One of the main reasons why small businesses fail is due to unsuccessful or ineffective marketing. Using strategies or tactics just because other businesses do it is not a good plan.
Having a small business marketing plan that includes all the important pieces needed to consistently market your business out there is something every business, regardless of size should have. Think of the marketing plan as your map guiding you towards your goals.
You may have the best product or services but no one will know about them unless you promote them, right?
This article outlines the most important elements you need to include in your plan. Regardless of how it is organized, your business marketing plan should be easily understood and straightforward document. It should provide you with a clear direction for your goals and efforts for the whole year and give a quick look into your company.
Step 1: Prepare to Write
Before you start adding information in your plan, you need to pull together some information. You need:
- Your business’s financial reports including operating budgets, profits, loss, and sales figures by product for the current and the past five years.
- A listing of each product along with target markets.
- An organization table (if you have less than 10 employees, you probably don’t need this).
- Your understanding of your market including your competitors, geographical boundaries, existing distribution channels, types of customers, any information on trends, etc.
- Ask your customer-relations people or your salespeople to list the most important points that need to be included in the small business marketing plan.
Step 2: Analyze the Market Situation
This section should contain a clear description of the current situation of the marketplace. Give answers to these questions:
- What are your products or services?
- What is your sales setup?
- What is your distribution setup?
- What is the dollar size of your markets?
- What geographical area do you sell your products/services to?
- What competitors exist in your marketplace?
- Describe your target group in terms of demographics, population, etc.
- How well have your products sold throughout the years?
Almost all of this information exists so ask your management team to share some of the details you need to know. Now is when you need to write everything down. A marketing plan gives you an opportunity to pull relevant information together.
Step 3: Include Threats and Opportunities
Creating a small business marketing plan wouldn’t be possible without including the threats and opportunities of the market.
Are there any trends in the market against you? Are your current products attractive and poised to succeed in the market? Are there competitive trends? What trends in the market favor you and your small business? Are there any trends working to your benefit?
Step 3: Reveal Your Marketing Objectives
In this section, you need to paint a picture of your business future. What objectives do you want to accomplish? Each of your objectives should include a narrative description of what you want to achieve along with specific numbers to give you something reliable to aim for.
If this is all new to you, how can you set a quantifiable marketing goal? Well, in this case, it is best to start with the past. Go through all your past sales numbers, the size of typical customers, your business growth over the years, etc. Make a reasonable projection of what you will be able to achieve with these numbers. Set modest goals until you get a better feel of the terrain.
Step 4: Determine the Budget
Whether done poorly or well, marketing activities cost money. The marketing plan for small business needs to include a section in which you write down the budget for each campaign or activity planned.
Be as objective as possible. The budget should allocate accounting for external costs internal hours. Make sure to enter the information on an Excel spreadsheet so you can edit it during the creation.
All changes should be made in an organized manner. Whatever your decision, update your marketing plan and save it when final. Your plan must be dynamic and remember all this information will be useful when creating your next year’s marketing plan.
Step 5: Write Executive Summary
On one page sum up the contents of your marketing plan. You can use short sentences, bullet points, and bold for major (important) details.
The summary plan gives readers a description of what your company plans are for this and upcoming years. It also forces you to brainstorm your thoughts to their essence, which is a good thing.
So, are you ready to sit down and write your first business marketing plan?