6 Steps to Creating a Practical Marketing Plan – is your small business ready for 2018?

It’s that time of year, time to ensure plans are in place for a great 2018. Part of that business planning process is building a solid Marketing plan. Many small businesses that I work with, have no Marketing plan or just work it out as they go along and feel that works just fine. But if you want your business to do more than ‘fine’, you’ll need a Marketing Plan. Here are my practical steps to help you put pen to paper and get that Marketing Plan underway.

  1. Define your business objectives for 2018

Do you know what you want your business to achieve this year? You might be focused on growth, customer retention, driving profitability or all three. Whatever it is that’s key for your business, define it and make the objectives SMART so you can measure how you’re doing.

  1. Now define your Marketing objectives for the year

So, next think about what your Marketing needs to deliver in order to achieve those business objectives. If you’re focused on growth, it might be ‘Increase customer base by 20%’, if it’s customer retention it might be ‘Introduce customer loyalty scheme to increase customer loyalty by 30%’. Talk it over with your team and get their input – this is not a solo exercise. Again, make sure the objectives are measurable and consider setting regular targets against those metrics (monthly or quarterly work well) so you track progress.

  1. Keep it simple

You’ll know how much resource you have to manage your Marketing activity. Don’t overcook it. Better to have a few pieces of good Marketing activity than try to do everything. When you’re prioritising, keep your customer forefront in your mind. If you’re short of time but want a social media presence, choose 1 or 2 channels that match your audience well, don’t feel you need to do everything.

  1. Think seasonally

There’s always a good excuse to talk to your customer and it helps to plan in those milestones. It might be the budget impact, Easter, Diwali or your company’s birthday. Think about key points in the calendar for your business and what that might mean in terms of your Marketing activity.

  1. Get a plan down on paper

A Marketing plan doesn’t have to be complicated. Define your objectives, understand your audience and then choose a format that works for you. That might be a spreadsheet, PowerPoint slide or a chart on your office wall. I’m a bit geeky so it’s always a spreadsheet for me and a nice bit of colour coding helps make the whole thing more visual. It doesn’t really matter how you do it. In the words of a rather famous brand, Just do it.

  1. Be ready to flex & review

The plan’s down and you’re ready for the year ahead. Don’t be afraid to flex and change the plan as you need to and as new opportunities materialise. Won an award? Appointed a great new team member? Maximise those opportunities… Above all, review your plan regularly. Assess the activity you’ve undertaken against your targets, see what’s working and what’s not. Be prepared to get tough so that you’re only spending time and money on the activity that is driving real results for you.

Good luck! And don’t forget that if you need a little help, I offer a complimentary 1 hour Marketing consultation for all businesses in the Birmingham area.

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