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How to Build a Marketing Roadmap for your SMB

“A goal without a plan is just a wish.” — Antoine De Saint-Exupery

Most entrepreneurs who run a small- or medium-sized business are busy. Understatement? Yes, probably. Unbelievably busy is more like it. There are so many things to do and marketing may just seem like one more thing to check off your list. In fact, when it comes to marketing, many business owners just simply don’t know where to start, they don’t know how to define a path forward, or they may not know what tools are available to them. 

Unfortunately, a lot of marketing plans are costly and take a huge amount of time to put together, even if you hire an outside company to help. Worse yet, many are so long and complicated they often get put in a drawer and are never looked at again.  This is why it’s critical to develop a  strategic marketing roadmap.  Spending the time up front to build a sound  marketing roadmap will help you better execute down the road…. and it starts (as all good plans do) –with a sound strategy.

What IS a Marketing Roadmap?

A marketing roadmap is simply a document that outlines your marketing goals and the steps you need to achieve them. When done well, it will  outline your goals to key stakeholders in an easily digestible format.

Better yet, a marketing roadmap will connect the dots for you and your employees as to why (and how) marketing activities will further the goals of your small- or medium-sized business.

When you think about a strategic marketing roadmap for your business, it should:

  • Contain  easily achievable goals
  • Only focus on the next 12 months
  • Be reviewed and updated at least annually, if not more often

The 3 Development Stages of a Marketing Roadmap

There are three key stages to creating the marketing roadmap:

1.) Evaluate your current state.

Before you can figure out where you need to go, it’s important to know where your business is today. Ask yourself:

  • What’s the story behind your brand? 
  • What value or need does your product/service provide 
  • What do you do better than your competition?
  • What objection do you hear most often from your potential customers?
  • Where are the opportunities to offer more or break into a new market?

We all know we have some gaps in our marketing foundation, but some may keep us from moving forward. To help you get started, we’ve created an Evaluation Worksheet that will help you focus your energy and limited time on this very important task.

2.) Engage your team and your strategy.

Okay, first  you’ve laid out your purpose, vision and mission. Second, you’ve discovered the areas you are strong in and the areas you need to work on. Now it’s time to get some buy-in from the people who will help you carry out your plan.

As tempting as it may seem to just jump right in and create your roadmap, don’t skip this crucial opportunity to engage those who will be helping you with the plan. After all, people tend to be more invested in a plan that they’ve had some input into creating. 

We have a terrific post about how to go about engaging your team and stakeholders. The success of your roadmap (and your business) could depend on how well you are able to complete this step.

In addition, your roadmap will:

  • Provide a foundational guide to agencies, freelancers, and team members for seamless execution
  • Strengthen operations and processes where needed, and 
  • Give your company and team common goals to work toward together

3.) Execute the plan:

Now that you’ve got the roadmap done and supported, you are ready for the final stage: putting your plan into action. 

There are four basic elements that make up the foundational ecosystem of a successful sales and marketing foundation. When you’re ready to execute, this is where you should start:

Branding/Identity. In essence, a brand is what people say about you when you are not there, and because your brand permeates everything about your business, it can be considered one of your most valuable assets.

A brand can be your logo, font, colors and visual identity. But it also can be your purpose, vision, mission, and core culture of your team.

Customer Relationship Management (CRM)The purpose of having a CRM tool or database is to manage all your customer data in one central location. At the same time, you can use that information to better serve your customer and increase your bottom line. That’s a win-win!

Even if the mention of a CRM makes your eyes glaze over, check out our simple explanation of why a CRM will improve your profits and lower your blood pressure.

Online Presence. Having a solid online presence starts with your company website. It’s the homebase for all of your digital marketing, and even for a large part of your brick-and-mortar marketing if you have a physical location.

In fact, with a great online presence, customers from anywhere in the world can find and interact with you. Really, all of your marketing efforts should be linked back to your website, including your CRM, email marketing, and social media.

Email Marketing. Email marketing is important because it works. Hubspot notes that email generates $42 for every $1 spent, which is an astounding 4,200% ROI. Given those statistics, it’s pretty hard not to see email as an effective part of your marketing roadmap.

However, be aware that not all email is considered equal. You will need to answer these questions before you start:

  • Do you have the time and energy to optimize the effort and be consistent?
  • Do you have an internal resource that is capable of utilizing this tool in a way that will drive
    sales, build loyalty, and potentially reduce marketing costs?
  • Will your email marketing plan be founded on historical data that you will review monthly (at
    a minimum)?
  • Does bringing this tactic in-house save or cost you money?

Check out our post on email best marketing practices to get a feel for what kind of commitment you might expect for a successful email marketing program. As we point out in that post, when “push comes to shove, email marketing has the potential to be a great tool for most SMBs. But if you are using email marketing best practices, it’s a tool that should be a core part of your foundational marketing program.“


Aim for Simple & Achievable

Simple, measurable, and achievable goals are what you should aim for. Ideally, a marketing roadmap should be set up for no more than a year at a time. After that, it’s time to re-evaluate your plan and make sure that it’s actually working for you.

Want a quick way to find out where the gaps are in your marketing foundation? Take our free mini-assessment to get a snapshot of your overall marketing program within four key areas. And then, get going on your own marketing roadmap strategy. 

Tomato Fish Is An Indianapolis Consulting Company Focused On Helping Small And Midsize Businesses Make Good Strategic Planning Decisions