The dreaded marketing plan. It can be one of the more terrifying plans that a new business owner needs, and if you don’t know what you’re doing, it can also be incredibly difficult. The good news is that your marketing plan doesn’t have to be as scary as you think it is. It’s really no more than a good outline of what your goals are for the business, what steps you can take to achieve those goals, when you’ll be doing those steps and how much it will cost you. Then, as you work through this plan, you’ll have time to stop to evaluate how it has worked for you. If you’ve never created a marketing plan, here are a few tips to get you started on the right track.
Plan your budget
The first step in your marketing plan is to calculate just how much you’ll be able to spend on marketing, or your marketing budget. Depending on where your business is in its growth stage and what industry you are in, you’ll want to allocate anywhere from two to 20 percent of your sales to marketing. New retail stores often spend more than 20 percent on marketing, which includes branding, brand development and promotion of the business. Small businesses with a revenue of less than $5 million should be looking to spend around seven to eight percent on marketing.

Spending your money
Once you’ve figured out how much money you can spend on marketing, it’s time to be really smart about how you spend it. You’ll want to have a marketing plan that outlines your goals and what it will cost to achieve those goals within a set time frame. As you outline your goals, you’ll start getting a feel for which areas of your marketing plan will require the most investment. Remember however, your time is an investment too, so even if something is free, such as social media marketing, you’ll want to keep your own investment of time in mind as well.

Evaluate your plan
You’ve set your marketing budget, you’ve crated your marketing plan and you’ve put it into action. Now it’s time to evaluate how it has been going and to track your ROI, or return on investment. You’ll want to be flexible here, because as you evaluate your marketing reach, you may find that a specific tactic isn’t working or that you need to pay for an unplanned campaign. It’s more important that your money is helping you achieve your marketing goals than it is to be perfectly on budget. So have a plan in place to evaluate what you’ve done. Look at the analytics available, analyze seasonal affects on your business and have a good idea as to how your spending is working for you. If something isn’t working, change it.

This article was written by Deborah Flomberg for Small Business Pulse


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