Marketing Plan Basics for Small Business

A marketing plan done right is a valuable tool for small business owners. A good plan is built on thorough research and includes important details and analysis on everything from your company’s mission to its marketing strategies and objectives.

Successful businesses, both large and small, use a marketing plan as an essential working document to facilitate growth and make important business decisions.

5 Reasons You Need a Marketing Plan

Marketing plans are generally very useful to business owners, making it easier to be more strategic when it comes to introducing a new product or service, breaking into new niche markets, or developing tactics and timelines for fixing existing problems.

Here are some of the other reasons your small business needs a marketing plan:

  1. Marketing plans are integral in helping you obtain funding for new ventures.
  2. Marketing plans help you set future goals and help ensure that everyone in your organization is on the same page and working toward the same ends.
  3. Marketing plans make it easier to see where your past decisions have helped or hindered the growth of your small business.
  4. Marketing plans help business owners get a better sense of their place in the business world and their position within their niche.
  5. Marketing plans help small business owners establish a timeline, keeping them accountable for the growth and success of the operation.

The Parts of a Marketing Plan

Your marketing plan will depend on your business and industry, but here is some of the typical information that should be included.

Business Purpose and Mission: Here owners can paint a picture of their business and the reasons why it exists. It sets the tone by explaining why the plan was created and suggesting what benefits may be achieved as a result of developing the plan.

Situational Analysis: This part of the marketing plan gives you a picture of your current position in the market by outlining current products or services; by disclosing your target market, distributor network and competition; by providing a financial analysis; and by identifying the external factors such as current events, trends, and market conditions that affect your business.

Marketing Strategy and Objective: In this part of the plan you get a clearer picture of the steps you will take with your products or services. Measurable outcomes are the key here, making it possible to identify real results.

Tactical Programs: This is the meat of the plan. Here you will find detailed tactics that can be executed in order to meet your established goals and objectives.

Budget, Performance and Implementation: In this section of the marketing plan, it’s all about numbers, results, and timelines.

Additional Considerations: Sometimes things don’t go just the way we want them to. In this part, internal and external factors are given consideration and readers get a clearer picture of what challenges might be faced when theory is put into practice.

In the long run, having a marketing plan can help you make better decisions and pad your bottom line. It doesn’t matter what level you’re at now or how long you’ve been in business, it’s always a good business idea to get organized, plan a course of action, and track your success.

Try using this sample marketing plan template to get started with your marketing plan.

Image credit: kikashi

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Emily Suess
Emily Suess is a full-time technical marketing writer in the software industry and a part-time freelance copywriter. To learn more about marketing your small business online, check out her copywriting blog, Say It With Me.

9 comments

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  1. Jason Gregory

    Great post Emily. Just like a business plan, the marketing plan often gets overlooked or skipped by entrepreneurs.

    • Thanks, Jason. It’s easy to understand why. Entrepreneurs have a lot of different plates spinning at the same time. Sometimes we’re so overwhelmed that we don’t know what we don’t know.

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  3. Emily,
    Great post. You have taken a complicated subject and provided a concise and simple way for SBO’s to undestand the need for and components of a marketing plan. One cannot urge “would be” or small business owners the absolute need to have a marketing plan in place and in play.

    One area which I strongly stress owners consider FIRST is a SWOT Analysis Chart. By doing a SWOT Analysis/Review (with a marketing professional, if needed) the strategic positions, budgets and timelines of the marketing plan self develop. The data obtained via SWOT will also provide unique insight into the what, why, when,where and how you are will be doing your marketing.

    -Bill

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  7. Samuel Bagenda

    Emilly, This is great. I’m planning to establish small video recording company. I’m currently raising fund for buying video camera and still picture camera. Your input on marketing plan have given me new overview of how to into the market.
    Thanks a lot, highly appreciated.

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