How to Create a Marketing Plan for Small Businesses and Startups

Marketing plans are useful for obtaining funding, developing strategies, and can also be an important part of an overall business plan. Although creating a small business marketing plan is not an exact science, there are six basic components generally found in marketing plan.

Marketing Plan Introduction

The introduction of a startup marketing plan includes the purpose for writing the plan and the organization’s mission statement. Information on the background or history of the company is also included if it is pertinent to the audience understanding the business. It can also be useful to include history if the company has experienced considerable growth. Many times, the readers of marketing plans are potential investors or loan officers so catching their attention right away with succinct information is very important.

Situational Analysis

The situational analysis is a snapshot of the business’ situation at the time the plan is presented. This part of the plan often involves extensive research, especially for a startup. The most important components of the situational analysis are the current products and target market. How the product is distributed should also be included. A list of current competitors and their strengths and weaknesses is also useful. Information on the current financial situation, such as sales figures and profit margins, should be included in the situational analysis. At the end of the situational analysis, a summary is often used. One good way to do this is by including a SWOT analysis. A SWOT analysis outlines the company or product’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and other relevant information.

Marketing Strategy and Objectives

This section of the marketing plan outlines a startup’s marketing objectives and how they will be achieved. The financial objectives associated with these initiatives should be stated in clear, quantitative goals. The marketing strategy and objectives section gives the reader assurance that there is a clear plan with defined, measurable goals in place. Marketing strategies include producing compelling web and social media content, SEO, influencer marketing, and PPC advertising. Objectives are expressed in terms of profitability, sales, and actual numbers. The marketing objectives are measurable results like market share, number of customers, and building website traffic.

Marketing Techniques

Whereas the marketing strategy and objectives are the eventual outcomes, the marketing techniques are a combination of online and offline methods that will be used to achieve those goals. This is typically the longest section of the plan. This section should include information on the target market, product information and how it will be positioned with the target market, and how the product will be promoted. How the product will be distributed and what its price will be are also included in this section. Additional considerations to include are customer support and market research.

Budget, Performance Analysis, and Schedule

This section includes the overall marketing budget, including the project costs and changes in revenue. Be sure to break down detailed expenses on a monthly basis. The performance analysis outlines the projected results of the marketing plan and details its financial implications. The schedule is the part of the plan that outlines when marketing efforts will happen and who will be responsible for hitting those deadlines. For example, the dates of advertisements or events and which staff member is in charge of submitting materials or working at the event.

Planning Gives Direction

Even the best laid plans can go awry but having those plans laid out in writing can improve a startup’s chances of successful marketing. A small business marketing plan can help obtain funding for a business or new product but it also serves as a written reference for where the company is going and what it hopes to accomplish through its marketing efforts.