What is a Marketing Plan?

what is a marketing plan

creative marketing plansWhat is a Marketing Plan and Why do I Need One?

I am getting deeper into my series on using the color wheel to create a fun, creative version of your marketing plan and I had one of those aha moments where I realized I haven’t spent time answering the million dollar questions, what is a marketing plan and why do I need one?

If you are new to this blog series on Mix & Match Marketing Plans, you can go back and read the first post here or find links to the series at the end of this post. The gist of the series is that marketing plans feel overwhelming and intimidating to many entrepreneurs and small business owners – especially if you are a right-brained, creative entrepreneur!

What is a Marketing Plan?

When you consider the definition of a marketing plan from a corporate perspective, it sounds something like this entry from Wikipedia:

“A marketing plan is a comprehensive blueprint which outlines an organization’s overall marketing efforts. A marketing process can be realized by the marketing mix. The last step in the process is the marketing controlling.

The marketing plan can function from two points: strategy and tactics (P. Kotler, K.L. Keller). In most organizations, ‘strategic planning’ is an annual process, typically covering just the year ahead. Occasionally, a few organizations may look at a practical plan which stretches three or more years ahead.”

What??? Planning??? Strategy??? Sounds technical, complex and a bit overwhelming for the small business owner who just needs to get clients through the door! So how can you create a simplified blueprint that works for you?


what is a marketing plan?

I believe that marketing plans for small business owners should be one-pagers – simple, focused and actionable! Does this image above overwhelm you? I showed it to my VA as a promotion for a marketing class and she went into immediate overwhelm and thinking it was going to be too much work to create a plan!

Most of us don’t enjoy the benefits of a mulit-billion dollar marketing budget like Coca-Cola and we don’t have dedicated staff doing all the creative effort and leg work to design and implement a long term marketing plan.

One of the benefits of being a small business owner is our ability to course correct – to make quick decisions and try new things when one marketing tactic fails to bring in the bucks as we hoped. That doesn’t mean we don’t need a plan.

What does a marketing plan for entrepreneurs and small business owners look like?

While there is definitely some strategy that goes into creating a marketing plan, for the right-brained, creative entrepreneur a marketing plan should simply be an action plan designed to get you clients. And to start, your plan should include a few tactics that you enjoy and that get you in front of your ideal clients! It should combine your financial goals with your calendar – how much marketing do you need to do to reach your money goals? How do you figure this out? By looking at your current income, deciding how many more clients you need and how much marketing you need to do to attract that number of clients. Some of you may need 20 new clients or want to sell 100 new widgets. Others may only need 2 new clients. Your marketing action plan should match your goals.

Also, if you are just starting out in your business, the majority of your time needs to be spent marketing your business! Stop wasting time and get busy. If you don’t have a plan in place, you will spend too much time spinning your wheels without taking the right actions. Successful marketing is about consistency and persistence.

The Ultimate Blog Challenge I am currently participating in is an example of being consistent and persistent. Blogging is one of my favorite methods of delivering content and creating with my ideal clients: creative entrepreneurs who struggle with consistency and planning.

How do you get started with your plan?

By determining the following:

1. What is your unique brilliance?

2. Who is your ideal client?

3. What problems do you solve for your client?

All of your marketing strategy will flow effortlessly from these three details, I promise. But I believe in making marketing fun, so I have spent my last few posts sharing how color relates to creating a marketing plan that is meaningful. So before your eyes glaze over, get some crayons or markers out and start working on your color wheel. Here is a sample to get you started.

what is a marketing plan

And if you can’t answer the crucial three questions above, consider applying for a free “My Perfect Marketing Plan” Strategy Session with me. Together we will answer these questions in a way that is meaningful and sets you on the right path to successful marketing.

The Tertiary Colors of  Your Marketing Plan

If you don’t know what a tertiary color is, it’s a combination of a primary and a secondary color. Get all the colorful details in this post.

Today’s color is Yellow – Green

If you have been following this series, you will remember that yellow is all about you and your unique brilliance. Green is about online marketing tactics that will work for you. Because these tactics will focus on you and the problems you solve, here are a few suggestions:

1. LinkedIn – does your profile summary talk about the problems you solve rather than offering a laundry list of tools and techniques or programs?

2. A Facebook page – this is a great way to showcase your genius and show what problems you help people with.

3. Pinterest – is a fun, visual way to connect with your ideal clients and share what your personal interests are.

Yes, I could share 15 or more different ways to market your business online but I want to focus on just a couple. In order to determine which is most appropriate for you (pick no more than one or two) consider where your ideal clients are spending there time and go there! Also pick strategies that are fun for you, too, or you won’t do them. Hate Facebook? Don’t bother creating an account. An inactive page is a waste of your time!

While yellow-green is personal and focused on profiling you, it still has to align with who your client is and where they are hanging out online.

Happy marketing,


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  1. Kay Franklin on July 9, 2014 at 11:40 pm

    This is a great article and your diagram really helps to focus in on what matters. Can I suggest you turn it into an infograph for sharing? I would love to add it to my site.

    • minette on July 10, 2014 at 5:43 am

      What a great idea Kay, thanks for the creative inspiration!

  2. Nanette on July 10, 2014 at 6:05 pm

    I’m left-handed so in my right brain (most of the time) :-). It used to be business plans were daunting (been dumb enough in the past to create those massive tombs that do little more than serve as door stoppers)) and suggesting a brief marketing plan with financials was a comparative breeze. I agree with you, marketing (and such planning) should be fun.

    One mistake I see a lot of small business owners making is leaping into an investment (time or money) without considering how this relates to the goals and the mix (used to happen a lot with the temptation for a media special section adverting buy – as you note, long-term and consistent is key for this to be effective). With a plan, as you suggest, it’s easier to realize if such a move makes sense.

    Thanks for sharing.

    • minette on July 11, 2014 at 6:49 am

      Amen to fun and to being consistent, the challenge for creative entrepreneurs is staying consistent with those pieces like systems and financials that are not so fun!

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