Planning is fundamental. It’s the foundation of any success.

You plan your birthday party, your trips, your surprises and… your marketing!

In this article, I will outline, step-by-step, the process of creating a marketing plan for a small business.

How to write a marketing plan for a small business - sebwaligorski - marketing plan for a small business

What do you need a marketing strategy for?

Before you actually start to write your marketing plan, you need to sit down with a pen and a piece of paper and write down why do you actually need it. It’s an important step, as it will determine the direction your marketing campaign will head towards.

Not sure what that marketing strategy goal might be right for your business? Let me help you! Below are some of the most common marketing campaign aims and objectives.

  1. Get more people to buy your product
  2. Drive your sales
  3. Build a community/brand awareness
  4. Advertise new products
  5. Build relationships with customers
  6. Enter a new market/increase a market share.

Pick the one your business needs. You can, of course, focus on more goals, even all of them, but it will require more time and effort.

Who’s your target audience?

Businesses cannot exist without their customers. They are the ones to keep your lights on with their purchases. But who are ‘they’? It’s different for every company, but equally crucial to their success. In the marketing game, you need to know who are you speaking to in order to get results. In short, you need to know who is your target audience.

Finding your target audience

Determining who should be the recipient of your marketing campaigns is not as tricky and vague as is might seem. You can pinpoint the demographics of your target audience with great accuracy, even without using sophisticated marketing tools. The best way to start is to answer the questions below. They will help you get on the right track!

What problems does my company solve?

If you’re a guitar string producer, then you solve the never-ending problem of all guitarists – broken strings. If you make ice cream, then your product is a remedy for people’s sweet tooth. A consulting company solves people’s business problems.

To put it shortly – the primary objective of your business is to help other people. Who do you help? What sort of people comes through your door with an issue?

Who are my current customers?

Who are the people liking your social media posts or sending you emails? Who are the ones that actually buy from you? Find that out! The easiest way would simply be to check out these people on their social networks or just Google them – it’s not stalking, it’s research! What do they like? How old are they? Where are they from? What education and job do they have?

If you run social media for your business, go to the metrics section on each of the networks – it will give you a nice summary of all the necessary information on your followers.

If you’re using any of the various marketing automation tools, you can access data about people signing up for your mailing lists, using your website or buying from you.

Who does my competition target?

Finally, you can turn to your competitors! Don’t be afraid of that – their mistakes and successes are a great platform for you to learn and improve.

Who are their social media followers? Who writes the reviews on their website?

How to write a marketing plan for a small business - sebwaligorski - marketing plan for a small business

USP

USP stands for Unique Selling Proposition. It’s what gives you the competitive advantage over similar businesses. In short, your USP should give people a clear indication as to why they should choose you and not someone else. It should be the foundation of any marketing plan for a small business. It can take a form of a slogan on billboards or online banners, videos, blog articles – virtually any means of getting the information across to people is good!

The objective of a USP is to ingrain in the minds of customers the benefits they’ll get from your product or a service that they won’t get from anyone else. The benefits can be things like the highest quality, the lowest price, a unique feature or a promise of incredible effectiveness, or freshness.

What’s your business’s USP? How do you stand out? How can you make your business stand out? Find answers to these questions!

Read more about creating a unique image of your business here!

Price

Ultimately, the factor that can make or break your entire marketing effort is the price of your product or service. In many cases it will define whether people will choose you or your competition.

The trick, however, is not to make the price super low. It is to find the perfect balance between three areas:

  1. Your profit
  2. Customer price expectation
  3. Your competitor’s prices

The price of what you sell needs to fit its quality. You wouldn’t sell organic, locally cultivated, GMO-free aubergines for a price of massively grown veg sold in huge bulks. It’s fine to charge more and your customers will probably be fine with paying more knowing that they’re buying a sustainable product. But then again, you can’t charge the same price for low-quality vegetables – no one will buy it!

If your price is higher than your competitor’s then you risk losing customers (unless you have a fantastic USP!). Small differences won’t really matter that much – in this case, factors such as convenience or brand loyalty will play a bigger role – but if you decide to charge double the amount your competition does, you can expect fewer customers coming in.

How much you charge determines who will buy

This one is pretty logical – if your price is high, your product will appeal to a smaller group of well-off people. If it’s low, you can target more common people with average incomes. Therefore, your price has a massive impact on the type of brand you should be creating.

How to write a marketing plan for a small business - sebwaligorski - marketing plan for a small business

Getting ‘out there’

The ultimate and overarching aim of every marketing plan is to get more customers in. And in order to achieve that, you need to put yourself out there first!

Social media

Social networks are very common ways for businesses to get more recognition and advertise their products. Creating a social media presence for your business will allow you to not only grow your audience, but also drive customer loyalty and cultivating your brand, as well as your unique voice!

Access my step-by-step social media marketing guide here!

Attending events

Whether you’re a baker or a marketer, there are surely events dedicated to your field! Conferences, markets, networking events, just to name a few, are great opportunities for you to meet new customers or similar businesses.

No event that suits your interests? Consider creating one!

Customer service

Customer service has been the ‘make or break’ factor for decades now. However, in the age of the Internet, where anyone is able to post a review that can be seen by everyone, it’s even more vital for your business to make sure your customers have a positive experience.

Don’t think that the mere fact that your products are great will overshadow your seller’s rudeness! In fact, while a buyer might be satisfied with what they bought, a bad customer experience will leave an equally bad taste in their mouth that will stay there for a long time!

Read more about using technology to improve your customer service here!

Budget

Finally, you have to actually plan out the expenses. A marketing plan for a small business doesn’t have to assume massive spending and you can actually pull out a successful campaign with a tiny budget.

Plan every activity and campaign in advance in order to be able to actually fit it into your budget.

Summary

Writing a marketing plan is no different than writing any other business plan.

Let’s recap all the steps:

  1. State the purpose of your marketing strategy,
  2. Determine who is your target audience,
  3. Find out your Unique Selling Proposition,
  4. Determine whether the price of your product/service fits its quality, demand and competition,
  5. Find the ways to get yourself ‘out there’ – social media, events and good customer service are a great start,
  6. Plan out your expenses!
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