Beyond PR

Jan 07, 2016

8 Questions to Ask to Develop a Marketing Plan on a Small Business Budget

Marketing Plans on Limited Budgets

Regardless of whether you run a company on your own, a local brick-and-mortar with a handful of employees, or a startup that experienced rapid growth in 2015, I’d hazard a guess that having a prosperous year is your #1 priority for 2016. (You wouldn’t be here, otherwise.)

Marketing is a huge component of accomplishing this goal, and like most business owners, you probably already promote your products and services in some way.

However, are you doing enough to GROW your business?

Devising a comprehensive plan that includes digital media, PR, and content marketing is often overlooked by budget-strapped business owners. It’s dismissed as a “nice-to-have” that can be done some day, but not today.

The truth is: Outlining a marketing plan to boost your profit and support company goals does not have to break the bank. Optimize your limited budget by asking the following questions.

Where do we start?

There is no “one size fits all” solution to what is best for your particular business, and in order to structure your plan with a disciplined approach, you’ll need to do a bit of background research first.

Begin by researching your market to uncover who is currently buying your products and what other competitors exist in the marketplace. Are there potential partners or vendors that can help you reach your customers?

Consider also taking a deep dive into the current sales and benchmarks within your industry. This background research will prove to be the most important element in your plan as it is vital to your marketing’s overall success.

Who is our target market?

Identify your intended target customer and when defining your market, keep it simple but focused. Targeting a specific market with your tailored messages is a more affordable, efficient and effective way to reach potential clients and generate new business.

The simplest of plans, if researched and implemented effectively, can have the greatest impact.

High Impact Marketing and PR

What is our product?

Begin with identifying what your product is and how it relates to your market.  Once you’ve positioned the product, you’ll want to determine how to best communicate its attributes to your intended audience. This ensures that your messages will be received and will resonate.

Who is our competition?

At this phase, you should have an idea as to who your competition is. Another question to consider is how does your product differ from what your competitors are currently offering?

Take a look at how they are pricing their products and also how they promote them. This information is beneficial to the positioning of your business and may help you identify a gap in the market.

What is our intent?

After gathering all of the necessary information, now is the time to put your intent on paper. This statement should reference:

  1. The customer you are selling to
  2. The product that you are selling
  3. How this product differs from what else is available in the marketplace

What tactics will our strategy include?

Your marketing strategy should include tactics and channels that will help you gain access to customers. Budget-friendly paths include, but are not limited to:

  • Public relations
  • Email marketing
  • Social media
  • Trade shows
  • Partnerships
  • Webinars

For more tips on tactics that will help grow your business, download our guide to high-impact planning that drives ROI.

What is our budget?

When documenting your marketing plan, include a section in which funds are allocated for each of the strategies and tactics that are planned.  This will help you determine what aspects can be handled in-house to save costs.

Consider creating a monthly spending schedule so you can keep track of what certain strategies cost over time. Your plan should also be centered on what sales goals you are attempting to achieve.

How will we measure success?

In order for your plan to be successful, you’ll want to track progress throughout the year and make changes if necessary.

How you measure success should be through the tactics that are outlined to support the strategy. The number of visitors, leads and sales that each tactic brings in should be monitored.

Another great way to refine your marketing plan is by speaking with your customers. Consider a customer-facing survey that can help you better understand why or why not your efforts are generating results.

Creating a solid plan takes time. However, it’s time well spent because it provides your business the focus and direction you need for the upcoming year. Remember that your plan isn’t set in stone and you need to keep an eye on your budget and ROI and make adjustments when necessary.

If you run a small business and want to learn how to do more with less, visit PR Newswire’s Small Business PR Toolkit ( for additional tips and resources.

Author Amanda Eldridge is the director of strategic channels at PR Newswire where she educates small business owners and nonprofits on affordable PR & marketing solutions.  She has 15 years of experience in both communications and journalism and has worked in a variety of roles to put her into a position of expertise in her field. Follow her at @prnsmallbiz for tweets about small business marketing trends. 

4 Comments on Blog Post Title

­ Felica Sparks 12:29 EST on Jan 7, 2016

Great read, Amanda, and well said!!!

­ ?Glen at AP lawyers?. 08:41 EST on Jan 12, 2016

Well written article, easy to follow and concise. The truth is most of us at some time do that thing, nice to have but can wait. However, content writing is important and only noticeable by its absence. Thanks for the tips

­ RP Tech Valley 13:28 EDT on Apr 19, 2016

Such an informative post! I like the way you have explained everything, covering all the important points. Great job Amanda!

­ Kyle O’Ren 11:09 EDT on Jun 3, 2016

Asking how you will measure success is a great idea. There are so many ways to measure your success and it will change from product to product. Even if you aren’t selling your product in droves it’s good to track your success in getting your name out there or anything else that supplements growth.

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