Marketing Planning & Reporting

Your Small Business Marketing Plan: What is it, Why Do You Need it & How Do You Get One?

small business marketing plan

Before you start promoting your products and services, it’s always good to have a small business marketing plan in place.

It might be hard to take a step back when you’ve got lots of great ideas and are raring to go. But writing all these ideas down and thinking about what your goals are will make it easier for you to actually achieve them.

So, let’s find out what a small business marketing plan is and how to go about creating one.

What is a marketing plan for small businesses?

small business marketing plan
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A marketing plan is a document which outlines your marketing channels and tactics for the immediate future, the timings for any ongoing or one-off campaigns as well as your objectives, budget and results.

Its a great way to put your marketing strategy into action by planning specific marketing activities ahead, coordinating tasks with your team and monitoring the results.

The length and detail of the marketing plan varies depending on the business. Some people like to revisit their plan every 6 months while others will create a comprehensive 2-year small business marketing plan.

I usually go somewhere in the middle and create a 1-year marketing plan which includes all the projects and campaigns for the year ahead. It’s a working document that helps you manage your different marketing projects, so it’s normal to revisit and adapt it throughout the year.

A small business marketing plan might sound very formal, but it doesn’t have to be. Choose a format that suits you, and don’t bother with all the corporate jargon if it’s not relevant to your small business.

Why do you need a small business marketing plan?

If you already have an idea in your head of the main goals and tactics for your small business marketing, it can be tempting not to bother with a marketing plan.

But it really is worthwhile spending a little bit of time writing everything down. Not only will this help you to see which goals are achievable using which marketing tactics. It will also make sure you don’t forget about any aspects of your business.

1. Focus

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One of the biggest reasons why having a marketing plan is useful is that it keeps you and your marketing focused. It’s a great way to make sure you’re on the right track and are working towards your goals.

By doing that, your small business marketing plan saves you time and resources, because you know exactly what you need to do and when. If, for example, a new marketing opportunity arises, you can immediately check if it fits into your planning and make a quick, informed decision.

Additionally, a marketing plan enables you to monitor your marketing efforts and see what marketing works for your small business and what doesn’t.

Find out how to monitor your marketing efforts and spending to find out if your marketing works.

2. Organisation

small business marketing plan
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Having a marketing plan for your small business also helps to keep you organised. When you have lots of different things going on, it can be easy to forget little things here and there.

But the little things can add up to big things. And before you know it, you’ll have forgotten to send out an email newsletter for six months.

Having everything laid out in your marketing plan makes it easy to see what needs to be done when it needs to be done by, and who will be doing it. This way a marketing plan can make sure your marketing is taken care of even if you’re not there.

Struggling to keep on top of things when your diary is full? Here are my top tips for keeping on top of your marketing when things are busy.

3. Development

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A successful marketing plan can also help you to develop your small business. Having goals to work towards will make sure you’re constantly trying to improve and grow your business.

A marketing plan is also useful when hiring new staff or pitching to investors. It helps you see which areas you need help or investment in. And it makes it easy to get new staff members up to speed and working on the marketing goals.

How do you create a small business marketing plan?

There are two ways to create a marketing plan: do it yourself, or get the help of a professional small business marketing consultant.

If you’re not particularly confident when it comes to marketing or don’t enjoy the admin side of your business, it’s well worth working with an expert to create your plan.

However, if you prefer to do things yourself, make sure you keep things simple and streamlined. You can download marketing plan templates online if you need some guidance (I’m a big fan of Jennifer Beever’s one-page marketing plan). Or just go it alone and set things out in a logical and organised way.

Key features

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To get started, have a think about where your small business is now, and where you want it to be in one year. Your marketing plan should then outline how you’re going to get there.

Here are the key things to consider when putting together your marketing plan:

  1. Business goals – define your main marketing and business goals, both long term and short term
  2. Marketing channels – think about what kind of strategies, tactics and techniques you will use to achieve these goals
  3. Campaign ideas – think of creative ways to achieve your goals using your research into your ideal clients and competitors
  4. Budget – set out how much money, time, resources or manpower you can dedicate to achieving your marketing goals

Your small business marketing plan should be all about your goals, so make sure to include plenty of information about this. Don’t forget to define which tactics you’re going to use to achieve your goals as well as how and when you’re going to implement them.

Be specific if you can and outline any key campaigns and ideas that are relevant to your objectives. 

Start planning

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When you start writing all this into your plan, you should also take the following into account:

  • A list of all the products or services you want to promote this year, as well as general marketing activities. Include possible offers, discounts, promotions or strategies for each one
  • The best/worst times of the year for marketing your business. Take into account things like school or bank holidays, industry events or busy shopping times
  • Marketing campaign ideas for each thing you want to promote – include the marketing channels you’ll use, ideal dates and budget
  • A schedule of marketing activity to show when you should start working on each campaign. Allow time for briefing, copywriting, design, photography, implementation etc
  • Allocate your resources for each campaign – which staff members/freelancers will be needed for each project, how much money you have to put towards marketing costs when you have time available away from other projects


To read more about this topic, have a look at these:
Set Goals for your Small Business in 4 Steps
A Simple 7-Step Audit for Small Businesses
Small Business Growth: 7 Ways to Ask the Right Questions
Marketing Strategy for Small Businesses: Why You Need One & How to Define it

Denise Strohsahl brand and marketing consultant for small businesses

Hello, I’m Denise from sandstonecastles, a brand & marketing consultancy based in Edinburgh, Scotland.

I help small business owners like yourself to find the right marketing that’s in line with your brand and values.