Okay, we know it’s dull, you want to crack on but if you don’t plan your small business marketing how are you going to know when you succeed?

No plan, is a plan to fail. It doesn’t need to involve oodles of paperwork, but it does need to be a concise easy to follow strategy for your way forward. Ideally, plans should not be too long term although if you’re starting out a five-year plan will take you through various developments such as premises change, staff up turns, repeat business and so on. Alternatively, if established, you might like to take more time over department components, specific campaigns or product lines as you move forth.

Here are some basic small business marketing tips …


Where are you now? – your sector, your market, state of growth and future potential.

What changes will you face? – competitors, technology change, buying habits, legislation.

What are your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats? (SWOT) How are your competitors doing? – and how are they addressing the issues as far as you can tell?

What specific marketing activity have you tried or would like to try? Record past successes and failures.

Consider products and opportunities, marketing activity and share projection, manufacturing demands and stock outlay against cost.

Think outside the box on distribution, storage, flexible working and advertising.

Do a monthly cash analysis rather than project cost over the year. This will highlight peaks and troughs so that you know when you may need a financial buffer.

It’s all well and good having a small business marketing plan, but if it stays in the bottom drawer, it’s of no use.


Review annually and quarterly and draw down individual components into an action plan that is a monthly account of activity by audience, activity, results, overall cost and acquisition cost per client.

Common small business marketing mistakes:


The devil is in the detail. Break down costs and sales by territory, product or manufacturer, etc. You can then identify weakness or future successes.

Don’t imitate your competitor. Why dilute your market share? Plan to be unique.

Don’t be confined by last years plan, but do cut back on elements that did not produce high returns. Evaluate as you go, give things a second chance but if they don’t materialise, move on.

Always stick to a budget, you may be able to afford it now but did you plan for it? Leave it until your end of year accounts and reward your business then.

Consider efficiency. If planning improvements in production, marketing or staffing, what results are you aiming for?

Consider effectiveness. How efficient will you be responding to change, if, for example, the market suddenly rises, or falls, or costs spiral, and develop a strategy to respond to it. Consider the what if?

Have a Plan B – if it all goes wrong, or indeed right, how will you respond.


Review and critique all activity on an ongoing basis. Easy to do when things go wrong, less likely when riding high. Remember the good times as well as the bad, review periodically and use this when moving forward. Don’t rely on memory.

Make sure plans are achievable. It saves being disheartened, and it will ensure you have the right resources, and energy, to achieve your aims.