ll entrepreneurs and small business owners should have a plan for their business. A great marketing strategy can help your business focus on winning potential customers and keeping them. A good marketing plan clearly shows all the helpful tools and tactics you can use to achieve your business goals. To be precise, it’s more of an action plan outlining your target markets, the product or service business you’re providing and the tactics you’ll use to bring in leads and sales.
“Build it and they’ll come.” This saying means well. But your business won’t succeed without proper management. You can’t just set a shop and expect people to find you or build a website without any content. Just like giant enterprises, small businesses need constant marketing and promoting it to gain more customers. Even though a marketing plan sounds technical, it’s not really complicated, and you don’t need a degree to figure it out!
Since marketing is one of the keys to fundamental success for every business, you need to go through this process carefully. In this article, we will share with you how to properly create a marketing plan that will be beneficial to both you and your small business.
What is a Marketing Plan?
A marketing plan is a written document that narrates your marketing efforts and advertising plans over a given time period. The document includes marketing strategies, a review of target markets, the company’s position and any marketing tools used to execute the plan. Your marketing plan should be easy to read and understood by everyone in your company. The marketing plan should have every single piece of information you need to successfully promote your business.
Some big companies have a marketing plan with hundreds of pages, whereas small companies might only have a handful of pages. There’s no exact length or certain rules for preparing a marketing plan, as long as you have included all the important information.
How to Create a Marketing Plan for Your Small Business
To help small business owners who are serious in planning specific goals for their business put together a good marketing plan, here are six steps that will help your business achieve positive results.
1. Evaluate Your Current Business Situation and Outline Your Marketing Objectives
Before you go into all the serious details, start by evaluating your current business. Gather all the information about your current business that can help you understand which direction you’re going.
- Is this a startup with very little revenue?
- How long have you been running the business? Is your business ready to progress to the next level?
- Can you sustain this business and how easily are you getting revenue from it?
- What is your company's current financial status? How much is the company’s profit and loss over the past few years?
- A list of full products or services your company provides
- Your company’s target market and potential customers
- How you perceive your competitors and the marketplace, existing marketing channels, customer categories, demographic data and useful information about market trends
- Feedback or correspondence from your customers
2. Do Your Research
Before you create a plan it’s vital to do research. It’s impossible to create a marketing plan and execute it if you know very little about your business, competitors and buyers. You can use an app like Google my business for a better understanding of competitors, to get more listings, to gain customer insights and help buyers locate your business. What positions you as an important and unique seller in the market? What makes you different from others? You might be able to leverage this distinction to effectively promote your business.
Market Research- You should have a list of information about products and services you’re currently promoting or selling. Analyze the business market. You have to understand your audience in terms of demographics, location, income and so on. You also need to understand your competitors and what they have to offer.
SWOT Analysis- The analysis of your company's strengths and weaknesses, opportunities and threats. The SWOT analysis should include both the good and the bad elements of your company. Does your target audience favor your product or services or do they prefer your competitors?
Your Target Audience- The demographics of the customers you’re targeting and their buying habits. Learn what encourages people to choose your product. Can your pricing strategy influence your target audience to buy from you?
Your customer buying cycle- Learning how, why, when and where your target audience buys will help in converting leads. Do they prefer to buy from a local business? When are they most likely to buy? You need to have a complete understanding and full information on your customers’ buying cycle.
The information you gain will help you create a marketing plan that is suitable for your business. Not all small businesses are created the same, so it’s crucial to ensure that the actions planned are suitable for your marketing goals.
3. Decide Your Company’s Mission
Here comes the fun part - laying out all your marketing goals for the year. What do you want to accomplish that you didn’t accomplish last year? Are there any specific targets or steps that you’re going to take or dismiss?
When you have collected the research you need, create a clear and achievable mission. Every marketing objective should have a few targets, goals and steps on how to achieve them. In your company's mission statement you need to explain why your business has created a marketing plan and how you are going to make it happen. Try to limit the number of marketing objectives for the year. Too many changes can cause stress and confuse your customers and target market.
Your goal should be inspirational but achievable. You don’t want to waste time on too many objectives only to realize they are impossible to fulfill. Be realistic. Goals can be something like ‘ I need an average of 100 new followers on my Instagram business profile’, or ‘The company’s website should publish 5 articles each week.’
For each goal, you should have at least one person to manage it. You need to have someone to oversee the advertising. The list should be detailed and easy to handle. Create a table or sheets where you can plan the marketing actions or develop a marketing plan.
4. Determine Your Marketing Budget
There’s always a price on any business activity. Your marketing plan should have a list of how much money you allocate for each marketing activity. For a small business, you should know how much you’re willing to spend on marketing and be wise and clear in planning those budgets. Your marketing budget can be allocated to website maintenance, SEO, advertisements or any ongoing promotions.
Don’t compare your business to other companies as all businesses are not created equal. Your competitors might be using their advertising funds on advertisements on social media like Facebook,and it’s not the same if you’re planning to run a promotion on Google Ads. How much do you want to spend on the promotion throughout the year and where will this budget come from? Your marketing plan should have all this data.
Managing a budget is not fun but you have to be realistic and honest. You’d rather discover you need a SEO specialist now rather than four months down the road when you’ve already used up all your budget and there’s nothing you can do about it..
5. Implement It!
Marketing plans can be basic and straightforward, or more comprehensive. Now you have completed your plan, it’s time to apply it to your business. Whether your marketing plan consists of 10 pages or 100 pages, these plans should help get your business get started.
Having full information on your business and marketing techniques also proves that you’re ready to grow. Any potential investors will see that your company is well aware of the competition and that you’re ready to face any challenges in order to succeed.
6. Tracking Effectiveness And Defining KPI’s
Effectiveness should be measured regularly throughout the year to ensure your plans are making progress. And if it’s not, you need to evaluate what can you do to improve. How can you track progress in sales or changes in cost over the years? What was in your previous marketing plans and what can you learn from them?
You have to decide whether to increase your efforts, add more strategic plans or limit your objectives. Whatever changes you make, ensure you update it in your marketing plan and note why didn’t you achieve your goals. All this information is useful and helpful when you need to initiate next year’s marketing plan.
In order to have a successful marketing plan, you should have clear objectives. With the proper marketing actions planned and timely executed, you'll be taking your business to another level. It should be used as a guideline to help your business thrive and should be shared with any contributing members in your company.