Developing your marketing plan

Understanding your target market. Knowing your strengths and weaknesses. Identifying opportunities to attract new overseas visitors. Successfully promoting your business internationally starts with a watertight marketing plan.

Couple having lunch outside with a castle in the backgroundInternational marketing hinges on a well-planned strategy. A detailed marketing plan will sit at the heart of this strategy, providing a blueprint for your marketing activity. Your plan should focus on the four marketing P's – Product, Price, Place and Promotion. Being clear on these aspects of your business will help you clarify and understand your offer, matching your product to the right market and providing an optimum return on your investment.

Marketing an experience

Two people running past a statue on a beach with the tide outWhen it comes to tourism, your product is essentially an experience, which can be hard to describe and sell. You need to think about everything your customer will experience alongside your product, from transportation and accommodation to food, shopping, entertainment, touring and events. It’s only by considering and factoring in the role these elements play that your product will start to stack up in the eyes of the customer, so be sure to cover how you’ll address them in your marketing plan.

Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats

Before you start developing your marketing plan, it’s useful to analyse your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT analysis) so you can better understand your product and the market environment you’re operating in. These could include:

Strengths and weaknesses

  • Location. Are you accessible, convenient and easy to find?
  • Reputation and image. How do you appear to your customers and how do they talk about you?
  • Service. Do you offer a good level of service or comfort? Do your staff have any special skills such as languages? Do you provide an unusually broad range of services? Or could your services be more efficient?


  • Trends or fashions. Consider, for example, any increased interest in certain leisure activities, such as surfing, golf or walking
  • Developments. Are you making the best of technological changes such as social media?
  • Promotional opportunities. Do you look out for campaigns you can take part in, such as those offered by VisitBritain, targeting new or broader markets?


  • Competition. What are your competitors up to? Might any new developments affect you?
  • Economic effects. What threats does the broader economic climate hold for your business?
  • Technology developments. Remember, developments in technology can be negative as well as positive

Developing your plan

Having completed your SWOT analysis, you can start building your marketing plan. You’ll need to incorporate:

  • Overall business objectives. What is it that you want to accomplish?
  • Market identification. Identifying and understanding how your product might appeal to different international target markets, will help you tailor what you offer and how you promote it to attract new business. Take a look at our Market Profile and Segments to help you build this understanding or use our market selector tool to discover which markets best suited for your product. Here you’ll find detailed analysis, indepth knowledge, the latest intelligence and global insights on all our international markets, enabling you to learn more about your target market or discover new ones
  • Marketing objectives. What do you want to achieve in each of these markets? Are your objectives measurable, achievable, time specific, non-ambiguous and flexible?
  • Marketing strategies. What is the best combination of the four Ps (Product, Price, Place and Promotion) for each of your target markets?
  • Actions. What are the key things that need to happen to make the plan work, who will do it and when?
  • The marketing budget. How much do you have to spend and how will you allocate the resources? As a rough guide, most small businesses allocate between 3-10% of their budget to international marketing
  • Monitoring and evaluation. How will you measure the performance of your marketing activity? Considering this now will help you see how successful different aspects of your plan have been and what might need to change in the future