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Marketing plan basics

​Having recently reworked our own marketing plan, we thought it would be a good time to share some pointers with you. Before we delve into the process, we’ll make sure you understand what a marketing plan is and why it is important.

Having recently reworked our own marketing plan, we thought it would be a good time to share some pointers with you. Before we delve into the process, we’ll make sure you understand what a marketing plan is and why it is important. Simply put, a marketing plan is an outline that covers the what, when, why and how of marketing a business. Marketing plans can be long and extensive or short and sweet. It all depends on the size of your business, your budget and your goals.

Having a marketing plan will help your business be more effective and make your life easier because:

Now that you know what a marketing plan is and why it is important, it is time to get started. Below, is our suggested process broken down into four easy steps.

Step 1: Get ready

The following three questions may seem simple, but they may take some thought to answer and they will set the tone for the rest of the process.

When will you work on your plan?

Determine when you will work on your plan. Every business owner or operator can agree that one of the most common reason for not working on their business is they don’t have time. You can solve this one of two ways:

Where will you work on your plan?

Designate a place you will work on your marketing plan. Sitting down at your work desk will tempt you to check your email, “quickly” finish that thing you started yesterday, or address a million other work-related tasks that could be done. We suggest finding a place away from your work. This can help you clear your head and gain new perspective. Go to your favorite coffee shop, conference room, local library, or even your kitchen table. If this is not possible and you have to work in your office, at least turn off or close anything that could distract you from the task at hand.

How will you document your plan?

When choosing your method for writing your plan, consider how many people will be using it and how often will you have to access it. Some online tools that might be helpful to use are Evernote, Trello or Google products. Using services like this makes it easier for multiple people to quickly access and contribute to it. You could also simply use Pages or Word and create a typed document saved on your server. To keep yourself (or others) accountable, you could utilize a calendar system for tasks, due dates and alerts. Remember: what works for one business might not work for you. You might use all of these, none of these, or a combination of these. You will have to determine what is best for you or your team.

Step 2: Get inspired

Think about businesses you use repeatedly or were excited to use for the first time. After you determine these businesses, think about these questions:

Then, look at the marketing of your competitors. Consider these questions:

Step 3: Get writing

Now that you are ready and inspired, you are prepared to begin writing your plan. Below are aspects to think about that will help your marketing plan take shape. Remember that these areas may not apply to you at the current moment. Try to develop a plan that you can implement now and keep in mind you can continue to develop your plan as you grow.

What is your mission?

What are your services and/or products?

What do you want to achieve through your marketing?

Who is your market?

Keeping the above in mind, what avenues will you utilize to reach your market?

How often will you use these avenues?

Budgeting

Step 4: Get results

The last step is to implement your plan. Stick to your plan and wait a few months before you make any evaluations of effectiveness. If you find that you are not meeting your goals, you may need to adjust your plan.

As a small company ourselves, we understand the challenge of this task and know it is a lot to process. If you find that after you get started you need a little guidance, we are here to help so don’t be afraid to reach out.