Are you struggling with where to begin to develop a marketing plan for your small business?
Most of the small business owners or non-profit leaders I work with are really knowledgeable about what they sell or the service they offer. Unfortunately, that knowledge is not always translated into a well-defined marketing strategy.
Typically, the product or service is valuable to their target audience, but sales still suffer due to a lack of brand awareness. I often suggest starting with the development of at least a high-level strategic marketing plan or the "what".
While the task of developing a marketing plan can seem daunting, the five components below are a great place to start.
Develop a S.W.O.T. analysis. A very useful tool to help define your brand's strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats from your customer's point of view. Wordstream created a nice video below outlining how to create a S.W.O.T. analysis. An honest analysis will help you define your value proposition, target audience, and key growth opportunities.
Define your value proposition. Often companies do not have a well-defined value proposition that outlines their unique value and why prospects should buy from them versus their competition. To define your value proposition you should first Identify the benefits your product offers, then describe what makes those benefits valuable and how they solve your customer's main problem. Next you'll want to differentiate yourself as the preferred provider of this value. Shopify offers a great example, "Shopify is everything you need to sell everywhere." Once you've developed your value proposition, it should be reflected throughout your marketing materials. You want to make it easy for prospects to know why they should buy your product or service. Hubspot provides a nice infographic on how to create your value proposition. They note that over 30% of B2B companies do NOT have a value proposition even though it's one of the most important conversion factors!
Identify your Target Audience. You should outline what individuals, groups or companies would most benefit from your services, what your offering to them includes and how you plan to reach them with communications. Most businesses have several target audiences that could be consumers of their product or service. For example, if you sell education or training, you could identify three target audiences including traditional full-time students, part-time working adult students and possibly companies who would benefit from the training you offer to help their employees. These three groups would likely have different needs in terms of your offering and price. In addition, your communication strategy would need to be adjusted for each group.
Communication Tactics. How will you reach your target audience? The top three digital tools I recommend are your website, email and social media.
Typically a website is a cornerstone to your marketing efforts. Prospects will likely end up at your website, so you want to make sure at a minimum your content is current and relevant to your target audience. Today there are many tools to help make your website visually appealing and simple to keep updated.
Email is probably your next most important tool for reaching your customers and prospects. Building a curated email list takes time, but you will reap the benefits of your efforts in the long run. Campaign monitor shared, "Email lists are important because email marketing is the best way to connect with customers vs. social media. In fact, you are 6x more likely to get higher click-through rates through emails instead of tweets. Also, email is 40 times more effective at acquiring new customers than Facebook or Twitter."
Lastly, you'll want to focus on social media and growing followers there with weekly/daily posts sharing information and content. We'll share more on all three of these tools and more in future posts.
Establish Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). How will you measure the success of your marketing efforts? Certainly, you can leverage your end results such as units sold or net revenue as indicators of the overall effectiveness of your marketing tactics. You can and should also measure weekly activity that drives the overall top of the digital marketing funnel featured in the graphic below from the customer journey marketer. Keep in mind it typically takes 8 to 10 touches to get to the "purchase" stage, so frequency and consistency in your efforts are essential! Weekly KPIs for marketing activity could include # of emails sent, the overall size of your subscribed email list, followers on social media, likes/engagement on social media, website users and visits, etc. I'd recommend you pick no more than 5-10 KPIs to track and monitor your efforts as you are starting out. For your activity measures, the key result should be they are increasing week over week.
If you've been struggling with where to begin to develop a marketing plan for your small business, hopefully, this will help you get off the line. It's definitely worth it in the long run and it's a marathon, not a sprint!
At It's All About the How Marketing Consulting we offer expert marketing support and practical tools to help improve your brand awareness. We can help with all aspects of your small business marketing needs from developing strategic marketing plans to weekly content. You can reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org or check out our website at www.itsallaboutthehow.com.