How to write a marketing plan - checklist

Small business team creating a marketing plan using post-it notes

If you run your own business – no matter how small – you need a marketing plan. Here are the key steps you need to take to create an effective marketing plan for your business

  • Start by describing your market, draw up a customer profile and list the key market trends. Highlight any new markets that your business could target.
  • Do a SWOT analysis to identify the key factors affecting your business (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) that might inform your marketing strategy.
  • Assess the sales potential of different market segments or products. Decide who to target and set objectives to guide your marketing.
  • Ensure that you have a strong brand identity so that your marketing activity is consistent and effective. Draw on your USPs to write marketing content and advertising messages.
  • Create a customer communication plan; decide how you will keep in touch with customers using email marketing, text messaging or phone calls.
  • Consider ways to reach potential customers in your local area. Start by registering with Google My Business to make sure your business is found in local searches.
  • Decide which social media sites will best serve your business and create a plan for regular posting and engagement.
  • Look at opportunities for advertising - in local press, on social media or on Google for example.
  • Don’t forget that your website is a crucial part of your marketing strategy. Make sure it is up-to-date, use SEO to optimise your website for search and ensure that the customer journey makes it easy to browse and buy.
  • Identify PR opportunities that will help you get free publicity and raise the profile of your business.
  • Devise a strategy for face-to-face marketing. This could include exhibitions, events and sales meetings.
  • Create a plan of action by selecting the marketing activities that fit your business goals. Find ways to track the effectiveness of each of your chosen marketing methods.
  • Research what customers value, such as product features, quality, image or customer service. Review the effectiveness of previous marketing initiatives such as advertising campaigns or sales
  • Consider the implications of your marketing plan for your business; arrange for staff training or source specialist help from freelancers to bring your marketing plans to life.

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