As a small business owner, you may be wondering how you can best market your business to get results, while also not wasting your precious time and money. Or, perhaps you’ve made a start in marketing your business on social media, investing your limited funds but without any results? The first and perhaps most important step for any business, whether you’re big or small, is to have a strategic marketing plan. However, for small business owners, you may believe it is expensive or a waste of time. The trust is, without one, your marketing efforts may miss the mark completely which means you have wasted more money and time with no results. So, how exactly can you create an effective marketing strategy as a small business owner? Here are 9 key steps you need to take, and you’ll be well on your way to seeing some great results. Check them out below!
1. Know the Purpose of Your Marketing
The first step in creating a killer marketing strategy is understanding the purpose.That is, you need to know why you are doing a certain marketing
activity, so you can measure and see if it has been successful or not. It is also important to know and understand how each marketing activity contributes
to the bigger picture. At the end of the day, all your marketing efforts are tied to revenue. However, each piece of your marketing is a step towards
that end-game and needs to be measured accordingly, not just measured by leads or total revenue. For example, some of your marketing efforts might
simply be about branding and awareness and measured by consumer engagement. Or, other marketing campaigns might be focused on increasing reach or generating
new leads so they will be measured by the number of new contacts.
2. Write SMART Goals
Are your marketing goals smart? SMART is an acronym for specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time. Smart goals ensure you know what you’re doing, why you’re doing it, how it contributes to the overall marketing objectives and by when. It provides a way to accurately measure the success of your marketing efforts.A goal, for example, might be to increase your social media reach. A SMART goal would be to increase your Instagram followers by 10 per cent in three months. Depending on your overall marketing objectives, this goal needs to be relevant and attainable, as well as specific, measurable and time-bound. A good marketing strategy contains plenty of SMART goals, which you can then analyse and determine which tactics best help you achieve your goals.
3. Know Your Competitors
An important part of marketing is knowing who you’re up against and why, the best way to do this is to look at your competition from your buyer’s perspective. So many marketers and business owners look at their competition from the wrong angle, that is, from their own perspective. The truth is your competition is what your potential customers are buying instead of your product or service.Your competitor analysis should tell you why they are not buying from you and help you to identify what you need to change in your marketing or delivery. For example; a potential customer may be buying from a competitor because they believe their product is cheaper, when in reality the only thing that is cheaper is the initial purchase price. By educating your buyers, through marketing, about the true cost of a cheaper product will help you to attract more buyers who are prepared to pay your price, rather than reducing your price (and profits) just to compete.Another reason potential customers are buying from the competition is because that is who they found on a Google Search or who was recommended on a Facebook group. Both of these reasons mean that you need to implement an SEO and social media strategy into your marketing.
4. Identify Your Buyer Personas/Audience
A buyer persona is a description of the type of customer you want to attract. It provides in-depth detail about who buys your product, and why. It is important this insight comes from the buyer's perspective, not the business owner or sales person. A buyer persona is different from identifying your target market as it provides greater insight into why and how they buy in addition to demographic information like age, gender, location and so on. While your business will more than likely have more than one buyer persona when you’re starting out I recommend that you start with just one buyer persona, the person most likely to buy from you, or your most lucrative customer.
5. Know the Buyer’s Journey
The buyer’s journey is the process buyers go through to become aware of, evaluate, and purchase a new product or service. Understanding what your potential customers are looking for at each stage of the buying process is key to a successful marketing plan, and it is important to have content for each stage. The three stages of the buyers journey are: 1. Awareness. 2.Consideration and 3. Decision. At the awareness stage, potential customers are just becoming aware of a problem or need and will be looking for educational information to assist them during this stage to accurately identify their need. During the consideration stage, people are now aware of their problem or need and are looking for solutions. Your marketing at this stage should be focused on educating your potential customers on the different solutions out there. Finally, at the decision stage people are looking for key information that will give them the confidence your product or service is the right one for them.
6. Content Mapping
Content mapping is an important step in your marketing strategy. It gives your marketing purpose and context. By aligning each piece of content to the customer journey you are aligning your marketing to what your potential customers are looking for and ensuring you don’t miss an opportunity to attract and engage with potential customers.With insight from your buyers’ journey you will also be able to identify what format of content is best suited for your customers at each stage, for example: blog articles, video content, social media, images, reports, webinars etc. It will also help you to identify where to publish your content for example: online advertisements, social media, your website, an influencers website, signage and so on.
7. Put in Place a Sales Process
A sales process refers to touch points you have with a prospect from the time they are deemed a qualified lead right through to becoming a customer.These touch points are to ensure qualified leads don’t fall through the cracks and missed. However, the important thing to remember here is that each touch point should be adding value to the sales process, not necessarily pushing them to buy, as that may push them away. Each touch point in your sales process should be about learning more about your potential customer and their needs. An example of a sales process that adds value is:
- Book in a free consultation call. This could be a 15 minute call so you can ask some questions and better understand their problem or need. If you think it's something you can help with you can then suggest a longer meeting so you can better understand their situation.
- This meeting should be either in person or a video conference call so you can see each other eye to eye and build a rapport. During this meeting you need to ask lots of questions to better understand their problem or need. After this meeting book in another meeting to discuss your solutions.
- Your final meeting is where you provide a solution - it should not be generic in nature but tailored to your prospect’s individual needs.
8. Create a Timeline
Once you have all the above in place it's important to create a timeline to ensure it all gets done in a timely manner. A timeline will ensure you stay focused on the most important action items and don’t get hijacked by other, seemingly, important tasks, or ideas.
A 12 month timeline with high level projects and campaigns is a great place to start with a more detailed 3 month timeline that lists individual tasks, responsibilities and due dates.
9. Test & Measure
This step is very important and often overlooked. After you have put all that time and effort into creating a strategic marketing plan you need to have a way to track each marketing activity's performance. Review weekly and test different things to see how you can improve performance. For example: if you have an email campaign that is designed to nurture people through the sales process you will measure its success based on the open and click through rates. To improve upon this you may test a different email subject line to see if you can get more emails opened or you may test a different Call To Action in the body of the email to see if you can boost click through rates. Remember to record this information so you can accurately report on each marketing campaign's success.
If you'd like to know more about developing buyer personas, click the image below to download my free ebook!
About the author: Stacie Chalmers is the managing director of The Inbound Marketing Company (TIMCo), a global Inbound Marketing and Sales Agency based in Australia, with clients in North America and Australia.