Your Prescription for Marketing Success: Part IV – The 5 Essential Elements of a Small Business Marketing Plan

“Playoffs? Who said anything about playoffs?”

I sometimes get the Jim Mora look when I ask about a client’s marketing plan. About 50% of the clients I have an initial consultation with don’t have one. Usually that’s why we’re talkin’ in the first place.

Without a plan, it’s easy to spend too much money, lose focus, and become a reactionary marketer. I’m going to go into the five essential elements of a small business marketing plan. Let’s start.

1) Determine your key marketing challenges. Who is the competition? What’s keeping you up at night? Retaining customers, or getting new ones? What are the consumer trends? Narrow your list to about 4 key marketing challenges. This gives you some annual goals to set your sights on…and the rest starts to fall into place.

2) Define your marketing/sales goals. This is important. Everything starts with sales. Without a benchmark of what you did last year, and what you’re shooting for this year, you’re going on a trip without a map.

Break your sales goals into quarters, and then months. Look at trends. Look at opportunities. Your marketing strategies and tactics will begin to take shape.

Maybe you’re a lawn/garden store owner, and you know 2nd quarter is going to be your top revenue period of the year. Doesn’t it make sense to put your efforts (and marketing dollars) where the most potential for revenue is?

3) Identify core products and service lines. Which products make you the most money? Which make you the least? Are there some lines you should drop? By segmenting your business into your main cores, you’ll get a better handle on which to promote this year.

4) Set your marketing budget. How much should you spend on marketing? It depends. National average for marketing budgets are about 4% of gross sales. Some industries are higher, some are lower. A grocery store spends less than 1% of gross on marketing…and a casino will spend 20% of gross on marketing.

Whatever type of business you’re in, by setting your marketing budget for the year, it will save you money. You can negotiate better advertising rates. And you’ll avoid reactionary tactics.

Put about 10% of your budget in a reserve fund for special opportunities that do come up. Plan the other 90% of the advertising budget.

Always make sure part of your budget goes toward retaining your current customers. This should be through a planned direct mail or email marketing campaign.

5) Plan your marketing calendar. Month-by-month, plug in your events. You can see an overview of how sales goals, marketing budget, and marketing tactics will all come together.


Chris Mitchell is the President and Founder of 25-8 Marketing, Inc, a full service advertising agency that plans and implements marketing programs for small to medium-sized businesses. He is a consultant, speaker and author and has worked with hundreds of companies. He has over 20 years of real-world advertising experience, and understands the marketing challenges of the small business owner.



One response to “Your Prescription for Marketing Success: Part IV – The 5 Essential Elements of a Small Business Marketing Plan

  1. Pingback: Don’t let your marketing become ‘Tyranny of the Urgent’ « 25-8 Marketing: Because marketing your business is more than a 24-hour job

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