As a small business, you can’t afford to not create a marketing plan. Without one, despite how great your products are, you’ll find it difficult to reach the right customers, differentiate yourself from competitors, and drive sales.
To help you start on the right foot with your small business marketing plan, this guide explores:
- The benefits of creating a marketing plan for your small business
- Five steps for creating your small business marketing plan
- Next steps to help you maintain a relevant marketing plan
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What Are the Benefits of Creating a Marketing Plan for Your Small Business?
An effective marketing plan sets your business up for growth and maximum sales by following a targeted approach to your customers and sales strategy. Its main purpose is to help you steer a plan for promoting your company, driving sales, and engaging with your customers.
Ultimately, a meaningful, well-thought-out marketing plan:
- Establishes and aligns your marketing goals with your business goals
- Identifies your target customers and competitors clearly
- Addresses exactly your marketing approach helps you achieve your business goals
- Sets out your unique value proposition
- Creates a basis from which to work and improve on your marketing strategy
5 Steps for Creating a Small Business Marketing Plan
If you’re not sure where to start with creating your small business marketing plan, you’re in luck. We’ve put together five simple steps that helps you shape your marketing plan from start to finish.
1. Define Your Marketing Goals
What do you want to achieve with your marketing efforts? What are your goals? These are key questions to answer before you can delve into the details of your marketing plan. By defining marketing goals early, you can make the best use of the time and resources your small business has.
How to define your marketing goals effectively:
- Start with your overall business goals: If your marketing goals don’t align with the company’s overall goals, you’re unlikely to get the buy-in you need from other key stakeholders.
- Establish measurable marketing goals: These goals will be measurable, such as growing your customer base by 10% in a new market, boosting revenue by 25%, or retaining 15% of your existing customers. You can and should review these goals periodically in line with your marketing activities.
- Identify the software tools you need to help you achieve your goals: These days, the best marketing plans are created and executed using intelligent marketing tools like HubSpot and Sendible.Since there are multiple marketing tasks that you’ll need to perform — email marketing, affiliate marketing, and content marketing just to name a few — you’ll need to identify the best tools that can help you achieve your objectives.
2. Conduct Customer and Target Market Research
The success of your marketing plan relies on how well you investigate and define both your target customer market and wider market/industry.
This involves acquiring a deep level of your typical customer and market so that you can employ the right marketing efforts to reach them.
Types of customer and target market research to conduct:
- Create buyer personas: This is a crucial part of your overall marketing plan. Buyer personas are made up of the core characteristics of your “ideal” customer profile, including demographic details, interests, behavioral traits, goals, pain points, and buying patterns. If you’ve already established yourself across social media platforms, delving into your analytics is a great place to start when developing buyer personas.
- Identify key competitors in your industry: If you don’t know who your rivals are, how can you compete? Almost every new small business will have direct competitors, so take a look at what they’re doing well, where they could improve, and in particular, any gaps in their marketing strategy you can take advantage of.
- Analyze your existing data: If you’ve already got customers, delve into the data you have in your customer relationship management (CRM) to help segment your customers with the intent to develop marketing strategies for each of them. For example, what works well in one geographical market might not be as successful in another.
- Use software tools to organize customer and market research: Since you’ll need to organize the different strings of your customer and market research across your team, project management software like Teamwork and Zoho Projects are extremely useful tools to help you stay on track, organize, and store your research.
3. Outline The ‘Four Principles of Marketing’
Almost every marketing decision is based on one of four categories or marketing principles: product, price, place, and promotion. Also known as the “marketing mix,” each one of these principles cannot exist without the other three, which is why you’ll need to address each one within your small business marketing plan.
To address the four principles of marketing, ask yourself the following questions:
- How does your product or service solve customers’ problems?
- How many product variations are there and how do they address customers’ needs differently?
- How closely does your product align with your buyer personas?
- What is your core pricing strategy, and how will it help you achieve your business goals?
- How will you collect feedback on the value your customers get from your product so that you can adjust your pricing strategy when needed?
- How will you account for seasonal demand, promotions, and introductory pricing?
- How many places and sales channels will your customers be able to acquire your products from?
- How can you place your products in the most convenient place for your customers?
- How will the customer experience differ across each sales channel?
- How will you fulfill orders?
- What strategies will you use to increase brand recognition?
- What’s the best way to communicate with your ideal customer profile?
- What tools will you need to promote your company and product?
- How can you best create excitement around your product/service offering?
4. Establish Your Value Proposition
A value proposition is a statement defining the value your customers gain from choosing to purchase your product or service. It’ll also reflect your brand identity, the customer’s challenge, and how you’re best placed to be the problem solver.
A value proposition also reflects your company values, mission statement, and how you stand out from your competitors. Far from just another branding exercise, establishing your value proposition helps you refer back to why, what, and how you deliver the best customer experience possible.
5. Start Building Your Small Business Marketing Plan
Now that you’ve got the basics in order, it’s time to start putting your marketing plan together. The plan itself outlines the various marketing efforts and activities you’ll undertake — based on all of the above — to help you achieve your goals.
Crucial elements to include in your small business marketing plan:
- Budgets and timeframes: Outline exactly what you’ll do when and how much budget you have allocated to each task. This is where project management software comes in extremely handy since you can organize every single task into timelines, status, and priority to help everyone stay on time and within budget.
- Your marketing rollout plan: If you’re launching a completely new business, your marketing activities differs from a business that’s established but is releasing a completely new product line. Outline the iterations for each marketing activity like email, affiliate, SEO, and PPC in timelines that make sense for both your short-term and long-term goals.
- Build-in time for testing and adjusting: No marketing plan is completely solid the first time around. Ensure you build time and space into your marketing plan for urgent and non-priority adjustments to be made.
Next Steps for Your Small Business Marketing Plan
No matter how experienced your team is in creating marketing plans, the best marketing plans are those that reflect on what’s gone well, and how they can improve. Many marketing plans become out of date soon after they’ve been put into place and are being adjusted constantly to help businesses achieve their goals.
To keep your marketing plans fresh, we recommend:
- Reviewing your small business marketing plan on a quarterly basis at least
- Use data from your sales channels, CRMs, and other software solutions to inform your marketing plan
- Setting clear expectations within each iteration of the marketing plan
Start Strong With Your Marketing Plan and Watch Your Business Grow
Few modern businesses have succeeded without a solid marketing plan. This is especially true of small businesses that have limited resources to help build the company from the ground up.
Organization is a key element of any marketing plan. Today, it’s easier than ever to organize your teams, workflows, and tasks with project management software.
But don’t spend hours searching for the best tool — we’ve already done it for you. Our experts have spent more than 40 hours researching more than 140 of the best project management software to help you find the right solution for your needs.
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