If you run a small business and have sought out financing, chances are you’ve been required to offer up some sort of business plan to a lending institution. Heck, even a loan from a family member will be met with some level of skepticism if there’s no sensible plan in place.

Now that you’re up and running your enterprise, there’s yet another plan that’s needed; it’s called your marketing plan.

If the prospect of developing a marketing plan already feels overwhelming, take heart; it’s not that bad. You may be surprised to know that effective marketing plans are not about wild, zany, out-of-the-box ideas of which marketing-hipsters have exclusive rights to.  On the contrary, a solid marketing plan, no matter what your industry, is very straightforward.

So let’s start developing your marketing plan.

Your marketing plan should possess three major pillars. So grab three sheets of paper or open up three pages of notes on your PC, Mac or mobile device. After doing so, the following three titles should correspond to each of the pages you have: Who We Are (on page 1), Where Do We Want to Be (page 2), How to Get There (last page).

You now have the framework for your marketing plan. In order to begin filling out each sheet, I’d recommend you involve everyone from your business that has vision to your marketing efforts – your ad agency, the marketing manager, the guy that posts things on Twitter for you, sales rep, co-owner and etc. Once you’ve assembled those responsible for making and deploying your marketing messages, you’re free to tackle filling in the bullet-points for each page.

Who We Are

Outline the identity of your company on this page (resist the urge to write a novel – just a synopsis). For example, “XYZ Company is a low-cost provider of widgets”, “We are the fourth largest widget provider in town”, or “We have 3 stores in the downtown area.”

As you write out your points, don’t dress them up. We are not crafting slogans here; we are looking for the truth. Are you losing market share? Are you meeting your sales projections? What are your strengths, weaknesses, areas of opportunity and threats?

Where Do We Want to Be

One year from today, where do you want to be? Saying something like, “We want to make more money”, means you’ve missed the boat. How much money, exactly? From which division or product line?

As you write out bullet points for this page, pen goals that are measurable. Rather than stating that you want to be number one in customer service, aim to get 500 positive online reviews over the next year, as an alternative.

How to Get There

Now that you know where you want to be, how will you get there? Don’t write down, “Work hard.” That’s too nebulous. Let’s say, for example, you want to increase foot traffic by 30% at your new location, what specific actions must be taken? Page three of your plan could include an $8,000 marketing budget increase to handle this goal or reallocation of resources. Whatever the case, this page is about drafting specifics when dealing with implementation - actionable intelligence, if you will.

No matter what is written down, make sure there’s a consensus among all participants and you’ll soon see the beginnings of a viable, relevant marketing plan.

Walter Dailey is a marketing speaker, consultant, and creative director for DSV Media, a creative services firm and ad agency specializing in Small Business Marketing for companies all over.  Ask your questions: walter@dsvmedia.com