One of the most common questions we’re asked by start ups is “how can I write a simple marketing plan?” Here is what we suggest:

  1. Write down what you are trying to achieve

What are your aims, your goals? These can be financial – goals for your yearend turnover, the gross margin and operating profit. They can also be non-financial with aims to help people get to know you and your business better (by increasing your brand awareness) or by starting to establish yourself as an influencer. Whichever goals you choose you need to make them SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and timely).

  1. Think about who you are trying to reach

Which customers/clients do you want to work with? Do you know which ones have the highest potential for being your best customers? Find out about them – their likes and dislikes. What can you offer that will help them?

  1. Take a look at your competition

Who are they? What are they offering? Why would they choose your competitors rather than you? It’s helpful to think in a wider sense, for example, for a complementary health specialist the client needs to know how you will solve their particular problem rather than simply what you are offering. There may be several ways to resolve their problem but if the client has limited resources, they will only be able to choose one specialist.

  1. Think about how you differ

What makes you and your business stand out from your competitors? Do you offer something that others don’t? It might be something very simple, but this can have a huge impact on clients choosing your services or product. It’s also helpful to ask a friend or another business owner for their view of your offering.

  1. List your strengths and weaknesses

By now you will be starting to have an idea of these. You now know how you differ from your competitors. You are beginning to know what you can do well. Think what might be holding you back – your weaknesses. Can you do anything to change this?

  1. Consider your opportunities and threats

Look at what the trends are in your market – check out social media, radio, newspapers – every medium for your industry. Are there any gaps? Are these areas where you can develop your services? Then look at what might hurt your business? The threat might come from outside or already exist within your business.

  1. Identify which marketing mediums (channels or platforms) suit your business best

How can you best reach your desired clients? Which channels ones can you afford? How will you measure whether your chosen marketing platforms are working? Social media, radio, TV, PR, networking, public speaking and events are just a few of your options. Choose a few to concentrate on and measure results over a specified time to see if they are working.

  1. Consider the message you wish to put out

What message do you wish to put out? What’s your call to action? Make sure your content and images are consistent.

  1. Now write your plan

Put all this information into a spreadsheet with marketing activities, desired client(s), your message, relevant channels, objectives, timings, costs and measurement methods.

You now have a plan! Good luck with your new venture!