How to Create a Small Business Marketing Plan

 Writing a marketing plan may seem daunting to some but don't worry. We're here to guide you step by step in creating an effective marketing plan. And once you get organized and write down your ideas, it's actually quite easy and maybe even a little fun.

So, what is a marketing plan, anyway? Simply put, it's a document that outlines your high-level marketing strategy, efforts and results. Your marketing plan should directly address your overall business goals and mission. The good news is that a marketing plan doesn't have to take a lot of time, money, or effort. It just needs to be researched, well thought out, and executed in a timely manner.

At the end of the month, no matter how good your product or service is, if you don't have customers or don't know how to reach them, you won't achieve your goals. That's why having a small business marketing plan is so important: It'll help you stay focused on finding (and retaining!) customers.

We often hear about companies that succeed and achieve their goals overnight. In reality, most companies aren't that lucky. More typical is the story of the suburban couple who used their last dime to buy tons of beads and thread to start a jewelry company...then realized they had no funds to market their new venture.

Moral of the story? A marketing plan is critical to any small business and should be at the forefront of creating your overall business plan. And now that you know what a marketing plan is, let's talk about how to start writing one for your small business.

According to small business experts, a marketing plan is made up of three main parts:

  • Customers: Who exactly is your target audience? Be specific! More details and data will make it easier to focus your marketing efforts.
  • Competitors: Who are you competing against? Learn as much as you can about your competitors so you can determine how to best position and promote yourself.
  • Strategy: How will you attract your customers? A marketing strategy should include everything you will do to promote your product or service and make a profit.


Identify your market and your customers.

Start by considering the problem your product or service solves and the need it fills. For example, perhaps you are a photographer who offers family portraits. Taking a family photo isn't necessarily difficult or complicated, but you're filling a need by capturing precious moments, marking milestones, and creating beautiful wall decorations.

Now look at the market. How many people buy what you sell every year and how much do they spend on their purchases?

Don't try to guess this information. Search for it with the following tools:

  • Online searches will give you national statistics on the size of the market.
  • Look up local demographic data on your area's Census Bureau quick facts page.

Next, describe your most likely customers. Remember, “everyone” is not a market. Not even “all mothers” or “women who like to shop”. These categories are too broad. Look for niches in large markets like “young moms who use Instagram daily,” for example.

If possible, talk to existing or potential customers. Call them or look for opportunities to meet them at craft fairs or virtual events. If you already have customers, ask for feedback. You can also offer a promotion or free samples in exchange for information.

Once you've completed your research, summarize the characteristics of your ideal customers.


Check the competition.

To win customers, you will need to stand out from your competitors. Do research into who they are, who they target, how they value themselves, and how they market their business. Here are some tips for spotting your competition:

  •  Google words associated with your business, such as “candle makers near Rome”, “baptism photographer in Lazio” or “wood carver in Bari”. Get an idea of ​​the local competition and see if the market is oversaturated;
  • Look at your competitors' websites, slogans, ads and images to determine who they're targeting...and think about how your brand can be different.
  • Browse Facebook, Instagram, Yelp, Angie's List and other social media, noting what people like (or don't like) about your competitors.

Summarize all the key points in the “competitor” section of your small business marketing plan, noting names, locations, your biggest competitors, and their advantages and disadvantages.


Develop your marketing strategy

First, think about the overall goals of your business. Let's say your main goal is to acquire 100 new customers in the next year. Now, create a marketing strategy to achieve this goal. How will you acquire those 100 new customers? Networking, referrals, flyers, business cards , email marketing, a website, and social media posting are just a few examples.

Once you have some ideas, it's time to get specific. Ask yourself questions like:

  •     Which network groups does my target audience participate in?
  •     What social media platforms are they involved with?
  •     How often will I communicate with them?

Once you answer these questions, turn them into goals and prioritize each one. Then assign a budget to each and, if you have employees, assign an “owner” responsible for completing each task.