How to start a small business marketing plan

How do you start a small business marketing plan?

small business marketing plan

I can tell you how NOT to start it - with marketing goals. Wait, what?

I’ve seen many entrepreneurs, and even business coaches, start a marketing plan with marketing goals. Makes sense, right? But here’s the thing, your marketing goals should directly align with business goals, which means a strong marketing plan starts with business goals and stays aligned with them.

Too many entrepreneurs unwittingly think about business goals and marketing goals separately, but they should actually go hand-in-hand. Every time you set a marketing goal, it should line up with a business goal. This may seem obvious but here's what I've seen time and again, in both small business and corporate marketing:

- A marketing team comes up with a great social media content campaign. It has nothing to do with the company's business goals and everything to do with the "cool" factor of the campaign.

- A business owner spends all their launch money on a fancy website but is unclear who they're trying to reach with the site and how the website is going to translate to business growth.

True business-growth marketing decisions require discipline. A business marketing plan must be based on ultimate business growth goals.

- An entrepreneur spends hours each week making content for Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram but sells a product that would translate best to audiences on YouTube and TikToc.

- A local small business spends more than their marketing budget on print advertising when free networking events would go much further in reaching their audience.

These are actual scenarios happening to companies and business owners all the time. It's tempting to be drawn to the fun and flashy sides of marketing and make hasty decisions without sight of the bottom line.

True business-growth marketing decisions require discipline. A business marketing plan must be based on ultimate business growth goals.

What’s the difference between business goals and marketing goals?

I’m glad you asked - because as you’re sitting down for a goal setting session, it’s easy to confuse business goals with marketing goals. Here are a few examples of the difference to help you keep the two clear.

Business goal examples

  • Increasing x amount of customers in the next year

  • Reaching $xxxx in sales in the next year

  • Launching a new product or service

  • Eliminating $xxx in overhead spending

Marketing goal examples

  • Driving xxx additional visitors to your website

  • Increasing audience engagement by xx% on a social platform

  • Building an email list to xxxx subscribers

  • Attending one local event each month

The best question to keep asking as you plan your marketing is this: If I achieve this marketing goal, will it help me achieve one of my business goals? If the answer is a clear yes! then you’ve got a winning marketing plan. If you’re not sure your marketing goals are going to drive your business goals, you may want to go back to the drawing board by investing in my Plan Your Marketing course. This course incorporates all the important factors of an effective marketing plan and can bring you significant clarity and confidence in your business marketing decisions.

In summary, make sure your marketing decisions translate to reaching business goals. I hate to see small business owners - especially ones on a tight budget - doing all kinds of marketing that aren’t the best combination or financial investment for growing their business.