The challenge for so many small business owners is that they have little idea or time to make marketing actually work. The majority are experts in their fields, but they simply don’t have the time to become experts in the ever changing world of marketing.
So what happens? Rather than taking a strategic approach, most SME’s marketing efforts are the result of reactive decisions that usually come with unrealistic expectations. Their marketing mix looks can look like a mix of tactics and tools from a variety of in-house and external sources. On a good day, the business owner doesn’t truly know what is working. On a bad day, they feel like blowing it all up and cutting of the marketing investment all together!
If any of this sounds familiar, a very good option is to take a step back… and that “step back” involves creating a strategic marketing plan. Developing a marketing plan is, in my opinion, the best chance at success, and this is why.
It Provides a Guide
The best thing a marketing plan does for a small business is it provides a route, of sorts, to follow. It keeps you (and everyone on your team) on the same page when it comes to the direction your business is heading and how it’s going to get there.
So what does this guide look like? The specifics will vary, of course, but there are some basic components that I think every marketing plan should have:
SWOT Analysis – This is basically a snapshot of your business. Who are you? What is your unique selling proposition? What are your strengths and weaknesses relative to the competition? These are all questions you need to answer.
Target Audience – Before you can start marketing, you need to clearly identify who your best customers are. You can break the information down into key demographics, such as age, sex, geographic location, etc.
Marketing Goals – It wouldn’t be much of a plan if you didn’t set goals, now would it?! Your goals should clearly state what you want to happen and by when; a sort of list of realistic objectives.
Marketing Strategies – Your goals are what you want to happen, your strategies are how you make them happen.
Budget – If business growth is a priority, marketing MUST have a dedicated budget. Too often the small business judges everything marketing related on cost. Marketing is an investment NOT a cost!
Yes, there are ways to market your business for free, but those methods will only do so much for your business. Eventually you’re going to have to shell out some cash, whether it’s for Facebook ads, new business cards or a website revamp.
As mentioned above, budget is one of the main components of any solid marketing plan. You’re a small business owner, so you know just how important it is to have a budget and stick to it. It’s just as important when it comes to marketing, which is why creating a marketing plan is so critical.