How to Prepare a Small-Business Marketing Plan (2022)

How to Prepare a Small-Business Marketing Plan (2022)

What a SWOT Analysis Is, and How Best to Utilize It When Creating Your Marketing Strategy

One of the most valuable tools for Oregon entrepreneurs is a comprehensive small-business marketing plan. Why is it so critical to your success? Because without potential customers having awareness of your offerings, even the best product or best service will languish.

An effective small business marketing plan is not about having a big marketing budget—it’s about determining the right marketing strategies for your business, understanding your competitive advantages, and developing tactics to support your visibility and marketing goals.

In this guide, we’ll share some tips on preparing your small-business marketing plan, including how to:

  • Evaluate your business by creating a SWOT analysis
  • Determine your small-business marketing budget
  • Identify the target audience for your small business
  • Set marketing goals and build your marketing strategies
  • Finalize your small-business marketing plan

Evaluate Your Business by Creating a SWOT Analysis

The first step to creating a small-business marketing plan is to understand where your business stands. An honest assessment of internal and external factors will help you put together a strategic direction for your business.

One way to begin is by creating a SWOT analysis, which stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats.

For Strengths, consider what your business does well. What qualities separate you from others in your industry? What internal resources do you have that serve as an advantage? What tangible assets do you have, such as intellectual property, capital, or proprietary technologies?

Under Weaknesses, write down what challenges you have, whether they are something your company lacks, limitations in resources, or advantages your competitors have over you.

Identify Opportunities for your business, such as underserved markets for your products or services, favorable market trends for your products or services, and other external factors that may have a positive impact on your business and industry.

For Threats, take a look at what factors can negatively impact your business and industry, such as emerging competitors, changes to laws and regulations, and changes to customer sentiment.

Generally speaking, strengths and weaknesses should speak to internal circumstances, and opportunities and threats will focus on external factors that affect your small business.

Determine Your Small-Business Marketing Budget

Marketing costs money, so once you have a clear understanding of the circumstances of your small business from creating a SWOT analysis, it’s time to set a budget for your marketing plan.

As you begin to determine your marketing budget, be realistic about what you should invest. If you own a new business that is working to establish itself, you might consider allocating a higher percentage of your gross revenue as compared with an established business.

In addition to setting a monetary budget, consider the amount of time you plan to spend marketing your business each week. Oftentimes, busy entrepreneurs put their marketing efforts on the back burner as they get bogged down by day-to-day tasks. It’s crucial to apply enough time and resources in this area to move the needle for your business.

If marketing is not your forte and you don’t have time to focus on executing marketing strategies on your own (or don’t have a dedicated staff member to help you), your budget might include hiring specialists to assist with your marketing efforts.

Identify the Target Audience for Your Small Business

With your SWOT analysis complete and a marketing budget in mind, the next step in how to prepare your small-business marketing plan is to identify who you will target through your marketing efforts.

A small business’s target market is determined by many factors. You can consider specific demographics such as:

  • Geographic location
  • Business type
  • Gender
  • Income level
  • Marital or family status

You can also consider the psychographics of your target audience, which include:

  • Values
  • Interests and hobbies
  • Lifestyles
  • Behaviors

When you know who your target is, you can then determine which channels you will focus your marketing strategy on.

Set Marketing Goals and Determine Your Marketing Strategies

You’ve conducted a SWOT analysis. You know who your ideal customers are. Now it’s time to determine how you’ll reach them and set some benchmarks.

Some common examples of marketing goals include:

  • Increasing website traffic
  • Generating leads
  • Increasing social media followers
  • Growing an email list
  • Improving conversion rates

While setting specific goals is a vital aspect of the strategic planning process, it’s just as important to break down each objective into small, actionable steps to help you reach your goals.

Many small-business owners implement the SMART method (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-based), which can clarify each goal, focus your efforts, and efficiently allocate time and resources.

Consider these questions as you create your goals:

  • What is the goal? Be Specific.
  • How can my progress be Measured?
  • Do I have the skills and resources for this goal to be Attainable?
  • Why is this goal Relevant to my business needs?
  • What is the Timeframe for achieving this goal?

Once you have your goals in place, you can determine the best channels and marketing tactics to reach your target audience and make progress toward reaching your goal.

Here’s an example of a SMART goal, and some marketing tactics that can be employed:

Goal:
Increase unique website visitors by 10% in 2022.

Marketing Tactics:

  • Create a search engine optimization (SEO) strategy.
  • Create a pay-per-click (PPC) campaign to drive new users to your website.
  • Implement a social media advertising campaign to create awareness and increase traffic.
  • Review progress on a monthly basis.
  • Finalize Your Small-Business Marketing Plan

The final task in the planning process of your small-business marketing plan is to prioritize the tasks you want to accomplish. Having a to-do list to reference takes the guesswork out of deploying your marketing initiatives while running your business.

As you finalize your plan, you may wish to have a mentor review your small-business marketing plan, particularly if you are a new business owner. The Oregon SBDC Network offers no-cost, confidential advising services in all areas of business to help Oregon entrepreneurs succeed.

For established businesses that anticipate growth, the network’s Market Research Institute provides customized, data-based reports to help business owners build a customized marketing plan based on their needs and goals at no direct cost.

Contact your local Center to get started!

How to Get a Business Loan in Oregon

How to Get a Business Loan in Oregon

Oregon is packed with over 320,000 small businesses. Many of these ventures started with a great idea. But to turn a concept into reality, you need money. An Oregon small-business loan can help you get your business off the ground or take an existing one to the next level. Keep reading to learn how you can get lines of credit for the working capital you need to make sure your company is one of the strongest small businesses in the state.

How to Use an Oregon Small Business Development Center (SBDC)

If you’re starting or expanding a small business in Oregon, you don’t have to go it alone. Both new and existing business owners can approach an Oregon Small Business Development Center for guidance and resources. Even if all you have is an idea, a Small Business Development Center can help you get everything in place so you’re ready to approach lenders about getting a loan.

An Oregon Small Business Development Center can help you transform your business idea—no matter how well-developed it is—into a solid plan designed to secure the funding you need.

For Existing Businesses

If you’re applying for funding for an existing business and you need your first loan, a Small Business Development Center can help ensure that your plan has the right content and structure. For example, they can make sure it emphasizes your current earnings—and those you will get as a result of the new funding—in a way that’s honest, realistic, and compelling for a lender.

Also, as a seasoned business owner, your organization may have some qualities that can make it more appealing to a lender. An Oregon Small Business Development Center can help you identify attributes that can enhance the appeal of your business.

For New Businesses

A business plan is essential, and many new business ideas may not have one already in place. But don’t worry: SBDCs specialize in helping you formulate thorough plans that can get you the funding you need.
A strong business plan outlines several key elements of your business model, marketing strategy, product or service development, and structure. A plan needs to include the following:

  • A detailed description of products or services, including their strengths, weaknesses, and plans for upgrading or adjusting them
  • Profiles of your target customers
  • Marketing strategies for each kind of customer
  • Sales techniques and tools you will need
  • Product development life cycle plans, including future phases of development for each product or service you provide
  • A plan for how you will spend the money you borrow
  • A financial plan outlining when and how you will repay your funds
  • Your business structure (LLC, corporation, etc.)
  • A detailed outline of each principal’s responsibilities
  • A description of the physical resources, equipment, inventory, and other items needed to support your business
  • Any real estate requirements, such as a shop or office space rental

Once this is accomplished, you can approach a lender with the kind of plan that inspires confidence in your success. Oregon SBDCs have access to LivePlan, an online business plan resource that makes sure your plan is complete and suits your kind of business.

Options for Getting Loans

To get a loan for your business, you have a few different options, including:

  • A Small Business Administration (SBA) loan. While the SBA itself doesn’t lend money, it works with lenders and has standards you have to meet to qualify for the loans its lenders offer.
  • A private lender. A private lender can be anyone from a friend or relative to a venture capitalist. Regardless, you will need to have a business plan in place before approaching any private party about funding.
  • The Entrepreneurial Development Loan Fund (EDLF) from Business Oregon. This organization provides direct loans for start-ups and small businesses that made less than $1.5 million in the past 12 months or are owned by a severely disabled individual.
  • An Economic Development District entity set up by the Economic Development Administration (EDA). The EDA has districts across the country that support the development of economies in those areas. In some cases when a bank can give you only some of the funds you need, the EDD may be able to help you find the rest.

Does the Government Hand Out Business Loans?

The short answer is “Sometimes”—but only to people who have strong business plans that address a pressing need the government has. Generally speaking, unless your business solves a specific problem the government is facing, it will be difficult, if not impossible, to get a loan from any state, local, or national governmental entity.

With a strong business plan in hand, you have plenty of options for securing a loan to fund your new or existing venture. To locate an Oregon SBDC near you, visit our website.