min. read

Updated April 17, 2024

Writing a business plan doesn’t have to be complicated. 

In this step-by-step guide, you’ll learn how to write a business plan that’s detailed enough to impress bankers and potential investors, while giving you the tools to start, run, and grow a successful business.

  • The basics of business planning

If you’re reading this guide, then you already know why you need a business plan . 

You understand that planning helps you: 

  • Raise money
  • Grow strategically
  • Keep your business on the right track 

As you start to write your plan, it’s useful to zoom out and remember what a business plan is .

At its core, a business plan is an overview of the products and services you sell, and the customers that you sell to. It explains your business strategy: how you’re going to build and grow your business, what your marketing strategy is, and who your competitors are.

Most business plans also include financial forecasts for the future. These set sales goals, budget for expenses, and predict profits and cash flow. 

A good business plan is much more than just a document that you write once and forget about. It’s also a guide that helps you outline and achieve your goals. 

After completing your plan, you can use it as a management tool to track your progress toward your goals. Updating and adjusting your forecasts and budgets as you go is one of the most important steps you can take to run a healthier, smarter business. 

We’ll dive into how to use your plan later in this article.

There are many different types of plans , but we’ll go over the most common type here, which includes everything you need for an investor-ready plan. However, if you’re just starting out and are looking for something simpler—I recommend starting with a one-page business plan . It’s faster and easier to create. 

It’s also the perfect place to start if you’re just figuring out your idea, or need a simple strategic plan to use inside your business.

Dig deeper : How to write a one-page business plan

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  • What to include in your business plan

Executive summary

The executive summary is an overview of your business and your plans. It comes first in your plan and is ideally just one to two pages. Most people write it last because it’s a summary of the complete business plan.

Ideally, the executive summary can act as a stand-alone document that covers the highlights of your detailed plan. 

In fact, it’s common for investors to ask only for the executive summary when evaluating your business. If they like what they see in the executive summary, they’ll often follow up with a request for a complete plan, a pitch presentation , or more in-depth financial forecasts .

Your executive summary should include:

  • A summary of the problem you are solving
  • A description of your product or service
  • An overview of your target market
  • A brief description of your team
  • A summary of your financials
  • Your funding requirements (if you are raising money)

Dig Deeper: How to write an effective executive summary

Products and services description

This is where you describe exactly what you’re selling, and how it solves a problem for your target market. The best way to organize this part of your plan is to start by describing the problem that exists for your customers. After that, you can describe how you plan to solve that problem with your product or service. 

This is usually called a problem and solution statement .

To truly showcase the value of your products and services, you need to craft a compelling narrative around your offerings. How will your product or service transform your customers’ lives or jobs? A strong narrative will draw in your readers.

This is also the part of the business plan to discuss any competitive advantages you may have, like specific intellectual property or patents that protect your product. If you have any initial sales, contracts, or other evidence that your product or service is likely to sell, include that information as well. It will show that your idea has traction , which can help convince readers that your plan has a high chance of success.

Market analysis

Your target market is a description of the type of people that you plan to sell to. You might even have multiple target markets, depending on your business. 

A market analysis is the part of your plan where you bring together all of the information you know about your target market. Basically, it’s a thorough description of who your customers are and why they need what you’re selling. You’ll also include information about the growth of your market and your industry .

Try to be as specific as possible when you describe your market. 

Include information such as age, income level, and location—these are what’s called “demographics.” If you can, also describe your market’s interests and habits as they relate to your business—these are “psychographics.” 

Related: Target market examples

Essentially, you want to include any knowledge you have about your customers that is relevant to how your product or service is right for them. With a solid target market, it will be easier to create a sales and marketing plan that will reach your customers. That’s because you know who they are, what they like to do, and the best ways to reach them.

Next, provide any additional information you have about your market. 

What is the size of your market ? Is the market growing or shrinking? Ideally, you’ll want to demonstrate that your market is growing over time, and also explain how your business is positioned to take advantage of any expected changes in your industry.

Dig Deeper: Learn how to write a market analysis

Competitive analysis

Part of defining your business opportunity is determining what your competitive advantage is. To do this effectively, you need to know as much about your competitors as your target customers. 

Every business has some form of competition. If you don’t think you have competitors, then explore what alternatives there are in the market for your product or service. 

For example: In the early years of cars, their main competition was horses. For social media, the early competition was reading books, watching TV, and talking on the phone.

A good competitive analysis fully lays out the competitive landscape and then explains how your business is different. Maybe your products are better made, or cheaper, or your customer service is superior. Maybe your competitive advantage is your location – a wide variety of factors can ultimately give you an advantage.

Dig Deeper: How to write a competitive analysis for your business plan

Marketing and sales plan

The marketing and sales plan covers how you will position your product or service in the market, the marketing channels and messaging you will use, and your sales tactics. 

The best place to start with a marketing plan is with a positioning statement . 

This explains how your business fits into the overall market, and how you will explain the advantages of your product or service to customers. You’ll use the information from your competitive analysis to help you with your positioning. 

For example: You might position your company as the premium, most expensive but the highest quality option in the market. Or your positioning might focus on being locally owned and that shoppers support the local economy by buying your products.

Once you understand your positioning, you’ll bring this together with the information about your target market to create your marketing strategy . 

This is how you plan to communicate your message to potential customers. Depending on who your customers are and how they purchase products like yours, you might use many different strategies, from social media advertising to creating a podcast. Your marketing plan is all about how your customers discover who you are and why they should consider your products and services. 

While your marketing plan is about reaching your customers—your sales plan will describe the actual sales process once a customer has decided that they’re interested in what you have to offer. 

If your business requires salespeople and a long sales process, describe that in this section. If your customers can “self-serve” and just make purchases quickly on your website, describe that process. 

A good sales plan picks up where your marketing plan leaves off. The marketing plan brings customers in the door and the sales plan is how you close the deal.

Together, these specific plans paint a picture of how you will connect with your target audience, and how you will turn them into paying customers.

Dig deeper: What to include in your sales and marketing plan

Business operations

The operations section describes the necessary requirements for your business to run smoothly. It’s where you talk about how your business works and what day-to-day operations look like. 

Depending on how your business is structured, your operations plan may include elements of the business like:

  • Supply chain management
  • Manufacturing processes
  • Equipment and technology
  • Distribution

Some businesses distribute their products and reach their customers through large retailers like Amazon.com, Walmart, Target, and grocery store chains. 

These businesses should review how this part of their business works. The plan should discuss the logistics and costs of getting products onto store shelves and any potential hurdles the business may have to overcome.

If your business is much simpler than this, that’s OK. This section of your business plan can be either extremely short or more detailed, depending on the type of business you are building.

For businesses selling services, such as physical therapy or online software, you can use this section to describe the technology you’ll leverage, what goes into your service, and who you will partner with to deliver your services.

Dig Deeper: Learn how to write the operations chapter of your plan

Key milestones and metrics

Although it’s not required to complete your business plan, mapping out key business milestones and the metrics can be incredibly useful for measuring your success.

Good milestones clearly lay out the parameters of the task and set expectations for their execution. You’ll want to include:

  • A description of each task
  • The proposed due date
  • Who is responsible for each task

If you have a budget, you can include projected costs to hit each milestone. You don’t need extensive project planning in this section—just list key milestones you want to hit and when you plan to hit them. This is your overall business roadmap. 

Possible milestones might be:

  • Website launch date
  • Store or office opening date
  • First significant sales
  • Break even date
  • Business licenses and approvals

You should also discuss the key numbers you will track to determine your success. Some common metrics worth tracking include:

  • Conversion rates
  • Customer acquisition costs
  • Profit per customer
  • Repeat purchases

It’s perfectly fine to start with just a few metrics and grow the number you are tracking over time. You also may find that some metrics simply aren’t relevant to your business and can narrow down what you’re tracking.

Dig Deeper: How to use milestones in your business plan

Organization and management team

Investors don’t just look for great ideas—they want to find great teams. Use this chapter to describe your current team and who you need to hire . You should also provide a quick overview of your location and history if you’re already up and running.

Briefly highlight the relevant experiences of each key team member in the company. It’s important to make the case for why yours is the right team to turn an idea into a reality. 

Do they have the right industry experience and background? Have members of the team had entrepreneurial successes before? 

If you still need to hire key team members, that’s OK. Just note those gaps in this section.

Your company overview should also include a summary of your company’s current business structure . The most common business structures include:

  • Sole proprietor
  • Partnership

Be sure to provide an overview of how the business is owned as well. Does each business partner own an equal portion of the business? How is ownership divided? 

Potential lenders and investors will want to know the structure of the business before they will consider a loan or investment.

Dig Deeper: How to write about your company structure and team

Financial plan

Last, but certainly not least, is your financial plan chapter. 

Entrepreneurs often find this section the most daunting. But, business financials for most startups are less complicated than you think, and a business degree is certainly not required to build a solid financial forecast. 

A typical financial forecast in a business plan includes the following:

  • Sales forecast : An estimate of the sales expected over a given period. You’ll break down your forecast into the key revenue streams that you expect to have.
  • Expense budget : Your planned spending such as personnel costs , marketing expenses, and taxes.
  • Profit & Loss : Brings together your sales and expenses and helps you calculate planned profits.
  • Cash Flow : Shows how cash moves into and out of your business. It can predict how much cash you’ll have on hand at any given point in the future.
  • Balance Sheet : A list of the assets, liabilities, and equity in your company. In short, it provides an overview of the financial health of your business. 

A strong business plan will include a description of assumptions about the future, and potential risks that could impact the financial plan. Including those will be especially important if you’re writing a business plan to pursue a loan or other investment.

Dig Deeper: How to create financial forecasts and budgets

This is the place for additional data, charts, or other information that supports your plan.

Including an appendix can significantly enhance the credibility of your plan by showing readers that you’ve thoroughly considered the details of your business idea, and are backing your ideas up with solid data.

Just remember that the information in the appendix is meant to be supplementary. Your business plan should stand on its own, even if the reader skips this section.

Dig Deeper : What to include in your business plan appendix

Optional: Business plan cover page

Adding a business plan cover page can make your plan, and by extension your business, seem more professional in the eyes of potential investors, lenders, and partners. It serves as the introduction to your document and provides necessary contact information for stakeholders to reference.

Your cover page should be simple and include:

  • Company logo
  • Business name
  • Value proposition (optional)
  • Business plan title
  • Completion and/or update date
  • Address and contact information
  • Confidentiality statement

Just remember, the cover page is optional. If you decide to include it, keep it very simple and only spend a short amount of time putting it together.

Dig Deeper: How to create a business plan cover page

How to use AI to help write your business plan

Generative AI tools such as ChatGPT can speed up the business plan writing process and help you think through concepts like market segmentation and competition. These tools are especially useful for taking ideas that you provide and converting them into polished text for your business plan.

The best way to use AI for your business plan is to leverage it as a collaborator , not a replacement for human creative thinking and ingenuity. 

AI can come up with lots of ideas and act as a brainstorming partner. It’s up to you to filter through those ideas and figure out which ones are realistic enough to resonate with your customers. 

There are pros and cons of using AI to help with your business plan . So, spend some time understanding how it can be most helpful before just outsourcing the job to AI.

Learn more: 10 AI prompts you need to write a business plan

  • Writing tips and strategies

To help streamline the business plan writing process, here are a few tips and key questions to answer to make sure you get the most out of your plan and avoid common mistakes .  

Determine why you are writing a business plan

Knowing why you are writing a business plan will determine your approach to your planning project. 

For example: If you are writing a business plan for yourself, or just to use inside your own business , you can probably skip the section about your team and organizational structure. 

If you’re raising money, you’ll want to spend more time explaining why you’re looking to raise the funds and exactly how you will use them.

Regardless of how you intend to use your business plan , think about why you are writing and what you’re trying to get out of the process before you begin.

Keep things concise

Probably the most important tip is to keep your business plan short and simple. There are no prizes for long business plans . The longer your plan is, the less likely people are to read it. 

So focus on trimming things down to the essentials your readers need to know. Skip the extended, wordy descriptions and instead focus on creating a plan that is easy to read —using bullets and short sentences whenever possible.

Have someone review your business plan

Writing a business plan in a vacuum is never a good idea. Sometimes it’s helpful to zoom out and check if your plan makes sense to someone else. You also want to make sure that it’s easy to read and understand.

Don’t wait until your plan is “done” to get a second look. Start sharing your plan early, and find out from readers what questions your plan leaves unanswered. This early review cycle will help you spot shortcomings in your plan and address them quickly, rather than finding out about them right before you present your plan to a lender or investor.

If you need a more detailed review, you may want to explore hiring a professional plan writer to thoroughly examine it.

Use a free business plan template and business plan examples to get started

Knowing what information to include in a business plan is sometimes not quite enough. If you’re struggling to get started or need additional guidance, it may be worth using a business plan template. 

There are plenty of great options available (we’ve rounded up our 8 favorites to streamline your search).

But, if you’re looking for a free downloadable business plan template , you can get one right now; download the template used by more than 1 million businesses. 

Or, if you just want to see what a completed business plan looks like, check out our library of over 550 free business plan examples . 

We even have a growing list of industry business planning guides with tips for what to focus on depending on your business type.

Common pitfalls and how to avoid them

It’s easy to make mistakes when you’re writing your business plan. Some entrepreneurs get sucked into the writing and research process, and don’t focus enough on actually getting their business started. 

Here are a few common mistakes and how to avoid them:

Not talking to your customers : This is one of the most common mistakes. It’s easy to assume that your product or service is something that people want. Before you invest too much in your business and too much in the planning process, make sure you talk to your prospective customers and have a good understanding of their needs.

  • Overly optimistic sales and profit forecasts: By nature, entrepreneurs are optimistic about the future. But it’s good to temper that optimism a little when you’re planning, and make sure your forecasts are grounded in reality. 
  • Spending too much time planning: Yes, planning is crucial. But you also need to get out and talk to customers, build prototypes of your product and figure out if there’s a market for your idea. Make sure to balance planning with building.
  • Not revising the plan: Planning is useful, but nothing ever goes exactly as planned. As you learn more about what’s working and what’s not—revise your plan, your budgets, and your revenue forecast. Doing so will provide a more realistic picture of where your business is going, and what your financial needs will be moving forward.
  • Not using the plan to manage your business: A good business plan is a management tool. Don’t just write it and put it on the shelf to collect dust – use it to track your progress and help you reach your goals.
  • Presenting your business plan

The planning process forces you to think through every aspect of your business and answer questions that you may not have thought of. That’s the real benefit of writing a business plan – the knowledge you gain about your business that you may not have been able to discover otherwise.

With all of this knowledge, you’re well prepared to convert your business plan into a pitch presentation to present your ideas. 

A pitch presentation is a summary of your plan, just hitting the highlights and key points. It’s the best way to present your business plan to investors and team members.

Dig Deeper: Learn what key slides should be included in your pitch deck

Use your business plan to manage your business

One of the biggest benefits of planning is that it gives you a tool to manage your business better. With a revenue forecast, expense budget, and projected cash flow, you know your targets and where you are headed.

And yet, nothing ever goes exactly as planned – it’s the nature of business.

That’s where using your plan as a management tool comes in. The key to leveraging it for your business is to review it periodically and compare your forecasts and projections to your actual results.

Start by setting up a regular time to review the plan – a monthly review is a good starting point. During this review, answer questions like:

  • Did you meet your sales goals?
  • Is spending following your budget?
  • Has anything gone differently than what you expected?

Now that you see whether you’re meeting your goals or are off track, you can make adjustments and set new targets. 

Maybe you’re exceeding your sales goals and should set new, more aggressive goals. In that case, maybe you should also explore more spending or hiring more employees. 

Or maybe expenses are rising faster than you projected. If that’s the case, you would need to look at where you can cut costs.

A plan, and a method for comparing your plan to your actual results , is the tool you need to steer your business toward success.

Learn More: How to run a regular plan review

Free business plan templates and examples

Kickstart your business plan writing with one of our free business plan templates or recommended tools.

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How to write a business plan FAQ

What is a business plan?

A document that describes your business , the products and services you sell, and the customers that you sell to. It explains your business strategy, how you’re going to build and grow your business, what your marketing strategy is, and who your competitors are.

What are the benefits of a business plan?

A business plan helps you understand where you want to go with your business and what it will take to get there. It reduces your overall risk, helps you uncover your business’s potential, attracts investors, and identifies areas for growth.

Having a business plan ultimately makes you more confident as a business owner and more likely to succeed for a longer period of time.

What are the 7 steps of a business plan?

The seven steps to writing a business plan include:

  • Write a brief executive summary
  • Describe your products and services.
  • Conduct market research and compile data into a cohesive market analysis.
  • Describe your marketing and sales strategy.
  • Outline your organizational structure and management team.
  • Develop financial projections for sales, revenue, and cash flow.
  • Add any additional documents to your appendix.

What are the 5 most common business plan mistakes?

There are plenty of mistakes that can be made when writing a business plan. However, these are the 5 most common that you should do your best to avoid:

  • 1. Not taking the planning process seriously.
  • Having unrealistic financial projections or incomplete financial information.
  • Inconsistent information or simple mistakes.
  • Failing to establish a sound business model.
  • Not having a defined purpose for your business plan.

What questions should be answered in a business plan?

Writing a business plan is all about asking yourself questions about your business and being able to answer them through the planning process. You’ll likely be asking dozens and dozens of questions for each section of your plan.

However, these are the key questions you should ask and answer with your business plan:

  • How will your business make money?
  • Is there a need for your product or service?
  • Who are your customers?
  • How are you different from the competition?
  • How will you reach your customers?
  • How will you measure success?

How long should a business plan be?

The length of your business plan fully depends on what you intend to do with it. From the SBA and traditional lender point of view, a business plan needs to be whatever length necessary to fully explain your business. This means that you prove the viability of your business, show that you understand the market, and have a detailed strategy in place.

If you intend to use your business plan for internal management purposes, you don’t necessarily need a full 25-50 page business plan. Instead, you can start with a one-page plan to get all of the necessary information in place.

What are the different types of business plans?

While all business plans cover similar categories, the style and function fully depend on how you intend to use your plan. Here are a few common business plan types worth considering.

Traditional business plan: The tried-and-true traditional business plan is a formal document meant to be used when applying for funding or pitching to investors. This type of business plan follows the outline above and can be anywhere from 10-50 pages depending on the amount of detail included, the complexity of your business, and what you include in your appendix.

Business model canvas: The business model canvas is a one-page template designed to demystify the business planning process. It removes the need for a traditional, copy-heavy business plan, in favor of a single-page outline that can help you and outside parties better explore your business idea.

One-page business plan: This format is a simplified version of the traditional plan that focuses on the core aspects of your business. You’ll typically stick with bullet points and single sentences. It’s most useful for those exploring ideas, needing to validate their business model, or who need an internal plan to help them run and manage their business.

Lean Plan: The Lean Plan is less of a specific document type and more of a methodology. It takes the simplicity and styling of the one-page business plan and turns it into a process for you to continuously plan, test, review, refine, and take action based on performance. It’s faster, keeps your plan concise, and ensures that your plan is always up-to-date.

What’s the difference between a business plan and a strategic plan?

A business plan covers the “who” and “what” of your business. It explains what your business is doing right now and how it functions. The strategic plan explores long-term goals and explains “how” the business will get there. It encourages you to look more intently toward the future and how you will achieve your vision.

However, when approached correctly, your business plan can actually function as a strategic plan as well. If kept lean, you can define your business, outline strategic steps, and track ongoing operations all with a single plan.

See why 1.2 million entrepreneurs have written their business plans with LivePlan

Content Author: Noah Parsons

Noah is the COO at Palo Alto Software, makers of the online business plan app LivePlan. He started his career at Yahoo! and then helped start the user review site Epinions.com. From there he started a software distribution business in the UK before coming to Palo Alto Software to run the marketing and product teams.

Start stronger by writing a quick business plan. Check out LivePlan

Table of Contents

  • Use AI to help write your plan
  • Common planning mistakes
  • Manage with your business plan
  • Templates and examples

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5 steps to create an outstanding marketing plan.

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In today’s dynamic business landscape, crafting a well-thought-out marketing plan is essential for any organization aiming to stand out and succeed. A robust marketing plan serves as a roadmap, guiding businesses on how to reach and engage their target audience effectively. Whether you’re a startup, a small business, or a large corporation, implementing a strategic marketing plan can significantly boost your brand visibility, drive sales, and foster long-term growth.

To create an outstanding marketing plan that resonates with your audience and achieves your business objectives, it’s imperative to follow a structured approach. Here are five essential steps to help you develop a comprehensive and effective marketing strategy:

Conduct Comprehensive Market Research:

Before diving into the planning phase, it’s crucial to gain a deep understanding of your industry, target market, competitors, and current market trends. Conducting thorough market research will provide valuable insights that will inform your marketing strategy. Start by identifying your target audience demographics, including age, gender, location, interests, and purchasing behaviors. Analyze your competitors’ marketing strategies, products or services, pricing strategies, and customer feedback. Utilize both primary and secondary research methods, such as surveys, interviews, focus groups, and industry reports, to gather relevant data. By understanding the market landscape, you can identify opportunities, anticipate challenges, and tailor your marketing efforts to meet the needs of your target audience effectively.

Once you’ve identified your target audience demographics, it’s essential to delve deeper into their psychographics and behavior patterns. Understanding your audience’s values, lifestyle preferences, pain points, and aspirations will enable you to create marketing messages that resonate with them on a deeper level. Conduct surveys, interviews, or focus groups to gather qualitative insights into their attitudes, preferences, and buying motivations.

Outstanding Marketing Plan

Additionally, leverage data analytics tools and platforms to analyze online behavior, social media interactions, and website traffic patterns. This data can provide valuable insights into how your target audience engages with digital content, what channels they prefer, and which touchpoints influence their purchasing decisions.

In parallel, conduct a thorough analysis of your competitors’ marketing strategies, products, and customer feedback. Identify their strengths and weaknesses, areas where they excel, and opportunities for differentiation. By benchmarking your competitors’ performance against yours, you can identify gaps in the market and develop strategies to capitalize on them.

Furthermore, stay abreast of current market trends, technological advancements, and industry developments. Subscribe to industry publications, attend conferences, and participate in relevant forums to stay informed about emerging opportunities and threats. Keep a pulse on consumer trends, shifts in consumer behavior, and changes in regulatory landscapes that may impact your marketing strategy.

Ultimately, the goal of market research is to gather actionable insights that will inform your marketing strategy and guide decision-making. By understanding the market landscape, including your target audience, competitors, and industry trends, you can develop a marketing plan that is tailored to meet the evolving needs and preferences of your audience. This proactive approach will position your brand for success in a competitive marketplace and ensure that your marketing efforts yield tangible results.

Define Your Unique Value Proposition (UVP):

Your unique value proposition (UVP) is what sets your brand apart from the competition and communicates the benefits of choosing your products or services over alternatives. To create a compelling UVP, you need to clearly articulate what makes your offering unique, valuable, and relevant to your target audience. Start by identifying your brand’s core strengths, features, and benefits. Consider what problems your products or services solve for your customers and how they differentiate you from competitors. Your UVP should be concise, memorable, and customer-focused, emphasizing the value proposition that resonates most with your target audience. Once you’ve defined your UVP, ensure that it aligns with your overall brand positioning and messaging across all marketing channels.

Set SMART Goals and Objectives:

Setting specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) goals is essential for guiding your marketing efforts and measuring success. Begin by defining clear objectives that align with your business objectives and mission. Whether your goals revolve around increasing brand awareness, generating leads, driving website traffic, or boosting sales, make sure they are specific and quantifiable. For example, instead of setting a vague goal like “increase sales,” aim for a specific percentage increase in sales revenue within a defined timeframe. Break down your goals into smaller, actionable objectives, and assign key performance indicators (KPIs) to track progress and evaluate the effectiveness of your marketing initiatives. Regularly review and adjust your goals based on performance data and market dynamics to stay agile and responsive to changing trends.

Outstanding Marketing Plan

Develop a Strategic Marketing Mix:

The marketing mix, also known as the 4Ps (Product, Price, Place, and Promotion), is a fundamental framework for developing a cohesive marketing strategy . Customize your marketing mix based on your target audience’s preferences, behavior, and communication channels. Start by defining your product or service offerings and optimizing them to meet the needs and preferences of your target market. Determine the most appropriate pricing strategy based on factors such as production costs, competitor pricing, and perceived value. Select the right distribution channels to make your products or services easily accessible to your target audience. Finally, develop a comprehensive promotional strategy that leverages a mix of channels such as digital marketing, social media, content marketing, email marketing, advertising, public relations, and events to reach and engage your target audience effectively. Coordinate your marketing efforts across channels to ensure consistency and maximize impact.

Implement and Evaluate Your Plan:

Implementing and evaluating your marketing plan is essential for ensuring its effectiveness and driving sustainable business growth. Once your plan is set in motion, assign clear responsibilities, allocate resources, and establish a timeline for implementation. Monitor the execution of your marketing initiatives closely, tracking key metrics and performance indicators to assess their impact. Be prepared to adapt and iterate your plan based on real-time feedback and market insights. Regularly review your progress against your goals and objectives, making adjustments as needed to optimize your strategy and maximize results. Utilize data analytics tools and performance dashboards to gain valuable insights into customer behavior, campaign performance, and return on investment (ROI). By continuously evaluating and refining your marketing plan, you can stay ahead of the competition, respond to changing market dynamics, and drive sustainable business growth.

Power of YouTube Marketing

YouTube marketing is a powerful strategy for businesses to reach and engage their target audience through video content. With over two billion monthly active users, YouTube offers a vast platform for showcasing products, sharing expertise, and building brand awareness. Upbeat , a Youtube marketing agency, has explained effective YouTube marketing involves creating compelling, high-quality videos that resonate with your audience, optimizing video titles, descriptions, and tags for search visibility, and promoting content across social media channels. Leveraging YouTube analytics, businesses can track viewer engagement, demographics, and performance metrics to refine their strategy and drive results. As video consumption continues to rise, YouTube remains a valuable tool for businesses to connect with customers and drive conversions.

Conclusion 

Creating an outstanding marketing plan requires careful planning, strategic thinking, and ongoing evaluation. By following these five essential steps—conducting comprehensive market research, defining your unique value proposition, setting SMART goals and objectives, developing a strategic marketing mix, and implementing and evaluating your plan—you can build a robust marketing strategy that drives results and positions your brand for long-term success. Remember to stay agile, adapt to changing market dynamics, and prioritize customer-centricity in all your marketing efforts. With a well-executed marketing plan in place, you can effectively reach and engage your target audience, build brand loyalty, and achieve your business objectives.

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IMAGES

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  2. How to Create a Marketing Plan [15+ Templates]

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COMMENTS

  1. How to Write a Business Plan: Target Market Analysis

    Sections of your market analysis should include: Industry Description and Outlook. Target Market. Market Research Results. Competitive Analysis. Remember to properly cite your sources of information within the body of your market analysis as you write it. You and other readers of your business plan, such as potential investors, will need to ...

  2. Target Market Examples

    Example of a target market analysis. As you can see, the target market analysis follows the basic market segmentation process of splitting out potential customers into their demographic, geographic, psychographic and behavioral traits. Next, let's take a look at each in more detail. Afterward, we'll look at how you can harness your target ...

  3. How to Define Your Target Market in 5 Steps

    That's where market research comes in. Talking to customers and potential customers is one of the best ways to do this kind of research, but there are many approaches. 3. Use segmentation creatively. Don't limit your target market strategy for market segmentation by age, gender, and economic level.

  4. How to Write the Customer Analysis Section

    Components of a Customer Analysis. A complete customer analysis contains 3 primary sections: Identify your target customers. Convey the needs of these customers. Show how your products and/or services satisfy these needs. Download our Ultimate Business Plan Template here.

  5. How to Write a Market Analysis for a Business Plan

    Step 4: Calculate market value. You can use either top-down analysis or bottom-up analysis to calculate an estimate of your market value. A top-down analysis tends to be the easier option of the ...

  6. How to Write a Customer Analysis for Your Busines Plan

    Including a customer analysis in your business plan will boost your marketing efforts by identifying your target customers, their needs, and how your product or service addresses these needs. Customer analysis vs market analysis. A market analysis is a broader exploration of the market and potential customers. A customer analysis zooms in on ...

  7. Target Market in a Business Plan

    This section of the business plan deals with the analysis of the target market into different groups of customers (customer or target market segments) each having distinct characteristics and needs from the product. The reason for customer segmentation is to allow a different marketing plan be identified for each customer segment, dealing with ...

  8. Target Markets: Why They Aren't Just for Marketers [A Quick Guide]

    A target market can be segmented by a few different variables. Consumers can be split by demographic, geographic, and behavioral factors. This is essentially the process of creating a buyer persona. You'll divide your target market into several target customers — also known as (you guessed it) buyer personas.

  9. What Is a Target Market? And How to Define Yours

    A target market is a specific group of people with shared characteristics that a business markets its products or services to. Companies use target markets to thoroughly understand their potential customers and craft marketing strategies that help them meet their business and marketing objectives. Identifying a target market is an integral part ...

  10. Target Market

    Step one: Market size calculation. The size of the market you intend to get into is a key figure that will be used by anyone reading your business plan, yourself included. That figure represents the total scope of the opportunity ahead and is the starting point in shaping your marketing strategy.

  11. What Is a Target Market (And How to Find Yours)

    A target market is the specific group of people you want to reach with your marketing message. They are the people who are most likely to buy your products or services, and they are united by some common characteristics, like demographics and behaviors. The more clearly you define your target market, the better you can understand how and where ...

  12. Target Market: Definition, Purpose, Examples, Market Segments

    Target Market: A target market is the market a company wants to sell its products and services to, and it includes a targeted set of customers for whom it directs its marketing efforts ...

  13. 6 Key Target Market Examples (+How to Find & Reach Yours)

    Home services and home improvement. Here's a target market example for businesses in the home services and home improvement industries such as plumbers, HVAC professionals, roofers, landscapers, home cleaning services, and more. Key demographics. Age range: 35-65. 50% women, 50% men. 86% are homeowners.

  14. 6 Real-Life Target Audience Examples to Help You Define Your Own

    A Three-Step Approach To Defining A Target Audience. 1. Conduct target customer research. Your business plan, content marketing strategy, professional experience and prior knowledge of your target customers will lay the foundation for your research.

  15. How to Create a Business Plan: Examples & Free Template

    Tips on Writing a Business Plan. 1. Be clear and concise: Keep your language simple and straightforward. Avoid jargon and overly technical terms. A clear and concise business plan is easier for investors and stakeholders to understand and demonstrates your ability to communicate effectively. 2.

  16. Identify your target market

    A target market is a group of potential customers that you identify to sell products or services to. Each group can be divided into smaller segments. Segments are typically grouped by age, location, income and lifestyle. Once you've defined your target audience, you'll find it easier to determine where and how to market your business.

  17. How to Write a Customer Analysis Section for Your Business Plan

    Step 4: Explain the product alignment to the Customer's Needs. You've gathered info and created customer personas. The final step is to explain how your product or service caters to the needs of your customers. Here, you specify the solution you offer to your customers to tackle the challenges they face.

  18. Customer Segmentation: The Ultimate Guide

    Customer segmentation deals with a part of your market. Market segmentation is more general, looking at the entire market. It creates user-based categories. It focuses on areas of the market. It ...

  19. Why Identifying Your Target Audience Is Important to Your Marketing

    By understanding your target audience, you can modify your marketing strategy to meet customers' evolving needs. Related: 3 Methods for Identifying & Leveraging Your Customers' Needs. Return on Investment. You must spend money efficiently to ensure your marketing plan stays on budget and generates a return on investment. That means your ...

  20. How to Write a Marketing Plan

    Your marketing plan should describe how you will segment your target market, how you will position your products or services compared to your competition, what your pricing strategy will be, and how you will effectively reach and influence your customers. The Target Market. Your target market is a group of customers that has a similar need for ...

  21. Our Corporate Strategy

    Our strategy defines how we'll continue to differentiate Target, and we'll seek to enable growth through: Our team - A highly engaged, diverse, purpose-driven and community-oriented team. Consumer-centricity - A deep understanding of consumers. Technology - A connected ecosystem of data, insights and technology, including artificial ...

  22. How to Write a Business Plan: Guide + Examples

    Most business plans also include financial forecasts for the future. These set sales goals, budget for expenses, and predict profits and cash flow. A good business plan is much more than just a document that you write once and forget about. It's also a guide that helps you outline and achieve your goals. After completing your plan, you can ...

  23. 104 Examples of Target Customers

    Target customers, better known as a target market, is a group of customers that a firm plans to reach with marketing efforts. Target customers may be identified for a business, brand, product, location, sales or marketing strategy. The following are common types of target customers. ... Example of a Marketing Plan » ...

  24. A Guide to Creating a Successful Social Media Marketing Plan

    Step 4: Set goals and create a plan. You've collected the information necessary to develop a target social media marketing plan. Now you need specific and measurable goals to reference back to ...

  25. 5 Steps to Create an Outstanding Marketing Plan

    In today's dynamic business landscape, crafting a well-thought-out marketing plan is essential for any organization aiming to stand out and succeed. A robust marketing plan serves as a roadmap, guiding businesses on how to reach and engage their target audience effectively. Whether you're a startup, a small business, or a large corporation, implementing a strategic […]

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  27. Spotify reaches record high earnings

    Spotify's quarterly gross profit topped $1.1 billion for the first time after it reined in marketing spending, although that meant the music streaming giant missed its forecast for monthly ac…

  28. Amazon launches low-cost grocery delivery subscription plan in US

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