The 60 minute marketing plan for small and start-up businesses

Marketing your business should be fun and simple. Surely there can be no better way to spend a day than working on something which is going to help you achieve your objectives more quickly?

Sadly many business owners don’t see marketing that way. They see it as a necessary evil; something that “must be done” rather than something to look forward to and clear time for.

Often this is because they’re not really sure where they should be spending their time and marketing spend.

If this is you, you need a plan. And the good news is you don’t have to spend hours on it. You can put together a very good marketing plan for your business in just 60 minutes. It’s just a case of answering a few simple questions, doing a little bit of thinking, then adding the magic ingredient: ACTION!

See, like any plan, your marketing plan is no use to you if it just sits on your computer and you do nothing with it.

As impressive as a 30 page document might look, it’s much more powerful to have a nice simple plan on a single sheet of paper. Then you can pin it to the wall next to your desk, and make your marketing execution really simple.

So start a new Word document or grab a bit of paper, and put aside the next hour as we go through ByteStart’s 60 minute marketing plan:

5 minutes: What do you want to achieve?

What’s your business goal this year? Double your turnover; or push profits up 50 per cent? Your business goal is your marketing goal. Whatever your business needs to achieve this year, write it down. Make sure your goal is simple, specific and achievable. Something like “increase sales to £250,000 in the current financial year” is perfect.

5 minutes: Where are you now?

Before you can set off for a destination you need to know where you are starting from. State your current progress on the goal, for example, “sales are currently at £125,000 a year”.

10 minutes: Who are your customers?

Who buys what you sell? If you are already in business this is easily answered. Look at your sales database and find trends among customers. This will guide you towards the kind of people you should be pursuing as customers.

If you are just starting your business, do some research on Google. Start by looking at testimonials on your competitors’ websites and analysing the kind of clients they have.

Once you know your target, you should also look at ways to cut these people down into niches. Generally speaking, the smaller the group of people the easier it is to learn about them and reach them. Write down your niche market, for example “our customers are accountants who employ between 1 and 5 people.”

5 minutes: What’s in it for them?

Or another way to ask this question is why would they buy from you and not your competitors?

Make a list of features of your business, then use that list to generate a list of benefits. For example, “assembled for you” is a feature, of which the benefit is “no need to muck around putting this together”. Buying decisions tend to be made on benefits rather than features.

15 minutes: Where do they hang out?

Now you know who you want to reach, where do you reach them? Do they read a specific magazine or visit a website? Is there a networking event or trade show they always go to? The easiest way to answer this question is to ask your customers. Compile a list of every possible place you can reach them.

20 minutes: What are the specific actions you should take?

This is the most powerful part of your marketing plan. You should take the time to produce a list of small, specific actions that will be really easy to execute.

You can’t make each action simple enough. If you write “target business owners at trade show” that’s far too broad. Instead break it down into a series of small actions, such as “order 1,000 new business cards”; “book stand at ABC trade show”; “buy a copy of XYZ magazine” etc.

If you can complete one action a day, you will get more than 250 things done in a year! Use ByteStart’s sales and marketing section to give you more ideas for actions.

Review regularly

Finally, don’t forget to revisit your marketing plan often. Pick a regular day to spend just 10 minutes checking it is still accurate and adding new actions. Ideally, you will do this weekly. After a few weeks, it will quickly become a powerful habit.

Last updated: 19th June, 2022

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