A small business marketing plan is probably something that most business owners have thought about at some point in time, but knowing how to start it and when to find the time to write a small business marketing plan can be really tricky when you’ve got a business to run. The value of a small business marketing plan absolutely cannot be overstated and we’ve got a few tips to help you on your journey to create your first marketing plan, including where to start and how to find the time to do it.
Finding the time to create a small business marketing plan
There’s a famous saying about creating plans which is a bit of a cliche but it’s famous for a reason, because it’s true, and that is “proper planning prevents poor performance” (PPPPP) there are a few alternative versions with additional P’s but I’ll leave that to your imagination! If you can spend just 5-10% of your time planning (a couple of hours per week for a full time person) you will undoubtedly see vast improvements in your efficiency and performance for the remaining 90-95% of your time.
I find that the best way to find the time to sit down and carry out this planning is first thing in the morning before the day kicks off and you’ve got a million other things to think about. If you can get in to your work environment an hour or so early, preferably when it’s quiet, this is often the most effective time to carry out your planning, not only because it’s quiet but also because your brain is at it’s most focused. A couple of tips to help retain this focus is to turn your phone off, do not login in to your emails and make sure you’ve got a coffee and some brain food such as a banana before you start!
How to start a small business marketing plan
In order to get the ball rolling, i often find it is easier to get a flip board or white board and a pen, if that’s not realistic then a big sheet of paper on your desk will work fine. Pen and paper is much less intimidating and formal than a blank document on a computer screen, you can doodle all over it, allow your brain to work more freely and creatively and you can always type up the key bits later if you would like to.
The best place to start with your small business marketing plan is of course at the top, so ask yourself why you are writing a marketing plan, what are you trying to acheive for your business in the short-term and the long term. This should be clear to you fairly quickly, so jot down whatever comes to your head on the paper. Once you’ve got these thoughts written down, read them back to yourself and try to work them in to some SMART objectives (SMART objectives should be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-specific). My advice would be to work with no more than three objectives, however one or two will also be fine and can help to really focus on achieving what you set out to do.
Once you’ve got your SMART objectives down, next you should try to think about what possible steps you could take to acheive these, remember there are no bad ideas at this stage, so again get everything that comes to your mind down on paper. This is a great opportunity to get some input from other people as well, i always find that fresh outside thinking will add value to your small business marketing plan, so ask your colleagues, staff, friends and family or anyone else that you can trust for their thoughts. Remember not to share any commercially sensitive information with anyone who you don’t completely trust. These ideas will form the basis of the ‘strategy’ part of your marketing plan. When you create your strategies, you should think of these as your overall journey to achieving your objectives, not the specific individual actions you are going to take (that comes next). For example, if the objectives for a bakery was to increase sales of bread by 10% over the next 3 months, then one possible strategy could be to increase advertising of bread in the local area, the tactics would be the specifics e.g. book an advert in the local weekly newspaper, advertise bread on the company facebook page etc.
So now that you have your objectives and strategies, the final step to creating a simple small business marketing plan it to define some actionable tactics for your business to carry out and acheive your objectives. This is another opportunity for idea generation from yourself and others, remember that your tactics should be details actions for someone to carry out and should be inline with your strategy as per the example above. When you have defined your tactics, set some realistic deadlines for your plan and if appropriate allocate them to a specific person within your business to carry out, or yourself if you are a sole trader!
In order to really make the most of a small business marketing plan, the final and crucial stage is to ensure that you put a review process in place to check back against your plan and measure if it working or not. Setting a review for a few weeks or months down the line is an excellent opportunity to follow up the actions in your tactics to see what has been completed and what still needs to be carried out. You can also check your initial results to see if you are improving, e.g. in the previous example, have bread sales increased yet? If so is it down to the plan? If not, then why not?
Summary of key steps in creating a small business marketing plan
- Find time – Get in to work early and dedicate a couple of hours for planning
- Objectives – Create SMART objectives to focus your plan
- Strategies – Create practical and innovative strategies to acheive your objectives
- Tactics – Set some specific actions to carry out and set deadlines
- Review – Check how your plan is progressing, are the tactics being implemented, what are the results?
If you’ve read this far then well done, creating a marketing plan can be intimidating, but you are obviously keen to improve your business. If you are thinking that this sounds good but it is a bit too much for you to manage right now, then that is where we come in. We can offer a very cost effective marketing planning service to businesses of all sizes, we will work with you to create a realistic marketing plan that will help you to acheive your goals, whether it’s increasing sales, growing market share or something else. Get in touch with us via the contact us page to discuss your needs.
If you want to find out more about SMART objectives then check out this website.