If you are not taking a good look at your small business marketing strategy at least once a year, you should. A yearly marketing plan can help you prepare your marketing campaign and set it on the right course towards making your goals a reality. You can think of it as a top-level plan that you use as a guide to direct your projects, goals, and growth.

Without a marketing plan, it can be difficult to budget for projects, outsourcing, and hiring that you will need in the coming year. Marketing plans vary depending on your goals and the industry in which you operate. To make it easier, we have put together a list of steps you can follow to create a marketing plan.

Assess Your Situation

Before getting started with your small business marketing plan, you need to first conduct an analysis of your situation. Consider the strengths, weaknesses, threats, and opportunities available for your business.

You also need to understand the current situation of the market and how you fare against your competition. Conducting a competitor assessment can help you here.

You’ll want to understand how other products are positioned in the market and identify any gaps in the approach of your competitors. Are they missing anything? What can you do that will give you an advantage? How can you set yourself apart from the competition? 

When you can answer questions like these, you should be able to figure out what your target market wants, which leads us to the next step.

Know Your Target Audience

Now that you have a better understanding of your present situation and the market, the next step is to define your target audience. If you are already using buyer personas, you can use this step to refine your existing process.

If you do not have a buyer persona yet, you’ll want to conduct market research to define who represents your potential customer or target audience. The buyer persona for your business should take into account age, gender, and income, and behavioral traits. It should also have other information such as their goals and pain points.

Determining your buyer persona will define what problems your audience has that you can fix. Once you have those details, the data can then be used to help define your goals.

Write Down SMART Goals

It is impossible to go anywhere without a roadmap. You cannot improve your ROI unless you have clearly defined goals, and those goals are your roadmap. 

Once you have figured out your present situation and identified your audience, you should start defining your SMART goals. These goals are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-based, ie: SMART. Your smart goals should be on point and should include a time frame for completion.

You’ll want to make sure your goals are relevant and attainable. For instance, if you set a SMART goal to improve your social media following by 25% in the next six months, you need to make sure you have the marketing capabilities to reach that goal. 

A yearly marketing plan can help you prepare your marketing campaign and set it on the right course towards making your goals a reality.

Analyze Your Approach

By now, you should have identified your goals based on your present situation and target audience. The next step is to know what approach is going to help you accomplish them.

For example, if your objective is to increase your following on Facebook by 25% in the next six months, your strategy may include being more engaging, regularly posting relevant content, and even hosting a giveaway.

Once you have identified your goals and audience, it should be easier to brainstorm the tactics you need to reach them. As you prepare your tactics, you should also have a budget in mind.

Set the Budget

Before you can start implementing the strategies you have come up with from the steps above, you need to set your budget. For instance, if your tactics involve using social media advertising, you’ll need to have budgeted for that, otherwise, it will be difficult to achieve your SMART goals.

As you jot down your tactics, make sure that you have an estimated budget in place. You can write down the time needed to accomplish each tactic, including the assets that need to be purchased, such as advertising space.

Take Action and Stay Nimble

Having a small business marketing plan is crucial. Keep in mind, however, that a marketing plan is a work in progress, requiring constant review and revision. You’ll need to be prepared to adjust your plan as your goals and market situation change. By following the steps above, you and your team can have a clear path towards meeting your company objectives.