Marketing plans do not have to be difficult to develop and implement. The best marketing plans are the ones that give you an easy path to follow for success. If you are a small business, below are some marketing tips that will help you create a simple and effective marketing plan to maximize your marketing spend and grow your business.

A simple marketing plan should include the following key elements:

Market Trends
There are certain market trends that will affect your market, competitors and your business so it is essential to work out which market trends will represent the greatest opportunities or threats to your business now and in the future. Market trends to analyze include: changing customer attitudes and behavior, economic factors such as rising inflation and changes in the media that your target customers now use.

Customer Analysis
The deeper you understand your key customers and why they want to buy from you rather than your competitors the easier it is to select the marketing tactics which will develop your relationship with them. A simple place to start is to conduct a survey with your existing customers.

Competitor Analysis
It is essential to analyze your competitor’s key strengths and weaknesses to effectively beat them in the market. Look at their website, buy their products or experience their customer service so you can understand how they may be marketing to your customers to win them over.

Key Point of Difference
To develop a simple and effective marketing plan you must know what your key point of difference is versus your major competitors and how you can communicate this difference to your customers in all the marketing material and media you use.

Previous Marketing Tactics
It is important to analyze your past marketing tactics to see which worked and which did not work. As a rule of thumb the cost of your marketing tactics should be covered by the sales generated.

From the analysis above you will be able to quickly complete a SWOT. Just write down 2 to 3 major strengths and weaknesses of your business as well as 2-3 major opportunities and threats of the market in which you compete. A SWOT analysis will form the basis of your marketing plan that you can complete in a short time.

Marketing Objectives
Select 1 or 2 marketing objectives i.e. what action you want your current and potential customers to take in order to achieve your sales objectives. These could be increasing awareness, gaining x number of new customers, increasing the number of times your customers purchase from you etc.

Marketing Strategy
Once you have selected your marketing objectives you need to choose the key area/s you are going to focus on to grow your small business. First you need to decide whether you are looking to retain, attract or expand business with your customers. Then choose the key areas of focus eg. service delivery, personalized communication etc.

Marketing Tactics
This is the fun part and it is a lot easier to select the right marketing tactics now that you have a marketing strategy in place. Eg. if your marketing strategy is to focus on retaining your key customers with service delivery and communication, your marketing tactics could be the introduction of a 24 hour online help service and exclusive newsletter for your key customers.

Make sure you have a calendar with all your marketing tactics scheduled so that you know in advance what actions you are going to take during the year. A further tip is to continually monitor your market, customers and competitors as this will mean it will take you even less time when you complete your marketing plan each year.