It’s smart to create marketing plans for your business because marketing is the key to success. As an entrepreneur you either know how to market, you get help, or your business doesn’t survive.
This page is dedicated to helping your business survive.
There are pages on this site that teach various aspects of marketing:
- Free marketing ideas, all of them creative and low-cost,
- Steps to create a formal marketing plan,
- Tips on how to gather market research you will use to create marketing plans,
- Free sample marketing plans tailor-made for your industry.
- An introduction to Situation Analysis,
- The SWOT Analysis of the Business Environment,
- The PEST Analysis of the General Environment, and
- The way to determine the results of your marketing efforts.
These are tools you need in order to write a marketing plan as the marketing portion of a formal business plan. You will probably need a formal business plan if you have to borrow money. They are also good tools to use for analysis, research and for determining the results of your efforts.
This page gives you the practical step-by-step guide you need as you go through the eight critical items that you should consider in creating a marketing plan for your small business startup. These eight critical items are appropriate for a traditional off-line business.
If you are considering an online business, these same eight principles are a great start to creating a marketing plan. In addition you should look at “The 8 Steps to Starting Your Own Online Marketing of Information Business“. Together these will form a complete checklist for your online business.
Small Business Marketing Checklist for Startup Businesses
The next section was adapted from an article written by Katrina Sawa.
About the Author —
Katrina Sawa, Small Biz Marketing Expert, helps entrepreneurs and small business owners build their database of clients and prospects; she helps them determine the best ways to market their business to their target market; she teaches them how to network, develop follow up systems, and create marketing and advertising plans, and helps them find ways to get free or low cost publicity, which all lead to more customers and increased sales!
The following eight items are what I consider a good small business start up checklist. If you are in business or thinking about getting into business you will want to make sure you are working on each of these points constantly. The mix of all of these necessary items works well to maximize your exposure, credibility, and expert status as well as build your database and help you make informed marketing decisions.
1. Determine a Realistically Defined Target Market — Most small business owners actually have way too large of a target market to be realistic. They can’t market to their entire market with the limited time and budget available. More than likely you might want to narrow down your market or define your niche even more with specific demographics and psychographics; then you’ll really begin to see unique opportunities that might become available to reach that market. And don’t forget about all your referral sources — they are your target market too!
2. Create a Marketing Plan — This plan should outline everything you could possibly do in your marketing based on who your target market (ideal client) is and the best ways to reach that client including various guerrilla marketing techniques, promotions, and co-promotions.
Then you need to stick to your well-researched plan and not get sold or steered away by random advertising opportunities.
This marketing plan should also include a publicity plan, which includes pertinent media contacts, press releases, article submissions and event listings for ongoing exposure. If youÂ’re not submitting press releases regularly to the local media, local organizations you belong to, etc. you are missing FREE opportunities to get additional exposure for your business.
When you create marketing plans you should also include an advertising plan which should include a time line and a budget. More than likely, you’re not spending enough money on advertising–period, end of story. If advertising is done in the right places, places that reach your target market, with a good message or headline and for a reasonable length of time you should see good results. If you only try it once or go too small or have no idea how to design your ad effectively you will not get results.
Learn about all the advertising mediums in your target area, who they reach, their demographics, what kind of circulation they have based on their cost, etc.
When you create marketing plans you should also include an active networking plan. This should include any appropriate organizations, associations, chambers or other professional groups that bring in referrals or are good venues for prospecting or business development.
Pick two to five organizations you believe are the best ones to promote your business or build your business in; join them and then become as active as you possibly can so you become the well known expert in your field. Volunteer your time generously and most of all put their events on your calendar before ANY other client meeting or job. Rather than having to spend a lot of money on traditional advertising (which doesn’t typically work much anyway for most small businesses) go networking instead; it’s less expensive and more effective.
To put a quick Marketing Action Plan into effect for your business right away, if you want some help, sign up for a 1 Hour Strategy Session with me; go to the coaching page of Katrina’s website. She has a unique talent for developing just the right blend of marketing strategies for every budget and business – online or offline. Plus this session is 100% guaranteed or your money back!!
3. Database — your database should be inputted and formatted in the computer. You should be able to distinguish clients, prospective clients, referral sources and contacts. You need one place where everyone you have ever known or done business with is housed in the computer so it’s easily mail merged. Sort your contacts if you can by hot, warm or cold prospect or referral source. Then you should regularly stay in touch with your database through effective Database Marketing and Follow Up in order for you to be on the top of their minds when the topic of your service/product comes up.
Your database marketing and follow up can include letter and email templates, a system for following up with hot, warm and cold prospects and ongoing database marketing. If you are not doing quick follow up after you meet someone then you are missing opportunities and they will forget about you. You want to follow up with everyone you meet within 48 hours and then continuously. You need to make this automatic, systematic and practical so it will get done; delegate this if you have to.
4. Website – including Domain Name (s), Hosting, Reciprocal Links, and Internet Submission. You are missing out on sales if you do NOT have a website (see Note from Tom at the bottom of this page). But a professional website is a must, not a home-made, amateur site; that will hurt you and your credibility. It doesnÂ’t have to cost an arm and a leg, but the goal should be to inform, entice and capture. Capturing the contact info from everyone who visits your site should be your most important goal. Then you can continue marketing to them either by mail or email and they more likely will use or refer you.
5. Email Marketing – Distribution Lists, Programs for Email Marketing, Newsletters, Promotions. Email marketing is the cheapest form of marketing anyone can do these days but there are spam laws to follow and email etiquette you should strive to follow so you look as professional as you can. For example, adding people you meet to your ezine or email newsletter without getting their ok or online opt in is against the spam laws and you definitely don’t want to do it!
See www.spamlaws.com for more tips on what to look out for in your email marketing. I have all kinds of products on my website where you can learn more about effective email marketing techniques and strategies even for those people you meet that you want to connect with!
There are online email programs you can use to really make your emails POP but remember to send people information that they want to read, not just what you want them to read. When you consult with me, we evaluate the best format and program to use for your email marketing campaigns as well as figure out how often you should send them, what to say in them and how to make more money with them.
6. Professional Marketing Materials – Business Cards, Letterhead, Envelopes, Brochures, Sales Packets, Fliers, and Postcards. Do whatever is necessary to reach your target market. Of course these materials need to be professionally designed, printed and presented! DonÂ’t try to design your own marketing materials unless you are a qualified graphic artist; trust me, they will not reflect the image you want to project. ItÂ’s not just important for the materials to look good, they also need to have an attention getting headline, message and a clear call to action.
Hiring a good graphic designer is tough; many designers are not what they say they are. Ask me for a referral or have me help you. With my sales and marketing expertise and one of my talented graphic designers, we can create outstanding marketing materials that will make you stand OUT from your competition.
7. Branding – Includes Signage like Name Tags, Shirts with Logo, Vehicle Signs, Banners, Promotional Products and Giveaways. The more your name is in front of peopleÂ’s faces the better. You want people to recognize your brand on everything you do and everywhere you go. Find a good promotional products company from your local chamber of commerce or ask me for a referral.
One very inexpensive way to brand your company and products is with printed t-shirts and other garments. In the old days small companies were shut out because screen printers required large minimums as well as setup charges for each job. Big Frog imprints garments digitally. It’s an eco-friendly system and they require no minimums, they don’t charge for artwork, there are no setup charges, and they have a 24 hour turnaround time. I have personally had many garments printed there and their graphic designers are great and very easy to work with. Their garments never crack, separate or peel and the print will last as long as the garment! They offer a great selection of high quality products and 100% satisfaction. Their prices are also very reasonable. They will also ship nationwide. You can also check them out on facebook.
8. Good, Reliable Vendors – Includes industry vendors as well as those for your business development like printers, mailing houses, delivery services, rental companies, assistants. You’d be surprised to know you’re probably spending too much money in one or more of these areas right now. Find reliable, inexpensive sources. If you need referrals to companies I recommend, just ask me!