Too many small and medium-sized business marketers think the place to start marketing a product is coming up with a creative campaign and then execute on it. Campaigns and initiatives are simply vehicles used to achieve your marketing goals. A strong understanding of your product, your target audience, and your business will easily out-perform random acts of marketing.

This marketing plan template focuses on creating a solid foundation which will guide your marketing initiatives and campaigns. It is well worth your time to complete the steps within this strategy. Doing so will make you a more effective marketer and grow your business.

Step 1: Identify products

The place to begin is listing the products and services you offer. In the event you offer many products, for example, shoes, it isn’t necessary to list every style of shoe, rather, group them into appropriate categories. For example, women’s shoes, men’s shoes, kids shoes, etc.

Step 2: Prioritize products

Small businesses are forced to use their resources more efficiently when compared to Fortune 500 companies. It is difficult for small marketing teams to simultaneously launch marketing plans for multiple products. INC Marketing highly recommends prioritizing your products and begin the marketing process with only a couple. As the ball get’s rolling, you can add more products. Prioritizing products usually involve input from senior executives. What product(s) is most strategic to company growth? What product generates the highest profit margins?

Step 3: Create competitive analysis

Before understanding the business and marketing model for your prioritized products, it’s best to begin with a look at your competitors. Creating a competitive analysis will help you better position your products and identify key differentiating factors.

Step 4: Create personas

When it comes to marketing, a persona is a fictional representation of a particular type of person who may use, buy, or influence others to buy your product or service. Personas are based on real customer demographics and educated speculation about personal behavior and motivations. Understanding your customer is key to marketing to them.

Step 5: Create a Business Model Canvas for the top 2-4 products

A Business Model Canvas is a one-page document that summarizes the key components a marketer must understand about their product(s) to market it effectively. The information included in the model helps direct future marketing campaigns and initiatives.

Step 6: Write a positioning statement for each product

A positioning statement is a series of sentences that clearly define who a product is for, what the product is, the benefit of the product and what makes it different than similar products. Positioning statements, while they appear quite simple, do require effort to create. A well thought out positioning statement will help guide marketers when creating and executing marketing campaigns.

Step 7: Keyword Research

A focus keyword is a keyword or phrase; that defines the content found within a specific web page. While the keyword is primarily used to help search engines understand a specific web page, a focus keyword also helps bring focus when writing an article or web page copy.

Step 8: Define a sales qualified lead

A “lead” can mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people. A Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL) is not the same as a Sales Qualified Lead (SQL). In fact, the definition of an SQL will vary even within an organization. Simply put, an SQL is a prospective customer that has passed the MQL process and is deemed qualified to pass onto a sales team to begin moving through the sales funnel.

Step 9: Create SMART goals

One of the best ways to grow a company through marketing is by setting SMART, strategic goals. Without SMART Goals, marketers struggle to create marketing plans and execute campaigns that align with one another and company objectives.

Step 10: Create marketing calendar

Marketing a product requires preparation however without execution a company will never grow. A marketing calendar will outline the “gameplan” for a specific period of time. The marketing calendar it made up of tangible campaigns that are going to drive your message out there. There are three sections to a marketing calendar: Branding & awareness, lead generation, and retention tactics.

Step 11: Create marketing budget

With a marketing calendar in place, it’s important to understand what the costs are required to execute the campaigns. Putting together a marketing budget is just prudent planning.

Step 12: Present to key stakeholders

The final step to “getting started” is compiling all the planning you have done and presenting it to key stakeholders within your company. Key stakeholders may include owners, partners, managers and anyone else who will benefit from understanding the “gameplan” or can provide constructive feedback.