The Essentials of writing a Small Business Marketing Plan

Build it and they will come. As you already know, you simply can’t just setup shop and cross your fingers that people will find you. Instead, being a successful business owner means constantly marketing and promoting your business.  

Before you can jump right in with creating your plan, it’s important to have a solid understanding of what a marketing plan is.  

What is a marketing plan? 

A marketing plan is an outline that details a specific strategy over a period of time  to successfully promote your business to potential customers. Now, set your marketing on the right course to make your companies business goals a reality with these 5 steps.  

Step 1: Know Your Business  

Nobody knows your business better than you do. This is an opportunity to provide a general overview of your current business operations. In this section, some companies choose to do a SWOT analysis. This is a detailed analysis of your current strengths and weaknesses as a company, where you have opportunity for growth and what threats you face. It is a great way to get a snapshot of your current situation and set goals.  

Step 2: Determine Your Target Audience 

“Target Audience” is a key element for coming up with an effective and successful marketing plan. In this section of your plan, you should list anything and everything you know about your ideal customer. This includes basic demographic information such as age and gender – but also dig deeper into their behaviors, interests and decisions. Knowing your customers inside and out is key to knowing which marketing tactics will resonate with them.   

Step 3: Analyze Your Competitors  

Wouldn’t it be nice if you never had to worry about any competitors infringing on your space and stealing your customers? Unfortunately, that’s just not the way business works. Your competitors are probably already doing something similar to you – meaning you have to work that much harder to stand out. Being armed with all sorts of knowledge about your competitors will help you find a way to  differentiate yourself from the crowd.  

First, describe in detail the products/services you offer. Then, layout how those products/services measure up to existing competition. What makes you different? You’ll be able to leverage this differentiator to effectively market your business. Taking this step will help you become more aware of your competitors and any challenges ahead.  

Step 4: Set Goals & Strategies 

Spelling out your marketing goals for the year is one of the most important steps to keep you and your team focused on the vision ahead. What objectives do you want to accomplish?  You want your goals to be motivating and far reaching, but not so difficult that you get discouraged. Consider using the SMART goals methodology to create well thought out goals: Specific, Measurable, Aspirational, Realistic, Timely. 


Goal: Increase website traffic.  

SMART Goal: Over the next year, increase website traffic by 50% through optimizing organic, direct, and social media traffic. 

Now, strategies. Strategies lay the framework for how you plan to achieve the goal. Take each goal and list the related action items directly underneath it.  This allows you to see exactly what needs to get done in order to push yourself towards that accomplishment. This is also a great way to see whether a goal is realistic or not.  

Step 5: Set a Budget & Get to work!  

Time for the hard part – the numbers!  This is a necessary evil when it comes to running a business. In this section, stay focused strictly on marketing related activities. It can be easy to get sidetracked on other company expenses. How much do you plan to spend on marketing and advertising throughout the next year? Most importantly,  where will this money come from? Think about the types of marketing you plan to do that you outlined in your strategies. Are you using traditional forms of flyers and mailers or digital forms of online advertising and social media? Do some research and talk to other business owners to get a feel for how much it might cost. Budgets aren’t fun but it’s important to be honest with yourself here. Now, it’s simply time to get to work!  

There you have it! These are the steps needed in order to create a marketing plan for your business.  Always keep in mind there are variations to the marketing plan  depending on your industry and the goals of your team.