How to Make a Marketing Plan


For business of all sizes, but especially small businesses, it can be difficult to make (and stick to) a solid marketing plan. So our goal in this blog is to give you an easy, practical starting point for not only creating a marketing plan, but formatting it in a way that will help you actually follow through!

First, Identify Your Target Market.

Before you start on the plan, it’s important to identify who your ideal customers are and the most effective strategies to reach them. For most businesses, social media and Google AdWords are always important parts of the mix, but can you rely on that? If you cater to older clientele, or rely on in-person interactions to collect leads, it may be important to include traditional media or events and trade shows as well.

Second, Decide on a Budget.

We recommend building a budget based around an appropriate customer acquisition cost. If you aren’t sure how to do that, here’s a thorough article explaining how to calculate this: https://blog.hubspot.com/service/what-does-cac-stand-for. In basic terms, figure out what a customer is worth to you over the life of their relationship with your business. Then plan on spending 5-10% of that amount to attract that customer.

Example:

If you sell cars, and the average margin on a car nets about $1,000 profit, and most customers buy 1-2 cars from your dealership, each customer’s lifetime value would be approximately $2,000. So, to attract a new customer, you can afford to spend up to $200 to attract that customer to your business. Obviously, if you can spend less and successfully attract good customers, that’s a good idea!

Once you’ve decided on a solid customer acquisition cost, then determine how many customers you need to bring in during a given month. For example, if you need to sell 20 cars to keep your doors open, you need to be spending at least $4,000 a month. Note: If you’re spending more like 3%, you’re probably not allowing enough cushion to cover the leads that don’t pan out. If you’re spending closer to 8% or 10%, that allows enough cushion to factor in the leads that come in, but never buy.

Finally, Make a Plan and Schedule Time to Follow It.

Once you’ve got a target market and budget determined, the last step is to put down all the various marketing activities you need to complete every month into one place you can work from. If you’re just starting out, we recommend using a calendar format. This could be as simple as a white board in your office, or a digital widget on your desktop. As you learn what works and grow your marketing strategy, you may want to graduate up to a true task management system such as Monday.com (they are our favorite).

Items to Include on Your Marketing Calendar:


  • Social Media Posts – Jot down ideas for at least a handful of posts you can make throughout the month and who is responsible for it. Include at least one date per month where you go through your posts and invite those who liked your posts to follow your page. Also include a time to review metrics and ad performance. Finally, be sure to pencil in a time to build at least one ad per month to run for 2-3 weeks of the month, if not all the time.

  • Email Announcements / Invites – Email marketing is still a really inexpensive and effective way to provide customer rewards, incentives, and announce exciting new things your business is doing. We recommend sending out at least one announcement per month. But… no. more. newsletters. People don’t want to read article after article. They want short, to-the-point, single subject emails that are quick to read at a glance. Make sure to include images or graphics that grab people’s attention and look good on mobile devices. So on your calendar, include at least one date to send out an email – either an invitation to an event, an announcement about a new product, an update on new employees, or whatever you decide. But we recommend keeping the emails reserved for “big” items or things with incentives, so that people don’t start automatically deleting your emails.

  • Press Releases / Articles / Blog Posts – When you have a big announcement, or an expansion of your business, be sure to leverage free publicity by sending out a press release. And when you do, include photos. We also recommend writing blog content for your website at least once per month, and those blogs can also often be sent out as editorial content for industry publications or local news outlets. They are always looking for material, so it doesn’t hurt to offer it to them. On your marketing calendar, include a deadline to write a new blog article and who is responsible for doing that. Remember, you can delegate to your team if need be! Have them take turns at writing something. You might find a hidden gem on your staff!

  • Scheduling Events / Posting Calendar Dates - When your business hosts an event or a sale, be sure to leverage local community calendars to get your information in front of the general public. And of course, make a Facebook event on your page and include the details on your website as well. So each month, schedule time to plan upcoming events and post event details online in all the appropriate places. Your calendar is also a great place to record deadlines you may have for registering for upcoming trade shows.

  • Updating Print and Radio Advertising - If your business still uses traditional media such as television, radio, and newspaper, be sure to pencil in a deadline to update those ads periodically. We recommend monthly or semi-monthly at most. Don’t let your ads get stagnant, or you’ll be wasting money on a message people are already tuning out.

Last but not least, be sure to schedule a recurring time to meet with your staff, your freelance graphic designer, or your agency to delegate some or all of these items if you outsource that to a professional. And probably the most important piece of this calendar needs to be a dedicated time to review the calendar each week so you don’t let these items slip. We recommend early in the week, and probably at a location outside your business or outside of normal business hours so that you will be able to focus without distractions. Keep in mind that delegating items to other members of your staff or to professionals who can make you look good is a smart idea! While we recommend keeping track of everything in one place, it doesn’t mean you have to do everything all by yourself. Leverage the talent around you!

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Marketing Maven