Most entrepreneurs are eager to start marketing their business and make sales even if they are not sure how to go about doing it. There's a lot to be said about sell first, ask questions later when it comes to building your small business. Before you do anything with regards to a marketing plan for your business, make sure that you have the right foundation in place.
The foundation for your marketing plan consists of a couple of items: your mission, vision and values and your overall business plan. Without this basic foundational knowledge of how you want your small business to operate and where it is going, your marketing plan will not serve your small business' sales needs.
I know that talking about planning and vision aren't sexy things to talk about and that some of these terms have turned into an evil business cliche but when they are done right, you are able to more powerfully articulate your business. When you can articulate clearly where you want to go with your business and who your business serves, you are far beyond other business owners who are struggling to figure this out or find the time to make it happen.
There are several business experts who will caution you against analysis paralysis when it comes to getting your product/service to market and I will agree with them. However, that doesn't mean that we shouldn't do any analysis or planning. Basic discovery and planning will allow you to choose the right marketing vehicles (blogging, social media, SEO, PPC, Adwords, print, radio etc.) for your business to utilize and who to target with the marketing that you are doing. Another piece of information that you will be able to uncover with your business plan is your budget that you have available for marketing.
The great news about your mission, vision and values as well as your business plan is that these are inexpensive things to start putting together. If you need funding, you may want to get a professional team involved but other than that you should be able to put this information together on your own. Small business owners will cite a lack of time as another reason why this doesn't get done but it really shouldn't take that long. Once you have this information in place, you can use it as a guide to your marketing plan. Without the first step of clarity and planning, your marketing plan can't be effective.