Every business needs a plan – any plan – that will guide and inform their marketing activities. And yet, as essential as a marketing plan is, many business owners and entrepreneurs don't use one; most claim being "too busy" with the running of their business as the primary reason.

With those people in mind, here is my guide to writing a 5-minute marketing plan.

What Pain Do You Solve?
In order to successfully market your product or service, you must resolve some form of pain for your customers. If you offer health products, the pain is disease – that one is obvious. If you offer financial assistance, the pain could be financial insecurity.

But what if you sell something that might be seen as frivolous or non-essential? There is still pain involved. The easiest way to determine what the pain is is to find out what the emotional payoff your customer gets AFTER they have the result you promise, then work backwards to identify the pain.

Target Market
Knowing who you are selling to is very important since they will inform you about things like message delivery, word choice, etc. If you are selling to teenagers the message you use and the means you select to deliver your message will be vastly different than if you are selling to an aging population.

Your target market can be divided into three categories: those who know they need what you are selling, those who need it but don't know it and those who don't yet need it but will in the future.

Those people who are actively looking for the solution you provide are your Primary Target Market and should receive the majority of your focus at first. They only need to be educated on your specific solution, not the need for it.

Secondary and Tertiary Market require more effort and often the time line from communication to integration is longer. They shouldn't be ignored, but should receive a smaller amount of your time, energy and financial marketing budget.

Develop Your Essential Message
Your essential message is the core of what you do and is a very concise explanation of the pain you solve, how you solve it and who you solve it for. It is also written (or spoken) in the vernacular of the market you are trying to reach.

A simple formula can be summed up in my Killer Elevator Pitch process, which is a 3-step process you can complete in less than a minute.

First, state the pain you resolve in the form of a question that is essentially rhetorical, as in: You know how the vast majority of all businesses fail in their first 5 years?

Next, concisely describe who you help and how you help them: I mentor new and small business owners on how to develop and implement a strategic marketing plan.

Finally, close with the major benefit your customers get, after they have achieved the result that you promise: So that they never have to worry about having enough clients every again.

Track Your Most Important Metrics
Metrics are the food that good marketers live by (and if you own your own business, you had better be a good marketer) because this intelligence informs future decisions, giving you a better chance of increasing success rates with marketing efforts you undertake

But all metrics are not created equal. In fact, there are certain metrics that stand head and shoulders above the rest. They are: qualified leads per month; conversion rate from lead to customer; average sale value; average number of sales per customer (lifetime); average profit margin per sale.

By tracking these metrics and by making incremental improvements to them over time, you can have a compounding effect on the overall profitability of your business.

Implement a Daily "One Step" Action Plan
The real reason that most business owners don't do enough marketing is because it seems as though there is way too much to do. In the end, this feeling of overwhelm often results in no marketing activities taking place.

So for the busy entrepreneur who is doing it all herself, implementing a "one step" action plan can be the savior of your business. Doing just one thing each day – and making it the first and most important thing you do each day – will embed the habit of marketing in your business.

If you're currently running your business without a formal marketing plan take 5-minutes right now to create a simple plan you can begin using tomorrow, by following the steps outlined above.

If you don't run your business the right way, your business will always run you… and when that happens you can soon expect to be on the wrong side of those terrible set of statistics that are stacked against new businesses.

Author's Bio: 

A 5-minute plan is better than no plan at all, but if you’re ready to develop a more complete marketing plan and learn the fundamentals of marketing strategy, visit MakeMyMarketingWork.com/ebook to get a copy of Make My Marketing Work, the essential guide to strategic marketing for small business owners.

Additional Resources covering Marketing Strategy can be found at:

Website Directory for Marketing Strategy
Articles on Marketing Strategy
Products for Marketing Strategy
Discussion Board
Paul Keetch, the Official Guide to Marketing Strategy