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How to write a marketing plan for your small business

How to get your marketing plan started.

As Maria Kutschera said, “Let’s start at the very beginning. A very good place to start…” (remember that was before she became von Trapp). It’s possible she was inspired by Alexander Graham Bell who said, “Before anything else, preparation is the key to success.” In this article, I’ll share information that I hope will help you develop a digital marketing plan for your small business. This won’t cover everything you need to consider but it will give you a great start. As part of your marketing mix, you may decide to add video content. You may develop a specific video marketing strategy to help you blend longer-form video content requiring professional video production with self-shot social media video plus user-generated content (UGC). If you want a more comprehensive marketing strategy drafted or a detailed video marketing strategy then there are many marketing consultants who will be able to support you but experienced video production companies like Bellyflop can help too.

Why you need a marketing plan.

If you don’t have a plan then how can you be sure you have remembered everything? Marketers today need a plan that considers social media marketing, content marketing, email marketing, paid advertising and SEO to name just a few. This blended marketing approach is now not uncommon. Today’s digitally-minded consumers expect to have information to inform and guide their buying decision readily available wherever and whenever they are considering a purchase.

How to write your marketing plan.

Regardless of the size of organisation you work for, when you write your marketing plan you are laying the foundations for your coming year. When writing your plan consider your annual targets. Break those down into the number of months or the number of campaigns you plan to run and work out what you will need to do to achieve them. Make sure your monthly goals or campaign goals are SMART.
SMART Acronym

SMART Acronym - Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-Bound

Before you start.

Here are a few things that will help you gather information to influence your plan.
  1. Check out your competition – understand what you’re up against, researching your competition will also help you complete a SWOT analysis.
  2. Complete a SWOT analysis – this should help you identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats so you understand what differentiates you from your competition and how you should position yourself in the market.
  3. Create buyer personas – this will help you see who you are marketing to, what problems you are solving for them and where they hang out so you can target your marketing materials to your different audience segments.
  4. Define your budget – you may want a TV commercial but if the budget isn’t available then you may direct your effort and spend toward a video marketing campaign instead.
Here are ten things to consider including in your marketing plan. Which elements you choose to include will depend on how big or small your business is and whether the content is for your eyes only or if it is to be shared with a broader audience of stakeholders, funders and staff.
  1. Business Info – your mission statement and details of your marketing team who will be working on achieving your goals.
  2. Goal Outline – a basic overview of what you hope to achieve and how you will do it.
  3. Competitive Analysis – take a look at what your main competitors are doing. How can you hope to win if you don’t know what you’re up against?
  4. SWOT Analysis – it’s a great way to assess where you are. Look at strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats
  5. Target Market – who are you marketing to? If you have segmented your market then be sure to consider them all.
  6. Buying Habits -why, when and where your buyers buy and how do they buy? You need to get your ad’s where your buyers will see them.
  7. USP – what makes your offer so special? What do you add to my buying experience that I can’t get elsewhere? Is it price, service or something else
  8. Brand – how do current clients view your business and is it how you want them to see you? What impression do you want new clients to have?
  9. Website – Is it current? If it has not been updated in the last twelve months then it’s unlikely. What improvements can you make and is the copy working?
  10. Marketing Channels – what will you use and how will you use them? Email, content marketing and social media are all great tools if used correctly.

Don’t forget to note how you will track the progress and success of your marketing plan and schedule review dates throughout the year to make sure you are keeping on track for your annual goal. When you draft your plan start with why. Outline your goals, especially if this is being passed for someone else to read. They need to see first of all what you are aiming to achieve and this gives context for the rest of the content. Next, explain how you have come to the conclusions and solutions you have outlined below. Was this as a result of market research, SWOT analysis or from researching past successes and how they map to your current client persona. Next move on to the meaty bit, the how. Explain what you are going to do, this shows that you understand your buyers. Define your goals, highlight your USP and how you will share that with your audience. Are you revamping your website, drafting compelling social media content or email campaigns? Define the platforms you will use and how often you will post to them. Finally, state your KPI’s. How will you know if this is a success? If your targets are clearly defined and measurable then it will be easy for you to see if you are achieving them and if not it means you can take action to remedy that. Ideally, you will have a baseline marker from before your campaign to track the progress against. Remember that your marketing plan is exactly that, a plan. None of us can see what will happen in the future so be mindful of changes in the environment in which you operate your plan should be a living, working document that may be subject to change if the external environment changes. Think of your plan more as a reference that is used throughout the year.
Video Is King!

The bigger picture

Your potential customers aren’t the only ones that will see and look for your content, don’t forget Google! Great content that is clickable and shareable will help you get seen. Posts with images get more clicks and engagement and video content is King of all. Proven time and time again, 80% of people would rather watch a video than read copy. Remember, video doesn’t need to be expensive, Bellyflop have a self-service platform, Bellyflop Video, which has solutions available from £39!

Even great content needs to be viewed to be effective so when it comes to devising your content strategy check the analytics on your social channels to see when your audience are most likely to be online and don’t assume it will be the same for all channels. Test and measure responses to see when your buyers are engaging. Engagement on social media is key. When you interact with your audience you are demonstrating that you heard them, you are growing your brand and you are showing authenticity.

Email can still work but overdoing it can be detrimental. We all receive SO much content via email and being perceived as irritating or spammy is a surefire way to have your potential customers hit the unsubscribe button, costing you the opportunity to promote your product or service to them. When drafting your emails keep the content short, include a call-to-action and add links to your website. Don’t forget to use images and make sure the subject line is catchy.

Finally...

For many small businesses owners faced with the prospect of developing a marketing plan, a video marketing strategy or even a SWOT analysis is filled with dread. It’s natural because most of us didn’t get into business to write plans and develop strategies we went into business because we found something we loved doing and wanted to share that with the world.

Writing a plan doesn’t need to be daunting, with a clear structure and plan of work drafting a comprehensive strategy is achievable. It will give you structure for your ongoing marketing efforts and a plan for how to get there. As the Cheshire Cat in Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland points out, “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will take you there.”

If you would like help to develop a video marketing strategy or in adding professional video content into your marketing plan or your content strategy then reach out to Mark Robinson at Bellyflop who will be delighted to help with all your video production needs.

If you don't know where you are going, any road will take you there.