When it comes to marketing, many business owners are unsure of where they should be spending their time and resources. It’s no surprise. Between websites, blogs, social media, Google Ads, video, and more, there are a million places you could spend your marketing budget.

As a marketing agency, we’ve seen too many businesses fall into the trap of focusing on these individual tactics, without a solid strategy in place first. Starting with a marketing plan is one of the best ways to set your business up for success and make sure you’re investing your marketing dollars wisely.

Regardless of whether you’re planning a full year marketing strategy or a single campaign, here are six simple steps that can help you lay the foundation for success.

Let’s dive into these one at a time!


In-depth discovery starts with research. As knowledgeable as you may be about your business, don’t assume you know everything there is to know about yourself, your customers, or your competitors. If you haven’t already, take a good, honest look at your current situation. Who are your current customers? What kinds of marketing are you already doing? Think about what’s working, what’s not, and what you can change.

One right way to do this is a SWOT analysis, which stands for Strengths, Opportunities, Weaknesses, and Threats. A thorough SWOT analysis can help you identify where you’re doing well and how you can improve your marketing in the future.


Once you’ve got a firm grip on where you are now, you can develop your vision for where you want to go. In this step, you can set SMART goals to reach your target.

Setting SMART goals gives you a clear direction and a way to judge if your marketing is successful or not. SMART goals are:






When you first start planning your marketing strategy, you might start with more generalized goals like brand awareness, customer retention, or getting more leads. Just make sure your marketing goals align with your overall business goals.

Identify Your Ideal Customer

 Once you know who your customers, you can develop profiles to identify potential new customers just like them. These are called buyer personas. A good buyer persona will go deeper than just demographics. It will also allow you to know what motivates your customers – their values, desires, and pain points.

Know your USP

What makes your business special? Your USP, or Unique Selling Proposition, is what sets your business apart from your competitors. It tells your customers how you solve their problems, and why they should buy from you versus anyone else.


People often confuse these next two steps: Strategy and Tactics. While they are closely related, a plan is your overall, big-picture approach to how you’re going to accomplish your goals. Tactics are the more specific, action-oriented steps you need to take. You should always have a general plan mapped out before diving into the details of tactics.

Here’s where we can take a look at the 7 P’s of Marketing: Product, Price, Place, Promotion, People, Process, and Physical Evidence. The first three especially will help you set your marketing strategy.


Finally, now that you’ve got your marketing mix defined, it’s time to dive into your tactics. One of the most common questions we hear at this stage is, “How do I decide which tactics to use?” Remember to always choose tactics based on the strategies and goals you defined. Certain tactics are going to be more effective at driving leads versus generating brand awareness, for instance. Second, think about your audience, and they prefer to interact with your business. Do they spend time on social media? Or do they prefer more traditional methods?

Finally, consider your budget. Ideally, you should go through your planning process and determine what tactics you must do to achieve your goals and build your budget from there. But if you know you have a limited budget, you can also start with a dollar amount and prioritize how you can accomplish within that budget. 


Now you need a way to know if your plan is working or not. Choose meaningful metrics based on your goals. For example, if you’re trying to get more leads, you should be tracking things like form submissions or phone calls. But if you’re trying to increase brand awareness, look at metrics like brand mentions or branded search traffic.

Your marketing should include trackable Calls to Action like landing pages, tracked links, tracked phone numbers. Also, make sure you’re using tools like Google Analytics to measure key metrics for your website– they can give you enormous insight into how your marketing is working.


As you can see, there’s a lot that goes into creating a successful marketing plan. The good news is that you don’t have to get it 100% right the first time. Regularly evaluate your performance and make adjustments to your Strategy. Keep doing what’s working, and improve or remove under-performing tactics.

With 2020 just around the corner, now is the perfect time to revise your existing marketing strategy or start building a new one. If you need help planning your marketing strategy for the New Year, our team of marketing experts is here to help.

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