How to create your small business marketing plan

If your marketing plan is something you always think about but never get round to planning, then this is the year all that changes!

Now I’ll be upfront from the start, I’m not going to get into SWOT analysis, target markets, analysing your competitors etc If that’s what you’re after, there’s plenty of articles on Google for you to get your teeth stuck into.

This blog is quite simply a resource to help you plan a simple marketing strategy for the coming year so you can put reminders in your diary of when you need to write and send blogs, schedule social media campaigns, create content for printed materials and when to advertise your products and services.

Lets get planning

Ok, let’s start with downloading and printing your Get Ahead marketing plan.

Now, for every month write down what you want to promote.

Every business is different and yours might vary according to month, time of year, current events, holidays. Your own family situation might have an impact.

The whole point of the marketing plan is to work with your business so you can see when and where you need to promote.

Ideas include:

• The main holidays – Easter, Christmas, Halloween, Summer holidays, Mother’s day, Valentines day, Bank holidays

• An event, a fayre or exhibition you’re attending

• New products, services, courses

• A giveaway to generate interest

• Special offers, sales,

• National days or weeks that complement to your business

Once you know what you’re promoting that month, you can make a note of what you’ll need to promote yourself – postcards, leaflets, social media posts, banners or information on your website.

Now you can see what you need and when you need it. It’s that simple.

So look at your diary and work out how long you need to plan and create content, source images, have marketing designed and printed. And time to promote before the event.

Pencil that time in because it always takes longer than you think to write that blog or find that perfect image. It’ll take time for your web developer to update your website or for your designer to create flyers or postcard.

Get social

To create a social media plan for the coming year, download and print your Get Ahead social media planner.

You can print it every month or I usually print out 12 copies for the whole year. And this is how I fill mine in.

1. I always start with the main holidays and Bank holidays

2. First of the month posts to see what peoples upcoming plans are

3. Motivational quotes or memes

4. Newsletter promotions

4. Blog posts.

As a little extra, make a note of the national days and see how you can link them to your business. Some are a chance to show your fun side, some your serious side.

And that probably fills about a quarter of the month.

If you refer to your marketing plan, you’ll see what needs promoting and when so you can fill in a few more squares.

Here’s a handy 33 ideas for social media posts with lots of ideas if you get stuck.

You can plan the bare bones of your social media a year in advance. Then every month look ahead to what’s coming up, plan some relevant posts and schedule a week of posts.

Blog away

If you don’t already blog then you should seriously think about doing so. It keeps content fresh on your website, gives you something to put in your newsletter and ideas for your social media.

If you do blog, download the Get Ahead blog planner and print it out.

Aim to come up with 12 topics for the coming year and these can be linked to your marketing plan if you have a particular subject to cover.

Obviously, events and situations crop up over the year so you might find another topic to blog about but it’s aways useful to have some extra topics up your sleeve for when your brain runs dry and you can’t think of any ideas.

It’s in the news

Newsletters are a brilliant way to stay in touch with your customers and let them know what you’re doing, what special offers or new products you have, give them useful information and tips. Sending a newsletter just once a month means you stay in your customers radar.

If you do send newsletters, download the Get Ahead newsletter planner and print it out. If you don’t send newsletters, maybe this is the year you start to.

So, treat yourself to some new pens and files, print out your free marketing worksheets and get planning.

Most importantly, remain flexible! Things may crop up throughout the year that change your marketing plan but what you’re aiming for is to have something to promote every month. Being prepared in advance and knowing what’s coming up will (hopefully!) stop you scrabbling about last minute creating a flyer or missing opportunities in your social media.

Here are the links for your free downloads:

Get Ahead marketing plan

Get Ahead blog planner

Get Ahead newsletter planner

Get Ahead Social media planner

33 ideas for social media posts

I’d love to hear in the comments how you’ve got on and if you found the marketing plan useful.

Liz x

Liz Hall Design - logo designer, graphics designer, Bradford

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