Writing a Marketing Plan


  • Use a direct, professional writing style. Use appropriate business and marketing terms without jargon. Present and future tenses with active voice are generally better than past tense and passive voice.
  • Be positive and specific. At the same time, avoid superlatives (such as terrific, wonderful). Specifics are better than glittering generalities. Use numbers for impact, justifying computations and projections with facts or reasonable quantitative assumptions where possible.
  • Use bullet points for succinctness and emphasis. As with the list you are reading, bullets enable key points to be highlighted effectively and with great efficiency.
  • Use “A level” (the first level) and “B level” (the second level headings under major section headings to help readers make easy transitions from one topic to another. This also forces the writer to organize the plan more carefully. Use these headings liberally, at least once every 200 to 300 words.
  • Use visuals where appropriate. Illustrations, graphs, and charts enable large amounts of information to be presented succinctly.
  • Shoot for a plan 15 to 35 pages in length, not including financial projections and appendices. An uncomplicated small business may require only 15 pages, while a new business startup may require more than 35 pages.
  • Use care in layout, design, and presentation. Laser or ink-jet printers give a more professional look than  do dot matrix printers or typewriters. A bound report with a cover and clear title page adds professionalism.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

Service Quality and Employee Behavior


Customers’ perceptions of service quality will be impacted by the customer-oriented behaviors of employees. In fact, the five dimensions of service quality—reliability, responsiveness, assurance, empathy, and tangibles—can be influenced directly by service employees.

Delivering the service as promised—reliability—is often totally within the control of front-line employees. Even in the case of automated services—such as ATMs, automated ticketing machines, or self-serve and pay gasoline pumps—behind the scenes employees are critical for making sure all of the systems are working properly. When services fail or errors are made, employees are essential for setting things right and using their judgment to determine the best course of action for service recovery.

Front-line employees directly influence customer perceptions of responsiveness through their personal willingness to help and their promptness in serving customers. Consider the range of responses you receive from different retail store clerks when you need help finding a particular item of clothing. One employee may ignore your presence, whereas another offers to help you search and calls other stores to locate the item. One may help you immediately and efficiently, whereas another may move slowly in accommodating even the simplest request.

The assurance dimension of service quality is highly dependent on employees’ ability to communicate their credibility and to inspire trust and confidence. The reputation of the organization will help, but in the end, individual employees with whom the customer interacts confirm and build trust in the organization or detract from its reputation and ultimately destroy trust. For startup or relatively unknown organizations, credibility, trust, and confidence will be tied totally to employee actions.

It is difficult to imagine how an organization would deliver “caring, individualized attention” to customers independent of its employees. Empathy implies that employees will pay attention, listen, adapt, and be flexible in delivering what individual customers need. For example, research documents that when employees are customer-oriented, have good rapport with customers, and exhibit perceptive and attentive listening skills, customers will evaluate the service more highly and be more likely to return. Employee appearance and dress are important aspects of the tangibles dimension of quality, along with many other factors that are independent of service employees (the service facility, décor, brochures, signage, and so on).

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

Primitive Organizations


Primitive organizations exhibit all the classic features of any start-up. Energy and anticipation are usually high and the right startup can almost run on pure adrenalin.

Primitive organizations naturally perform the things that other types of organizations have to work hard to achieve. Formal structure and communication is not yet necessary, as enthusiasm and team spirit can carry the organization along.

In the early stages most primitive organizations manage to operate under one working culture and build effective internal and external relationships. This state of affairs can’t last, however, as primitive organizations are naturally transient. When the initial honeymoon period passes, the culture of the organization will change of its own accord.

All that is up for debate is how much it will change, how fast it will change and whether that change will be managed or if nature will be allowed to take its own course.

As is the case with all organizations, primitive organizations face the choice of managing their culture from the word go, or leaving it to chance. Unfortunately too many organizations rely on the natural spirit associated with being a primitive startup and de-prioritize cultural investment, choosing to concentrate on what they see as operational necessities.

To a point this is understandable, but this attitude reflects some common misconceptions.

  • An organization’s honeymoon period or primitive stage can be incredibly short, which catches a lot of organizations out – and once the damage is done, it’s done. Remedial work is always harder and significantly more draining and time-consuming than positive effort.
  • Proactive cultural and relationship management right from the start can be achieved at minimal cost in terms of time and money, and will deliver benefit for years to come. It is worth remembering that managing a working culture does not mean over-engineering it: in fact, it should mean quite the opposite. Good practice from day one is what creates long-term amazing relationships and long-term success.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

The Master Plan


Many people assume that a formal business plan is only for big time businesses. Wrong. A business plan is for anyone who wants to give their enterprise their best possible shot. It is where you detail out all the operational, marketing, and money matters of your business. It is, in essence, a road map. With it, you will better be able to reach your goal. Without it, you run the risk of spending precious time and money traveling in circles or unwittingly wandering into danger zones.

In response to the question, what a business plan is, follow the following”

  • A business plan is written by the home-based business owner with outside help as needed.
  • It is accurate and concise as a result of careful study.
  • It explains how the business will function in the marketplace.
  • It clearly depicts its operational characteristics.
  • It details how it will be financed.
  • It outlines how it will be managed.
  • It is the management and financial “blueprint” for startup and profitable operation.
  • It serves as a prospectus for potential investors and lenders.

A study for “why” of creating it, note:

  • The process of putting the business plan together, including the thought that you put in before writing it, forces you to take the objective, critical, unemotional look at your entire business proposal.
  • The finished written plan is an operational tool, which, when properly used, will help you manage your business and work toward its success.
  • The complete business plan is a means for communicating your ideas to others and provides the basis for financing your business.

While you are to be the author of the document, you shouldn’t hesitate to get professional help when it comes to areas outside your ken, such as accounting, insurance, capital requirements, operational forecasting, and tax and legal requirements. Finally, in response to the question, “When should Business Plan be used?” note:

  • To make crucial startup decisions
  • To reassure lenders and backers
  • To measure operational progress
  • To test planning assumptions
  • As a basis for adjusting forecasts
  • To anticipate ongoing capital and cash requirements
  • As the benchmark for good operational management

If you have been doing your research and homework all along, you probably have most of the raw material for the business plan, so it won’t be such an awesome task.

Business plans differ greatly, depending on the nature and scope of the enterprise. Some elements a person in a retail sales business would need in his or her business plan may be totally irrelevant for your service business. Similarly, business plans vary in length—from five or six pages or a virtual booklet; some are written in an engaging narrative style while others take another approach—just the facts. However, while business plans may differ in style, tone, length, and components, there is some common ground. Below is a list of items that should be in almost every business plan:

  • A summary of the nature of your business and its principal activity with a detailed description of the product(s) or service(s) you will offer.
  • A statement as to the form your business will take (sole proprietorship, partnership, incorporation) and how it will be managed and operated (with information on employees or subcontractors if applicable).
  • A discussion of any extra-ordinary (and potentially problematic) matters revolving around such things as space requirements, production processes, and operating procedures.
  • A discussion of major trends in your trade or profession.
  • A discussion of your competition and the basis on which you will compete.
  • A description of your target market that might include a profile of a typical customer or client.
  • A discussion of your plans for pricing, sales terms, and distribution.
  • A discussion of how you intend to advertise and promote your products or services.
  • A detailed statement of startup and operating costs for at least the first year.
  • A discussion of how your business will be financed.
  • Profit and loss and cash flow statements for at least the first year of business.

If this list has made a business plan seem all the more scary and arduous a task, don’t panic. There are books on the market that will guide you through the process.

A clean attractive business plan is a sine qua non if you will be applying for a loan or looking for investors. But even if the document is for your eyes only, you owe it to yourself to produce a professional-looking document. Since it is your road map, the neater it is the better it will serve you when you refer to it at various stages of your entrepreneurial journey.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

Yoking Technology with Market Opportunities


Developing new products that cost less or perform better has always been crucial for any technically based company. In our increasingly turbulent business environment, developing the know-how to keep pace with or even ahead of technological developments and competitors’ moves is more important than ever for several reasons. First, exploding technology is spawning new products and processes at an accelerating rate that threatens almost every product and process in place. Second, competition continues to intensify from abroad and a plethora of new startups and many substitute technologies that encroach on established products and processes. Third, product innovations that result in superior performance or cost advantages are the best means of protecting or building market position without sacrificing profit margins. This is especially true in today’s world when many industrial markets are flat or slow growth and excess capacity is commonplace.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight

Life-Cycle Management


All projects have a natural life cycle from birth to death and that changes inherent in the life cycle cause shifting interfaces and broad changes over time which dramatically increase the need for the project management approach. This life-cycle property is also shared by product sales and systems development.

 The product sales life-cycle is probably the best known. Between the point of introduction and the final removal from the market (replacement by another product is more complicated) there are roughly four phases:

a)    Introduction

b)   Growth

c)    Maturity

d)   Decline

 Actually, a product must go through research and development stages before it is introduced on the market. If we add these phases to the product  we would have a larger cycle similar for products/projects/processes.

 Full Products/Projects/Processs Life Cycle:

  1. Pre-design phase—The product/project idea is born and given early evaluation. Early forecasts of performance, cost, and time aspects are made, as well as of organization and resource requirements. There is a high mortality rate in this phase.
  2. Design phase—A much more detailed design of the project/product is developed and its feasibility and desirability are determined.
  3. Pilot testing phase—An actual prototype of the product, system, or difficult prices of the project are made, tested, and redesigned as necessary.
  4. Startup/Introduction phase—The product is introduced or the main project is started up.
  5. Rampup/Growth phase—Product sales grow, and the product is expanded to its full volume.
  6. Mature phase—Sales are full, as is the project effort size.
  7. Rampdown/decline phase—Sales decline, phasing the project out.
  8. Termination/divestment—The product is removed, the project is stopped, and the system is sold.

 My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight

Culture that tolerates Failure


Many startups never make it to the payoff at the initial public offering. They simply fail. For several reasons such failures stop neither the entrepreneurs nor the venture capitalists who finance the innovations. First, those who fail learn in the process, and this can improve their chances of doing well the next time around. They acquire competences that can be used to tackle another innovation. Even if all they learn is what not to do next time, that can be useful too. Second, venture capital firms have seen many failures before and have found away to reduce their risks by, for example, offering management expertise to ventures. Moreover, some of the venture capital comes from entrepreneurs who had made it only after having failed before.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight