If you have a business and you haven’t already created a marketing plan, now is the time to do it! A good marketing plan will not only help balance your business from the competition, it will help you determine your strengths, weaknesses, and the sales tactics that will work for you. Writing out a marketing plan allows you to really get to know your customer (or who you want that to be), and it will act as a guideline for both you and your staff, helping to keep the focus on winning and keeping new clients.

Unless you’re using your plan to help secure financing, it’s for your eyes only. Don’t worry about writing up anything fancy, or about it not being technical enough – just get to writing!

Create a Situation Analysis

Often called the foundation of a marketing plan, a situation analysis examines all internal and external factors which may affect your business. When creating your own situation analysis, you should ask yourself:
• What is my current product? Do you sell physical goods or do you sell services?
• Who are my competitors? Who else does the same thing you do? Do they target the same audience? What are their going rates? Where do they sell?
• How do I distribute my product? Do you meet with clients in person, or do you exclusively work online?
• What are my strengths and weaknesses? Are you really great at writing your blog, but terrible at speaking to people face-to-face? Being aware of yourself and what you’re good at will help shape your plan.

Describe Your Target Audience

Knowing your audience is maybe the most important thing you can do when it comes to marketing. The better you know the people you’re trying to sell to, the better you can sell. When coming up with your target audience, the more detailed the better. For example:
• Bad target audience: I want to work with small business owners.
• Good target audience: I want to work with small business owners who are married, have 1 or more children, graduated college, own a home, have been in business two years or less, and who need help with technology.

List Your Marketing Goals

If you don’t create actual marketing goals, how will you know if you’ve achieved anything? You might have a pretty good feel for how you’re doing overall, but having written goals gives you a benchmark. Try out something like: “gain 500 new names on my email marketing list within 2 months” or “host a webinar in x amount of days”.

Determine Your Marketing Strategies

The two examples above (creating an email marketing list or hosting a webinar) could work. Other ideas are sending out physical mailers, creating a blog, attending networking groups, or even posting regularly to social media. Anything that gets your name in front of people can be a marketing strategy.

Set Your Marketing Budget

As a small business owner, money can be tight – especially when you’re first starting out. Many marketing options are free or cost little money, such as creating a blog or newsletter. Don’t feel like you have to break the bank to be able to do a good job!
As you go on, revisit your plan periodically. As your business grows and changes, your plan should, too.