You already know that you want your own business. You have carefully analyzed your options and chosen the business that is the right one for you. You have completed the first basic steps and are ready to really get started. If you want to be successful from the very start, you’ll need at least a basic marketing plan.

You’ll notice that I said “basic marketing plan” and not “full blown business plan.” This is because I am not of the belief that a micro business needs to spend the time on a lengthy business plan right at the start. You do need to commit some concepts to paper so you have an initial plan to start, but a detailed business plan is quite simply out of most people’s reach at this point of the game.

Unless you are investing and borrowing large sums of money, I say keep it simple and invest your time doing activities that get you closer to making money. Creating a detailed business plan will eat up the time that is better used doing such money-making activities. Plus, creating a detailed business plan now may misguide you down the road unless you already have intimate knowledge of you business.

If you’re starting on a shoestring, I say build the business plan as you go along and learn. You can start with a basic marketing plan, which will become part of the business plan in the future. When you grow more, know more and maybe need borrowed capital, then finish your business plan. If you still feel you need one now then do it.

The marketing plan that I use is a simple seven points. It is short but powerful. It is your roadmap at launch and beyond. The budget and specific details may change as you grow, but the basic principals will most likely remain the same.

As always, run your marketing plan and business ideas by your trusted support group. This includes friends, family and experts such as your accountant and lawyer.

Creating Your Marketing Plan

As I mentioned before, your marketing plan is your roadmap to success for launching your business and beyond. And although I don’t think you absolutely must have a formal written business plan in place before launching your micro business, do not attempt a go at it without a written marketing plan. Your marketing plan can be as lengthy as you wish to make it, if that fits your specific needs, but basic seven point marketing plan should be enough with which to start. You probably will expand it with more details later, but the only one you are impressing with a 15-page plan to start with is yourself.

Here are the seven points I suggest for your marketing plan:

Point One – The first point explores and explains the reasons for your overall marketing strategy. By “reasons” I mean the purpose you are doing marketing and what you wish to achieve in general.

As an example, a reason for your marketing may be to attract customers to your shop to fix their tires. Another reason may be to get interested traffic to your website to browse and consider your products or services. Yet another is you may want to let the decision makers at many corporations know about you and your new company. These are the basic reasons for your marketing campaign. Obviously, you will never reach every single possible person for your business, but you will continue to reach out to as many as you can.

These reasons are not the same as goals. Goals are specific and measurable, while reasons are general and not measurable. The goals become the measuring sticks for the reasons you are in business. Some goals based on the above reasons might be informing 25 car owners about your tire shop or getting 30 new visitors to your website.

Point Two – If Point One is your broad marketing strategy, then Point Two are your tactics. The second Point offers an explanation about how you will achieve the reasons you laid out in Point One.

For example, for your attracting customers to your tire shop, you may choose to use ads in the phone book and newspaper, you may mail out coupons or have them placed on care windshields, or you may place billboards. For a new website, you might list that you will purchase keywords on Yahoo and Google, place banner ads on similar websites, or issue a press releases about happenings at your business and on your website.

This point will basically be those that you plan to use at launch and soon after. You’ll develop a longer list in Point Four that will be your guidelines for the future during your growth phase.

Point Three – The third Point is to whom you will be targeting your marketing. Not surprisingly, this is called your target market. These should be the people who have the desire, need, or potential to purchase your product or service. Make sure this is who you are after; it makes no sense to market to 50,000 people if only 10 are possible customers.

Your target for the tire shop example might be all car owners within 15 miles of your shop. If you are offering custom-made promotional products for companies, then your target market might be heads of marketing. If your website sells items featuring university football teams, then you probably want to reach university alumni and fans of the team.

By knowing to whom you will target your marketing, you will be able to better create an effective marketing message and spend your money more effectively by utilizing methods that get right to the people that are most likely to become your customers.

Point Four – This is basically a list of every marketing and advertising avenue that you think you will employ in the future. This is not necessarily at the early stages of your business because some may be cost prohibitive or you may not have grown to the point to where you can actually fulfill the demands of the numerous customers that may respond.

Basically, this can serve as a guideline for the future and as a wish list of methods you’d like to utilize at some point. But try to be realistic about costs, needs and even your willingness. TV may either be too costly or just wasteful for your particular business. Or perhaps you’re shy, so you won’t be speaking at the Chamber of Commerce nor doing newspaper interviews.

This list can be as long or as short as you desire. Try to think as broadly as you can about what might work for your business. Look at what other successful companies do. Think about all of marketing, which can include advertising, publicity, promotions and publicity. Take your time at this Point and really give it some thought and research

Some examples that you may not consider at first include things like using your circle of acquaintances to help with word-of-mouth, classified ads, fliers that can be placed around town or on doors, flea markets, joining community and business organizations for networking, trade shows, bumper stickers, and direct mail.

Point Five – This Point explains what makes you special, or what your niche in the marketplace is going to be. You will have to decide on this because you will have to communicate it to your customers. Your focus should be on what differentiates you and your business from all of your competition.

In marketing terms, this is known as your unique selling proposition, or USP. Your USP/niche can be based on speed, customer service, prices, quality, selection, or whatever you determine you can offer better than anyone else. Do focus on reality and be reasonable in your own expectations. Make sure your USP/niche is valid, within your capabilities, what you will really do to make your business unique and also what will actually matter to your target market.

Point Six – The sixth Point focuses attention on what you wish the overall public perception or identity of your business to be. This most likely will be an extension of Point Five and you USP/niche. Once again, make it real and make it what you can attain and deliver.