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Our Blog March 4, 2024

How to write a marketing plan

Writen by octaadsmedia

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Planning your marketing activity can help you avoid costly errors.

A marketing plan is like to a GPS for your business: it tells you the best approach to achieve your sales and income objectives while avoiding time-consuming and costly mistakes along the way. Mallika Kazim, a BDC Senior firm Advisor, offers some advice on creating a marketing plan that will help you map out your path and keep your firm on track.

What is a marketing plan?

A marketing plan outlines your intended marketing/advertising activities for a specific period, usually over the next 12 months. It describes how you’ll reach, attract and persuade customers to buy your products or services, with clear goals, actions and accountabilities.

While large corporations might have an overarching marketing strategy with individual plans for each part of the strategy, Abdulla recommends entrepreneurs with smaller businesses keep things simple.

“Think in practical terms,” she advises. “It’s not about capital-S ‘Strategy’, it’s a how-to for achieving your targets.”

The marketing plan is your attack plan for chasing after your high-priority revenue opportunities.

What is the goal of a marketing plan?

Most businesses will have multiple plans that interact and support one another.

Your marketing strategy describes the promotional strategies that will assist you achieve the objectives of your company plan, which defines your target markets and the solutions you will provide to them. It should also be in line with your strategic plan, which determines your company’s general course for the following three to five years.

“If you’ve done your business plan, you know who you want to sell to and why,” Abdulla said. “The marketing plan is your attack plan for chasing after your high-priority revenue opportunities.”

A well-designed marketing plan also instills trust in financial institutions, demonstrating to lenders that your business has a good possibility of success.

How to build a marketing plan in 5 steps

Creating a marketing plan usually entails the following steps:

1. Conduct a SWOT analysis

Consider your own strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats:

  • Strengths are factors that improve your position in the marketplace. These can include skills, capabilities and proficiencies that can’t easily be copied by your competitors, such as low production costs due to superior technology.
  • Weaknesses are factors that reduce your ability to achieve your objectives, such as unreliable delivery or outdated production tools.
  • Opportunities are ways your business can grow and become more profitable. These might include entering new markets or adopting new technologies.
  • Threats are factors that could have a negative impact on your business in your primary markets, such as labour shortages or detrimental economic/political developments.

Because your strengths and weaknesses are determined in connection to your competitive environment, as part of this stage, you’ll want to conduct a competitive analysis to get a clear picture of where you stand in the marketplace.

2. Profile your customers

Divide your present clients into three or four major groups, possibly by industry or transaction size. Then delve into what distinguishes the customers in different groups: who they are, what they want, how much they spend, the information they use to make purchasing decisions, etc.

Example of a customer segmentation table

This is your time to show that you know your customers inside and out. Create a detailed profile of them, including age, gender, career, income level, education, and geographic area. It’s also crucial to understand what drives people to buy. Consider why they would select your items over those of your competitors.

“This is often the ‘a-ha’ moment,” adds Abdulla. “Many entrepreneurs believe that all of their consumers are the same, but this is not true. By narrowing your consumer categories in this way, you can prioritise and apply your marketing dollars considerably more efficiently.

3. Set clear objectives

What do you hope to achieve with your marketing plan? Make sure your goals are feasible and practical. Smaller enterprises frequently have the same business and marketing objectives. This implies you can use your company plan’s sales targets for this step, such as those connected to:

  • Market share
  • Total number of customers and customer retention rate
  • Average purchase size

Not all of your goals have to be financial. Abdulla advises her clients to set different types of benchmarks, such as digital engagement. Can you measure your social media engagement in terms of followers, shares, retweets, comments, and likes? Your website also provides useful information, so you should utilise tools like Google Analytics to measure visitor counts and conversion rates over time. These may not have a direct impact on your bottom line, but they are crucial indications of the health of your brand.

4. Address the “four Ps” of marketing

Once you’ve determined your goals and who you want to target, it’s important to make some smart decisions about how you’ll accomplish them. Abdulla recommends using the “four Ps” of marketing to discover the best strategies to address the needs of each consumer segment:

  • Product: What product or service will best meet their needs? Will you need to tweak your existing offering to better stand out in the marketplace?
  • Pricing: How much will you charge? Could you make changes to your pricing to increase your competitive advantage? Pricing is typically based on how much something costs to make, market, distribute and sell, and also on the profit margin you want to achieve.
  • Place: Where do customers search for, choose, buy and use your product or service? Are your offerings available where customers are most likely to find them? Be sure to consider both physical and online places.
  • Promotion: How will you communicate and sell to your customers? This is what most people think of when it comes to “marketing” and can include advertising, in-person sales, public relations, social media marketing, email marketing and other promotional tactics.

“If you’ve built good profiles and know what makes your customers tick, it should be instinctive to figure out how best to reach them,” Abdulla said. “For example, if you’re selling something very visual, like handmade jewellery, and your target market is female, Pinterest and Instagram are where you will want put the bulk of your effort.”

Include a timeline for all of the approaches you’ve selected, and designate someone within your company to be in charge of carrying them out.

“If you’ve created strong profiles and understand what motivates your clients, determining how to best reach them should be instinctual.”

5. Create a budget

How much will it cost to carry out each of the tactics you’ve identified? Consider everything that could be involved, from copywriting and visual design to the customer relationship management (CRM) systems you’ll need to use.

According to Abdulla, creating a budget is frequently the most difficult aspect of marketing strategy for many companies, particularly if they have never done so before. Her advise is to keep it simple.

According to her, most industries require a minimum marketing spend of 1% of topline sales.

“It’s not a full-blown financial plan,” Abdulla explains. “You only actually need a budget. You’ve planned out your objectives. Now calculate the costs associated with attaining them.”

She also advises businesses to seek approval from the bookkeeper or chief financial officer—whoever controls the company’s money—as they will be the ones to sign off on any suggested budget.


How much time should I spent on writing a marketing plan?

The allocated time and money you spend on marketing your business vary depending on your business’s size and revenue. However, as a general rule of thumb, we advise that businesses spend between 5% and 8% of their turnover on their marketing budget. 

We recommend that you have a marketing plan in place with clear marketing instructions so that you do not allocate more time than necessary to marketing activities, meaning you can reduce sporadic spending. 

Here is how you can keep track of how much time and money you spend on your business’s marketing: 

  1. Use the 5% rule – We estimate that you should spend around 5% on your marketing. The way to calculate your 5% marketing budget is as follows: 

To maintain current brand awareness and visibility = total revenue x 5%  

To grow your market share = total revenue x 10% 

This estimate blanket approach will need to be adjusted based on your overheads and funds after expenses. 

2. Consider marketing expenses by industry – The marketing time and expense will vary depending on the industry, scale of your business and revenue. For example, a large industrial manufacturer will require a larger marketing fund, the marketing for this business will take more time and will require more manpower. You can estimate the marketing time and expenses by splitting down your marketing into  

  • B2B Product & B2B Services 
  • B2C Product & B2C Services 

As seen in the image below. 

No alt text provided for this image

3. Mobile marketing – It would be wise to allocate a larger part of your marketing budget toward mobile marketing. Especially as we are a more digitally present world – you should look at directing the funds to: 

  • Your website 
  • Create a platform that showcases your products and services that is user-friendly. 
  • A blog – a chance to showcase your expertise 
  • Social media accounts  
  • Youtube channel  
  • SMS messaging  
  • Build an app for your business 
  • Develop customer loyalty through a convenient, quick and reliable shopping channel 

Did you know that we offer blog writing services at The Little Marketing Company? Why don’t you book a FREE 30-minute discovery call, and we can discuss how we can help you to take back control of your marketing, no matter your budget? 

4. Decide on your marketing – what channels do you wish to utilise to market your business? There are so many options available to you, such as: 

  • Social media marketing  
  • SEO  
  • Email newsletters 
  • Paid advertising  
  • Reputation enhancement 

5. Research marketing statistics – and familiarise yourself with industry marketing budgets and strategies. This will help you decide where you fit in and give you marketing inspiration and an idea of how much you need to spend to stay alongside or above your competitors. 

 Consider these financial factors.  

  • Does your business have a recurring revenue model? 
  • What are the profit margins of your service? 
  • How many customers do you wish to have within your budget?  

For more information on how to market your business, including budgeting, why not take a look at one of our earlier blogs, ‘How to Plan for Low-Cost Marketing’ by clicking on the link below: 

Is your marketing and spending sporadic? Perhaps you allocate time for marketing but are not so regimented with your budget. Maybe you need a little help figuring out how much time and money to spend on marketing for your business. We would be happy to help; you can email us at We would love to hear from you to see how much time and money you spend on your marketing. Let us know in the comment section below.  

Aside from my bookkeeper and CFO, who else in my company can assist me with my marketing strategy?

  1. Marketing Manager/Coordinator: If your business has a dedicated marketing team or personnel, they would be a primary resource for crafting and executing marketing strategies. They can provide expertise in market research, campaign development, advertising, and promotion.
  2. Sales Team: Your sales team interacts directly with customers on a regular basis, making them well-positioned to offer insights into customer preferences, pain points, and buying behaviors. Collaborating with them can help align marketing efforts with sales goals and customer needs.
  3. Customer Service Representatives: Similar to the sales team, customer service representatives have direct contact with customers and can provide valuable feedback on customer satisfaction, common inquiries, and issues. Their insights can inform marketing strategies aimed at improving customer experience and retention.
  4. Product/Service Development Team: The team responsible for developing your products or services can offer insights into the unique features, benefits, and value propositions that can be emphasized in marketing campaigns. Collaborating with them ensures that marketing efforts accurately reflect what your offerings deliver.
  5. Operations Manager: The operations manager oversees the day-to-day functioning of your business and can provide insights into logistical considerations that may impact marketing initiatives, such as inventory management, distribution channels, and production capabilities.
  6. IT/Technology Team: In today’s digital age, technology plays a crucial role in marketing efforts, from managing online platforms to leveraging data analytics for targeted marketing campaigns. Collaborating with your IT or technology team can ensure that your marketing strategies are aligned with technological capabilities and trends.
  7. Creative Team: If your business has an in-house creative team or works with external agencies for design, copywriting, or multimedia content creation, involving them in the marketing planning process can help ensure that your messaging and visuals effectively resonate with your target audience.

By involving these key stakeholders across various departments, you can develop a comprehensive marketing plan that leverages the expertise and insights of different areas within your business.

Is an outside expert necessary for a marketing plan?

It is not necessary, but because most businesses are not marketing specialists and are unsure where to begin when it comes to selecting techniques or allocating funds, don’t be scared to seek assistance. Bringing in outside aid can help you create a truly effective marketing strategy.

“While you can do the basics on your own, you may want outside help from somebody who has done this before and can teach you about the costs involved and what to expect,” Abdulla said.

Where can I find experts on making a marketing plan?

You may want to consider shopping out your plan to marketing communications agencies. Get quotes from them on how much it’ll cost to execute each tactic identified and then, when you’re ready, pick an agency and get started.

If you need an expert to help you put together a fully developed marketing plan, BDC Advisory Services can design a plan customized to your company’s needs.

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