Use this basic, one-page marketing plan to say the right thing to customers, right from the start

To succeed in business, you need a marketing plan.  To make it easy, I am providing the world’s simplest marketing plan template below, suitable for small businesses or early-stage startups.  (And if you don’t think you need one, read why you need a marketing plan below.)

How to use the simple marketing plan template

Just answer the 10 questions below.  If any of the questions are hard to answer, that’s great!  The more you research your answers, the better your plan will be.  Answer every question honestly and thoroughly, and I guarantee that your marketing will be stronger, more effective, and more efficient.

(Update: Want to see an example of what this template looks like when filled out? See this sample marketing plan!)

Download marketing plan template (.doc)

1) Objectives
What are the specific goals of your business this year?
2) Your Product/Service
What product or service do you offer?
3) Customers
Who buys (or should buy) your product?  What do they need it for?
4) Competitors
Who are your top competitors and what are their strengths?
5) Positioning
Given your competition, what makes your business great and unique to customers?
6) Pricing
How will you price your product?
7) Sales & Support
How and where will you sell and service the product?
8) Promotion
How will people find out about you and your product?
9) Budget
How much money do you have to promote the product?
10) Action Plan
What will you do and when to sell and promote your product?

Download marketing plan template (.doc)

Why you need a marketing plan

Marketing is simply a process of communication and persuasion.  It is communications, because you are putting a message into the mind of your audience.  It is persuasion, because you are doing it to get them to take some action.

Thus to do marketing right, you need to answer some basic questions. What is your message? Who is the audience? How will the message be interpreted? What action do you want them to take? All this is covered in your marketing plan.  The marketing plan is designed to make this process of communications and persuasion explicit, thorough, and effective.

You also need a marketing plan because whether you like it or not, all businesses do marketing in some form:

  • Customers have to find out about you somehow.
  • Customers will form opinions about you and share them with others.
  • Customers are always comparing you to the competition — even if that competition is just to save their money and go without your product.

If you want to manage what people think and say about you, you need a marketing plan. Without a marketing plan, you simply don’t know what you’re doing or where you’re going.

Now, it’s true that many businesses I encounter don’t have a current marketing plan.  They might not even have a marketing plan at all — even the ones spending millions of dollars per year on marketing!

This is a waste of time and money.  Companies without a marketing plan often spend money on the wrong customer, with the wrong message, communicating via the wrong channel.  What’s the point of that?

As they say, if you fail to plan, you should plan to fail.

But this is an easy problem to fix.  Just start with the marketing plan template above.

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