Writing a marketing plan

Creating a well-thought-out marketing plan is crucial for both reaching your target audience, and ensuring that your messaging and campaigns significantly impact your sales, fostering business growth. Below, we’ve outlined the main steps for preparing a marketing plan.

Understand your business – and your market

Before delving into the details of your marketing plan, gain a clear understanding of both your business and the market it operates in. Start by conducting a SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) to assess your business’s current position:

  • Strengths: Identify what sets your business apart from competitors. Is it your product quality, your customer service, or the fact that you offer something unique?
  • Weaknesses: Recognise areas where your business may be lacking or underperforming.
  • Opportunities: Explore potential growth areas in the market.
  • Threats: Identify external factors that could impact your business negatively.

This exercise will help set the objectives of your marketing plan and guide where to focus your efforts. It involves highlighting your product/service offer strengths, identifying opportunities for developing your customer audience, addressing weaknesses in response to negative feedback, and minimising the risk of threats.

In addition to this, you should also research your target audience (see below), competitors, and market trends to gain insights into what your customers are looking for, and what the general competitive environment is like in your industry.

Set clear marketing objectives

Once you have a thorough understanding of your business and the market, establish clear marketing objectives that align with your overall business goals. Ensure that your objectives are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound (SMART). For example:

  • Increase website traffic by 20% within the next six months, with a conversation rate of 2% among new visitors.
  • Boost social media engagement by 15% over the next quarter.
  • Generate £10,000 in monthly online sales by the end of the year, growing it as a percentage of overall sales from 15% to 20%.

Define your target audience

Knowing your target audience is fundamental to successful marketing. Use what you know about your audience to create detailed customer ‘personas’. A persona is a fictional profile that represents a group of people in your target audience. This includes demographics, interests, pain points, and consumer behaviour. This information will help you tailor your marketing efforts effectively – Hubspot have a helpful guide to get started with creating personas.

Read our guidance on how to define your target audience for more information.

Develop your marketing mix

The marketing mix consists of what marketing experts call ‘the four Ps’: Product, Price, Place, and Promotion – factors you can control to make a customer more likely to buy your product or service.

  • Product: Ensure your product or service meets the needs and preferences of your target audience.
  • Price: Determine the right pricing strategy based on market research and your business objectives.
  • Place: Choose the appropriate distribution channels to make your product or service accessible to your audience.
  • Promotion: You’ll need a comprehensive promotional strategy, including advertising, public relations, and social media and content marketing.

All four are important, but experts tend to suggest that price and product quality play the more significant roles in customer decisions.

Set your budget

Allocate a budget for your marketing activities. Consider both online and offline channels, as well as any marketing tools or platforms you intend to use. Ensure that your budget aligns with your marketing objectives and revenue projections. Find out more in our guidance on setting a marketing budget.

Choose your marketing channels

Select the marketing channels that will help you reach your target audience effectively. Think about where your audience spends their time and where they get their information. Digital marketing is highly influential, with a strong emphasis on social media advertising, email marketing, and search engine optimisation (SEO) for websites. Traditional marketing channels like print media and direct mail can also be effective depending on your audience. There is more information on marketing channels in our page about expanding your business online.

Monitor and measure

Once you put your marketing plan into action, you should also be closely monitoring the performance of your campaigns. Utilise analytics tools to measure key performance indicators (KPIs) and adjust your approach as needed to maximise spend and attention on what is working best. Read our tips on getting started with measuring your impact.

Review and adjust

Regularly review your marketing plan to assess its effectiveness. Be prepared to make adjustments based on changing market conditions, customer behaviour, and the performance of your marketing activities. Don’t be afraid to drop campaigns or approaches that aren’t working – but see what you can learn from them.

Creating a marketing plan is a critical step towards growing your sales and your business. By understanding your business, setting clear objectives, defining your target audience, and implementing a well-thought-out plan, you can increased the chances of successfully reaching and engaging more customers.

Learn more

Find out how to measure the impact of your marketing activities

Get started with setting a marketing budget

Work out who your target audience are

Choosing your online marketing channels

To help you make the right choices for your business, let’s go over some of the options available to you. It’s important to consider the pros and cons for each marketing channel and whether the channel is a good fit with your target audience. Email marketing There’s often confusion about whether email is inbound or


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Growthbox marketing service

The York & North Yorkshire Growth Hub are working with Growthbox, who help small businesses work out what marketing to do and connect them with their growing army of marketing experts all across the UK who can help them get it done.