If we had a dollar for every entrepreneur without a marketing plan, we could probably walk away from business and just collect checks from the couch. And while we say that jokingly, this is no laughing matter.
As a visionary, or creative, it is tempting to only want to focus on setting up your shop or developing new ideas in hopes that people will flock to you. But the truth is, your more successful counterparts are consistently promoting their businesses, getting more views, cultivating leads and making sales. Getting the best results doesn’t come without effort, solid planning and action. However, for many the mere thought of creating a marketing plan can feel insurmountable and intimidating, especially without a marketing degree or background. But let us assure you, there’s a way to get it done and keep it simple. And we’re happy to share it with you.
Alongside your business plan, your marketing plan is also important and details everything necessary to promote your business with success.
There’s no set length to the plan, but generally, you’ll find that corporations will likely have longer ones than small businesses. It doesn’t have to be formatted a particular way, but we suggest breaking the plan into sections and using bullet points, if paragraphs don’t work for you. The plan is not static, which means you can make changes to it when necessary. And consider planning for at least one year at a time in order to plan out larger goals, but also to be able to evaluate small wins and changes over that span of time.
Now let’s get to the meat and potatoes of it all. Grab a pen and jot down these steps to creating your own simple marketing plan.
If you’ve created your business plan, you’ve likely already done this so it shouldn’t be a challenge. This is where you provide an overview of your business including:
Consider this an “at a glance” of your current situation.
If you haven’t already, you can read the post dedicated to your target audience. It’s a phrase you’ve heard and likely tossed around, mostly because…it’s important, and honestly one of the most important factors in determining marketing strategies that will be effective. Ten times out of ten, when someone is stumped on their marketing, it’s because they haven’t determined who they’re for. In this section, capture as much information as you can about the ideal person that will want and benefit from your product or service. This includes basic demographics like age and gender, but also requires a deep dive into things like their thoughts, behaviors, pain points, hobbies and why they would potentially buy from you.
Think of building a character and describe them inside and out. That person will become the basis for your target.
The reality is, there’s a huge chance that there are other businesses providing the same thing that you do. So how do you stand out? What makes your product/service stack up to your existing competition? Don’t be afraid to look at your competitors. What makes you the choice among potential customers and clients? This is information that you can utilize in your marketing efforts.
Other than identifying their target market, this is another place that some business owners think they can just slide by, or keep it all in their heads. Setting goals is good, writing them down is better, making them S.M.A.R.T. is best. Consider the moves you want to make over the course of the year and write them down. Just the goals. Don’t worry about how to make them happen, yet. A valuable checklist to match them against is the S.M.A.R.T. acronym: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Timebound. For example, a SMART goal could be, growing your Instagram followers by 100 people in the next 30 days. It’s specific, you can measure it by counting to 100, it can be done, it’s relevant to marketing by getting more eyes on your business and 30 days makes it bound to time. Now it’s your turn.
In the section before this, we discussed simply writing down your goals. Here’s where you will explore the how- to. This is generally referred to as strategy. What’s the most simple way to work this outline? Take each goal and create a list of action items underneath it. Consider what it takes to get from point A to point Z. And if you’re unsure, you can always reverse engineer it by starting at Z and detailing your trip back to A. You can simply create a list or go as far as creating a spreadsheet or using a project management tool like Asana. This outline will help you do a few things, but most important are: a) have a clear picture and roadmap for your journey and b) determine whether or not the goal is realistic or worth it for you in the timeframe. Goals should challenge you, but we don’t want them to deflate and discourage you.
*cue horror music and screams* Who EVER wants to talk budgets and financial investments for business? Not many. But we all know that it’s necessary. While your business plan may cover your complete financial picture, your marketing plan only needs to include your marketing related expenses. Break down costs with associated tasks. Be clear on how much things cost and, more importantly, the funding source. If your strategies take you out of budget, make revisions or set new dates to achieve your goals to build your funding. It may not be fun to crunch numbers, but it’s better than blowing away your hard earned money or not having the results you want because you didn’t dedicate funding to something you really needed to have in place.
While the steps sound simple, we understand that everyone isn’t always clear about the steps to get it done. And sometimes, the harder part is to have the discipline or desire to sit down and do it. We can’t give you discipline or desire wrapped up in a pretty little bow, but here is a quick checklist you can refer to as a reminder of the steps you need to take.
So, now that you’ve seen the parts of the plan, which step do you consider the most valuable as a business owner?