How to Create a Marketing Plan for Your Small Business

Marketing Strategy

When it comes to marketing success, the most critical key is your marketing plan and how well you execute the plan. It’s that simple. There are so many options to choose from when trying to decide how to market your business that it can be overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. In this post, I’m going to break it down in an easy-to-follow step-by-step manner, and by the end, you’ll know how to create a marketing plan for your business, too. 


Step 1 – Identify your Audience 


First, you must ensure you understand who your audience is and what they need from you. Without this core information, you will struggle to succeed in business. 


Answer the following questions – 

  • Who do you serve? 
  • What do they need? 
  • How do you help them? 


If you’re unsure how to answer these questions, I encourage you to read more on identifying your audience, targeting your messages, and sending them at the right time. I’ve previously covered all three topics on the blog, and the posts will help you with this process. If you need more information on creating your marketing strategy, this post will help



Gather all the data you can about your customers and how you can help them. For example, if you run a business that caters to families with children and can provide entertainment or childcare for school-aged kids when school is not in session, you need to pull the school calendar for the district(s) in your area. 


Listen to the podcast episode here 


Step 2 – Define your Goals


Write out your goals. What are you working towards this year? Have you decided on and written your goals down? 


Do you have SMART goals? 

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Actionable
  • Realistic 
  • Timely 


If you’re not familiar with SMART goals, now is the time to learn about them and start using them in your business. Your goals need to be SMART from this point forward. This formula helps keep you focused on goals you can achieve.


  • SMART goals are specific. For example, rather than saying I want to increase sales, you say I will increase sales by 10%. 
  • SMART goals are measurable. You can tell if they’ve been achieved or not. Did you increase sales by 10% or not?
  • SMART goals are actionable. You can take action immediately to help yourself achieve a 10% increase in sales. 
  • SMART goals are realistic. If your sales were down by 30% this year over last year, then having a target of 50% year-over-year growth this year would not be realistic. If you were up 5% last year and your goal is 7% or 10% this year, that’s a realistic goal. 
  • SMART goals are timely. You need to specify the timeframe you will allow for the goal. Is it a month, quarter, or year? 
Example SMART goal – I will increase sales by 10% year over year during 2023. 


Now, determine how you’re going to achieve that SMART goal. 


Small Business SMART Goal Example 


I will increase sales by 10% year over year during 2023 by adding special events and holiday break camps/play days to my schedule. 


Step 3 – Determine your Promotion Schedule 


If you’re creating a marketing plan for the year, you’ll need more information about priorities and promotions than if you’re working on a monthly or quarterly plan. Either way, outline your sales, new products, and other seasonal priorities. 


  • If you’re releasing a new product line, when do you expect to have it ready for sale? 
  • If you’re booking clients for a highly seasonal business such as photography, when do you want to book for your busy season? 
  • If you’re going to run sales around national holidays, what are you going to promote and when? 


Look at the days the schools close for vacations, holidays, summer, and teacher in-service. Which of these days will you be open and offer childcare, playdate, or camp-type events? 


Step 4 – Write it all Down


Get a large desk calendar, a dry-erase wall calendar, an online calendar, whatever works best for you, and start by filling in the dates for your special events, promotions, product launches, and holidays. 


From here, you’ll work backward to determine when you need to start promoting things. If you want SEO work for you, you will want to work at least one quarter in advance so that your content and optimization have time to start working. To run ads, you need to find out if there are any deadlines you need to meet. Gather all the information you need about your planned marketing channels.  


Mark all the school breaks on your calendar. Decide which days you’re going to open and what you’re going to offer on those days. Write the date & promotion on the calendar. Add the holiday information next. Which holidays will you host, special events or themed days? Write them down. 


Step 5 – Create Your Marketing Plan


Determine when, where, and how you'll market your business


Look at your audience information, goals, and planning calendar, and determine when and where you’ll market your business. If you have a website, you should include event information there. If you’re on social media, you’ll want to share on each channel. If you belong to a local chamber or another local group with a community calendar, add your event to the schedule to build additional awareness. Plan everything now so that you can quickly execute it all later. 


For each event you’re going to market, you’ll need to identify which channels you will use. For example, if you’re hosting a special Spring Break camp, you might want to add a page on your website, share it on social media, email your list about the camp, and maybe invest in Facebook ads to share event information. If you have community event boards, you can post on them; you’ll want to add it there, too.


Step 6  - Track Your Marketing Performance


As you go through the year, track your results, and don’t be afraid to refine your plan. If something isn’t working well, trying something else is OK. It’s best to give it at least 90 days before making a big switch, but it is OK to change things up. Try one new thing at a time and keep the rest consistent. 


As you host each event, you’ll want to note what you did for your marketing and when you started the campaign. You’ll want to note how many people responded to the offer, how many showed up, etc. Keep track of information for each marketing channel so that when it comes time to put together your plan for next year, you know what worked and what didn’t work this year. Knowing what worked well this year can save you a lot of time next year. Review and refine. Try something new next time if something doesn’t work for one event. Ask your customers if you can. 



Final Thoughts on Creating a Marketing Plan for Your Small Business


That’s how you create a marketing plan for your small business. It’s a step-by-step process that focuses on serving your customers, reaching them where they spend time, offering something that’s helpful to them, and tracking your results so that you know what worked and what didn’t. Try new things. Add a new promotion or event to your plan this year. Keep track of everything you do so that you know what works for your business. Good luck! 


Be sure you incorporate SEO and Content Marketing in your overall marketing plan. You will need time for SEO to work; it's often 12-24 months before you see big results from your efforts. Don't ignore it, thinking you'll get to it later. Do it at the beginning so it can start working. Make sure the content you create ties to your products, promotions, and marketing plan for the best overall results. Get started today with my free SEO Content Quick Start Guide and learn what to do to rank at the top of Google.