The Only Marketing Plan You’ll Ever Need

About Me (Monica Poling) Over the years, I’ve consulted with hundreds of small, medium and large businesses, and my clients …

The Only Marketing Plan You’ll Ever Need

As business owners, our most important job is to:

  1. Create products and services our customers love, and to
  2. Generate awareness and sales for those products and services.

If your business doesn’t attract paying customers, you won’t be in business very long.

But if you’re looking to get the word out, a lot of online marketing advice isn’t really that helpful. A lot of experts focus more on theory and less on actual tactics.

The Only Marketing Plan You’ll Ever Need

So I created the Only Marketing Plan You’ll Ever Need just for you. The chart includes actionable steps for every stage of your business journey, from start up to growth mode to mature business. It even includes tips for businesses and individuals looking to upgrade their brand.

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CLARITY

Step 1

Define Your Signature Products & Services

Start Up: Create three signature products you will be “known for.”
Growth: Add new products to encourage repeat business.
Mature: Add high-level coaching, product review or consulting services to meet the needs of your elevated client base.
Personal Brand: Establish your career goals. Identify and hone the skills for which you wish to be known.

🔥Brand Strategy 🔥

Become the Master of One

Start your brand strategy by building a reputation as an expert in one core “thing.”

Step 2

Create Your
Core Message

Start Up: Write a killer bio, elevator pitch, and tag line that tells people who you are and why they should work with you.
Growth: Create a personal bio and a business bio. Add social proof to your bio.
Mature: Create bios for your entire executive team and post them on your website.
Personal Brand: Develop your elevator pitch Include key metrics or wins from current or past jobs.

🔥Brand Strategy 🔥

Before All Else, Define Yourself

Before you do anything else, build a strong central message that positions you as an expert in your field.

Step 3

Define Your
Target Audience

Start Up: Think of three people you would like to work with and write down their challenges and how you can help solve their problems.
Growth: Create profiles for your favorite customers; what new products can you offer them?
Mature: Identify new audiences by asking for referrals and through creative networking. Include media, partners and sponsors as target audiences.
Personal Brand: Identify three organizations you’d like to work with; Find job descriptions for positions you’d like to hold.

🔥Brand Strategy 🔥

Everything is Relative

Different audiences have different needs; get crystal clear on who you are talking to, what they need, and what you want them to do.

Step 4

Conduct
Market Research

Start Up: Use SpyFu or SEMRush to identity frequently searched terms and questions related to your core services.
Growth: Use Google News and Google Trends to identify industry trends; follow industry experts on social media; check out your competitor’s services.
Mature: Subscribe to industry trade publications; do a SWOT Analysis on your competitors.
Personal Brand: Ask team leaders what trends and topics they are following.

🔥Brand Strategy 🔥

Experts Always Keep Learning

Staying ahead of the crowd means continually staying abreast of industry trends and news.

Step 5

Find a
Great Mentor

Start Up: Use a respected service like SCORE.org to find a free mentor.
Growth: Apply for the Small Business Administration’s THRIVE Emerging Leaders program; check with your local chamber of commerce or EDA for similar programs.
Mature: Attend industry events to find a cohort or mastermind with like-minded professionals.
Personal Brand: Ask team leaders if they’d be interested in mentoring you.

🔥Brand Strategy 🔥

Always Start with Free Tools

There are many free, high-quality tools available to help you hone your expertise. Use those before spending a fortune for online “gurus.”

IDENTITY

Step 6

Create a
Visual Identity

Start Up: Get a professional headshot. Create a logo. Identify one consistent color palette and a brand font. Start building a basic brand guidelines document.
Growth: Update all online profiles to reflect a consistent voice. Run a full brand audit to ensure your branding is consistent across all messaging channels and touchpoints.
Mature: Revisit your brand guidelines and expand them to a comprehensive strategy document.
Personal Brand: Create an icon or logo to represent you on resumes and outreach materials. Create a one sheet that highlights your employment history, skills and wins.

🔥Brand Strategy 🔥

People DO Judge a Book By Its Cover

Your visual identity is an important differentiator AND it reflects your professionalism. Neglecting your “look” may undermine your credibility and diminish trust.

🔍 Check Out 🔍

Looking for inspiration? Download our FREE Great Big Book of REAL Brand Guidelines now.

Step 7

Find Your
Voice

Start Up: Decide how you want to talk to your audience. Do you want to sound newsy, friendly, serious, scientific, or something else?
Growth: Create a set of editorial guidelines to help you maintain a a consistent voice across all channels.
Mature: Expand your brand guidelines to create a comprehensive strategy, messaging, and visual identity document.
Personal Brand: Are you correctly sharing your story about your skills? Ask a mentor for feedback.

🔥Brand Strategy 🔥

Find Your Platform

Dog videos and memes may be cute and fun. But do they reflect who you are as leader of your empiire?

Step 8

Develop an Online Presence

Start Up: Set up your social media profiles; Identify one key platform but build profiles on all major social media sites; Create a one-page website with your about info, products and services, bio and headshot.
Growth: Expand your website to include an FAQ page, a contact form, and expanded info about your products and services. Optimize your site to be mobile-friendly. Submit your site to Google Business and Google Search Console. Ensure online profiles (at community groups, Zoom, etc.) are optimized and complete. Start a blog.
Mature: Optimize your website for SEO and Google search. Ensure your analytics are optimized. Start a video series or podcast.
Personal Brand: Set up social media profiles. Build a one-page website highlighting your skills and with you contact information.

🔥Brand Strategy 🔥

Consistency Breeds Trust

When your identity, your voice and your actions remain consistent, people will be more likely to remember you and trust you.

AUTHORITY

Step 9

Collect Customer Information

Start Up: Use a spreadsheet or a free service like HubSpot (lite version) to track customer info. Create notes and reminders on action items or when to follow up.
Growth: Use a paid CRM to track leads and contacts. Start collecting customer data through a newsletter sign-up form. Create a “lead magnet” to encourage sign ups.
Mature: Use a tool like Zapier to integrate all your customer relationship processes (including invoicing) in one monster system. Develop new lead magnets for each of your key audience segments.
Personal Brand: Keep track of everyone who has helped you on your personal branding journey. Send handwritten thank you cards and keep track of their physical and email addresses.

🔥Brand Strategy 🔥

What Do You Want to Be Known For?

Branding is all about building a strong reputation. Make sure customer service is a key part of that reputation.

Step 10

Demonstrate Your Authority

Start Up: On social media, share behind-the-scenes photos and videos of happy customers.
Growth: Create a blog with articles that demonstrate your expertise, interviews with industry experts, and insider tips about your industry.
Mature: Create case studies and white papers that showcase your expertise. Post video tutorials or interviews with key industry leaders. Use survey tools and release insider data on industry trends.
Personal Brand: Publish articles or thought leadership content via LinkedIn or your personal blog.

🔥Brand Strategy 🔥

Be the Star

Experts command higher rates, get more media attention and win more awards. As long as you’re building a persona, build a persona of expertise.

Step 11

Incorporate
Social Proof

Start Up: Ask happy customers to submit Google Reviews.
Growth: Feature customer logos and testimonials on your website. Watch out for opportunities to be featured in the media. Continue to solicit reviews via Google, Facebook and other sites like Yelp or TripAdvisor. Respond to all reviews.
Mature: ✦ Integrate review plug-ins into your website. ✦ Conduct customer surveys to collect feedback.
Personal Brand: Sav positive reviews or awards from your employer, colleague or industry groups.

🔥Brand Strategy 🔥

Prove You’re the Star

The only thing better than reminding people about your expertise is having others sing your praises. Find your advocates and have them share your story freely.

Step 12

Develop a Messaging Cadence

Start Up: Commit to a regular posting cadence on one social media site. ✦ Aim for three or more times per week but post at least once per week.
Growth: Commit to a regular posting schedule on social media, your blog and for your newsletter. ✦ Aim for once per day on social media, and once per month for your blog and your newsletter distribution.
Mature: Add video or podcasting to your messaging cadence. ✦ Aim to post at least once per day on two social media sites, and once per week for your blog, newsletter, and video or podcast.
Personal Brand: Commit to a regular posting cadence on one social media site. ✦ This does not include your personal posts. ✦ Ensure your posts elevate your personal brand.

🔥Brand Strategy 🔥

Keep Proving You’re the Star

The only thing better than reminding people about your expertise is having others sing your praises. Find your advocates and have them share your story freely.

COMMUNITY

Step 14

Networking &
Outreach

Start Up: Tell everyone in your personal network about your business. Set a weekly outreach goal. Attend local events and festivals. Print business cards.
Growth: Attend free local business networking events. Establish a cadence for LinkedIn networking and outreach. Don’t just connect, send personal messages.
Mature: Attend industry networking events and trade shows. Sponsor events and/or participate as an exhibitor. Follow up on all business cards received.
Personal Brand: Contact people in your network and ask for “informational interviews.” Ask them to refer you to other opportunities.

🔥Brand Strategy 🔥

Ask For And Receive Feedback

There’s nothing like one-on-one time, even when it isn’t with customers, to learn more about people think about your business ideas.

🔍 Check Out 🔍

Invest in LinkedIn Premium for maximum business networking opportunities.

Step 15

Build
Partnerships

Start Up: Collaborate with local businesses to identify or shared marketing opportunities.
Growth: Join the Chamber of Commerce, Economic Development Agency and/or the Convention and Visitors Bureau to take advantage of resources and benefits. Find newsletters with similar audiences as yours to create cross promotional opportunities.
Mature: Host special events, tastings or open houses to engage current and potential customers. Identify additional partnership opportunities.
Personal Brand: Ask mentors for suggestions on networking and business advancement opportunities.

🔥Brand Strategy 🔥

Sharing is Social Proof

Partnering with trusted businesses can help you reach new audiences and boost your credibility.

Step 16

Find, Join and Create Community Centers

Start Up: Find and join Facebook and LinkedIn groups. Attend and network at community events.
Growth: Create your own Facebook and LinkedIn groups. Host community events if you have access to a brick-and-mortar site. Create a group coaching, educational or e-course program, like “How to…”
Mature: Consider building a community forum or a membership platform.
Personal Brand: Hang out with people who do what you do. Hang out with people who do what you do but are better at it or have been doing it longer than you.

🔥Brand Strategy 🔥

Quantify Your Following

One of the best ways to demonstrate your authority is to build a quantifiable following. Joining related groups is good, creating your own group is better.

🔍 Check Out 🔍

Platforms like Circle, Patreon, and Medium are hugely popular, especially for business owners people looking to offer more services than what a newsletter can offer.

CLARITY (REVISITED)

Step 17

Set & Review
Your Pricing

Start Up: Start by selling something. Anything. Next, move away from “hourly” rates in favor of project fees. Are your salary goals in alignment with your product pricing? How many products do you need to sell to meet your financial goals? Are you able to raise your rates?
Growth: Implement a loyalty program or referral program to encourage and reward repeat customers. Grow your revenue by offering up-sell services.
Mature: Regularly raise rates as you continue to establish yourself as an authority. Offer supplemental services like business audits, mentoring, and coaching.
Personal Brand: Define your salary goals. Make sure your career goals align with your desired salary.

🔥Brand Strategy 🔥

People Pay More for Premium Products

This is why you need to do what you can to position yourself as an expert and the best expert. Don’t undervalue yourself.

🔍 Check Out 🔍

I offer a full business plan writing service, which includes a comprehensive financial planning session, complete with a bank-ready financial spreadsheet and forecast. Contact me to discuss your business plan needs.

Step 18

Identify & Track Goals & KPIs

Start Up: Establish what “success” looks. Set 12-month business and revenue goals. Track key performance indicators (KPIs), like followers, contacts made or events attended. Adjust goals as necessary.
Growth: Review your financial plan. Allocate a percentage of all revenue to marketing resources like consultants, tools, and advertising. Invest in an analytics expert. Track leads, followers, website visitors, and importantly, sales.
Mature: Track you website’s visitor path and conversion rates on your website. Track advertising performance.
Personal Brand: Define what success looks like. Is it a new job? Will you continue your branding efforts after you’ve received a new position? Establish a weekly outreach goal.

🔥Brand Strategy 🔥

My Followers are Bigger Than
Your Followers

Although measuring success isn’t a day-one priority, there will come a time when someone will ask you to demonstrate your success i a tangible way.

Step 19

Audit & Iterate

Start Up: Gather feedback from customers, mentors, and people you admire. Make necessary adjustments.
Growth: Assess business performance across all your marketing channels. Get a third-party review of your marketing and branding efforts. Check in with your goals and milestones.
Mature: Conduct a comprehensive (preferably third-party) review of your marketing materials. Invite customer feedback. Benchmark your marketing performance against industry standards and competitors. Use these insights to build a future-facing strategic plan.
Personal Brand: Continuously refine and iterate your personal branding strategy and goals. Get feedback and align your progress with your evolving career aspirations.

🔥Brand Strategy 🔥

If at First You Don’t Succeed…

Well, you know the rest. Almost no one got it right the first time around. The trick is to keep going.

Step 20

Set Up Systems and Tech Stack

Start Up: Set up a project management tool, a calendar to auto book appointments, a customer relationship management (CRM) tool, a newsletter tool to collect contacts, a graphic design tool, an AI tool and an accounting tool. I use:
Growth: Register your domain name. Register with a website hosting company. Use a website platform (like WordPress, Wix or Shopify). Use web themes and plugins to extend functionality. Create a content calendar. Set up basic analytics tracking for your marketing efforts.
Mature: Hire a tech expert to integrate your entire tech stack. Use Zapier to connect all your apps into one seamless experience. Monitor customer path tracking on your website to ensure your lead magnets and paid advertising traffic flows are working correctly.
Personal Brand: Use a project management tool to plan and track your outreach efforts. Also build a digital presence, including your own website and social media channels.

🔍 My Tech Stack 🔍

Productivity

  • Notion (project management, content management, free version)
  • HubSpot (contact management, calendar bookings, free version)
  • Convert Kit (email provider, paid version)
  • Canva (graphic design tool, paid version)
  • ChatGPT (AI & research, free version)
  • QuickBooks (accounting, paid version)

Webtools

  • Namecheap (domain registrar, paid version)
  • SiteGround (web hosting, paid version)
  • WordPress (free version)
  • GeneratePress (web theme, paid version)
  • Yoast (SEO, free version)
  • Google Analytics (free for all)
  • Social Media Analytics (free versions)

About Me (Monica Poling)

Over the years, I’ve consulted with hundreds of small, medium and large businesses, and my clients consistently ask me the same questions.

Whether they are a solopreneur or an enterprise of 1,000 employees, they always ask for a Marketing Checklist. Which is why I created this Only Marketing Plan You’ll Ever Need.

Found a mistake? Have a question? Visit my contact me page to shoot me a note or set up a free 15-minute Discovery Call.

One Marketing Plan. Many Tools

In this document, I’ve listed some of my favorite tools and technologies. If you click to and register for those tools, I might sometimes get paid a small commission. All the tools I’ve mentioned are ones I personally use and love. But they may not be right for all people in all situations, so take my recommendations with a grain of salt.