How to Create a Marketing Plan for Small Businesses

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You’ve set up your small business, fulfilled all your legal requirements, and now you’re ready to receive customers. It’s time to connect your business with your community! And the best way to do that? Marketing.

Marketing is essential to getting your small business off the ground by acquiring new customers and maintaining relationships with previous customers. Regardless of what type of small business you run, you can benefit from a thorough and thoughtful plan that covers how you’ll promote your products and services.

To help you start marketing your business effectively, let’s go over the four most important components of your marketing plan. By addressing these specific areas, you’ll be better prepared to increase the visibility of your business, draw in more customers, and see greater success.

Unique Value Proposition

There are over 33 million small businesses in the United States alone, which means that your first marketing consideration should be how to set yourself apart from all the others. Even within your specific business type, whether you sell stickers, yarn, or refurbished office chairs, there are bound to be plenty of other entrepreneurs competing for your customers.

Ask yourself the following questions to determine what makes your business unique:

  • What is your business’s niche?
  • What makes your business different from all the others?
  • What does your business do that no one else does or can do?
  • What are the benefits your business brings to customers?
  • Why would people purchase your product or services instead of your competitors’?

To identify the answers to these questions, analyze your top competitors. Assess their business models, products, and services to see which consumer desires and wants they meet and what they don’t address.

Use this information to develop a unique value proposition that will serve as the foundation of your marketing efforts. This should be a statement that clearly outlines how potential customers will benefit from the products or services you offer, how your offerings will address customer needs, and what makes your offerings different from your competitors’ offerings.

For example, let’s say you run a massage business. Since you offer an in-person service, you research other local spas, wellness centers, and massage practices to better understand the services they offer. You notice that other businesses mostly employ massage therapists who specialize in pain-relieving massages such as deep tissue, sports, and medical massages. Based on this, you decide to offer gentler massages such as Swedish, aromatherapy, and hot stone massages.

In this case, your unique value proposition might be something like: We help individuals relax, boost their mood, and nourish their bodies and spirits by providing gentle and comfortable massages in a tranquil, pain-free environment.

Target Audience

The next step to creating a marketing plan for your small business is to establish a target audience. This group represents the people who are most likely to make a purchase from your business and your most qualified sales leads.

If your business has been up and running for a while, you likely already have information about your customers that you can analyze to determine your target audience. However, if you’re just starting out, then you’ll need to think carefully about the types of individuals who would be interested in your products and services.

Consider the following characteristics of your customers:

  • Demographics. Demographic information includes age, gender, location, education level, parental status, and more. This data will tell you more about commonalities between the individuals who purchase your products and services, informing your marketing strategy.
  • Interests and desires. Pinpointing specific interests and desires allows you to connect more deeply with your target audience in your marketing materials. For instance, if many of your audience members are drawn to purchasing long-lasting, high-quality items, you can highlight these qualities within your products.
  • Purchasing behaviors. Consider any patterns in your target audience’s purchasing behaviors. Maybe they usually make purchases over the weekend or during holidays. A well-timed marketing message at this time may result in an increase in revenue for your small business.

To gain access to this information, you may need to conduct a data append, where you use external data sources to fill in gaps in your database. Once you obtain these details, use them to create buyer personas that will shape the rest of your marketing plan.

Here’s an example of a buyer persona for a small business that sells mushroom-themed clay earrings:

  • Name: Lily
  • Description: Lily is a young woman who is a recent college graduate in her 20s, earning enough to have money to spend on non-necessities.
  • Needs: She’s trying to purchase items that fit her ideal fashion style and she’s obsessed with cute nature-themed products. She spends a lot of time on social media, especially Instagram Reels, to browse apparel and accessories she might buy.
  • Challenges: Lily is tired of purchasing low-quality items because they’re cheap. She’s looking for high-quality, durable, and long-lasting apparel and accessories that she can see herself wearing for years.
  • Purchasing behaviors: She’s an impulsive buyer—if she sees something cute and it’s not too expensive, she’s likely to purchase it.

Add this persona to your marketing plan so that you can easily refer back to it as you begin planning your future promotional activities and messages.


Another essential component of your small business’s marketing plan is your branding. Having established branding guidelines ensures that all your marketing materials are easily recognizable to customers. Think of Nike: All their target audience needs is a single glimpse of their iconic swoop logo and slogan to associate a marketing message with the company.

According to Fifty and Fifty, there are two categories of branding: visual and narrative. Visual branding includes your business’s:

  • Logo
  • Color scheme
  • Typography

Narrative branding includes your business’s:

  • Slogan
  • Mission
  • Tone
  • Specific vocabulary

Lay out guidelines for each type of branding to maintain consistency across all your marketing materials, regardless of the channel or format. That way, your existing and potential customers will always know when a message is from your business, building their awareness of and trust in your brand.

Marketing Channels

You’ve written your unique value proposition, established your target audience, and finalized your brand guidelines—what’s left? It’s time to decide which marketing channels your small business will use to reach your customers.

MassageBook recommends these channels for small businesses:

  • Direct mail
  • Email
  • SMS or text message
  • Social media
  • Paid advertising
  • Online business directories

The marketing channels you choose will ultimately depend on your target audience and their preferred methods of communication. To maximize your small business’s outreach, take a multichannel marketing approach, sending messages through the channels your target audience prefers. For example, if your target audience prefers emails or direct mail, send them announcements about new products, sales, and other messages through these channels.

To help you manage marketing through multiple channels, consider purchasing software to streamline the process. This can be a solution tailored to your specific small business (a massage practice might invest in massage software with marketing capabilities) or a general marketing tool. As long as it helps you juggle all the channels you need to market through, it’s worth considering, especially since small business owners such as yourself are likely handling all other business-related tasks.

Keep in mind that the format of your marketing messages will vary depending on the channels you choose. For instance, if you’re focusing on social media, you may need to dive into short-form video creation to lean into the strengths and trends of these platforms. In that case, you might need to purchase video editing software.

With a thorough marketing plan, your small business will be poised to create promotional messages with ease. It will help you pinpoint the best way to connect with new and existing customers to keep them interested in your products and services. Update your marketing plan year after year to ensure that it continues to be a helpful resource that engages and expands your customer base!

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