Whenever I talk with small business owners, all possible doubts come out about their marketing initiatives.
To get off with the right foot, I always say you need to breathe, set aside some time for you and your business, and put on paper all that you want to achieve, when, how and with which resources.
With the following steps, you will be able to start piecing up together the essential elements for your business’ marketing plan.
1. Understand your Business
I know that nobody knows your business like you do. But periodically, I advise business owners to perform a checkup and answer questions like: What’s your company current situation? Are your business goals being reached? Who are your clients right now? Access your numbers, feedback from clients and your competition.
2. Define your Target Audience
A target audience is a technical term used to define your ideal customer.
In this point, try to work as a forensic policeman. List everything you know about your ideal customer: where they live, what’s their gender, their age, and even their behavior (what they like to watch, their favorite restaurants, where they shop).
Deeply understanding your consumer will guide you when deciding which strategy would be the best for your marketing efforts.
3. Get to Know your Competitors
Let’s not be naive. Your product can be the best in town but it isn’t the only one. So, don’t be afraid and check out what your competitors are doing. Get to know their prices, their services. And then compare them to your business. Try to understand your uniqueness, how you differentiate from the others.
4. Make a List of Your Goals
Now things start to get more interesting! When you set your annual marketing goals, try to be as clear as possible when answering the following questions: What objectives do I want to achieve? Which targets do I want to hit?
An example: “Reach new customers on Social Media”.
5. Outline Strategies
Now that you know what you want, it’s time to plan how you are accomplishing those marketing goals. Try this method: Take each of your goals separately. Study them and list actions, right below it. Be clear with your milestones and review them periodically.
Let’s take the previous example of “Reach new customers using Social Media”.
We need to be more specific in our goal, so let’s refine it to:
Getting 50 new Instagram followers organically every month in the first quarter.
and your strategies can be
Increase profile presence posting at least 2 photos per day
Research hashtags that are trending in your segment and use them in your captions
Engage more users using giveaways contests
Not that hard, right?
And don’t panic if you see that one of your strategies isn’t working out. Adjust it to your reality and keep going.
6. Set your marketing budget
I know budget projections aren’t the most fun part of planning. But to keep everything under control and to understand which promotional expenses and marketing strategies give you the highest return on investment, you need to go through it.
Base your budget on your business plan. Include all the information documented in your marketing plan to create financial projections. For example, include the Instagram ads expenses you expect to incur and what your expected results will be in terms of new customers, sales and profits, according to your previous goals.
And don’t worry. Your financial projections will never be fully accurate. You will always need to tweak or tailor something to make a project more affordable in the long run.
7. Hands On
Regardless you are willing to go deeper and write a 100 page document or trying to keep things simple, these steps are great to guide you in your planning. As I said before, you know your business better than anyone. So, write a marketing plan that is ideal for your business needs.
Now, let’s get started!