Products and services don’t sell themselves. Simply opening your doors or declaring yourself in business will not drive customers your way.
Every business needs three things to survive and thrive: a solid business strategy, a detailed brand strategy, and a great marketing plan. A solid business strategy means you are adding value to your community, your brand strategy will outline how you communicate with your customers to drive loyalty and longevity, and a great marketing plan outlines how you will tell the world who you are and why they should care.
A marketing plan can help your small business raise awareness, capture new customers, or announce new offerings. Quite frankly, small businesses that do not have a marketing plan in place face a greater risk of failure.
Your marketing plan objectives and your business goals need to be similar–indeed, sometimes they can even mirror each other. But whereas a business goal can be somewhat intangible, such as wanting rapid growth, your marketing objectives must be measurable. For example, if you want to double your business by the end of the year, your marketing objective would spell out the specific number of clients you need to obtain.
So how do you go about creating a great marketing plan for your business?
Strong marketing plans have four major sections.
A smart marketing plan is a lot more than just your goals and how you’re going to achieve them. A great plan dives deeply into your business, your audience, and your competitors, then focuses your efforts with targeted tactics for greater ROI.
I break my marketing plans down into four major sections:
- Your business overview – In this section, it’s all about you. Know why you’re creating the marketing, your vision for your business, services/products you offer, conduct an honest SWOT analysis, and uncover your true differentiators.
- Target Audience and market overview – The second part is all about them. Identify all the important characteristics of who your target audience is (from what they like to where you can reach them,) who your competitors are, and external factors that could be impacting your industry.
- The plan itself – List 2-4 measurable objectives, support them with broad strategies, and implement the tactics for on-going marketing activities.
- Your marketing budget – Do you know your marketing budget? How much have you spent in the past? What are your marketing dollar priorities? Your budget ultimately drives what you can accomplish with your marketing. There’s little worse than wanting to seize an opportunity in October if you ran out of marketing money in July.
How in-depth you choose to go for each of these sections is ultimately up to you, but I find that in general, the more information and detail you include, the stronger the plan.
Review and revise on a regular basis.
I like to tell my clients that a good marketing plan is a living, breathing document.
In addition to crafting a comprehensive plan, it’s important to review and update it on a regular basis. Don’t waste the time and money you spent on creating your plan by letting it sit dormant.
It’s best to review your plan on a monthly basis, but quarterly can work also. A review should include the following:
- Adjust your plan to accommodate upcoming events or opportunities that weren’t known at the time you originally crafted your plan.
- Track how much you’ve been spending and see any ROI from those efforts.
- Schedule marketing tasks or better delegate/assign these items to others as your business progresses.
- Review effective versus non-effective tactics, furthering tightening your focus and efforts.
- Adjust your efforts based on moves your competitors are making to ensure you’re standing apart from your field.
Creating and implementing a marketing plan can seem daunting to a small business owner with an endless to-do list, but it’s critical for your success. If getting started is something you need to do but just can’t find the time, outsource it to a marketing expert who can collaborate with you and shoulder most of the effort.
Helm & Hue offers consulting and marketing strategy services to small businesses who need the help. If you’re interested, contact us today!