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Creating a digital marketing plan for Start-ups and Small Businesses

By Robert Allen 09 Jan, 2017
Marketing strategy

SME/SMBs are often overlooked for marketing best practice advice. Our new RACE planning guide addresses this.

Marketers tend to love talking about the big, high budget campaigns. People writing up case studies are naturally drawn to big brands with big budgets, as they have the capacity to produce the 'flashiest' campaigns and assets. But investment in marketing for startups and smaller businesses is more important by volume, even though in each the budget is limited and every dollar, euro or pound of investment counts.

To get the most from limited marketing budget, in our guide for SMBs we have reviewed all the low-cost options through the marketing funnel shown by our RACE planning framework developed by our own Dr. Dave Chaffey. If you're not familiar with the RACE framework, this infographic gives a brief explanation - you can see it covers the activities to support marketing across the customer lifecycle or funnel and how to measure them.

RACE infographic

Questions to get started

As a starting point, here are some research activities to get you started with your small business digital marketing plan:

  • Customer search behaviour research – determine how your prospects search as explored in the Reach section – understanding the volume and type of customer intent is vital where you are looking to grab more share of search when people search for your products or services
  • Customer profiles – which types of customers visit your site and then convert to lead or sale? How does this differ compared to other traditional channels? We believe that businesses of all sizes should have target personas or “pen portraits” of 2 to 3 customer types.
  • Competitor research – You can run a profitable site without considering competitors, but a review as part of planning will definitely give you ideas and is essential to spot weaknesses and opportunities as part of SWOT analysis. You can consider the core marketing mix of the 4Ps and their effectiveness across RACE as described in our Competitor Benchmarking Guide
  • Influencer, partner and intermediary research – which types of people and other sites will influence your audience as they look for your type or product and service? This is often neglected, but partnerships and certain types of influencers6 can be a great source of low cost, quality traffic.
  • Current business effectiveness – mine your sales data

If you would like to know more about marketing for startups or SMEs/SMBs, take a look at our guide for small and medium businesses and startups. It's just one resource in our toolkit for Startups and SMBs in the members area. It provides a ‘one-stop’ source for all the main issues you should consider when marketing your business online. For example, it highlights the main factors to consider for getting better results from search engine optimisation, Google AdWords, display advertising, email marketing and conversion rate optimisation. It is packed full of specific questions you should ask yourself to get the most from digital marketing. The answers cover the full range of online marketing activities to help you ‘Plan, Manage and Optimize’ your digital marketing.


By Robert Allen

I was the Editor of Smart Insights between 2015-2017. I managed the blog and you will find blog articles on a range of subjects- Marketing Technology trends and latest tech developments are a regular focus, as well as exploring key marketing concepts. You can get in touch with me on Twitter and connect with me on LinkedIn. The new Editor is Carolanne Mangles.

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