Learning about marketing for your small business can seem like a neverending list of different marketing tactics to implement. With a limited budget, resources, and time, it can be hard to decide where to put your efforts for your marketing. A marketing plan gives you a clear direction to move forward and helps you set goals to track how your efforts are paying off. In this guide, we'll walk through how to create a marketing plan for your business to set you up for success. Set a Marketing Budget When creating your small business marketing plan, you'll want to refer to your marketing budget. It's essential to know what funding and resources you'll have available to set attainable goals. If you set your marketing budget for the year, determine how much you'd like to spend throughout the year. If your business has a peak season, you should budget more funds for the weeks before and during your peak season. You'll allocate your budget to different marketing activities as you develop your marketing plan. Identify Your Target Market When developing your marketing strategy, you should have compiled market research and competitive analysis. Using this information, determine who your target audience is. Then decide how to position your brand to this audience to stand out from your competitors. Knowing whom you're marketing to will inform your decisions on the most helpful marketing tactics and channels you should prioritize. Set Goals With your marketing budget, target market, and pricing strategies, you're ready to set some goals for your marketing plan. Look at your goals for your business, such as your expected revenue and gross margins or the number of sales you'll make each quarter. Calculate what you need to achieve those goals. If you're looking at revenue goals, how many sales do you need each quarter to reach that goal? Look at your target audience and determine who will help you reach your goal. For example, suppose your customers in your loyalty program tend to return more frequently and spend more. In that case, one of your goals should be increasing your loyalty program enrollment. Create SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Timely) goals that you can quantify. It can sometimes be hard to get a budget for marketing efforts, so if you can show the ROI from your plan, you’re more likely to get the budget you need to succeed. Marketing Strategies For Your Marketing Plan Now that you have your budget and goals planned out, let's review some marketing tactics you can use to reach your goals. There are many different types of marketing strategies, both online and offline. Some will require more funds and resources than others. Consider your objectives, what marketing channels you want to use, and your target audience when selecting the tactics that will be most beneficial to you. Digital Marketing Strategies Website Optimization Optimizing your website is valuable for its ability to attract more traffic and boost sales. Website optimization is critical in your marketing plan because many of these tactics need a quality website to succeed. Content Marketing This marketing tactic involves creating high-quality content about your area of expertise. Your customers will find your content through social media and organic search. When your content is helpful and valuable to the customer, it builds trust with them and makes them more likely to return and make purchases. Social Media Marketing 4.48 billion people use social media regularly—your target audience is likely included in that number. Getting your business in front of your target audience is vital to growing your business. You can use social media marketing to reach more people and to continue engaging your current customers. Email Marketing Email marketing can be valuable—and cost-effective—in getting your current customers to return and continue making purchases from your business. By gathering your customers' email addresses, you create an audience to whom you have repeating, dependable, and direct access. Pay-Per-Click Advertising (PPC) PPC advertising is another tactic in which you're meeting your target audience where they are. You can use display ads to show your company's advertisements on websites your audience is visiting. You can also use PPC ads to come up first on Google search results. Earned Media An earned media strategy is one in which you create content, an event, or a campaign that will be written about by other journalists or bloggers. Earning media on other websites is a way to reach your target audience without spending too much money. Offline Marketing Strategies Traditional Advertising Traditional advertising tactics are offline marketing efforts, including print ads, TV and radio commercials, and billboards. These tactics are great for spreading awareness about your brand. Studies show that customers need to hear about a brand at least seven times before purchasing. These tactics help you get that repeated exposure with your target audience. Direct Mail Direct mail marketing is a tactic in which you send physical materials to your target audiences' physical addresses through the mail (Ex: coupons, announcements, or promotions). Direct mail is a tactic that works well if your services are locally based. Events Event marketing involves organizing, promoting, and executing an event. These events can bring in more visitors, increase sales, and build community. They are a great way to build a network and connect with your customers. A successful marketing plan will have a good mix of these strategies and tactics. Your mix should focus on the strategies that will get you closer to your business goals and work best for your target audience. Incorporating Marketing Tactics into Your Marketing Plan When deciding what tactics you want to employ, you should also include timelines of when you plan to use each tactic. It can be helpful to break it out by quarter or month and detail the budget for each tactic. It's also important to remember that you'll need to monitor and evaluate how your business is performing against your goals and then be prepared to adjust your plan and tactics as needed. Aligning Your Sales and Marketing Plans Since your goals likely involve conversions or your customers purchasing a product, ensure that you align with your sales team or employees who will work directly with your customers. Your marketing and sales process should be seamless for your customers, which will require coordination. Sample Small Business Marketing Plan Now that we've walked through the steps to creating a marketing plan, here's a sample plan for a small personal trainer business with each element we've discussed. Executive Summary This marketing plan outlines the strategies and tactics to promote GetFit. The goal is to increase brand awareness, attract new clients, and generate revenue. The plan includes online and offline marketing strategies with a proposed budget of $6,300 and timelines for the next six months. Goals Increase brand visibility and awareness. Attract 50 new clients within the next six months. Generate $10,000 in monthly revenue within the first year. Target Audience Professionals with sedentary jobs, who are looking to improve fitness and health Individuals who want personalized training programs to achieve specific goals Individuals who are recovering from injuries and in need of rehabilitative exercise programs Marketing Budget Website Development and SEO: $1,500 Social Media Marketing: $500/month Local Partnerships and Referral Programs: $300 Community Events and Sponsorships: $500/event Total Budget For Six Months: $6,300 Marketing Tactics and Timelines Website development (month 1): Create a professional, user-friendly website with a clear value proposition and call-to-action. Include engaging content, testimonials, and success stories. Optimize the website for search engines (SEO) to improve organic visibility. Social media marketing (ongoing): Create profiles on major social media platforms (e.g., Facebook, Instagram, Twitter). Regularly share informative and engaging content related to fitness and training. Run targeted ads on social media to reach the target market. Encourage clients to provide testimonials and share their success stories on social media. Local partnerships and referral programs (months 2-3): Identify local businesses with complementary services (Ex: nutritionists, physical therapists). Develop referral programs and mutually beneficial partnerships. Offer incentives for referrals and collaborations. Community events and sponsorships (months 4-6): Participate in local health fairs, fitness expos, or charity runs. Sponsor local sports teams or community events. Distribute promotional materials and engage with potential clients. Conclusion At times, with so many different tactics available, planning the marketing for your small business can feel overwhelming. However, by creating and following your marketing plan, you can focus on your goals, target audience, and tactics that will help you achieve your goals. You've put a great deal of work into starting your small business. It deserves a great marketing plan to take it to the next level. Following these steps, you can build a plan to help you grow your brand.