A marketing plan is crucial to a business. Consider it your marketing road map – the steps you’re going to take to get from where you are NOW to where you want to be at the end of the year. It can be as simple or as complicated as you need it to be. Just remember, the main goal is to plan out your marketing so that you know when you are going to start specific marketing campaigns, where you are going to spend your marketing budget, and what’s coming next.

Let’s take a look at how to set up your marketing plan.


Step #1: Determine Your Marketing Budget

Before you can even proceed with your marketing plan, you need to know how much you can spend. A marketing plan with a budget of $100 is vastly different from one that is $1000. One way to set up a marketing budget is that for every $1 you earn, set aside a percentage. For example, you could set aside 10% from every dollar earned for marketing purposes. It doesn’t seem like much, but over time it can turn into a pretty good marketing budget. Let’s say you earn $10,000 a year – at 10%, you could save $1000 that can go towards marketing.

Don’t worry if your marketing budget is $0. There are many ways to market your business without spending a dime. But, that’s for another post.


Step #2: Set Up the Freebies

If you have not yet set up social media accounts for your business, now is the time to start. Start with Facebook and Twitter as they are the most widely used. When you have time then you can move on to Google+, Instagram, SnapChat, LinkedIn, and others.


Step #3: Create Your In-House Marketing

In-house marketing consists of not only your social media posts, but blog posts and even e-newsletters. By the way, if you don’t already have a company newsletter that is sent to your clients, then now is the time to get it started. There are many free options available, including MailChimp (my personal favorite). Newsletters are a GREAT way to reach out to customers about sales, with blog posts, store reminders, coupons, and so much more. The key is to stay in front of your customers so that they remember you and come back to your business.

Consider the following options when setting up your newsletter:

  • Determine how often your newsletter will go out (once a week, once a month, twice a month, etc.).
  • Setting up multiple lists based on customers’ interests, purchases, or individual services you offer.


Step #4: Determine Other Marketing Avenues

Now that your social media accounts are set up (which you can link to from your website or blog) and your newsletter is ready to go, consider other marketing options:

  • Mail-outs (postcards, newsletters, flyers)
  • Ads (digital and/or print) in local newspapers, magazines, or radio/TV segments
  • Paid facebook boosts
  • Google Adwords
  • Articles you write in local and/or national publications (depending on your product, service, or market)
  • Your local Chamber of Commerce (this is a great avenue for grabbing local attention on your business and usually doesn’t cost too much for the year)

Check out the pricing on each of these different marketing avenues and see what fits in your budget at this time. These may be too expensive for right now, but as your business (and therefore your marketing budget) grows, so do the various avenues available to you.


Step #5: Complete your marketing calendar

Now that you have an idea of where you can market and how you’re going to market, start by filling in dates for specific marketing efforts. The goal is to always have something going so that you are consistently reaching out to both current and new customers. You’ll want to plan out at least 3-6 months in advance.

Grab your calendar and start filling in dates for:

  • Company newsletter campaigns (when are you sending out the newsletters each month/week)
  • Facebook ads or post boosts (you can run these for any length of days and set a specific budget – even as low as $30)
  • Deadlines and dates of publications for articles and ads
  • Any marketing effort or deadline, including those things done in-house

This is a great way to track your marketing and make sure that you are meeting deadlines. In addition, we’ll post later on how to track your marketing efforts, what’s working, not working, and your return on investment (ROI).

Here is a sample marketing plan:

sample marketing calendar

Now, go forth and market.