If you own or manage a small business, you probably have a business plan, and most likely your business plan mentions marketing. However, I’ve found that after a year or two many small businesses have no idea what that marketing plan was. Because too often a small business marketing plan was included in the overall business plan because it was expected, not because it was a well thought out plan created to fit the needs of the business.
6 Steps to Building a Small Business Marketing Plan
The last thing any small business leadership team is a complicated outline to form a marketing plan that will take weeks to generate. So, I’m going to keep it simple, but if you follow this 6-step plan and then use it, it can be an effective marketing tool.
Know your Target Audience.
Before anything can get started, you have to name who your product or service is intended to reach. Who does it help? “This isn’t target practice. Or better yet it’s not fishing. You’re not just throwing a line in the water to see what bites, are you? Because if you are, that’s not a plan that’s a hope. You need to understand your target audience, know what problems you solve, and who has those problems before a plan can be made. Once you know that, you’re on your way. Of course, the next step is reaching them, but that’s another post.” — How to Target your Audience (without breaking the bank)
What’s Your USP (Unique Selling Proposition)?
What sets you apart from your competition, what do you offer that they don’t, and what advantages do you have over your competition, such as, delivery, service, or price? “Unless you can pinpoint what makes your business unique in a world of homogeneous competitors, you cannot target your sales efforts successfully.” Entrepreneur — Unique Selling Proposition
If you want to dig deeper try these:
- Convince and Convert — 5 ways to develop a unique selling proposition
- Business News Daily — USP definition, examples, and template
If you employ a business development team, salespeople, or customer service representatives how will you approach prospects? The place to begin is education. Top sales consultants not only know their product and customer but also the industry, “Stay on top of trends, innovations, and changes. Strive to become an expert by knowing more than anyone in your field. There is no excuse in the 21st century for not staying on top of trends. Google your industry, find the thought leaders, and read, read, read. We expect our MD’s to stay abreast of the current accepted medical practices. Why should you and your industry be any different? Be a doctor of your industry, and consult your clients with their best interest in mind.” — Sell More by Selling Less
If you have a sales team read on:
Set Realistic Goals
There’s no greater proof of a marketing plan being seat of the pants than the lack of realistic, actionable goals. If your goal is to do better, that’s not a goal – it’s a wish. Goals are specific, based on objective criteria, driven by activities, and championed by leadership. “If you want goals taken seriously, it starts with the team leader. A team leader must take goals seriously if team members are expected to. Serious goals are researched, analyzed, written, reviewed, re-read, and shared. It’s not easy, it’s time-consuming, and a lot of thought must be put into it.” — Six ingredients of a goal.
Here are three more ideas:
- You cannot do a goal you can do activities
- How to set scientific goals
- Use this Email to set sales goals
Plan Advertising, Branding, and Marketing Campaigns
What’s your sales plan? How will you connect with your target audience? Is your business a B2C, B2B, brick and mortar, online or a combination? And it’s not only about what you sell it’s about where you should spend your marketing dollars. Will it be best to market online, social media, TV, radio, or print? How about banner ads? Much depends on your audience and where they can be found. To run a TV ad for a sleep improving pillow during a ball game probably will not reach the intended audience; if it does, it’s just throwing darts at a wall. However, run the same ad during a late night movie watched by millions of insomniacs, and you’ll get a few calls. Where can your audience be reached?
- Forbes — The hands down best place to advertise your business
- Entrepreneur — The 6 best strategies for advertising your small business
Create a Budget
This isn’t something to guesstimate. Only by creating a budget, can you spend your marketing dollars wisely. Without a budget it’s difficult to create any marketing plan. An advertising budget created in support of a well-planned marketing campaign isn’t an expense – it’s an investment. “The advertising budget of a business is typically a subset of the larger sales budget and, within that, the marketing budget. Advertising is a part of the sales and marketing effort. Money spent on advertising can also be seen as an investment in building up the business.” — INC. — Advertising budget
Read on …
- Entrepreneur — Calculating your advertising budget
- Quick Books — How to create an advertising budget
Are You Ready to Create a Small Business Marketing Plan?
If you don’t have a “real” marketing plan for your small business, then it’s time. Failing to plan is a plan, a very poor one. If the idea of building marketing sounds daunting, try this. Break the effort into the 6 points and tackle them one at a time. If you do this, then before you know it, you’ll have a plan.
If you’d like help developing a thorough marketing strategy let us know we’d be glad to offer our advice and assistance, Contact Us, we have plans for you.
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