When you’re starting your own business, getting your product or service in front of potential customers or clients is key. By creating a marketing plan you’ll build yourself a roadmap for doing exactly that.

In this article:

  • What is a marketing plan? 
  • Steps to create the perfect marketing plan
  • If you need a social media management plan

What is a marketing plan?

A marketing plan is a blueprint for cultivating relationships with your potential customers. It lays out the techniques you’ll use to connect with them and to grow an audience of people who will eventually buy your product or service. It doesn’t have to be long; a one-page marketing plan can be effective too, but having mapped out objectives is important for business growth.

Steps to create a marketing plan

Your plan should be easy-to-read, concise and cover the strategy to achieve your main business goals. So how do you go about writing it?

  1. Define your goals

Start by noting what you would like to achieve in the next two, five and 10 years. What do you want your company to look like at these milestones? Maybe you sell wholesale gluten-free pastries, and you want to increase your number of wholesale customers to 200. Or you could be an online fitness instructor and your aim is to get up to 1000 subscribers to your new fitness programme. Once you’ve defined your main goals, the next step is working out how exactly you’re going to get there.

  1. Target audience

Who are you aiming your product or service at? What does that person look like? Some people won’t want your product or service no matter how much money you invest into marketing. That’s why it’s so important to know who they are and their age, gender, earning power, interests and where or how they might possibly buy from you. In marketing speak, these profiles are called personas and you can build several that map to potential customers. This is especially useful if you offer multiple products or services. It helps to know who you are talking to and you can visualise them when you’re writing your marketing communications. 

  1. Check out the competition

Research and model some of your marketing strategies on the areas that your competitors are excelling in, or search to see how you can profit from the areas where they are lacking. For example, if a competitor’s website is hard to navigate, it’s an opportunity to make sure yours guides prospects to your services more easily.

  1. Analyse your own position

Whether you’re just starting your own business or have been running one for a while, it’s a good idea to take a detailed look at your offering. Are you great at social media but find email marketing a struggle? Are you a brilliant networker or does the very thought of talking to a room full of strangers make you break out in a cold sweat?

A SWOT analysis may be useful here. SWOT stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. Draw four columns and place each label at the top. Write underneath all the points you can think of for each one. Strengths might be a large social media presence, for example. A weakness might be an unclear unique selling point. Opportunities could be an emerging need for your products or a lack of competition, while threats for you might be more competitors.

  1. Define the ways you’ll reach your goals

Think of all the ways you can get your brand out there in front of the right people. These could be: social media, website traffic, newspaper and magazine advertising, radio advertising, pay-per-click online ads, Google and Facebook ads, mailshots, networking, content creation, word-of-mouth and influencers.

You’ll have to decide which channels best suit your goals. Think about where your audience is interacting online and which platforms they use to communicate. 

  1. Tailor your message

Think about what you will say to potential customers. What problem does your product or service solve for them? How will your product help them? How do your existing customers, if you have them, feel about you?

Always keep in mind what you can do for your customer. Customers want to know you’re good at what you do and whether you can help them.

  1. Keep track of what works

If you don’t measure the different methods you use, how will you know they’re working? A growth in sales could be an indicator your marketing is paying off, but which specific marketing activity is bringing in the most business? Unless you track the different strategies you use, you’ll never know which one you should continue to use. 

There are lots of different methods for tracking — you can ask every new customer where they heard about you, you can look at how many people visit your website, how many followers you gain on social media channels, how many likes, retweets or shares you get, or how many people click on your adverts and go on to buy something. 

  1. Set a budget

Figure out how much you can afford and create a budget. This is especially important if you’re starting a new business as money can often be tight. As you start to track your marketing, you’ll be able to tinker with where you spend, investing more into the methods that work.

As you budget, decide who does the marketing. If you enjoy it and have time you may want to take it on yourself. Otherwise, it may be better to outsource. While a marketing manager might be out of the question, hiring a freelance social media expert for a few hours each month could free up your time.

Do I need a social media marketing plan?

Social media is increasingly important in today’s world and you’ll find 70% of most small businesses use one or more platforms. Plus, customers are 57.5% more likely to buy from a brand they follow on social media. With more people moving towards social media, it’s a good idea to have a social media marketing plan either as a standalone document or as part of your overall marketing plan.

Your social media marketing plan doesn’t need to be hugely detailed, but it should cover the channels you use — Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, TikTok or SnapChat. Much like your main marketing strategy it should cover your goals, who your audience is and what your voice will be when you post.

With a solid marketing plan in place, you’ll be in a good place to start attracting customers and growing your business. 

While you plan your marketing, make sure to keep on top of your business finances. Designed to help small business owners save time and money, Countingup is the business current account that automates bookkeeping and simplifies tax returns. It makes it easier to run your business so that you can focus more on doing the things you love. Find out more here.