Buckle up, everyone, we have some pretty scary news coming your way: the end of the year is fast approaching. We’re only weeks away from New Year’s Eve, and time feels like it’s speeding up the closer we get to that date.
In between the celebrations, end-of-the-year round-ups, and holiday madness, as a small business owner, don’t forget to add this to your list: time to start planning your marketing strategy!
While this might seem like a big task, we’re here to let you in on a little secret: it really doesn’t have to be hard. Like, at all. You know why? That’s what marketing plans are all about!
And we’re here to tell you – no matter what you do or where you are in your business path – how to simplify your marketing strategy for this upcoming year (and every year after that!) with the help of a trusty marketing plan. Let’s dive in!
What is a marketing plan FOR SMALL BUSINESSES?
Before we dig into the good stuff, it’s worth getting on the same page about what we mean by “marketing plan”.
Basically, a marketing plan is a document that outlines everything you’ll include in your marketing strategy for the year, quarter, month, etc. A typical marketing plan usually includes:
- An overview that highlights your business’ general/large-scale goals
- A timeline of the different tasks within your marketing strategy and dates for when they’ll be completed/launched
- Any and all of the key performance indicators (KPIs) that you want to keep track of
- A description of your target market and other competitors who are currently in the field
- Any paid advertising that might go into your marketing budget
- The different social media platforms you’ll use and what campaigns you’ll assign to each of these
- And so much more…
All in all, a marketing plan is the foundation of a strong marketing strategy. It works as a roadmap to help you stay on track, consistent, and executing your ideas without any major mishaps.
Once you’ve mastered the art of creating a detailed marketing plan, you’ll be able to simplify your marketing strategy with streamlined processes, saving you time, energy, and money you could invest elsewhere!
How to create a marketing plan to simplify your marketing strategy
Depending on the size of your business you might want to consider creating a few different marketing plans that pertain to different areas. However, you need to make sure that all of these different “versions” still have a common goal in mind. Although the presentation and details might change, your business goals need to stay aligned throughout each one.
Once you’ve settled on the type (or types) of marketing plan you want to create, you can start to simplify your marketing strategy by detailing every step, action, and piece of the puzzle that goes into making sure it’s effective.
It’s also important to note that you can’t – no matter how well you think you know your business – create a marketing plan without first conducting a thorough market research.
Once you believe you’re ready to go, here’s a step-by-step guide to creating your own marketing plan for small businesses:
1. Identify your business’ mission
What are you hoping to accomplish? What is the main goal you hope to achieve through your marketing strategy in the new year? Make sure that your mission is aligned with your company values and main mission statement in order to stay consistent with your messaging and efforts. Try not to be too specific, but don’t just leave it up to chance.
2. Find the KPIs you want to measure
Choosing KPIs is the best way to figure out, once it’s all said and done, if your marketing strategy actually worked. KPIs help you track your progress, as well as settle on smaller business goals that will later add up to a much larger objective.
3. Identify your ideal client or buyer persona
Whether you’ve been doing this for years or you’re just getting started, it’s always important to have a clear idea of who you’re selling to. While this ideal customer might stay the same throughout extended periods of time, it’s worth revisiting the concept every now and then in case the business has grown or changed its course.
A traditional buyer persona includes data like age, sex, location, job title, and any other important specifics that will make it easier to produce content they’ll connect with.
But, we like to take it one step further. Instead of going the ‘traditional’ marketing route, we challenge you to dig deeper into your buyer persona and understand things like:
- Their goals
- Their dreams
- What success looks like to them
- What they value most
This will help your marketing connect on a more human level and build community!
4. Create an outline of all your future marketing/content strategies
This is the big one of any marketing plan for small businesses. It includes each of the different marketing strategies you want to implement in your business and details important information such as
- The type of content you’ll produce (blogs, social media posts, newsletters, etc.)
- Where they’ll be launched/posted (Instagram, Facebook, via email, etc.)
- The frequency with which you’ll share said content (once a week, twice a month, every day, etc.)
- Any and all KPIs you’ll use to track their effectiveness (increase website traffic, increase brand awareness, increase sales, etc.)
Once you’ve created outlines for each of the processes you hope to implement, it’ll be much easier to simplify your marketing plan and goals with a laundry list of clear steps and desired outcomes.
5. Define your budget
Business is, after all, a numbers game. Before you can even get started to carry-out a marketing strategy, you need to know exactly how much money you have to spend without going over your budget.
Make sure you include all of the expenses you might incur in such as special design programs, email marketing platforms, ad spending, employee budgets, etc., and don’t leave any details out no matter how small the cost you think might be. These will add up in the end and you don’t want to be left stranded halfway through because you didn’t budget accordingly.
6. Sniff out your competitors
All businesses operate differently, yes. But your business isn’t necessarily the only one out there doing what you do: there will always be a competitor trying to get their foot in the door. An important part of creating a strong marketing plan is knowing who you’re playing against:
- What are their strengths?
- Do they have weaknesses?
- What do they have that you don’t and vice versa?
Figure all of this out and you’ll be able to see what makes YOUR business different from the rest and how you can stand out from the market.
How does a marketing plan help simplify your marketing strategy?
A marketing plan is the perfect way to simplify your future marketing strategy because it highlights everything you need to know and all the little details that go into making sure any new campaign, email, and product launch is as successful as it can be.
Having a marketing plan is almost like having a to-do list of items you can cross out as you go. And we all love a to-do list, right? Plus, seeing your goals on paper is a great way to hold yourself accountable for everything you need to do. There’s no way to simply say “let’s skip that” or “let’s ignore this” when you have it written down as part of your strategy because it would simply throw the ship off course.
Yes, some things might change along the way. Sh*t happens. But at least then you’ll know you did what you said you’d do and didn’t throw it all together in the heat of the moment.
Let’s wrap things up…
The main takeaway is that a marketing plan and a marketing strategy are two very different things.
On one hand, a marketing strategy describes the step-by-step process to achieve certain goals or meet certain deadlines. This usually includes:
- Overall marketing goals over a set period of time
- Specific campaigns (social media, email marketing, etc.)
- Content marketing ideas & planning
- KPIs and other metrics to help measure success
Meanwhile, a marketing plan contains one or more marketing strategies that helps you connect each of these back to a larger goal. In order to create a strong marketing plan you need to :
- Identify your business’ mission
- Find the KPIs you want to measure
- Identify your ideal client or buyer persona
- Create an outline of all your future marketing/content strategies
- Define your budget
- Sniff out your competitors
And there you have it! Creating a marketing plan for small businesses to help simplify your marketing strategy is as easy as putting pen to paper and digging deep within yourself (and your business) to identify where you want to go.
Yes, it might take a lot of time, but once you’ve invested these hours of work into creating a marketing plan, you’ll realize how well things flow within your business and you’ll never want to go back.
Do you have a different method for creating a marketing plan? Let us know in the comments how you prefer to do it!
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