Use your marketing plan to acquire customers

Read how to create your marketing plan in 8 steps, with examples for each step. Acquire new clients or get assignments that make you happy. No more wasting money on advertising to the wrong target group. Invest your time in clients that give you energy and profit.

Your marketing plan in 8 steps

In the following steps, you first check your business and revenue model. Next, you choose: What do you want to achieve? Who do you want to reach? Who are you? And finally, you fill in your strategy: Which marketing channels will you use to reach your customer? What budget are you spending? What is your planning? Stefan Fabbro is head of digital marketing at Vidda Digital and shares his advice.

Fabbro tips: "Marketing takes time. Give yourself a week to think out your marketing plan. After that, allow at least 4 hours a week for marketing. Use this time to update your website or social media profile, write texts, take photos, review results, and update ads."


1. Check your revenue model

Your revenue model is part of your business model. Your business model is about your offering, the business relationship with your customers, your finances, and possibly the value chain. With your earning model, you indicate how you make money with your business. Check out 20 different revenue models here. In this step, you write down: your business model, revenue model, and why it is profitable.

For example: My business model is business to consumer (b2c),  I sell my services directly to consumers. My revenue model is hourly billing. It is profitable because - after deducting operating costs - I am left with enough to live on if I work a 36-hour week.

A profitable business and revenue model ensures that you have enough financially to live on. Some 80% of starting entrepreneurs do not make ends meet within the first 5 years (source: CBS 2022). Want to make a living from your business and in doubt about (the profitability of) your business or earning model? Discuss it with an experienced entrepreneur at Ondernemersklankbord (Entrepreneurs Soundboard).


2. Define your marketing goal

What do you want to achieve? Write down your dream for the long term. Writing down your dream gives you purpose as a person, and inspires you. For example: I am the most animal-friendly make-up artist and I perform on a TV show. Or: I am the healthcare provider with the most satisfied clients in the Netherlands. Then write down your goal(s) for the time ahead.

These goals are what you want to achieve within 3 months to a year using marketing. Think of it as your first step towards achieving your dream. For example: I get to perform on a regional TV show, podcast, or radio show 3 times within 6 months.

Fabbro tips: "Make sure your goal is measurable, such as turnover in euros, number of new followers, or customers. This ensures you are more likely to reach them."

Is it hard to define your purpose? A SWOT analysis gives you direction. In it, you put the main strengths and weaknesses of your business and determine opportunities and threats.


3. Choose your customer

Make a clear choice about the customer or client you are targeting. A well-known pitfall is to think that everyone is your client. Research your target audience and dare to choose who needs your product or service most, and why. And describe who that is. Then you can focus all your activities on them and get customers and orders that make you happy.

For example: My clients are young parents who both work in offices. Between the ages of 25 and 35, medium to highly educated. Living in or close to the city. Their social network consists of family, other young parents, and the occasional close friend. They read the newspaper on weekends and watch the news daily. They use Facebook and Instagram for inspiration and to stay updated. Their hobbies include baking, gardening, and sports such as cycling and running. They are busy daily combining all activities and worry about raising their children and their own health.

You use this knowledge in the next steps, in which you determine where, when, and how to reach customers.


4. Build your brand

Your brand or 'personal branding' is your identity, image, and reputation through which customers recognise you. When customers know what you stand for, they connect with you more easily and immediately understand the difference between you and your competitor. Your brand is an answer to the questions: Who are you? How do you want to be seen? And how will you be seen? With it, you convey your business's vision and mission.

Write down your brand in a sentence. For example: 'I want to be seen as a vegetarian butcher who improves the world.' Or 'I want customers to see me as a business that means a lot to society'.

Fabbro advises: "Reflect your brand in your name, logo, website, and advertisements. All the colour, fonts, text, and images you use should match. For an eco-friendly business, the colour green fits. And for a personal family business, it fits to use images with people in them."

If you find it difficult to define your brand, take a look at your competitors. Check their websites, request price quotations, or call them. Knowing what your competitors offer will help you answer the questions: What makes me special? Why do customers choose me?

Want to prevent others from abusing your trademark or faking your products? Then consider registering your trademark with the Benelux Office for Intellectual Property (BOIP). If your trademark is registered, you alone have the right to use it. If others use your trademark without permission, this allows you to take action against them. Trademark registration comes with costs and conditions.


5. Choose your marketing mix

Your marketing mix is the fulfilment of your strategy; this is where everything comes together. In this step, keep in mind what you wrote down in the previous steps. In your marketing mix, you describe your product, your selling price or hourly rate, and where you sell. In the next step, choose the marketing channels through which you will reach your customer.


Describe your product or service and state the problem it solves for your customers. Also describe how your product or service differs from that of your competitor. Think about packaging, service, guarantee conditions, and image.

For example, I sell ice creams that allow my customers to satisfy their sweet cravings and cool down in the heat. My ice creams are special because they are made exclusively of natural local ingredients.


Define your selling price or hourly rate and describe what you base this price on. Also name your pricing policy: your payment methods, payment terms, and discounts. Describe why you give which discount and how you calculate it.

For example: My retail price is €2.95 for a horn with a scoop of ice cream. For each additional scoop I charge €1, and for a topping €0.50. The cost price of an ice cream is €2, so I have a profit margin of €0.95 per ice cream. Payments are by pin only. Regular customers get a 6th ice cream free when they hand in a full savings card.

Compare your prices with those of your competitors. Current prices and price trends of products, services, and manufacturers can be found on the CBS website (in Dutch).


Describe the place where customers buy your product or service. Think about shops where your product is located, a distributor, or a sales page on the internet. Then ask yourself whether it is easy for customers to buy your product or service there. If not, find places where it is and write those down.

For example: My ice cream parlour is on the corner of the village's main shopping street. This is convenient because there is also a small square with benches and a playground for children there. On Instagram, customers can find me digitally and we deliver to offices on the electric scooter.

Make sure the place suits the type of business you have. Not just the village or town itself, but also the location you choose for it. Such as a business park, in the city centre, from home, or online. Do you ship only within the Netherlands, Europe, or beyond? Describe whether the conditions of the location are favourable for your business. Think about: local laws and regulations, economic situation, and population structure. These will all vary from location to location.


6. Define your marketing channels

In this step, you choose how to reach your customer. From a local newspaper to an online video channel. Choose the media that your customers use and that suit you and your business. For each method, write down the result you expect. Will this result help you achieve the goals you set in step 2? For example: I have a monthly ad in our regional newspaper. With this, I achieve regional exposure as the most personal estate agent in our municipality.

To inspire you, below is a list of different ways to reach your customers. And which target audience you reach in these ways. Not sure? Ask your customers.

  • Business networking, word of mouth, or 'via via'. You reach your network with this. This consists of all the people you know, both privately and professionally, far away and close by. When you network, you make new contacts or maintain your existing network. Read more about business networking.
  • Search engines, such as Google, Yahoo, or Bing, in which you can also create business profiles to be visible locally. The advantage of search engines is that almost every target audience uses them. And they are already looking for you when they type in a search query. Read more about search engine marketing.
  • Online marketplaces, from a platform where you offer your service as a self-employed professional without staff like or Werkspot, to an e-commerce platform like or Read more about online marketplaces.
  • Social media, on which you actively engage with your customers. You reach your own followers unpaid. Through paid advertisements, you reach new people in a targeted way. Find out which social media channel your customer is on by conducting customer or competition research. Fabbro stresses that marketing via social media requires a lot from you. "Keeping up, responding, advertising. Does it connect with your target audience and do you enjoy doing it? Then choose a channel and go full steam ahead, do not do it halfway." Read more about social media.
  • Email marketing, with which you inform, inspire, or offer customers. You mainly target existing customers. After all, they have given you their e-mail address. Read more about email marketing.
  • Influencer marketing. Influencers are well-known people with many loyal followers. When you use influencers, you pay them to promote your service, product, or business to their followers. Consider influencer marketing if you know a particular influencer is popular with your customers. Read more about influencer marketing.
  • Affiliate marketing involves others ('publishers') recommending your product or service through their blog, podcast, social media channel, or website. From that channel, they link to your website or online shop. If a customer buys from you via this link, you pay the publisher an agreed amount. The advantage of affiliate marketing is that you only pay when it brings you something. Read more about affiliate marketing.
  • Content marketing, for example, magazines and YouTube, on which you share content (text, images, or video) that is valuable to your customers. Sharing knowledge or inspiring customers earns you brand awareness, leads, or website visits.
  • Television and radio advertising. This way you reach a very wide audience. In particular, it generates brand awareness.
  • Bus shelters, mainly for local brand awareness.

And there are other ways such as handing out leaflets, being at a trade fair, advertising in the newspaper, or placing posters on roadside advertising pillars. 


7. Set your budget

Determine how much money you want to spend on marketing and in what period. Then you will know later whether your marketing is delivering enough. For example: In the next 6 months, I want to spend €550 on search engine ads. In the first month, I will spend €50 to try it out. When I know it works, I will increase this amount to €100 per month.

How do you determine your budget? There are several ways to do that:

  • Calculate how much money you need to reach your goals (step 2). Bear in mind that most of the budget goes into advertising costs.
  • Determine your expected turnover and reserve a percentage of this for your marketing activities.
  • See if there is money left over in your budget and use that amount for marketing.
  • Research how much your competitors spend on marketing and take that amount as the basis for your own marketing budget.

Fabbro tips: "Never spend your entire budget at once. For example, start with a budget of €50 a month for search engine advertising and €30 or so for social media. Experiment with your message first and see if you reach the right target group. Adjust afterwards."


8. Make a schedule

Finally, make a schedule in which you write down when you will deploy which ads, so that you meet your goals from step 2. For example: In January, I will start search engine ads and create a business profile. This then runs throughout the year. In March and June, I also advertise in the regional newspaper.

Have you completed all the steps? Then you are ready to get started! Do not forget to check your results regularly, for example, every month or every quarter.