How To Write a Small Business Marketing Plan in 2023
Want to launch a profitable small business in 2023? Need to revamp your sucky not-so-amazing small business marketing plan to transport your business from startup status to scaling through smart growth?
But marketing kinda makes you feel like this?
Then you’re in the right place, you capable entrepreneur! We’ll explain what a non-sucky small business marketing plan even IS, why you need a marketing strategy plan ASAP, and the five most essential elements of a small business marketing plan that you MUST include.
Read on if that sounds enlightening! Or skip to the section you want using the menu above! ☝️
What Is a Small Business Marketing Plan and Why Do I Need One?
Your small business marketing plan is the playbook for your entire growth strategy. It’s kinda important! How is your business going to attract consumer attention, establish trust as a retailer or service provider, and woo customers and clients to convert?
A marketing plan can also help you determine how much you should spend on marketing to grow. And which marketing tactics will offer the most reward for your investment.
Can I Launch Without a Marketing Plan?
Marketing plans are typically developed BEFORE you launch your small business. You may need to develop resources to help your business thrive in its early infancy—like a press kit to elicit press coverage, a free offer to build your opt-in email list, email campaigns to nurture customers and leads, or website SEO optimizations to make sure you rank highly out of the gate.
You can either write your small biz marketing plan yourself or hire a marketing agency that specializes in small businesses to help. This is a great way to test out your relationship with a new marketing agency and make sure you’re a good long-term fit!
How Often Should I Revise My Marketing Plan?
Typically, we suggest revisiting your marketing plan annually. Marketing tactics often take time to work, and if you change your approach too often it will be harder to determine which tactics are a good fit for your business goals.
But if a marketing tactic truly isn’t working for your business, you can revisit and adapt your marketing plan as often as you’d like! Marketing plans are living documents that will grow and change with your small business.
How Do I Know I Need A Better Marketing Plan?
- The business is growing rapidly, and you feel out of control and need help prioritizing.
- Your business simply isn’t so small anymore! You need to outsource marketing soon.
- The sales and leads aren’t coming and you are struggling to keep the business afloat.
- Growing and scaling are your goals, and you need a better marketing strategy to get there.
- You are attracting unprofitable customers and clients and need to refocus.
- The business is relaunching to a national or international market.
- You’re rebranding your small business, but want to keep existing customers.
- You’ve hired a marketing agency, and everyone must be on the same page with goals and KPI’s.
The 5 Essential Components of a Small Business Marketing Plan
While your marketing plan can contain TONS of information, these are the 5 mandatory components of a small business marketing plan that we recommend for our clients here at LoudBird.
1. Have You Defined Your Target Audience?
The first step in nailing down a smart marketing plan for your small marketing budget is to KNOW THY AUDIENCE! And pinpoint where they likely hang out online.
We encourage our clients to make a “customer or clients avatar” to bring their target audience to life and give it some recognizable, human traits. This makes it much easier to convey your ideal customer to employees and investors. It also helps you to determine who IS NOT your customer.
It sounds a bit silly, but we’ve seen this help small businesses STOP targeting unprofitable customers and clients and bring in higher-quality leads that will actually CONVERT! Try it!
👉 How to Make Your “Customer Avatar”
Think of your customer avatar as a real person—someone with real hobbies, a family (or lack thereof), and habits. Who IS this person who will want to buy your products or services?
You can have multiple customer avatars, but we don’t suggest more than three. If you have more than 3 ideal customers, you may want to think about niching down more to define your spot in the market. A small, focused audience is always more profitable for small businesses!
Need a little inspo? Ask yourself these questions.
👉 Questions to Find Your Target Audience
How old is your ideal customer or client?
What phase of life are they in? Are they applying for college scholarships or for a home loan? Do they use mobile or desktop as their main mode of internet use? How do they prefer to be contacted?
What are their defining personality traits and hobbies?
Are they busy parents or single gym rats? What are their hobbies and interests and how do they likely spend their free time? Are they a member of related online communities (like Facebook groups or forums) where your business could easily reach them to build trust?
What are their “pain points” and problems?
Everyone has struggles, annoyances, and problems that need solving. Knowing the obstacles your ideal customer faces will help you address their deepest needs in a way that no other small business can!
Where do they make purchases?
Online? In-store? On social media? Late-night on QVC while smashing a pint of ice cream? Based on all of the information you have about your target demographic, where do they actually convert?
If you aren’t sure if you truly understand your target market and ideal customer, it’s time to take a step back before you touch that small business marketing budget! Without this key understanding of your audience and where you fit into their lives, you will just be wasting any money you spend on marketing! Trust us, it’s always better AND more affordable to do things right the first time!
2. What Are Your Goals and How Will You Measure Success?
What are the goals you hope to achieve with your small business marketing plan? Do you want to earn more sales? Snag high-quality leads? Grow your email opt-in list? Or encourage brand awareness to build trust and boost future sales?
To help you set effective small business marketing plan goals, we always suggest the SMART goals framework.
👉 What Are SMART Marketing Goals?
SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely. These types of laser-focused goals help you measure success—like your social media ROI, the conversion rate of ads, and bringing in sales and leads with email campaigns.
SMART goals can also help you decide which marketing tactics you should keep—and which to toss!
👉 How To Set SMART Marketing Goals for Your Biz
Each goal you include in your small business marketing plan MUST meet all five of these SMART goals requirements.
Instead of “I want to sell more on Instagram” try “I will make 5 sales per week from Instagram in Q1 and increase my sales to 10 per week in Q2.
How will you measure success? How will you know if you’ve failed? Your goals should be quantitative in some way so you can measure the rewards you’re getting from your startup marketing budget.
Can you realistically DO THE THING? You have to be pragmatic here. Maybe you WANT to sell 500 units in a day or earn 12 new clients per week…but is that actually going to happen? Reach for the sky, but keep your head out of the clouds!
How will each marketing tactic you invest in help you build brand authority, convert customers and clients, and grow your small business? If a marketing goal doesn’t fit into your larger business and sales strategy, don’t do it just because it’s “what everyone else does”!
If given infinite time, most entrepreneurs would put off marketing FOREVER. It’s probably not your idea of fun. So make sure your goals include a DEADLINE! And then do your absolute best to stick to it. You’re only hurting yourself when you procrastinate with marketing tasks.
3. Do You Truly Understand Your Competitors and Industry?
Getting the most out of your small marketing budget is all about CONTEXT. You have to know who and what you are up against when you’re competing for that sale!
Who are the movers and shakers in your industry? Which businesses are your immediate competitors at this stage of your small biz growth? And who will you be competing with 3 years down the line as your biz continues to scale?
👉 How to Better Understand Your Competition
Who Are Your Local and National Competitors?
Pinpoint 5-10 competitors and look at their website, social media, and online presence for hints on successful marketing tactics or engaged marketing platforms you may want to investigate yourself.
Don’t copy what they’re doing! You’ll have to figure out a way to do it BETTER to truly see rewards and boost conversions. How can you take what they offer and make it more valuable to your ideal customer? Are there any exploitable gaps in their marketing strategy?
Which SEO Keywords Are Competitors Using?
Look at your competitor’s website and social media. What does their navigation and URL structure look like? Which keywords are they using in their website copy, within social media posts, and throughout SEO blog posts and resources? Or, are they sleeping on SEO and ignoring the power of FREE, organic website traffic from Google?
If so, this might be a prime way to get a leg up against the competition without purchasing ads?! You’ll simply need to invest in a professional SEO and Competitive Research Package!
Which Social Media Platforms Are Popular?
Which social platforms are your competitors using and where do they get the most customer engagement and interest? This can not only tell you what’s worked for your competitors—but it can also tell you where they AREN’T.
Are they killing it with Instagram Reels but haven’t yet ventured onto TikTok? Then your business may want to explore TikTok to fill that gap!
What Type of Content Marketing Is Successful In Your Industry?
Which are the most popular, trafficked online resources, blog posts, and videos? Once you know, you can recreate or improve upon these assets and steal some of that online traffic for yourself?! An SEO and Competitive Research Package will tell you which types of content are bringing in leads and sales.
4. Have You Prioritized Marketing Tactics?
You might want to do EVERY MARKETING TACTIC. This is common with small business owners we talk to, but it often isn’t what we recommend!
It’s better to do two or three marketing tactics WELL than to do every type of marketing you can POORLY. And as a growing small business, you need to know which tactics will be most effective for you in the short term. And which you can save for down the line as your biz grows.
👉 Which Marketing Tactics Work Best For Small Businesses?
There is no one-size-fits-all best practice guide when it comes to choosing the best marketing tactics for your small business, but we CAN tell you the top tactics we use for most small businesses we work with.
Check out our full guide HOW TO SPEND A STARTUP MARKETING BUDGET FOR GROWTH for all the deets!
TLDR; we suggest organic SEO, organic social media, effective brand strategy, and setting up some basic email campaigns for most small businesses that want to grow ASAP!
5. Do You Have a Realistic Small Business Marketing Budget?
Speaking of small business marketing budgets…do you have one!? While a small business marketing agency can help you determine your marketing budget, it’s best to have a ballpark low-to-high range in mind before contacting a marketing agency for help.
Most marketing agencies will have standard pricing they offer all small biz clients. They might also have small business marketing packages that they offer to help you launch and grow your business wisely.
If you’re not sure how much you should be spending on marketing annually and how much you should allocate to each marketing tactic, check out our WHAT’S A SMART SMALL BUSINESS MARKETING BUDGET PER CHANNEL? Guide!
Find Your Perfect Small Biz Marketing Agency
Once you have formalized your small business marketing plan, you’ll need an affordable, trustworthy small business marketing agency to help you execute it!
There are MANY marketing firms to choose from. How do you find the right one that understands your brand and industry and offers the services you need? Here are a few questions you can ask yourself to find a perfect fit!
👉 Which Marketing Tactics Are You Most Interested In?
Many small business marketing agencies specialize in a particular type of marketing—from SEO to social media and paid ads.
Once you’ve determined your main marketing needs, you’ll want to seek out an agency that can accommodate you long-term. What do you need now and what will you likely need down the line? Choose an agency that offers it all, because switching agencies is a chore!
👉 Are You Comfortable Paying the “Glitter Tax”?
Here’s a little secret: large and fancy don’t always get you better results when it comes to marketing agencies. Many prestigious marketing and PR firms tack on what we call the “glitter tax”—services are more expensive because they employ many account managers, have large office spaces, and travel often to meet with clients in person.
We have absolutely nothing against the glitter tax! It’s wonderful to be taken out to client dinners by a Don Draper look-alike and sent a Christmas basket full of cheese every year. Yum!
Just realize that YOU ARE PAYING for this glitz and glamour. And you could likely get the same quality marketing campaign MUCH FASTER and MORE AFFORDABLY if you choose a smaller, agile marketing firm like LoudBird. We had to say it!
👉 Do Ethics and Personality Fit Matter To You?
Perhaps you are a pragmatist—you just want your marketing done well and as cheaply as possible. This is a totally valid approach!
But most small business owners we speak with prefer to work with a marketing agency that reflects their values, ethics, personality type, and communication style.
Many women entrepreneurs love working with woman-owned marketing agencies that can relate and offer a less bro-tastic marketing experience. If you know what we mean…we’re your people!
And if you’re business is green and sustainable, you’d likely be happier working with an agency that shares your passionate feelings about protecting our earth and our children’s futures!
What is important to you? What kind of person could you stand having a strategic marketing meeting with? Who do you pointedly hope to avoid in your day?! 🤣 This can tell you a LOT about which marketing agency you should choose.
👉 Do You Need An Agency That Specializes In Your Industry?
Most credible marketing agencies can serve ANY industry. However, some industries are very specialized! It may be advantageous to find a marketing firm that understands the legal and cultural nuances of your business.
• Tech startups, similarly, will want to choose a marketing agency that understands VC funding and can roll with their tight turnarounds and need for agile, results-focused marketing.
• Sustainable, green businesses often prefer to work with an agency that is familiar with current environmental policies, consumer initiatives, and practicalities like recyclable packaging options and sustainable marketing messaging.
• Real Estate Agents need an agency that has experience with CAN-SPAM and Sherman Anti-trust compliance and advertising guidelines established by the NAR.
If there are special legal or cultural considerations you are concerned about, it may be worth your effort to seek out a specialized marketing agency that understands your industry. Pssst…LoudBird has helped many of the business types above! 😉
We sincerely hope this guide has helped you understand what goes into a strategic small business marketing plan! Need some help? We’re always here to make your small business life easier!