Developing a Small Business Marketing Plan
Marketing takes time, money, and lots of preparation.
One of the best ways to prepare yourself is to develop a solid small business marketing plan. A strong marketing plan will ensure that you’re not only sticking to your schedule, but that you’re spending your small business marketing funds wisely and appropriately.
What can a Marketing Plan do for Your Small Business?
A marketing plan includes everything from understanding your target market and your competitive position in that market, to how you intend to reach that market (your tactics) and differentiate yourself from your competition in order to make a sale.
Understanding your target market is one of the most important yet highly overlooked aspects of effectively marketing any business. It is imperative that you understand and give your prospective customer what they want and not just what you think they want.
A full understanding of your target market will help you to not only determine your prospects needs but also to figure out here they are at so that you know how and where to connect with them.
Your small business marketing budget should be a component of your small business marketing plan. Essentially, it will outline the costs of how you are going to achieve your marketing goals within a certain timeframe.
If you don’t have the funds to hire a marketing firm or even staff a position in-house, there are resources available to guide you through the process of writing a marketing plan and developing a market budget.
Bend Your Budget When Necessary and Keep an Eye on ROI
Once you have developed your marketing budget, it doesn’t mean that it’s set in stone. There may be times when you need to throw in another unplanned marketing tactic — such as hosting an event or creating a newspaper ad — to help you reach your market more effectively.
Ultimately, it’s more important to determine whether sticking to your budget is helping you achieve your marketing goals and bringing you a return on investment (ROI) than to adhere to a rigid and fixed budget.
That’s why it’s important to include a plan for measuring your overall spend. Consider what impact certain marketing activities have had on your revenues during a fixed period, such as a business quarter, compared to another time period when you focused your efforts on other tactics.
Consider the tactics that worked as well as those that didn’t work. You don’t have to cut the tactics that didn’t work right away, but you should assess whether you need to give them more time to work or whether the funds are best redirected elsewhere. Keep in mind that many marketing platforms may need 90-120 days to show a return. Marketing is the building of a foundation for success, not a magic wand.
Granted, some tactics are hard to measure — such as the efficacy of print collateral (brochures, sales sheets, etc.), but you need to consider the impact of not having these branding staples in your market tool kit before you reign in your graphic design and print funds.
Small business marketing plans should be maintained on an annual basis, at a minimum. I actually recommend reviewing your budget quarterly so that you can make any increases or decreases necessary. If you launch a new product or service, take time to revisit your original plan or develop a separate campaign plan that you can add to your main plan as an addendum.
At the end of the day, the time spent developing your marketing plan, is time well spent because it defines how you connect with your customers. And that’s an investment worth making.
For more information on how you can effectively and affordably market your business, click here.