Direct Competition: Who are your direct competitors? If you can, state the sales and size of each one of these competitors. See where you fit into the scheme of things.

Share: What is your current market share? If you do not have a product in the market, find out who owns what share of the marketplace among your competitors.

Position: How is your company perceived in the marketplace? Notice I didn't say how you think you are perceived. Only an outsider can tell you how you are truly perceived. This is best done through research. How is your company positioned in the marketplace? And how is your competition positioned? Are you known for your quality of service? Research will uncover the unique traits of your product or service. Eventually any negative trait—from poor service, to slow delivery—will have a negative impact on your business.

Creative: How does your competition portray their creative product? Is their advertising effective? What is the value of their packaging? Examine every area of the physical nature of your competition.

Spending: How much is being spent by your competitor? How does that compare to your company? Your competitor may be spending more in packaging or perhaps investing more to reach the trade market, or they may even be spending more in direct mail. Find out what their emphasis is and where most of their advertising dollars are invested.

Indirect Competition: Sometimes it is important to look beyond the direct competition and to focus on indirect competition. A good example of indirect competition for a bookstore might be records and gifts found in a non-bookstore outlet like Wal-Mart, price club, or online store like Amazon.com. Is the direct competition other books, or is it in fact the records and gifts that are found in other places one can purchase books?

Target Audience: Whom do you really want to sell this product to? Who is the prime audience for this product? You'll want to break this down in terms of demographics and psychographics by asking questions like: How old is the target audience? Are they middle class? College educated? Paint a profile of the individual most likely to buy this product. This is going to be especially important when you start planning your media buys.

Trends: What are the current trends that relate to your product? Has it been a down economy for this product or are forecasters predicting a bright future? Take a look at the industry in terms of the past, the present, and the future.

Problems and Opportunities: By now, you have had the opportunity to identify problems. You will be able to recognize your weaknesses and your strengths as they compare to your competitor's. A good marketing plan turns a problem into an opportunity. This can work for your product, too. The problems you've worked so hard to unearth can become opportunities. Try to draw concrete conclusions from your problems and opportunities. These will be important to you in establishing your marketing objectives and strategies.  

Marketing Objectives: Here's where you want to state in clear, simple and achievable terms what your Marketing Objective is. Be specific. Increasing sales is not a Marketing Objective. Increasing sales calls or production by 10 to 20% per month is a marketing Objective. However we must be careful not to establish objectives that have not been adequately prayed about and gained through discernment given by God. Increasing sales should be the byproduct of activities done that may yield your result, not an end in itself.  Set in place activities that may result in achieving your goal and leave the result to God. In other words, ask God what your Marketing Objective should be and then seek Him as to how it can be accomplished!


Be Realistic, But Plan with Faith

Perhaps you have gotten to this point and discovered through your research that it is impossible to achieve an increase in performance based on your findings. If you sincerely believe this, then it is your responsibility to state it unapologetically. Be realistic in your projections and make your projections based on the facts you have and what you believe God is leading you to do. God wants to work through the plan He gives you.