Your business no doubt faces many obstacles to success in addition to those posed by the competition.
Half of the battle of overcoming these external obstacles is understanding them. And half of the key to benefiting from "lucky breaks" is being on top of developments and events that can be used to your advantage.
When doing issues analysis for the marketing plan, you'll want to look at external threats and opportunities, as well as assess your internal strengths and weaknesses.
Threats and Opportunities (from Outside)
To evaluate external issues, start by identifying and prioritizing any threats or opportunities your business may face from outside influences. Threats and opportunities come from a variety of sources including:
- The economic outlook of your market's economy - Are you starting your business in a healthy economy? If not, can your product still thrive?
- Product innovations - How will changes made to the products of your competitors affect you? What's happening with products that are "complementary" to yours? (If you write software that runs on Windows, IBM PCs would be "complementary products" to you.)
- Technological advancements - What changes in technology will impact you?
- Environmental issues - Is your product earth-friendly?
- Government regulations - What impact does complying with government regulations have on your business? Is there any pending legislation that may impact you?
- Barriers to market entry - Are there high or low barriers to market entry in your field? What would it take for a competitor to start a business in your field? Could a competitor start up overnight (low barrier) or does you business require special knowledge, expensive machinery, etc. (high barrier)?
Strengths and Weaknesses (inside your company)
The next step in marketing plan issues analysis is to identify internal strengths and weaknesses of your company. For example, your education, experience and reputation in your area of expertise is most likely a strength. A weakness, if you plan to have employees, might be a lack of supervisory experience.
Summarize the Main Issues in an Issues Statement
Finally, determine which issues are most significant and integrate them into an Issues Statement. Use your carefully researched Issues Statement as you set your marketing objectives and strategy.
Here's an example of an issues statement:
While there are few barriers to entry to offer public relations counseling to small business owners (a telephone and computer is all that's required), the 30 years combined experience of the partners of Miller Public Relations is its competitive advantage. No other PR agency in the area Miller serves offers a comparable depth of experience.
A professional manager is being recruited to compensate for the owner's lack of experience and interest in supervising employees. This person should be in place by November.
As you can see, you just need a paragraph or so per business issue. Keep the description of issues short and sweet. This ensures that your business marketing plan will be focused and easy to read.