Every small business relies on marketing to succeed. Make a plan that works for you by following these six tips.
- A marketing plan identifies your target audience, the best channels for engaging with them, and analytical insights to guide future strategy.
- Businesses require a comprehensive marketing plan in order to coordinate campaigns and accurately measure their impact.
- Marketing is a team effort, and a cohesive strategy maximizes the value of each campaign toward a cohesive strategy.
- This article is for small business owners who want to create an effective marketing strategy that increases engagement and fuels business growth.
A well-thought-out business plan is required by every successful company to outline its course of action. A marketing strategy is an important component of that plan because it specifies critical information such as how a company will differentiate itself from competitors and what the team will strive for.
While marketing plans do not always yield immediate results, they are still an important component of a business plan and should be given careful consideration. A comprehensive and effective marketing strategy can reveal opportunities by introducing new audience segments, altering pricing strategies, or distinguishing the brand from the competition.
Here’s how to put together an effective marketing strategy for your company.
How to develop a business marketing plan
A targeted marketing strategy has two objectives. The first is to keep customers engaged and loyal, and the second is to gain market share within a specific audience segment of your target audience.
Your marketing plan outlines the strategies you’ll use to achieve both goals, as well as the specific actions your marketing team will take, such as the specific outreach campaigns, the channels through which they will be conducted, the required marketing budget, and data-driven projections of their success.
Marketing is a science-driven commitment that typically necessitates months of data to refine campaigns, and an interconnected marketing plan keeps your company focused on its long-term objectives.
All marketing guidelines will revolve around the four Ps: product, price, place, and promotion. The following suggestions are starting points for developing the habit of returning to these four P’s on a regular basis.
1. Create an executive summary.
Marketing campaigns should not be viewed as separate functions. Marketing is the story of your brand as told to customers; its tone and characters, like any narrative, should remain consistent. An executive summary outlines your marketing objectives for the coming year and serves to connect each campaign.
Your marketing objectives should be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound, or SMART. These objectives should be aligned to achieve both internal and external harmony, telling a consistent story that informs customers of your precise message while building on previous chapters.
For example, you could set a SMART goal of increasing your company’s social media traffic by 15% in 90 days by creating four relevant, informative, and high-quality posts.
2. Identify your target market.
Before you can create a marketing strategy, you must first identify and comprehend your niche. Consider who you’re trying to reach. For example, if your company sells 30-minute meals, those who work traditional 9-to-5 jobs are likely to be in your market. Investigate that group of people to learn about their problems and how your company can solve them.
3. Differentiate your brand with inbound marketing.
Inbound marketing employs internal tools such as content marketing, social media activity, and search engine optimization (SEO) to attract a customer’s attention primarily through online communication. Content marketing can include informative blog posts, interviews, podcasts with relevant industry figures, or supplementary guides on how to best use your product. For example, if you sell cooking supplies, consider posting several fun recipes around the holidays that your tools can help prepare.
Each of these strategies empowers the others in a feedback loop to increase customer attention. A strong content offering can boost your search engine ranking, bringing more people to your website and social pages. You can then distribute those developed content pieces to a larger audience, which will improve your search engine rankings yet again. All of this can be accomplished without the expense of a celebrity endorser or a commercial advertising campaign.
4. Identify competitors that also target your customers.
No matter how unique your product or service is, there will always be competition for your target customer’s money. Small business owners rarely take the time to thoroughly research their competitors or identify companies outside their industry that are equally capable of luring customers away. Knowing who your competitors are, what their core competitive advantages are, and how they might react to your offerings – such as price cuts or increased communication – allows you to devise strategies to counteract such losses.
By identifying your competitors, you can develop ways to differentiate your business by providing consumers with what your competitors may be lacking. Examine how your competitors operate to determine how you can stand out and direct your target audience toward you.
5. State your brand position for your target customers.
Finally, your brand – and what it represents to customers – is your most powerful asset. You should be able to write a simple declarative sentence describing how you will meet customer needs and outperform the competition. The best positioning statements focus on solving a problem for the customer in a way that promotes the best value.
6. Budget the plan.
Consider the marketing budget you will allot when implementing a strategy. Marketing costs money for a variety of reasons, including paid advertisements, marketing software, events, and outsourced costs. Consider your budget when developing the plan so that you have money to spend on marketing tactics to achieve your objectives.
Note the estimated cost, assets, and time required to achieve the stated goals while drafting the plan and evaluating your course of action; this will help when it comes time to set the actual calculated budget. Any goals you set should be realistically achievable within the constraints of your budget.
Channels to include in your marketing plan
Once you’ve identified the components of your strategy, the next step is to create a blueprint for how you’ll reach your target customers. Aside from traditional print and broadcast media, here are three digital marketing channels that many business owners use.
Because every type of customer is on some type of platform – such as Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn – social media is an essential part of businesses’ marketing plans. You may be overwhelmed by the options, but focus on the sites that will benefit your company the most.
Brett Farmiloe, founder of internet marketing firm Markitors, advised businesses just getting started in social media to get to know their customers and the platforms they use.
“Find out where your customers spend their time and set up shop on those platforms,” he advised Business News Daily. “Develop an internal content strategy, [then] execute your strategy by posting branded content on your chosen platforms.”
Though email marketing is not as new as social media marketing, it is an effective and popular option for small business owners. Companies can use email marketing techniques in a variety of ways, including newsletters, promotional campaigns, and transactional emails. Mailchimp and Constant Contact, for example, assist businesses in managing email drip campaigns.
Farmiloe advised distinguishing your email marketing efforts from the competition by segmenting your markets.
“Not all subscribers want to receive the same blast,” he explained. “Smart email marketers take the time to segment subscribers at the start, and then continue to segment based on subscriber activity.” Companies use segmentation to reduce unsubscribes, increase open rates, and, most importantly, increase the number of actions taken from an email sent.”
The rise in popularity of smartphones and tablets has altered how businesses market to their customers. Companies are looking to implement strategies that reach customers on their devices because people have these devices with them almost all the time.
“Mobile marketing is disruptive,” said Farmiloe. “It is because of this power that a marketer can allow the consumer to decide how and when they want to receive marketing material.” As a result, almost every app includes the option to enable or disable notifications. With mobile marketing, the consumer must wield the most power.”
Your marketing plan can become a reality with well-defined budgets, goals, and action items, as well as the appropriate personnel assigned to each. Consider how much money you’re willing to spend, the outcomes you want, and the tasks required to get there.
Analytical tools that monitor customer behaviour and engagement rates can help you plan your marketing strategy. Unlike billboards or commercials, digital channels allow you to evaluate each stage of the customer journey and gain insights into prospects’ unique patterns and intent. Intention can quickly turn into prediction, allowing your marketing team to create campaigns that reach target audiences at the right time every time.