Marketing Planning, Strategy and Budgeting in Small Businesses

Small Business Owners, Do You Have a Marketing Plan and Budget in Place?

Working with small businesses, it is not uncommon to work with someone that doesn’t have a marketing plan and budget. Some business owners prefer to work like this as they only do marketing when they feel they need to, so don’t need a plan to follow. A marketing plan is more than just a list of planned activity, it helps to create a better understanding of how marketing is helping the business to grow and achieve its objectives.

Many see a marketing plan as just a list of activity that is planned in for the week / month / year. A true marketing plan and budget is much more than that. It is a guide to how marketing is going to support the business in reaching its objectives. When creating a plan, it shouldn’t just be a case of planning out what marketing the business is planning to do and what it might cost. It should be built on the foundations of sales data, projected sales and business objectives.

All activity should be linked to a business objective that it supports. Objectives don’t have to just be sales related, they could be brand recognition, social media interactions or anything business related.

Choosing the right metrics when planning

A plan should be clear, showing planned activity and the expected results. These expected results should be supporting one of the business objectives and the metric used to measure it should therefore be clear and understandable. If sales were the objective, then sales volume would be the perfect measure. A plan can include as many campaigns and as many metrics as needed. The most important thing is that it is followed and reviewed. A marketing plan is not set in stone, if a campaign is not performing it can be pulled. A plan should be fluid because it should be reviewed and adapted throughout its duration.

A sales campaign from an in-depth plan might include the following metrics:

  • Target audience volume
  • Expected responses (calls /  open rate / click through rate / increase in website hits)
  • Expected sales (volume / value)
  • Response to sale %
  • Campaign Cost
  • Return on investment (increase in profit – cost)
  • Cost per sale

Why does a plan help?

Along with the analytical side of things, a plan also gives business owners a great tool for anticipating when things need to be done. A lot of management is required to ensure campaigns are delivered on time. From identifying the target audiences, to managing any required design and content, while also handling the sign off process, and everything in between, campaigns can take anything from a few days to a few months (or longer) to deliver. A plan lets the user see where they need to be in order to remain on track and, more importantly, deliver a campaign on time.


Including expected response rates make understanding performance against targets much easier. Clearly tracking targets vs actuals it becomes easy to see which campaigns are working well, along with those which aren’t performing. This allows the plan to be adjusted if needed and marketing spend can be reassigned.  Reassigning spend ensures that better performing activity is prioritised. Most importantly, doing so, means business objectives are met on budget, with campaigns delivered on time.

Constructing a marketing plan and budget

Constructing a plan requires a lot of analysis and foresight. The plan itself should be based on individual business objectives and previous campaign data. If a campaign is new to the business then estimations based on industry standards should be used, though these should be constantly monitored to ensure they are close to the actual results that are being achieved, otherwise the plan may be overstating, or understating, the expected response.

MD Marketing can help you to build a marketing plan that works for your business and is built around your business objectives. The plans that we create are unique and bespoke to your needs and your business. We also consider industry specific factors that in the areas that you operate in.

If you’d like to know more about how we work or if you’d like some advice, contact us. We are always happy to help.

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