What’s your small business marketing plan?
This is the time of year when small business owners should be working on their business plans for the coming year. Strategic business planning, and its accompanying marketing plan, are a crucial task at the beginning of each year. If your small business hasn’t kicked off the strategic planning process, here is a framework you can use to get started on setting business goals and creating your business and marketing plan:
Set goals for your business. Your marketing plan should be tied to your overall specific and measurable business goals. It is impossible to know if your marketing efforts are paying off if you don’t know what you are trying to achieve and the time frame in which you plan to achieve them. In addition, if you set overall business goals, your marketing efforts will be more focused. For some helpful tips on strategic planning, check out Seven elements of a strategic plan.
Based upon your business goals, identify the target markets your marketing plan should address. For most businesses, these will include current customers/clients, specific industry segments, or specific demographic groups. For many small business owners, identifying a target audience is difficult. I often hear that “anyone” is in a client’s target audience. While that might be true to some degree, small businesses have enough competitive challenges without being non-specific about their target audiences. Choose who you want to work with by thinking about who you serve best and what types of customers are most profitable and enjoyable for you. Declare your target audience to the world. I guarantee you will still get business you don’t want and customers who don’t completely fit your target market. But by declaring your target audience, your small business will create a higher level of brand awareness with the customers you do want and serve well.
List the messages that you want to share with each group. Think about what they want to know and what will give them confidence in your business, not just what you want to tell them. Try to think about what information will be helpful during the decision-making process. This can be extremely difficult for small business owners. Often you know what you want people to know about you. Determining the message that will resonate with your target audience means you have to think about what matters to them, not what matters to you. Think from their point of view.
Next think about how you can communicate these messages. These are the marketing tactics you’ll implement. Don’t just stick to the safe ideas or the marketing tactics you’ve already used. Think beyond the stuff you normally do. Look at options that scare you. Your tactics should include multiple ways of reaching your audience, but your messages should be consistent. Be sure your expectations are realistic. Remember that Rome wasn’t built in a day and your small business’ marketing results won’t come that quickly either.
Now calendar your events and assign tasks so that you know your plan will be implemented.
Analyze everything you do, tweak as you go along, and don’t be afraid to try something new. A good business plan is an evolving document. Review and adjust yours throughout the year.