How To Start & Grow Your Business

Chapter 4: Writing a Marketing Plan

As a large and successful athletic footwear company says, "Just Do It". Don’t be intimidated. Lay out a set of simple bullet points describing who your customers are and then a set of points regarding your plan to reach them and communicate with them. Explain how you are going to gain awareness, create leads and ultimately make sales. Once you’ve completed this exercise the Marketing Plan should flow more easily.

What is a marketing plan?

A marketing plan describes the market for your product or service and sets out your strategy for entering or increasing your share of that market.

It includes:

  • Demographics of your target audience
  • Personal or business needs that your product or service will meet, in other words the problem you’ll solve
  • Method of delivering products to the market
  • Tactics to communicate effectively with your target audience
Free Bonus Materials: An easy to use template & PDF checklist that shows you exactly how to create a perfect marketing plan. You can sign up for free and then visit our Learn area HERE.
Here’s the deal:

Follow the steps laid out below and you’ll be well on your way to an excellent marketing plan which is one of the most crucial parts of your business plan.

Tip from an Expert

Ivana TaylorMy tip for writing a marketing plan for a startup business is to focus on 5 things first. Who is your ideal customer? What is the problem that you are solving for this ideal customer? What is their perceived notion of how this problem is solved? How does the rest of the world tell them that this problem is solved? How do YOU believe this problem is solved? These 5 questions get to the core of your business, your purpose and will guide you in completing your most basic marketing plan.

Ivana Taylor, Founder of

Present details of your target market

What is it for?
The most successful companies are driven by the needs of their customers. They develop products, offer skills and expertise, provide support and build relationships that maximize customer satisfaction and create strong barriers to competitors. Customer focus is essential to success, so your marketing plan should identify the people who will likely buy your offering.

Look at the bigger picture first – are you selling to individual consumers or businesses and why would they need your product or service? If you are targeting consumers, demographics help you build a profile of your ideal customers. That way you can communicate with them as individuals.

When you target businesses, the profile is different. You need to understand who makes the decision to buy and who influences them.

How to write it:
Include the following information:

1) Consumer demographics
Describe your target consumer:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Geographic area
  • Education level
  • Income bracket
  • Interests

Explain what they are looking for in a product or service like yours.

2) Decision-makers
They will greatly vary depending on whether you are a business to consumer model (B2C) or a business to business model (B2B).

For B2C companies, you can primarily rely on the demographics described above. For B2B companies, you need to elaborate on who your target buyer is. Who are the purchasing managers, as a starting point, and what other managers and executives may influence the buying process?

If you are selling big-ticket items, include executives who will need to approve decisions, such as the finance director or CEO. Start with the profile of your individual buyer, but be aware of the influencers in the background.

Did you know?

Global marketing spend exceeds $1 trillion, which makes it between 1 to 2 percent of global GDP.
-McKinsey & Company

How will you win market share?

What is it for?
Now that you have a profile of your target audience, your plan should describe how you will turn them into customers. By ranking well in search engines such as Google, you can make it easy for prospects to find you.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is important because so many consumers and business buyers use Internet search to identify companies or products that meet their needs and often base decisions purely on the website that comes up first. Alternatively, you can use other lead generation techniques (such as Facebook ads) to find and nurture prospects.

How to write it:
Here are two critical components for you to consider in developing a plan to gain marketshare:

1) SEO & Social Media Marketing
Briefly describe the size of your online audience based on the numbers gathered from the Google keyword research and Facebook ad tools. With the Facebook data it is important to include suggested cost per click (CPC) as well as relevant demographics such as: age, interests and location. You should also include estimated CPC for each keyword and the location your data, from Google, is based on e.g California.

Below is a screenshot from the Google Keyword Planner showing the USA “average monthly searches”, “competition” and “suggested bid (cost per click)” for keywords relating to “cupcakes”.


Below is a screenshot from the Facebook Advertising dashboard. It shows the different demographics (country, age, gender & interests) we have selected with the corresponding audience of 13 million people. That’s a lot of cupcake lovers! 🙂

Notice the suggested bid per click is between $0.27 and $0.62? This gives you an idea of how much you might pay per click for visitors to your website from Facebook ads.

facebook demographics for cupcakes

This section of the plan is the place to show that there is in fact a market for your business and that through successful SEO and social media marketing strategies you’ll be able to reach this market in a cost effective way.

Did you know?

41% of marketers confirm content marketing’s positive ROI.
-Hubspot, State of Inbound 2014

2) Lead generation
Describe how your lead generation program will encourage your audience to opt-in to your email list.

Some ways you can capture their contact details:

  • Registration forms on your website
  • Ads and promotional offers
  • Free downloads such as eBooks with the help of services such as LeadPages

Explain how you will follow up with prospects.

Some options you have are:

  • A lead nurturing program
  • Contacting them directly to try to sell your product

Describe your sales strategy

What is it for?
A sales strategy describes how you will take your product to the market. The strategy you choose also influences the communications strategy in your marketing plan.

Indirect Sales
You build an indirect network of distributors and retailers who sell your products to their customers.

Marketing through indirect channels helps you reach wider markets.

Direct Sales
You sell direct to customers via your website or through sales representatives or telesales operators.

Selling direct gives you greater control over customer relationships and profit margins are usually much higher because there are no middle-men or women.

How to write it:
1) If you have an in-house team of sales or telemarketing representitives (direct sales), describe their training, how many there are and what sales techniques will be employed by the team.
2) List the organizations that make up your distribution channel (indirect sales), describe the market coverage they offer and outline your plans for supporting the channel with training and promotional material.
3) Any plans for developing e-commerce on your website should go here as well.

Tip from an Expert

Sujan PatelFocus on pre-launch marketing & start blogging early. For pre-launch, build a landing page as early as possible and describe your solution for a problem you’re solving for your target customer (sounds easy but is really hard) in as few words as possible. Start building your email list and hype by talking about you product on blog posts by commenting & quora threads related to your business. Next big part is blogging, blogging helps build credibility and trust with your potential customers (& email list). It’s also a great way to keep people engaged with your brand while your product/business is being built/finalized.

Sujan Patel, VP of Marketing at When I Work

Your outreach and communications strategy

What is it for?

Get the word out with a communications strategy that describes how you will reach your target audience, the media you use and the messages you deliver.

In the early stages of your business, aim to communicate with your audience without spending a large part of your budget. The next section outlines a number of cost-effective techniques that can help you achieve that.

How to write it:

Try to include as many or all of the following 7 key areas of communications.

1) Social media

Specify your strategy for using social media to join the conversation and spread the word about your business quickly at minimal cost:

  • Choose the most relevant social networking sites for your business to engage in, based on the user demographics and nature of your business. This will likely be a combination of one or more of these sites: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, LinkedIn or Pinterest.
  • Describe how you will engage these different audiences and the type of content you will release on these sites.
  • Comment on discussions about topics relevant to your business on all social networks to demonstrate your involvement and commitment to potential customers.
  • Monitor conversations so you can learn about your market and discover the pain points of your consumer.
2) Mobile marketing

Mobile marketing should be an essential part of your marketing plan. Mention whether you will utilize a mobile responsive design, optimize your website to improve user experience on mobile devices, or develop an app if you can afford it.

Describe how you will send marketing messages to mobile users, including location-based marketing techniques if they are relevant to your business. If you run a store or restaurant, for example, you could send exclusive news and promotional offers to customers via SMS.

Provided by
Talk to your customers on mobile

3) Email marketing

In this section you’ll want to outline how you will maintain regular contact with customers and prospects at minimal cost with an email marketing program.

Here, you can say a little bit about what your email campaign might include: helpful content, updates of new products, special promotions or company developments to keep customers informed.

Also describe your strategy to learn customers’ preferences so you can send personalized emails that speak directly to their needs and offer true value to them.

4) Content marketing

Show how you will engage your audience by including a content marketing strategy to attract visitors to your website.

Specify your plans for writing a regular blog or publishing articles and white papers on topics of interest to your audience. Your plan should demonstrate that you have a good understanding of the market.

5) Video

Describe how you will use video to offer free how-to tutorials, demonstrate your product or service, and offer tips on installation and operation.

Your description will justify why video will add interest and value to your website content and keep visitors longer on a page as well as attracting new customers through popular sites such as YouTube.

Provided by
Don’t forget offline

6) Offline marketing

Explain why you will use offline marketing in certain circumstances. Describe how you will use direct mail to send promotional material with a personal touch when you target a small niche market and have prospects’ contact details.

Show how you will place advertisements in local newspapers or directories to access prospects who are not online.

7) Public relations

Estimate the return on investment (ROI) of a simple public relations initiative to get your name in front of a wider audience or in front of a narrower, but highly targeted audience. Include specific plans for sending press releases to online blogs, news sites and also offline newspapers, radio stations or publications relevant to your niche market.

Free Bonus Materials: An easy to use template & PDF checklist that shows you exactly how to create a perfect marketing plan. You can sign up for free and then visit our Learn area HERE.