Writing a Marketing Plan for your Small Business
You’re starting a new business and want to raise money by pitching your idea to potential investors. Or you may have your business in operation for years but feel that it is time to scale it for growth.
In other of these scenarios, you will need a small business plan, which will include a variety of elements addressing your analysis of your target market, competition, finances, human resources, and future plans for growth.
Among the salient elements of every good small business plan is a marketing plan. A marketing plan is a framework from which all of your marketing strategies are created, and helps you connect each strategy back to a larger marketing operation and business goal.
Let’s take a closer look of what your marketing plan should look like.
Evaluate Your Assets:
The first step of your small business marketing plan is to evaluate which assets you have and which of these need to be updated. Then identify which assets you need to add your marketing initiatives.
It is imperative that prior to beginning any new marketing initiatives that you first address your foundation – it is where the most impact can be had. Think about what you assets you have or will need to upgrade or create. Once you have taken stock of what you need to strengthen and focus on, you are ready to write your marketing plan.
Here are the elements that every marketing plan should have:
State Your Marketing Mission
Your marketing goal should reference your overall business goal. For example, if your business goal is to be a leader in the educational software, your marketing mission might be to attract new customers and convert them into customers and brand advocates.
Determine Your KPIs for this Mission
Determine which KPIs (key performance indicators) that will help you track your mission. Common KPIs are click through rate (CTR), conversion rate (CR), leads, qualified leads, and cost per lead. Your KPIs should reflect which aspect of your marketing mission is most important to your business right now. If you are a new business owner, you will want to create greater awareness and a KPI might be the number of people you are reaching or number of impressions. If a lot of people are aware of your brand, but not converting well, then you will want to change your marketing strategy and track conversion metrics.
Identify Your Buyer Persona
Your business’s buyer persona is a composite of your existing customer and the customers that you are trying to attract. They typically encompass basic demographic information such as age, sex, location, family size, job title, and more. A business often has more than one buyer persona depending on the product or service. For example, using the example above, an educational software company might have a buyer persona for parents and another one for the person in charge of purchases for educational institutions.
Content Marketing Strategies
What content assets do you have and which ones need to be upgraded? Content assets include blogs, white papers, e-books, social media posts, infographics, videos, and more. What you create will depend on your buyer personas and the channels that you will use to distribute your content. Your content marketing strategy should also indicate whether you will be providing the content through an organic post or through paid advertising.
Also among content marketing strategies are supporting materials for sales personnel, including a sales deck, brochures, and trade show support.
Define Your Marketing Budget
Ten percent is the magic number you will likely hear whenever you ask how much of your revenue you should spend on marketing. But is that true for every business? It all depends on the industry and on your revenue and growth goals. A CMO survey from Gartner found that 21% of marketing budgets are spent on advertising, with 2/3 being allocated to digital channels. A big part of this is content marketing, which includes blog posts, social media posts, case studies, eBooks, infographics and videos.
The survey also found that the average percentage of total marketing budget spent on content marketing is 26%. In terms of evaluating the return on marketing investment, the most successful companies spent 40% and the least spent 14%. There is no one-size-fits-all solution to how a marketing budget should break down.
Your marketing budget will likely include allocations to produce some or all of the following: digital (e-books, white papers, video, social media images) and hard copy content (brochures, posters) , SEO promotions and tools, social media tools and ad spend, website design, landing pages, and marketing automation. Businesses may also consider budgeting for traditional modes of marketing through billboards; radio, tv, and print ads; and public relations.
Identity Your Competition
A small business marketing plan should address where your business stands relative to your competitors in the marketplace. What makes you stand out from the competition? How you stand out is your unique selling proposition or USP. It is important to define your niche so that you stand out from the herd. Don’t be a generalist, when you can stand out with a specialty. When you don’t know what you’re niche is, it is extraordinarily difficult to compete. If you don’t differentiate from the marketplace, you are left to compete on price alone. That is never the best approach.
Putting It in Practice
Great ideas often languish because there is no plan for how to implement the plan, measure it, and make corrections along the way. Your business should have a calendar where all the content assets that will be promoted are indicated, along with who will create the content, when it will be released, and on which channel it will be distributed. Assign roles so everyone knows which team leaders are in charge of specific content types, channels, KPIs, and more.
Shira Kalfa, BA, JD, Partner and Founder
© Kalfa Law, 2021
The above provides information of a general nature only. This does not constitute legal advice. All transactions or circumstances vary, and specified legal advice is required to meet your particular needs. If you have a legal question you should consult with a lawyer.