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Almost all the marketing stuff out there says that I need a marketing plan – but that seems like a lot of work. Do I really need a marketing plan when I'm just getting started?
Marketing plans – the cornerstone of marketing courses and books for decades. They're written, presented, talked about, and then promptly filed away. The short answer to this question is: no, you don't need a traditional marketing plan that spans pages and takes weeks to write.
That's not to say that you don't need a plan. You do. But you don't have to do a complex SWOT analysis when you're just starting out. You'll need to do it eventually as you make big decisions about the direction of your business.
Here's what you do need to know:
- What your competitive environment looks like. You probably already did most of this when you decided to start your business, but you should know how big your market is, and who your key competitors are.
- Goals: What are your goals? Be specific. How will you know if your marketing was successful?
- Basic key strategies. How will you get the word out about your business?
- Budget: How much do you have to spend on marketing? This isn't just an advertising budget; you also need to consider how much marketing tools like an email service and website hosting will cost.
In many cases, you'll also want to create a marketing calendar that goes with your basic key strategies. This helps you stay on track. When you're just getting started, don't plan more than 3 months in advance (unless you need to plan for a big holiday season). You need the flexibility to adjust your schedule based on what's working and what's not.