When planning a road trip, what’s the first thing you do? You consult a map. Similarly, before embarking any marketing initiative, you should create a marketing plan—your virtual “road map.” But how does a small business create a marketing plan, and is having one really all that important?
A marketing plan is vital for small businesses. As a small business, you need to leverage your resources and audience for maximum impact at minimum cost. A marketing plan will help you outline your marketing goals and objectives and help your company understand how to get there.
A marketing plan can take many different forms. It can be formal or informal; highly detailed, or more general. At a minimum, the purpose of a marketing plan is this: it will describe who your clients are and where they are, and how you can reach them. Getting more clients means more business, and more business means greater profits.
For the relatively minimal time and effort required to create a marketing plan, the pay-off can be huge. It’s an excellent investment for any small business.
Related: 6 Sample Marketing Plans
Before you embark on crafting a marketing plan, you need a basic business plan. This serves as the foundation of your business; the bread and butter of your success. In order to create a business plan, you first need business plan objectives.
What are business objectives? Close your eyes and picture your business one year from now, or five, ten years from now. Where do you want to be? How big do you want your business to be? How much revenue do you want to be bringing in? Or do you want to be laying on a beach somewhere, already having cashed out your business?
Write your goals down, then consider what finances need to be available in order to achieve those. Parse those long-term goals down into monthly or even weekly objectives. Be realistic and don’t get carried away with your ambitions. Make it possible for you to accomplish your objectives with hard work. Try to tilt your marketing objectives towards things actually within your control.
These objectives should be quantifiable—for example, your objective could be to sell 10 copies of your product each week. You can then increase that number to 15 after say, a month. You see the picture. Ultimately, remember: don’t be afraid to start small. Realistic objectives that you actually meet are far better than lofty ones that never get achieved.
Related: Marketing Without a Budget
To better understand how to craft a marketing plan, you should know its elements. A marketing plan consists of several key pieces of information, which can be divided into sections based on your preference. If you’re not sure where to begin, take a look at these sample marketing plans. As you start yours, keep in mind that that you should include the following points:
A marketing plan is not just a document piecing together various bits of information. Your marketing plan will be useless unless you set time-marked objectives. Marketing objectives are short-term achievements to help you achieve longer term goals. They should be set on a weekly or monthly timeline. These objectives help a business set out what a business wants to achieve from its marketing strategy.
How does one come up with a good marketing objectives? An effective marketing objective meets the SMART criteria. SMART is a common business acronym. What is SMART?
Marketing goals are not the same as marketing objectives. Marketing goals can be long or short term, and are larger achievements to be had by succeeding with your objectives. Marketing goals should fit in with your company’s financial objectives, which can be expressed as:
Remember: marketing goals are long-term achievements. Objectives are the smaller steps within marketing goals. How do you set marketing goals? It’s about dreaming realistically. Consider about what you can achieve, how motivated you are, and what resources you have at your disposable. Motivation and capability are key to setting realistic, achievable goals. Feeling unmotivated? We have tips on staying motivated for you.