How to create a Practical Marketing Plan

Marketing needn't be something that worries small business owners. With a clear, simple and well thought-out plan, SMEs can market themselves effectively, even in crowded markets which include big-budget competitors. The trick lies in putting the right foundations in place and in executing your strategy.

Research and get the fundamentals in place

Carry out market research into your target market and typical customers, your competitors and the market in which you operate. Think also about external factors that may have an effect on your business. Assess your product range and consider whether each product represents a profitable line of business for you.

By understanding which products are the most profitable for you, you can design your marketing strategy to focus on those with the greatest margin. As part of this document, create a positioning statement that defines where you are now, what your goals are, and how you plan to achieve them. Decide how much you’re going to spend on marketing and what you’re going to do, e.g. events, PR, print or digital marketing.

Set realistic goals

Measure your marketing activity to show which tactics were worthwhile and which were not. Consider your measures of success; some activities such as PR are harder to measure because they are more about brand building. E-marketing on the other hand tends to be easy to measure because the call to action is typically an immediate and online sign-up or purchase.

Plan the detail

Focus on the channels that work for you and don't waste time with those which are marginal. For example, rather than trying to set up multiple social media accounts across different platforms, invest in two that work for your business and devote time, skills and energy into developing them. Invest in your website and ensure that it is optimised for the best possible customer journey.  Choose print media that’s going to work for you, not endless stacks of leaflets.

The trick with effective marketing is to plan, review and refine your approach. Keep at it, refine, commit to continuous improvement and evolve. The results are there to be had.