Creating Your First Marketing Plan Part 2: Assessment and Homework

Welcome back! In Part 2 of Creating Your First Marketing Plan we're going to address the necessary, but often overlooked, assessment phase. (If you missed Creating Your First Marketing Plan Part 1: Why Take the Time? take a minute to read that first.)

Your Business Plan & Business Goals

Your marketing plan is not a full business plan. While the two work in unison, it is crucial that you establish business goals - at a minimum - before proceeding with your marketing plan.

If you create a marketing plan without clear business goals you risk wasting time and resources pursuing the wrong things. You also risk experiencing success with the wrong kind of growth...growth that will not serve the longterm vision for your business and your lifestyle.

Check out this Entrepreneur article for a helpful, short debrief on setting business goals.

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Your Target Market

Establishing your target market is, in my opinion, a really enjoyable part of the process. This is where you imagine your tribe, your people and you dig deep into learning the ins and outs of this community.

While this section will include rather mundane details like age, gender, location, etc., the fun happens when you get past the initial demographics. In thinking through your target market, consider the following:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Location
  • Income
  • Education
  • Marital/family status
  • Occupation
  • Values
  • Hobbies/interests
  • Attitudes 
  • Lifestyle
  • Favorite TV shows, movies, entertainment
  • Favorite books, magazines and blogs
  • Pain points
  • Needs

SWOT Analysis 

When completing your SWOT (Strengths/Weaknesses/Opportunities/Threats) Analysis, include answers on behalf of both your business and you personally as the business owner.

  •     Strengths (internal) 
  •     Weaknesses (internal)
  •     Opportunities (external)
  •     Threats (external)

Community Awareness

Instead of focusing on similar businesses as competitors, consider seeing them as community. Is it important to know what these businesses are doing, and how they're doing it? Yes. But not for the reasons you may think.

Examine these businesses from the perspective of understanding what sets you apart. In what ways are you different? What do your customers receive from you that they can get nowhere else?

If you have a hard time answering this question, stop right now and figure this out. The path to a sustainable, healthy business is paved with opportunities to serve your customers with the expertise, personality and style that is unique to your business. 

Embrace the aphorism that a rising tide lifts all boats. Be open for opportunities to engage and encourage others in your community. Running a small business is not easy, but the relationships you make with likeminded professionals can be a real bright spot.

marketing plan template

Current Status Review 

Take an honest, sometimes brutal, view of your current marketing status. Consider all channels, platforms and campaigns. Having a clear view of where you are now will help provide clarity for next steps.

Think through what is working, what is not working, lessons learned, curiosities and how you hope to grow in the following areas:

  • Website
  • Email marketing
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
  • Content marketing (blogs, eBooks, content upgrades, whitepapers, etc.)
  • Advertising
  • Public Relations
  • Packaging
  • Customer experience
  • Marketing systems and processes
  • Marketing technology (Customer Relationship Management (CRM), email automation, etc.)
  • Influencer marketing
  • In-person events
  • Customer/client gifts
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Instagram
  • Pinterest
  • Snapchat 
  • Other social

Are there key events/promotions/etc. already scheduled over the next three months? If so, what/when? Make sure these are included in your plan. 

Budget & Resources

What is your budget for this marketing plan? If this is your first plan, I recommend starting with a 3-month timespan, giving you flexibility to refine key elements of your plan based on your early results and experiences.

Budget categories should include:

  • Marketing technology subscriptions (email, contacts, automation, social, etc. tools)
  • Advertising (both social media advertising and search engine marketing)
  • Influencer marketing (bloggers, social media influencers, etc.)
  • Customer/client gifts (anything from packaging freebies to custom business gifts)
  • Team support (agencies, freelancers, virtual assistants, etc.)
  • Printing 

Include an honest assessment of available human resources. How many hours each week do you have to commit? How many hours do your team members have available?

As you scale, remember this golden rule of entrepreneurship: Do what only you can do and delegate the rest. If business growth and a healthy life/family culture are priorities, you cannot and should not be doing it all. Sometimes that looks like hiring staff and sometimes that looks like outside partnerships. Either way, prioritize your unique offerings and accept skilled, efficient support for the rest.

Don't let the cat eat your homework.

Don't let the cat eat your homework.

Up Next

Download our free Assessment Guide below. Consider this homework. When you complete this step you'll be ready for Creating Your First Marketing Plan Part 3: Building Your Strategies. Anyone who downloads the Assessment Guide will be notified when Part 3 is live.