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TIA: Tennessee Inventors Association in Knoxville Tenn and Oak Ridge TN
Oak Ridge and Knoxville, TN  

September 2010 Business Planning: The Marketing Plan

Meeting Date: 
September 18, 2010

Part two of developing a business plan was the topic for the September meeting. Two members, Carl Papa and Judie Black, presented the market plan portion of their business plans to the members.

During the July TIA meeting, Carl and Judie introduced business plans.

A business plan for inventors should have the following sections:

  1. Description of the business
  2. Marketing plan
  3. Project management plan
  4. Management plan

During the September meeting, Carl and Judie continued with a discussion of the second section of the business plan, their marketing plan.

Marketing Plan

The marketing plan includes

  • a description of the product
  • a list of strengths
  • a list of weaknesses
  • identification of competitors and competing products
  • identification of customers
  • a plan on how the business will reach the customers

The description of the product is the first part of the marketing plan. The business plan contains a short description of what is the product and how is it to be packaged. Detailed information, such as the specifications, drawings, and pictures should be placed in an appendix attached to the business plan.

A description of competing products is necessary to provide insight into the marketplace. The business plan contains a list of competing products and the companies selling them. Detailed information on competing products should be placed in an appendix attached to the business plan.

The competition needs to be identified. The invention will be manifested in a product. That product will compete with other products sold by other companies. Those companies need to be identified in order to understand the potential for market share of the invention. Again, detailed information should be placed in an appendix.

The potential customers need to be identified.If an inventor wishes to license his invention, the competition identified above are potential customers.

The distribution channel needs to be considered. For example, direct sales typically only has one type of customer, namely, the end user. That customer needs to be profiled.

          Business -> End User

Wholesale and retail sales usually have several levels of purchasers. Each level, distributor, retailer, and end user, are buyers of the products and need to be profiled.

          Business -> Distributor -> Retailer -> End User

For each type of customer, paint a picture of the customer, for example, income level, education level, where they live and work, what they do for a living or for pleasure, etc. Detailed customer info should be in an Appendix. If demographic information is collected, put that info in the appendix and summarize it here. Such information is useful for deciding on how to reach those customers to make them buyers, which is the topic of the next section.

Identifying the weaknesses and strengths of your product will allow you to determine how the product will compete in the marketplace. This part of the business plan may include a table showing how the weaknesses and strengths of the product compares to competing products.

A plan for reaching the customers ties together all the previous marketing information. This section of the marketing plan should identify both short term and long term steps for letting potential customers know about the product.

Member Marketing Plans

Carl Papa and Judie Black are working on their business plans. Each presented information on their marketing plan.

Carl discussed the marketing plan for his golf training aid invention, the Pin High Pro. Carl is planning on manufacturing and selling his products through direct sales and through golf pros and golf shops. Carl has a website that is under construction. See Pin High Pro.

Judie discussed the marketing plan for her 3d maze game. Judie is exploring licensing of her game. The ultimate customers will be people that want a mental or physical challenge, parents who want to keep kids occupied, and doctors and child care facilities that provide toys for children. She is exploring retailers such as Cracker Barrel.

Judie has several proof-of-concept prototypes and is in the process of having more polished prototypes built.

Carl Papa and the Pin High Pro

After the break, Carl Papa described his experiences at the Knoxville News Sentinel Open Golf Tournament. He had a tent set up with other vendors at the tournament. The Knoxville News ran an article in the August 22, Sunday paper. Carl said the article was great publicity and many people clipped the article and brought it to the tournament so that they could be sure to see Carl's invention.

Carl's tent was at the end of the row. The location gave him room to set up a test area for his training aid. Golfers could try it out and see if they needed help with their swing. Carl said that many golfers came by and checked out his invention.

If he had product ready to sell, Carl said that he could have sold several during the tournament. Several golfers were ready to plunk down cash to walk away with one of his training aids. But, all Carl had were several production prototypes. He is hoping to have product ready to ship before the end of the year.

Other Announcements

Martin Skinner announced that he is having a fire sale of his Koil Kaddy. He has several Koil Kaddies of the PVC-pipe version available that he is selling for $10 each. Green, white, and black Koil Kaddies are available.

Everyday Edisons is a PBS television show that showcases independent inventors as they develop and commercialize their inventions. Season 3 of Everyday Edisons is still playing every Friday evening at 10pm on the Knoxville PBS station.