The easiest way to create a small business plan is to hire a consultant and allow him or her to do the work for you. But, just like anything in life, when you create a small business marketing strategy on your own you create a real learning and growth potential, and you will also discover more about your business than you knew before you started the task.
This is not an easy job, and it will take some time and research to complete. Once it is finalized, you will have a marketing plan that will set forth a structured approach to selling your services or products that will be comprehensive, inclusive and tie all your options into one logical approach.
The Reason to Have a Written Small Business Marketing Strategy
Sometimes, as a small business owner with a limited number of employees or decision makers to work with, it can be tempting to avoid all the time it takes to write a plan and make decisions as the need arises.
The problem with this approach is twofold. The first is that if you don’t fully plan and consider your options, you may spend a lot of time and money on marketing that is not effective. The second issue is that if you do have an incredibly successful campaign, it will be impossible to know what prompted the success so it can be repeated in the future.
Determine your Audience
There are very few small businesses that are selling a product or service that is in demand by everyone. Therefore, trying to market to everyone is a waste of time and money since only a small number of those people would even be potential purchases of the product or service.
A written small business marketing strategy needs to start by clearly identifying the target audience. This includes specific demographics such as:
- Income level
- Geographic location
For a B2B business, you can accomplish the same profile of a target audience, but it will be related to their business and not an individual.
Develop Goals and Determine Analytics
A small business marketing strategy needs to have measurable goals. Not all marketing will be simply based on increased profits. You may have goals of moving into a new geographic area, increasing your contacts, cross-selling or upselling or any other measurable objectives. You may even have goals to make inactive accounts active again through a promotion or loyalty type of program development.
Next, you will want to consider how you are going to measure the effectiveness of your campaign in reaching those goals. Online analytics can track website traffic, social media marketing programs or virtually anything else online, you will just need to choose the program.
For retail or direct sales, you may need to create other options for tracking the effectiveness of the campaign. This will be essential in knowing what is working and what is not.
Once you have your goals and how they are going to be measured to sell to your target audience, the next step is to list the specifics of your marketing and advertising plan.
Consider the cost of each option and the expected ROI (return on investment). Know your budget and understand where your business is currently strong in marketing and where you now it is not as effective. Instead of spending a lot of time in areas where the company is already strong, you can channel your development of new ideas and specialized or focused attention to areas that are weaker.
It will also be important when considering a small business marketing strategy to be realistic with the budget. It will be more effective to evaluate your best ROI on marketing and put all of a limited budget into the top two or three marketing tactics rather than spending very small amounts on multiple techniques that may or may not generate sales.