How to create a small business marketing plan
1. Do your research
Work with what you know. Look at what your potential customers are looking for and how they communicate. Web traffic is a good starting point to understand their interests and behaviour. Depending on the data available, look at the return on investment on your previous marketing activities. Look at what worked in the past and what didn’t – in case you don’t have the information, talk to your peers to learn what works for them and do your online research. Different things work for different businesses so be objective and pick the ones you feel most comfortable with.
2. Profile your target customer
Before you do anything, be clear on who are you selling to. Define the key demographic criteria and the interests of your potential customers. Consider defining factors such as their key pain points, look at what motivates them and how do they communicate. These factors will impact the messaging you use and the way you distribute the message. Equally important is the stage of their buying journey as it impacts the level of education required about your products and services. You will be able to establish that through their interaction with your business.
3. Define your unique value proposition
To stand out in a competitive marketplace you need to be clear on your value proposition. It is not just about the features of your products and services, but the impact it has on your customers and the difference between your business and your competitors. This is what makes you stand out and proves to your potential clients that they should stop looking any further. Be clear, easy to understand and link your value proposition to their key issues and interests.
4. Set clear objectives
Set some realistic goals that you will work towards. Keep them simple and focused around specific areas. A good way to start is to set the overall end goal focused on new business opportunities and then setting individual objectives that will support that goal. You could look at your marketing ROI, number of incoming enquiries, number of leads generated, social media engagement, website traffic volume or any other indicator that you think will help your business grow.
5. Create a calendar
Create a simple table with as many weeks as you need and list all the activities you have planned. The visual demonstration will make it easier to spot gaps and errors. Have your plan visible and easily accessible and always be reminded about what is next. It might be difficult to commit to a specific date, especially if you are planning a few months ahead, so for some, creating a weekly or even monthly schedule might work better. It is important that your marketing activities are regular, even if not too frequent, so spread your activities evenly.
6. Track progress
Mark activities that are completed, delayed or are likely to never happen. Review and track the success of various activities to get an idea about what works best for your audience. Schedule a couple minutes each week to review and reflect on where you are compared to where you have planned to be. Have a look at your campaign results and edit your marketing plan if needed. Focus on the activities that are having a positive impact and look at improvements for those that do not.
7. Measure results and adapt
Your ultimate measure of success is the number of new business opportunities and sales. But it's important to know if you are on the right track. Look at your website visits, social media engagement and growth, incoming enquiries, or your email subscribers versus unsubscribes. Test different variations of your content and continuously improve you marketing approach based on what you are seeing.
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