A marketing plan is very essential to the growth of any small business. For a business to thrive, it needs to engage in marketing activities; and every marketing campaign is hinged on a strong marketing plan. To write a marketing plan that will help you achieve your goals, you need to have the right ingredients in your plan. In this post, I am going to show you everything you need to consider in your small business marketing plan. But before we go ahead, let’s answer the question; what is a marketing plan?
What Is A Marketing Plan?
A marketing plan is a document that details the strategies, tactics, and goals that you intend to achieve with a marketing campaign. It is a breathing document that exists to guide your goals and how to achieve them.
Guess what? You can also watch this in a video! Simply click play to watch the video on how to create marketing plans for small businesses.
Conduct A Market Research
Conducting market research is very important when writing a perfect marketing plan. Market research allows you to validate your one-in-a-million business idea. It allows you to avoid a mountain of risk, anxiety, and second-guessing. It allows you to draw up a business plan that is actually worthy of your idea.
Here are some questions to keep in mind while conducting market research:
- What is the value of your business idea?
- Who are your target customers?
- What are they interested in?
- How do your competitors meet the needs of your target customers?
- Are there ways you can meet those needs better?
Here’s a step by step guide on how to conduct market research:
Know The Value Of Your Business Idea
The concept of value can be quite abstract. People define value in different ways depending on their geographical location, financial resources, upbringing, and culture. With changes in the environment, fluctuating pop culture trends; rises, and falls in the economy, value changes with time.
As you can see, this can be quite a complicated task to grasp. However, as a budding entrepreneur, you can think of value or ‘market value’ as the problem-solving ability of a business. That is, consider that the purpose of a business is to consistently provide products and services that benefit consumers and other businesses too. Your business would fulfill this purpose by solving a problem that as of now, has no solution. Or, one that has solutions that can be greatly improved. The more widespread or relevant the problem is, the greater the value of the solution (i.e. your business).
Identify The Target Audience
Your customers are the bread and butter of your operation. In identifying your target audience, you figure out exactly who is seeking solutions to the problem your business is going to solve. Three different customers you need to consider are:
- The purchasers, who make the decisions and actually hand over the money.
- The influencers, individuals, or groups with sway and influence over what people buy.
- The end-users: the people who actually use your product or service.
Check Out The Competition
There is a chance that once you start conducting market research on your business idea, you’ll find that someone else thought of it first. This is not necessarily a bad thing. Don’t give up on your idea!
Competition is just an important sign that your idea is relevant and valuable in the current market. Now, your job is just to figure out what you can do better than your competition. Additionally, you want to identify the different classes of competitors based on how often you will interact or compete with them.
For more information on how to conduct a market research for your business plan, read our full guide here.
Create Your Customer Profile
After doing your market research, you will have an overview of who your ideal customer is, but to create the best marketing plan for your small business, you need to go a step further to create customer profiles. An easy way to do this is by creating a buyer persona.
A buyer persona is a semi-fictional representation of who your ideal customer is. It contains demographic and sometimes psychographic information about your target customers. To create a buyer persona, you need to have a conversation with your sales team, the marketing team, and the management to figure out who your company’s ideal customers are. With that information, you will be able to create a marketing plan that is tailored towards getting your ideal customers to convert.
Do A SWOT Analysis
When creating your marketing plan, you need to do a proper SWOT analysis to know the opportunities you can take advantage of in the market, as well as the threats that abound. SWOT is an acronym that stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. It is an analysis that helps businesses know where they stand in the market and what they can do to have a better standing.
Here are some of the questions that you need to ask yourself when doing a SWOT analysis for your marketing plan:
What does our business do well?
What do we do better than your competition?
What does our business need to improve on to stay competitive?
In what ways does our competitor do better than us?
What are some of the roadblocks holding us back?
What market trends could lead to increased sales for us?
What opportunities can we use to our business advantage?
What are the advantages our competitors have over us?
What could harm us as a business?
Set SMART Marketing Goals And Objectives
Following your SWOT analysis, your next point of call should be setting your marketing campaign goals and objectives. For marketing campaign to be effective, you need to set SMART goals and objectives.
SMART is an acronym that stands for specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound. So, to create a business plan that will give you results, you need to set goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and are bound by time. For example, if you say my marketing goal is to increase our company sales- that is not a SMART goal at all. However, if you say “our goal is to increase our sales by 15% in the next one month”, that qualifies better as a SMART goal.
Outline Your Marketing Tactics And Strategies
Now that you have a clear understanding of what your goals and objectives are, the next step is to outline the marketing strategies that will help you achieve your set goals. Your marketing strategies could be purely digital marketing strategies, traditional marketing strategies, or a mixture of both. It all depends on your buyer persona, the kind of goal you are setting out to achieve, and the best medium that will help you achieve those goals. Here are a few examples of some marketing strategies:
- Email Marketing
- Cold Calling
- Social Media Ads
- Search Ads
- Display Ads
- Radio Jingle
- Press Release
- Event Marketing
Set Your Marketing Budget
Knowing the marketing tactics that you will be using in your marketing plan is just half of the journey, the other half is knowing how much those tactics will actually cost. Budgeting in my opinion is the most difficult aspect of creating a marketing plan, especially for small businesses.
Everyone wants to give their business the maximum exposure it needs to make profits, but the reality is that budget is a huge constraint for small businesses. So as a business owner or a marketing manager at a small business, you need to set your marketing budget the right way. This involves going for the marketing tactics that will help your company achieve the maximum results at a cost that the company can afford.
A marketing plan is the backbone of any marketing campaign. For you to have any successful marketing campaign, you need to have a strong marketing plan for your small business. Following the advice in this post, you are equipped to create a marketing plan for your small business. This can also be applied to established businesses.
If you are at the stage where you are looking for viable businesses to start, get our researched business ideas book; 35 Booming Business Ideas And Step-by-step Guides To Start Them. It’s a strategic and financial breakdown of the most lucrative businesses in Nigeria.
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