10 Step Marketing Planning Template for Small Business

Written by: Mick Donohoe

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.