When it comes to marketing, one of the most common things we hear from small businesses is “I don’t know where to start”.

Yes, marketing can seem overwhelming, or hard, or scary. Particularly when there are sooooooo many options out there, or you are not a marketer.

And, it’s often said that taking the first step is the hardest, no matter what it is that you’re setting out to do.

That first step can be hard or scary or overwhelming.

BUT – it’s also the most important step.

The thing is, if you can make that start, make that first step to starting your marketing then the rest really doesn’t seem so overwhelming.

Especially if your first step is to put together a marketing plan.

Yep – start with a plan. Or is that start with planning your marketing plan?

Either way, if you don’t know where to start with your marketing, we always say

“start with a plan”.

Even if it’s a really, really, simple plan.

Getting started

If you’re wondering where to start, with building your marketing plan, here are four questions to ask yourself:

1. Where do I want to go? Or, what do I want to achieve?

In other words, what are your goals?

Link this to your overarching business strategy. Do you want more people to:

  • be aware of your business name
  • know what you do or sell
  • increase the amount of money they spend with you (other wise known as average $ sale or share of wallet)
  • walk through your shop door or visit you online

Once you’ve identified your goals then ask yourself:

2. How do I get there? Or what do I need to do to achieve those goals?

This is where you work out all the marketing options available to you that can help you achieve your goals. The list can be long – just remember that you don’t have to do all of them – at this stage you are just listing all the possibilities.  Oh, and look into how much each of the things on your list will be, ie the dollars $$.

For example, you could say “I need to…

  • have a website
  • connect with my database
  • build a digital/social presence
  • advertise – digital or traditional
  • network more
  • hold events
  • update the signage of my store/office”

3.  What is my budget?

Set your total budget for the year. Work out what you can afford to spend. Break it down to monthly, so you know what your marketing commitments will be each month.

This makes it easier to answer question 4.

4. What can I do with my budget?

Choose your preferred marketing actions from the list you created from question 2.

If you can’t fit everything you want to do in your budget, then drop it off the list (for the time being).

Ideally, you’re choosing the actions that should give you the best bang for buck, ie the ones that will give you the most valuable results in achieving your marketing goals.

For example, if you are wanting to increase your database, a Facebook advertising campaign with a “sign up and get something for free” call to action can be a low investment, high return option. Just make sure you target the campaign in front of people who will see value in your product/service and not unsubscribe after they get their free thing.

Building a really really simple marketing plan

Once you’ve answered those four questions, put the details into a one page spreadsheet.

Download a spreadsheet template including an example plan here

What next?

If you have a team, work out who will be responsible for what. And, as you can see in the plan, you can identify when will they action your plan.

If it’s just you, then you don’t need to put that part into the plan unless you want to.

Make sure you then book time in your calendar to:

    In fact you may simply want to build your plan directly into your work calendar (blocking out time on appropriate days) so you don’t forget when you need to do what.
  2. CHECK YOUR PLAN PROGRESS – at least monthly.
    Look at the results you are achieving compared to your original goals. Track how you’re going.

The important thing to remember when checking your progress is that there is no magic silver bullet.

Marketing takes time.

The impact of starting your marketing will not happen overnight, but it will happen… eventually.

Be patient and allow your marketing an absolute minimum of three months, preferably six before you expect to see results.

Finally, a really good reason to start with a plan is because, according to Coschedule, you are 313% more likely to report success if your strategy is documented.

So there you go, four questions to help you start your marketing. Sally forth, take that first step to starting your marketing. And good luck.