Why Marketing

Marketing ideas for small and medium-sized businesses

Level 1 – Business-Level Marketing Plan

It’s #gameplanfriday and this is the heavy lifting stage, especially for those who never developed a proper marketing plan. Fill out the form below to get the Level 1 checklist and see how many boxes you’ve ticked, or simply use it as a guideline.

Do you need to do everything on the checklist out of the gate? Ideally, yes, but you can also prioritize the levels of details included in each area. In either case, you should be able to outline your thoughts and insights for each point.


✓ long-term business-level goals (from 1 to 5 years)
✓ pricing strategy (margins), product line-up, promotions, location
✓ basic market research to establish size & demographics of market
✓ brand mission and vision statements
✓ branding guidelines (visual and content)
✓ customer profiles

Basically, this is the marketing plan this is part of your overall business plan (you have one, right?). You define who you are and what you offer, what your different revenue streams are, your market, your margins and your business goals. This will paint a clear picture of what “success” looks like. Sometimes, it can just be breaking even. Sometimes, it can be increasing sales by 10%.

What does success look like for you?

Admittedly, many business owners are uncomfortable developing the marketing part of their business plan because it’s not their area of expertise. There are some tell-tale signs that this area of your business plan needs some more of your attention.

  • setting unreasonable goals in your forecasts
  • you don’t know what your margins are off-hand
  • you’re targeting “everyone” as your customer base
  • having a long list of things you need to do without a measurable reason of why you’re doing it or how it all works together
  • finding it difficult to make decisions that will benefit your business because you don’t know what impact it will have
  • no clear & consistent story to tell customers, investors and employees

A well-defined Level 1 Marketing Plan will allow you to approach a designer and have a good conversation about developing your brand standards (including a logo) on your own. If you have doubts, you can always hire a marketing consultant to make sure your marketing plan is focused and makes sense.

If this is your first year of operation

You’ll have to do a significant amount of market research and forecasting to inform educated estimates given industry benchmarks. Industry benchmarks can be collected from thorough market and industry insights. This is the heavy lifting for every business.

Market research will give you information about customers & product trends to allow you to target, price and position your product or service. This informs more specific forecasting. Industry research will give you information about the potential for growth, different factors that impact your business to be aware of and any other risks to your business to be aware of.

The most important thing to do here is to allocate a marketing budget. Typically, this is based on a percentage of your revenues that you’re comfortable allocating to self-promotion. Your first year, the goal is to be realistic

If this is not your first time at the rodeo

You’re re-visiting and revising your forecasts, tweaking your market research and seeing if anything’s changed in the industry. You’ve already done the heavy lifting , you’re just assessing where you’re at compared to where you thought you’d be at. Your challenge here is to see what worked and what didn’t work. How do you assess this at the business-level? Answer these questions and tweak accordingly.

  1. Are you on track to meet your business-level goals?
  2. How are your marketing efforts performing? What is your ROI?
  3. Did you invest enough or too much in your marketing?
  4. Are you reaching the right customers?
  5. Were your forecasts relatively accurate? Did your revenue mix work for you?
  6. Were you consistent in applying your brand?
  7. What factors came up that you had not considered?


✗ you’re spending money on marketing that yields no results
✗ you don’t stand out from the competition
✗ you don’t know what part of the industry to focus on for growth
✗ you don’t know what success looks like for you
✗ customers don’t understand your business

Address the requirements and… level up. Don’t know where to start? We’re here to help.

Level 1 – Business-Level Marketing Plan
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