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How to get your small business off the ground

Steven Drew explains the importance of having a proper marketing plan

August 2018

Question: I’d really like to start marketing my business more effectively, but I have no experience in that field. How do I go about putting a marketing plan into action?

Answer: Writing a marketing plan is essential for all businesses, in order to help generate more sales. Having a clear plan will make it easier to budget, manage your time, predict sales and know your communication strategy.
Before you plan, you first need to work out where you’re going. Your marketing strategy document should always begin with your business objectives; competitor and market research; any customer research you have carried out; and information about who your products appeal to, along with which channels they are most likely to use.
When planning your marketing strategy, you should constantly link back to how you intend to meet those business objectives. It should be a practical, working document that provides clarity of your business vision and is backed up by sound thinking and research. You should regularly review this document – indeed some businesses put together different but complementary strategies for the short, medium and longer term.
You should set a marketing budget – a guide for this would be 1-2% of your forecast topline revenue. Split your budget by channels and by months. There are a wide variety of marketing channels to explore and you should be able to pick out those which appeal most to your business or which can be eliminated. Channels include print and digital advertising, search engine optimisation, email marketing, social media and sponsorship.
Finally, plot out the first six months or so with tactical marketing spends, including the target audience you aim to reach and the business objective of the activity. Ensure you track every campaign to determine their effectiveness – what you could repeat or even expand upon in future, and what didn’t work so well.
• Steven Drew is Product Manager for Informi, powered by AAT. Visit informi.co.uk/PQ to find more practical advice and support for new businesses

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