Writing a small business marketing plan is crucial if you want to grow a successful business.

Whilst it might be tempting to skip this step and jump straight into the action, without a considered plan in place you leave yourself wide open to erratic marketing, unnecessary stress and wasted budget.

A bit of social media here, sporadic email marketing there…with expensive mistakes and disappointing results thrown in for good measure. Your conclusion? Marketing doesn’t work! WRONG! Scattergun marketing doesn’t work!

There is a better way!

Spend some time upfront developing a clear, well-thought out marketing plan and you will smooth the path to achieving strong, long-term business results.

As one of my recent marketing plan clients explains:

Having a marketing plan in place was hugely helpful. It meant that as the year progressed and things got busier, I knew what I was doing and what I could cope with. My marketing plan was geared very much towards simple and inexpensive marketing techniques and social media usage. The marketing plan enabled me to embrace social media in a way that I found comfortable, and taught me that to get results, consistency is the key!

Kate Box, Kate Box Knitwear

A marketing plan will help you grow

Investing time in writing your marketing plan means that you will have thought everything through carefully and built strong foundations for future success.

As a marketing consultant, I could of course list many reasons as to why your small business needs a plan (job hazard, sorry!) – but here are my top 3!

Top 3 business-boosting benefits of a marketing plan

  1. You will get to where you want to go faster

A scattergun approach to your marketing will not achieve long-term results. You may see spikes in your sales, but sporadic marketing will only deliver short-term results. It is far more effective to develop a clear, well-thought out plan that sets out a series of marketing activities (aligned with your wider business goals) to be carried out each week. With a solid plan of targeted activities in place and a clear focus, you will achieve your business goals faster.

TOP TIP: A helpful analogy here is to think about getting fit. You decide to join a gym to help you achieve your health/fitness goals – but to get visible results that last, you need to consistently put the work in. You won’t achieve that elusive six-pack if you randomly turn up to the odd class or two!

  1. Understanding your customers will drive sales

Understanding your customers and their needs is vital for long-term success. Developing a marketing plan means that you will spend time refining, researching and locating your target audience. You’ll should go beyond the usual demographics and really try and understand your target customers. What are their motivations, aspirations and needs? How and where do they consume media? Get to know your customers properly, and you will be able to develop an offering that meets a genuine need and generates continued sales.

TOP TIP: You don’t have to look very far to see examples of businesses who failed because they didn’t fulfil a customer need. From unsuccessful start-ups who launched without first researching their audience (and their needs) sufficiently, to large organisations who didn’t (or perhaps couldn’t) innovate fast enough to keep up with ever-evolving consumer demands (think Blockbusters, HMV and BHS).

  1. You will be more profitable

Building a successful business doesn’t end with making sales. For long-term success, you need to be profitable – and for that, you need to understand your numbers. How much profit will you make on each sale? Have you factored in all relevant expenses into your pricing? What about your marketing budget? Before you can allocate marketing funds, you need to look at how your business is performing (or is expected to) and where growth opportunities lie. Exploring questions like these as you build your plan will help you make smart financial decisions and maximise your profits.

TOP TIP: If you’re uncomfortable with numbers, seek help. Research shows that four in ten small companies don’t make it past five years. A small business can fail for many reasons of course, but poor cash flow remains one of the main causes of problems. So, be sure to know your numbers and only invest marketing budget that you can actually afford. Stick to your marketing plan and don’t be swayed by ‘irresistible opportunities’ that crop up (unless there is very good reason).

Does your small business need a marketing plan or some guidance on how to complete one? We have helped dozens of businesses build bespoke plans to help them grow! Find out more about Our Services.

If you found these tips helpful, you might also like:

How to get the most from your marketing plan – 3 quick tips.

How to supercharge your marketing plan.

7 pitfalls of not having a marketing plan.

6 quick tips for a winning marketing plan.