10 Step Marketing Planning Template for Small Business

At Capstone Marketing we often get asked, “What should my marketing plan look like?” Whether we coach our clients or develop their marketing plan for them, we try to keep it pretty simple. Unlike Colonel Sanders, there’s no secret sauce.

A good marketing plan is a guide for successfully promoting and growing your business.  It will help you answer key questions about your business:

  • How is your business positioned in the market?
  • How are your differentiated from your competitors?
  • How will you reach your customers?
  • What are your sales goals?
  • Where will you advertise?

Here’s our 10 step guide to developing your own strategic marketing plan

Step 1 – Business review

  • The “where are we now” section.
  • Include your research on company, products, market place, target market, competitors, sales numbers and customers.
  • Clients are often surprised by some of the results and the gold uncovered here to inform and justify the dollars spent in later steps.

Step 2 – Focus on problems and opportunities

  • This is where you turn the “data” collected in step one into “information”.
  • Focus on the core issues that need resolving and the key things that need highlighting.

Step 3 – Business/Sales Objectives

  • The ‘What by When’
  • You should know by now what you need to achieve from a business/sales point of view
  • Everything that follows is designed to meet these objectives.

Step 4 – Target markets and marketing objectives

  • Define the groups of people with common characteristics, purchasing needs and buying habits that are likely to buy products/services in sufficient quantities to achieve business goals.
  • Once you have defined these people (the target market) it’s much easier to understand their behaviour as well as find more of them!
  • Be targeted by knowing your market.
  • Specialise or niche to stand out above your competition, better serve your audience, and authenticate your brand.
  • Your target market should be large enough to warrant your attention (you also need to be able to reach and communicate with them!)

Step 5 – Plan strategies

  • Define and develop what you want people to think of and associate with the brand/product versus the competition.
  • Your marketing strategies describe how you will achieve the objectives.

For more information, check our our guide: How to write a great vision and mission statement

Step 6 – Communication goals

  • Develop common theme to what is being communicated across all mediums.
  • Stay focussed on your key messages.
  • It’s no good having a radio campaign saying one thing, a website presenting something else and an in-store message or sales person which is conflicting with what people are expecting to see and hear.

Step 7 – Tactical marketing tools

  • The marketing activities making up your plan.
  • The tools to get the message out there and to make the sales process as easy as possible.
  • This could include tools such as your brand identity guidelines, website, sales literature and CRM
  • While your customer acquisition strategies could range from the traditional – media, direct mail, publicity and events to digital marketing (SEO/SEM, Online advertising, Social Media and email marketing)

What to know more about Google adwords? Read our blog: SEM 101: What is Google Adwords

Step 8 – Budget, ROI and Calendar.

  • How long is a piece of string? Typically, allow 3 to 5 percent of revenue. Sometimes more, for new business or product launch.
  • This can get a little tricky and subject to many factors such as market share, brand awareness, sales objectives.
  • Work out return on investment and start to put some numbers on a calendar of marketing activities for the year.

Step 9 – Execution

  • “Make it happen!”
  • All the planning is useless unless you take action and do it.

Step 10 – Evaluation

  • What worked? Why? What didn’t work? Why?
  • Remember, your marketing plan is a fluid document – it should move and evolve as you learn from it’s execution.

How to position your business for success

Thanks to the influx of home renovation shows on our screens we’re all very familiar with the top three selling points when it comes to putting your property on the market. Put simply, it’s all about location, location, location.

If you’re running your own business, the equivalent ‘catch cry’ for marketing your business is position, position, position…or put more succinctly ‘positioning’.

Positioning means establishing a unique position in the market that helps you stand out from your competitors.

Do you know what your business is ‘known’ for?

If you don’t, a good way to find out is to ask your customers what you are known for and why they choose to use you instead of your competitors. Even if you do know, it won’t hurt to ask your customers to confirm you are on the right track.

How to clarify your competitive advantage: 

  1. Do your homework:  To create your positioning strategy you need to understand the market you operate in and your own strengths and weaknesses. This can include working out the total market size, opportunity and lifecycle it’s in. Is it growing or in decline? What else is going on in the market that could have an impact on your business?
  2. Talk to your customers: As well as knowing why they choose you, find out what keeps them up at night.  Understanding how your customers and prospects think and what their problems are can help you determine the best way to meet their needs.
  3. Check out your competitors: Getting your hands on your competition’s key products and examining their strengths and weaknesses can give you some great insights and help you understand where your next market opportunity might come from. A simple search on their website is a good place to start.
  4. Position, position, position: With all this new information at hand it’s time to put your new-found knowledge to work. What sets you apart from your competitors in the minds of your customers and prospects? Make sure to communicate your competitive advantage at every opportunity.

If you’d like help to identify your positioning contact us today on 0408 689 958 or mickd@capstonemarketing.com.au

Are you working in or on your business?

We’re all guilty from time to time of “working in the business, not on the business,” but the start of a new year is a great time to break out of the shackles and focus on your Business Model and Strategic Marketing Plan.

Small business owners often get stuck in the here and now and don’t take the time out to look to the future and focus on longer term goals, anchoring their marketing plan to business strategy.

I’m not just talking about day to day marketing and sales tactics like building a new website or increasing sales but a strategic plan outlining where your business is heading, why you’re going in that direction and the topline actions you need to take to accomplish it.

Your strategic plan needs to address the big three questions every business, large or small, should be able to answer:

  1. Where are you now?
  2. Where do you want to be?
  3. How are you going to get there?

Looking for a little more inspiration? Check out my guide: How to write a great vision and mission statement.

What should a good strategic marketing plan address?

  • Why you started your business and what you want your company or brand to stand for
  • Key revenue streams and essential costs related to your business model
  • Your typical customer segments and why they buy from you instead of your competition
  • What you do better than your competition and what value you deliver to your customers
  • How you are perceived by your target market (what your name, brand and logo represent) and if this perception reflects what you are trying to communicate.
  • How you influence your market to include you in their consideration set when they are thinking about buying your products and services
  • What key activities, resources and partners help you achieve your goals

Like all good chefs, here’s a little something we prepared earlier: 10 Step Marketing Template For Small Business

Do you know what your business is ‘known’ for?
Positioning means establishing a unique position in the market that helps you stand out from your competitors. Read my blog: Positioning your business for success. 

Get started today

By addressing these issues and getting your whole team on board you will improve the effectiveness of your marketing, present a unified brand to the marketplace and, importantly, provide a reason for the market to buy from you.

Take the time now to define you strategy and direction. If you need help, the team at Capstone Marketing can walk you through these steps.

Mick Donohoe is the founder and Managing Director of Capstone Marketing, a Wollongong-based full service marketing agency.



How to write a great vision and mission statement

When you are starting your business or improving it, writing a vision and mission statement is an important consideration. It is your vision and mission that should drive everything your business does from its people to products and processes.

A vision statement is aspirational, something you want to become or to achieve, and it should be an enviable image of an ideal future.

While your mission statement explains the purpose of your organisation – why you exist. In other words… what you do best every day.

Together, they should clearly and concisely convey the direction of your organisation.

 Take a moment to look at the vision and mission statements below from some of the world’s leading brands,

Vision statement examples

  • Amazon: To be the most customer-centric company in the world, where people can find and discover anything they want to buy online.
  • Starbucks: To establish Starbucks as the premier purveyor of the finest coffee in the world while maintaining our uncompromising principles while we grow.

Mission statement examples

  • Nike: To bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world.
  • Starbucks: To inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup and one neighborhood at a time.

You’ll notice both Nike and Starbucks mission statements are powerful and focus on providing inspiration for their target markets.

Now, it’s time to create your vision and mission statement

Before creating your vision and mission, ask yourself these questions:

  • What do we do?
  • Who do we do it for?
  • Why do we serve customers the way we do?
  • Why are we in this industry?
  • Why did we start this business?
  • What do we want people to think of us?
  • Where do we want to be?

Remember, your vision should be presented as a compelling picture of an ideal end result.

When writing your mission statement, use motivating words, don’t be boring. Be clear about your passion for why you run your business and make sure you are inspiring with your words. Keep it short but powerful and make sure it captures your business goals and philosophies.

If you have a mission statement that sounds like a boring speech, then get rid of it and start fresh. It should be audacious, a stretch, slightly unreasonable – but still possible.

When your employees all get behind and adopt your vision and mission great things can happen.

Now it’s your turn. Write your vision and mission statements using the information above to explain how your company will make a difference. Bring your passions and values to life.