Blog / 10th June 2021

The ultimate guide to writing a small business marketing plan

Angie Downs of Halo Effect Marketing shares her expertise to help create a small business marketing plan

Whether you’re well-established or launching a new business, a marketing plan should always be your first step.

The benefits of writing a marketing plan are significant to any business. A solid plan will:

So, where should you begin?

The SWOT Analysis

A SWOT helps you identify where you are and where you could be. SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats.

Your strengths and weaknesses are internal to your company – factors that you can influence, for example the clarity of your message or the quality of your customer service. You should be able to identify your Unique Selling Point (USP) within your strengths.  What makes you stand out from your competition?  Opportunities and threats refer to the external market, like competitors or customer trends. You can’t influence these, but you can plan for them.

Set yourself SMART goals

Once you have a good understanding of your SWOT, you can build your goals. If you already have goals, it’s worth sense checking them against where you are today to make sure they are relevant within the context of your current situation.

Make sure your goals are SMART:

For example, you might want to sell 100,000 units of cosmetics in your first year. So long as this goal is achievable with the resources available to you, and relevant (based on your SWOT) then it ticks all of the SMART boxes.

Identify your target audience

Ask yourself: who is most likely to buy your product? What are their pain points? How can they find products like yours? If you have more than one target customer group, it’s worth documenting them separately so that you have a really clear idea who you are aiming for and how they might differ.        

Use competition to your advantage

Competitor data is one of the best resources out there because it’s so accessible. Where are your customers advertising?  Do they use Facebook?  What is their website like?  How do they rank on Google?  Are they using Google Ads?

Competitor data can also help you to stand out. Read their reviews to identify any customer issues and think of ways you could address these. If your competitor has slow delivery times, for example, you could offer a next-day service.

What’s your message?

A small business marketing plan’s message should be written to appeal directly to your target audience.  Don’t worry about missing out on other potential customers.  If your message is too generic, you run the risk of not appealing to anyone.  Make sure your message includes your USP, and is tailored to meet the needs or pain points of your target audience.

Define your pricing

What is your pricing strategy?  Do you charge the same to all customers?  Can you introduce a special offer or discount to drive sales in slower months?  Do you package up your products or services differently?  An example of this would be selling a hamper of goods at a set price, as well as selling those goods individually. 

What channels will work best?

If your company is already established, you will have a good understanding of which channels work for you already.  If you have supporting data, this can really help you to plan which channel to use going forward.

Your channel selection should be driven by your target customers, where are they and where you are most likely to grab their attention?  If you choose to use more than one channel, make sure that you are consistent in terms of how you position your company.

Plan your budgets

You may already have a budget in mind for your marketing activity. However, it is useful to consider what channels can help you to meet your goals and then work out how much that would cost to implement and then prioritise.  If you are starting from scratch, then you can test different channels and work out which are best for you to avoid wasting money.

Always aim to improve

The marketing plan doesn’t stop once you’ve finished writing it. You need to be consistently reviewing your marketing. Measure your leads, sales or whichever business goals you’ve set, then go back and amend the plan accordingly.

There are no two ways about it: writing a marketing plan takes time, but once you have it in place, you’ll be on your way to success much faster.

To read more of Angie's Halo Effect Marketing advice please visit

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