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How to create a simple marketing plan

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McWilliam & Powell Growth Marketing Saskatchewan

Is marketing the most powerful tool you have as a business owner? We believe it is, but only if you do it right. To accomplish brilliant marketing takes hours of tedious research, thoughtful strategy, and relentless execution.

Often businesses will hire a marketing company to complete a couple of months of tactical work. This is work that an owner can see because it produces tangible results like social media accounts, posts, flyers, billboards, radio campaigns, etc. This short-term hire tends to be ineffective; the marketplace requires consistency and a long-term plan. The challenge is that a business usually needs sales right away.

Here is a quick and dirty plan to get you to a place of consistency and developing sales right away.

Step 1 – Research

During the research phase, the goal is to have a ‘no BS’ view of the marketplace where your business resides.

Ask yourself three main questions during the research phase. There are additional questions,  but these are good questions to ask yourself and find the answers to as a start:

  • Who are the customer segments within the marketplace?
  • What drives them to purchase from you and your competitors?
  • Where is the gap between customers’ needs/wants and the services/products the marketplace is offering?

Customer segments are groups of people that think and act similarly. We aren’t trying to create avatars here. Groups can be segmented according to demographics, sex, age, location, psychographics, value drivers, phase of life, belief systems – the list goes on. Sometimes it’s as easy as identifying a group that is being severely underserved in the marketplace. Read How to develop a crystal ball in your marketplace for a deeper dive in how to conduct research for your firm.

Step 2 – Strategy

The strategic phase is much shorter than the research phase but will be the most impactful. This is where you choose what not to do. It’s less about what you will do and more about choosing what you won’t do. As owners, we want everyone to know everything about our business. It’s our baby, however, the truth is, nobody knows everything, and even fewer know anything. When you are embarking on a marketing plan, a good rule of thumb is to start by assuming nobody knows anything about your business. So what do you say? First, you must decide what not to say. You only have the attention of the marketplace for milliseconds, and even fewer will remember what you said. So it is important to choose one to two things to say. Two is usually best. What shouldn’t be said right now?

You must be able to answer the following questions:

  • Who are we targeting?
  • What is the brand position we will take?
  • Which product/service will be operated? Which product/service will we not operate on?
  • What are 2 to 3 key marketing objectives? (SMART goals)
  • How will you measure the campaign?

Brand position is the perception a customer has with your brand. What do you want your customers to think about when thinking about your brand?

Step 3 – Tactics

The tactical phase will be a relentless execution of the plan outlined in the previous stages.

The best marketing campaigns avoid choosing tactics before research and strategy. However, we understand time is of the essence and there are foundational elements you need to manage. The key here is making sure your strategy, positioning and research are indeed used during the tactical phase.

Here are a couple of foundational tactics you will probably need for your small business along with six questions to help you get started:


Does your website do the following?

  • Convert views to leads? (users on website to a contact you can reach)
  • Is it visible when searched?
  • Clear enough for a neanderthal to grunt its way through and tell you exactly what you do, how, you do it, and what to do next?


  • Are you spending enough on advertising? Why advertise?
  • Do your ads lead with emotion? Are they entertaining?
  • Do you reach enough people?

Marketing can be simple, and quite complex, however, the core doesn’t change. You need to review the market, to identify gaps, position your firm as the solution and communicate it well to the target. At McWilliam & Powell, we specialize in helping small businesses build their marketing system so the business is organized and sustainable. Book a Business Assessment today to get started.

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