Many of you broke into a sweat after reading the title, didn't you? Many small business owners don't have a marketing plan because they believe it's too hard, too time consuming, or they just don't know where to start.

Creating a good marketing plan doesn't have to be overwhelming, or costly, but it will save you time and help you achieve your goals much more easily than you ever believed possible.

Start small, your plan can grow as your business and profits grow. In fact, without some sort of plan in place, it will be extremely difficult for your profits to grow. Don't fall into the trap we sometimes set for ourselves by having our marketing plan in 'mind'. You do need to memorialize it in some form so that you will be accountable to making it happen. And once you decide what you'll want to include in the plan, then you need to set it up on some sort of a calendar so that you'll be sure to implement it and track your results.

Start by identifying:

• Who is your ideal client?

• What do I have to spend?

• Where can I reach my ideal client?

Establish your ideal client profile by looking at your current clients and who can afford to buy your product or service? Who on your current client list seem to be the best fit for you and our expertise? What industry are those clients in, or what types of services to you enjoy doing for them the most?

Once you understand who that client is and what products or services you can and should be providing them, then identify the best ways to reach them. Where do they hang out? What industry associations or list serves do they belong to? What type of message will they respond to, in order to have their problems solved?

Next, consider your marketing budget. It should minimally be 10-15% of your yearly sales. Start simple, and make changes monthly or quarterly as you begin to see results. Be realistic and flexible. Having a budget will allow you to visualize and expand upon your program throughout the year.

The plan itself will have a number of options to consider. Here is a list of some marketing aspects to consider in your plan.

• Print advertising (including Yellow Pages)

• Direct Mail

• Email (include eZines and Blogs)

Networking (Chamber participation/membership)

• Sponsorship

• Trade Shows

• Article Writing

• Speaking

• Referrals

• Social Media

While some of these items will have little to no cost, including them in your marketing plan will help you stay on track and implement each segment as needed. Don't just participate in 'free' marketing options, although it can be tempting, you just won't be able to reach the top level clientele that you should be looking for.

You need to participate in multiple mediums so that you will determine the best, most logical and cost effective way to reach your ideal prospect and client.

When putting together the actual marketing piece, remember to include a 'call to action'. It could be a coupon in a direct mail piece, or a 'free' offer at the end of a speaking engagement. Just make sure you have different calls to action in each piece so that tracking success will be a breeze.

Check in quarterly to see how each segment is performing and make adjustments as necessary throughout the year to make sure you are getting the biggest bang for your marketing buck! Try to give each marketing option at least 6-months to produce results. It can take up to 10-15 touches for a prospect to remember you and your offerings before they take the next step to connect with you. Don't give up too quickly or you could lose that next big opportunity to connect with the perfect client.

Author's Bio: 

Jeannine Clontz, IVAA CVA, MVA, EthicsChecked™, provides marketing and social media support, training and consulting to busy entrepreneurs. For information about finding a VA, download her FREE 10-Step Guide to Finding the Right VA, or to learn why Social Media should be an important part of your marketing plan with her FREE Report, Social Media Marketing Benefits, visit:, or contact her at