How to create a marketing plan for a small business

Once you are clear on what your marketing strategy is, the key to achieve your desired results is to create and follow a tactical plan that will help you get there. If you are not sure about your strategy yet, have a look at our article `7 things to remember when creating a marketing strategy`. No plan is perfect and there will be many things that won’t go according to your plan – so don’t panic if you can’t tick all the boxes. However, be mindful of your schedule and try to stick to it as much as possible. Review your plan on a monthly or quarterly basis to check if it’s still relevant and if time is spent on activities that are producing results.

Here are a few suggestions to consider when planning your marketing activities:

  1. Start with the past

Take the time to review your past activities over a set period of time to evaluate where you should focus your efforts. Think about the time, money and energy invested into each of the activities and ask yourself whether they would be worth the investment again. And think about yourself and what you enjoy doing – a half-hearted job will be felt and seen so either focus on those activities that bring you joy or see if they can be executed by someone else.

  1. Set simple and clear objectives

By the time you are drafting a plan you should already have your marketing goals defined – if not, this is the time to finalize them. The simpler the better. I would suggest breaking it down to sections that you can then separately focus on. A good way to draft this is to create the overall end goal – which is likely to be around creating sales opportunities and then setting individual areas of focus that will support that goal. You could look at your marketing ROI, number of incoming enquiries, number of leads generated, PR coverage reach and frequency, social media engagement, website traffic volume or any other indicator that you think will help your business to grow.

  1. Create a calendar

I love a spreadsheet but for marketing planning I can’t recommend visual calendars enough. Create a simple table with as many months as you need and list all the activities you have planned. The visual demonstration will make it easier to spot gaps and errors. It might be difficult to commit to a specific date, especially if you are planning a few months ahead so creating weekly or even monthly schedules might work better for you.

  1. Track progress

If there is more than one of you, have assigned roles for each task and most importantly track progress and results. Mark activities that are completed, delayed or are likely to never happen. Don’t just dismiss the activities you don’t get to complete just because you are unable to do so on time – you can always use them for a campaign later on. Not a big deal.

  1. Review regularly

Don’t just create a plan at the beginning of the year and never use it. Have your plan visible and easily accessible and always be reminded what’s next. Schedule a couple minutes each week or month to review and reflect on where you are compared to where you planned to be. It will help you to stay on top of things and tweak your plan as needed.


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