Home > Marketing, Strategies > A Marketing Plan for Small Businesses: Start with the End in Mind

A Marketing Plan for Small Businesses: Start with the End in Mind


Seven Habits of Highly Effective PeopleIf you’ve read Stephen R Covey’s “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”, you’ll recognize the title of this article. When we start a project or business, it’s important to know why we’re doing it and where we’re going with it.

To state the blatantly obvious for one, we’ll be able to measure progress. More importantly, having a written goal will motivate us when we’re busy being busy.

Here’re 7 points of an effective marketing plan that will get results.

1. Executive Summary

For the sake of documentation, complete this at the end. It’s a summary of your marketing plan laid out in detail below.

2. Marketing Objectives – where you want to be

Each objective should be SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Timed
a. Have a subject (e.g. increase sales turnover)
b. Have a measure (e.g. by 10% to R10m)
c. Have a time frame (e.g. by Jan 2012)
It’s great to have big goals but if you’re a brand new company then expecting to achieve 80% market share within your first year isn’t realistic and will only kill your spirit when you don’t achieve it. These objectives could be smaller – like getting 3 bookings per day for 6 days a week.

3. Situation Analysis – where you are now

a. The company
Consider goals, focus, culture, current market share
b. The customers
Consider how many you have, the types, the value they offer, their decision process
c. The competition
Consider their market share (even if this is comparing turnover), their position (are they a high-end service or focusing on volume.
d. Assumptions about the future
Depending on your business type, are there any foreseeable factors that may influence company / customers / competition in respect of political / legal, economic, social / cultural, technological environments?
e. SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats)
This is the part everyone tends to leave until the end but it is important to cover.
Strengths and weaknesses are internal e.g. experienced, loyal staff or poor cash flow management. Coming to terms with these and being honest about your business, gives you the advantage of pinpointing areas on which to improve.

Opportunities and threats are external e.g. for a bakery, current health fad for new products or new shopping mall opening in the area. While these are generally not in your control, being aware of them will enable you to adapt if / when they do happen.

4. Target Market – who you’re talking to

You’ll save money and time figuring out first who you’re targeting than trying to spread the word to everyone. Here’s what you want to know about them which will give an indication of who they are, what they want, the best method to reach them, and their sensitivity to price.

5. Strategies – what you’re going to say to them

Here you state how you expect to achieve each of the marketing objectives above. Note you’ll probably have a different strategy for each objective or even cross-overs where one strategy could go to achieving more than one objective.

For each strategy, name your target market (if you have more than one) and the relevant product, its price and how you’re going to get the product / service to them.
a. Tactics – how you’re going to say it
Each strategy will use it’s own set of tools so you need to get to basics and decide what your tactics (tools) will include e.g. email newsletters, leaflets, online PPC advertising, website, seasonal promotions, coverage in magazines etc. Each one achieves its own end but that’s for a separate article.

6. Action Plan – when you’re going to do it

This is the most important part of the marketing plan. Without a schedule of what marketing you’re going to do when, this document is not useful. Set up a monthly calendar. For each tactic above, decide when each one needs to be done remembering that they need preparation time. Mark it down on the calendar and use this list during the year to tick off your marketing activities.

7. Measuring Success – did it work?

If you don’t measure what you’ve done, you won’t know what to repeat and what to change. More detail on why this step is vital is covered in another article.

It’s a lot to cover but if you prepare your marketing plan, you’ll have peace of mind knowing you’ve hashed out the details and be able to get on with other aspects of your business.
And if you haven’t read Stephen R Covey’s book, get it here. For some titles, you can get away with visiting the library. This one, however, should have a home on your bookshelf. Whether you use it for your business or personal life, it’s an effective use of time!

Happy planning!
Claudine

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