Ask These 10 Questions To Start Your Marketing Plan

As a business owner, setting yourself up for success involves more than just hustle—it’s about making smart marketing moves. Before you make any moves, you need crystal-clear marketing goals.

This article provides a roadmap for creating specific and measurable marketing goals that make sense for your business.

If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.

Benjamin Franklin

Annual Marketing Plans Provide A Roadmap For Business Growth.

Setting an annual marketing plan is crucial for your business’s success. It allows you to focus on what’s important, prioritize your efforts and measure your progress.

The bottom line is—without a plan and specific goals, you risk wasting time and money on marketing tactics that don’t work.

If you want to move the needle, goals need to be specific, measurable and time-based. Without these parameters, you’re setting yourself up for failure.

Beverly Virkler, Creative Director, Estland

Answer These 10 Questions Before Starting Your Marketing Plan.

Let’s dive into the ten questions Estland’s marketing experts start with when sitting down with our clients every year.

1. What services or products do you want to market?

Make a list of all the services or products you want to promote this year. Then, prioritize them so you know which to give the most spotlight to. Narrowing your scope and focusing on the most important ones will lead to focused goals.

2. What are the keyword terms or phrases you want to rank for?

Think like your audience. What words would they type into the search bar to find you? Compile that list and then use it to optimize your website and content for search engine optimization (SEO).

3. Are there different industry niches for your services or products?

Brainstorm the industry niches for each service or product you offer. For example, a propane company may deliver fuel to commercial and residential customers but only sell their gas fireplace inserts to residential customers. Naming these will help you target your marketing efforts to the right audience.

4. What are the audience demographics, such as sex, age, income, buying habits, etc.?

Understanding your audience’s demographics will help you create targeted marketing campaigns that resonate with them. Are you talking to young professionals or seasoned experts? What’s their income, and what makes them tick?

5. What is your service area for each service or product?

Ask yourself: Are you a local, regional or national business? Are the geographic locations the same or different for everything you market? Do you want to expand that territory next year? Define your service area and where you want to make waves.

6. Which pockets of your service area do you want to focus on the most?

Now zoom in a bit. Which cities, counties or regions need the most attention or have the most growth potential? Knowing the specific area(s) you want to focus your marketing efforts on will help you allocate resources effectively.

7. What percentage of your overall marketing efforts do you want each service type to have?

Break it down. What percentage of effort goes where? You start with 100%. Allocating a percentage of your overall marketing efforts to each service type will help you prioritize. Feel free to group items into clusters if that helps!

8. If you know your current average closed sale value per year, per lead—write that down.

Pin down your numbers and quantify your company’s cost to acquire new leads. Knowing your average closed sale value per lead will give you a benchmark to work from.

9. How many new leads would you like per month for each service type?

What’s the magic number? Start quantifying your success by setting a specific lead generation goal for each service type. This will help you measure your progress and adjust your strategies accordingly.

10. How do you plan to reach your lead goals, and what’s the result you expect from increased leads?

What tools and tactics will you employ? Envision the future. What does success look like for your business?

Setting SMART Goals Leads To The Best Results.

Now that you’ve answered the ten questions, it’s time to use your responses to craft your marketing roadmap and goals for the year.

We recommend using SMART goals because they include every important aspect a goal needs.

SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound. Here’s what each means in the context of goal-setting.


Spell Out Exactly What You Want To Accomplish.

Consider your goal as an observable action, not a broad concept. If your goal is vague, moving beyond this part of goal-setting is challenging because it could be too generalized to measure or too wide-reaching to be attainable.


Define The End Result In Quantitative Or Qualitative Terms.

How will you know when you have achieved your goal? Or how close you are to attaining it? Think about the outcomes and what can be measured. Knowing what success looks like will help you maintain the outcome of the goal or set a baseline for future improvement.


Confirm That Your Goal Is Possible And Reasonable To Accomplish.

Do you have access to the skills and resources required to achieve your goal? What support or learning do you need to achieve it? Make sure you are set up to succeed when you establish your goal.


Make Sure Your Goal Aligns With Long-Term Objectives.

Is your goal aligned with your organization’s strategic plan and direction? Does it advance the vision? How does it fit into other long-term goals? To take this a step further, think beyond your organization and see if your goal is relevant in current times and with the larger market.


Identify An Achievement Date For Your Goal.

When does your goal need to be completed? A time-bound goal creates a sense of urgency. Even if the date identified isn’t the final deadline of the program or work, a time-bound goal helps to chart a course to completion.

How To Turn Vague Goals Into SMART Goals.

Vague goals are thrown around conference rooms every day. Leaders give vague instructions like, “Let’s get more X” or “Can you make Y better—like yesterday?”

When goals are vague, the lack of clarity hinders progress and makes it challenging to measure success. It is also demotivating to work towards unclear finish lines.

Here are some examples of how to turn your vague marketing goals into SMART goals:

Vague Goal: Generate more leads.

SMART Goal: Attain a monthly lead generation goal of 200 qualified leads through targeted online campaigns, with a conversion rate of at least 15%, over the next fiscal year.

Vague Goal: Make our website better.

SMART Goal: Enhance the user experience of our website by reducing page load time by 20%, optimizing the navigation for increased user engagement and implementing A/B testing for the call-to-action buttons to achieve a 15% conversion rate improvement within the next three months.

Vague Goal: Enhance our social media presence.

SMART Goal: Increase social media engagement by 25% over the next quarter, measured by likes, shares and comments on posts across Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.

Vague Goal: Improve our digital ad strategy.

SMART Goal: Increase the effectiveness of our digital ad strategy by targeting a specific audience segment through detailed demographic analysis, refining ad creatives based on A/B testing results, and optimizing the ad budget allocation to achieve a 25% increase in click-through rates and a 20% decrease in cost per acquisition within the next quarter.

Maximize Your Marketing Potential With Estland’s Planning Services.

At Estland, we understand that marketing can be overwhelming, especially if you don’t have a clear plan of action. That’s why we offer marketing planning services to help you set SMART goals, prioritize your efforts and measure your progress.

Whether you need help with SEO, digital advertising or content creation, our team of experts can help you achieve your marketing goals. Contact us today to learn more about our marketing planning services.

Let’s Create Your 2024 Marketing Plan Together.