Smart startup owners recognize the need to have a small business marketing strategy plan. It outlines your organisation’s route to success. One essential part of that plan is your marketing strategy.
An in-depth layout of your advertising strategy and marketing outreach can reveal opportunities for a new target market, potential product line, competitive advantages and pricing insights.
Below are a few critical points to remember when creating your small business marketing plan.
Market Strategy Or Market Tactics?
What’s the difference between market strategy and market tactics? Knowing the difference is essential for success.
When most people think about marketing, they think about the likes of advertisements and blog posts. These are the visible execution of the planning behind it.
Strategy is the high-level plan of how you want to position your brand, reach out to your ideal customers and retain your existing ones. For example, if you decide to use an Editorial Strategy, you’d use publishers, news or media organizations to achieve your goals.
Tactics are the specific actions taken to execute your strategy. Examples for this would be could be an article, ad, or video post.
Small Business Strategy Marketing Plan Essentials
No matter which strategy you choose and what tactics you use, you must be clear on the following
1. Know Your Niche
This is arguably the most important step – your brand positioning. You need to know who your target audience is before you can devise a marketing plan.
Identify your potential customers, understand their needs and recognise their struggles. Then learn how your business can help them resolve their hassles.
Do your research, conduct your surveys, analyse industry data and speak to your service staff. This will help you build your ideal buyer personas.
Understanding gender, age, location, income, desires, occupation, dreams, problems etc will help you to gain insight to your target user.
This allows you to generate relevant content that addresses their interests faster, helps you to identify relevant brands to partner, which platforms to promote your content and to dramatically increase your conversion rates.
2. Develop Clear Insight Into What Your Business Does
Understand how your business, product and service fits into the lives of your customers. What problems do you solve for your customers?
Do you help to make their lives easier? Be admired by others? Save them time?
3. Conduct a SWOT Analysis
One of the most important concepts to learn if you are serious about succeeding is the “SWOT Analysis”. Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats are all crucial ingredients for every business.
Four elements of your SWOT analysis
- Strengths: These are characteristics which distinguish one business from its rivals. These are special positive traits, such as a strong brand image, loyal customer base, or the use of proprietary technology which provides an organization with a clear competitive advantage compared to its rivals.
- Weakness: Internal factors in a business are similar to weaknesses. Identifying them can help an organization improve its operation and design measures to remedy and control these factors, which in turn help the company grow.
- Opportunities: These are external or outside factors that positively impact business. Opportunities can come in many forms — growth in a particular market segment, reduction in competition due to new entrants etc. which are outside the control of an organization. Hence, it is crucial to identify opportunities in advance and make maximum use of them by positioning the business to exploit such opportunities to the fullest.
- Threats: These are external factors that negatively impact business. They can come in many forms — financial downturns, supply chain problems, stringent government regulations or shifts in market requirements etc. These are often outside the control of the organization.Hence, you should make sure your business continuity plan anticipates all potential threats to your business and takes necessary precautions to avoid being severely affected by them.
A SWOT analysis is an important part of strategic planning. It helps the decision makers of the company determine where it currently stands in the competitive market, what changes need to be made, and what actions they should take to move forward into a successful future.
4. Define Your Target Audience
Most business owners are not aware of the degree to which their target audience changes and evolves over time, and how important it is to keep an accurate record of exactly who their initial target audience was.
Before you can craft a solid marketing strategy, you must identify your buyer personas. This includes defining their wants, needs, pain points, and demographics. By doing this you can then create the best possible definition of your goals, and how you hope to achieve them.
5. List Your Goals
Be as specific as you can with your marketing strategy plan. Don’t say “more revenue,” say exactly what you mean, such as, “we need to increase our gross profit from $20,000 per month to $30,000 per month.”
Make your goals real ideas instead of just something you know is necessary for your bottom line. This will make it easier for your team to understand how to achieve them and also ensure you’re measuring the success of your efforts accurately.
Make your marketing objectives as specific as possible. Instead of saying, “increase profits” say, “increase the sale of the skin care products by 20% during the month of May.”
Then, make that measurable in some tangible way. Maybe you say, “[specifically] increase the number of new customers we acquire by 8% via promotions offering a $10 discount on their first order for every customer who has not purchased from us before.
List your big goals (make more money, get more customers, etc.) and then branch out to consider the little things that will help you achieve those bigger goals.
6. Know Your Competition
In our highly competitive world, there will always be businesses that will readily fight for the same target customer base.
By taking time to study your competition, you’ll understand them more in-depthly.
You understand what they offer, their business model, their competitive advantages and how they would respond to your actions.
With this knowledge, you can plan your action to develop your industry niche and strategize to prevent your competition from luring your customers away.
You will also be able to avoid sectors where you have unnecessary competition. Remember that ideally, you want to find and service untapped demand.
7. Startup Business Marketing Strategy Plan – Brand Position
Ultimately, your logo, mission statement and what your brand stands for can be your most powerful advantage.
Nike, for example, is all about a the fit, healthy, trendy and attractive lifestyle. Or Tiffany & Co is about romance and luxury jewellery.
Know where you sit in the industry and focus on being the best player there.
State how you will service your patrons and starve off the competition. Have a single minded focus on providing the best value while taking care of your customers’ needs.
8. Finance – Your Marketing Budget
Let’s face it, executing marketing strategy requires money. It will prove to be difficult if you do not have your have your budget in order.
Know how much you are able to spend to achieve your goals. With this in mind, you can plan your execution without taking on undue risk. You will also be able to project how much rate of return you expect from each of your marketing dollars spent.
If you don’t, you could easily blow your budget by scaling too quickly. This happens all too often for inexperienced entrepreneurs and could spell disaster for your business if you are not careful.
If you are already running an established business, it might be wise to hire external experts to audit your firm. This helps you understand how you measure your marketing activities and refine your actions moving forward.
An audit can help identify weaknesses, areas for improvement and untapped strengths too.
How the market views your products and brand is as important as how you view yourself. Ensure that your customers interpret your brand story as you intend them to.
This is the review stage of your marketing strategy plan.
Case Study – Nike
Many entrepreneurs focus only on their want to make money. Hence, their businesses revolve around selling products.
Let’s explore how Nike, the renown athletic brand, did it another way and managed to grow into a global powerhouse.
Recall the Nike ads you’ve seen. Do they concentrate on the fabrics of their clothing or the materials used for their shoes?
Of course they don’t. Nike sells ideas before products.
The product you sell needs to fill a need. If that need is not something that people know they have, you need to promote ideas before you can sell them your product.
In the 1960s, jogging wasn’t a popular activity. Nike, through their ad campaigns promoted jogging as a good way to stay in shape. When people were sold on the idea of jogging, they naturally thought of Nike when they wanted to buy running shoes.
Nike continues to not only sell athletic apparel, it provides education content to people to get the most out of their leisure activities. This creates a self-powering revolution that builds trust with their customers and constantly drives incredible sales growth.
It is this underlying principle that makes their campaigns work so well and has enabled them to grow into one of the world’s most visible brands.
Leverage Digital Marketing Strategies
Now you know the pillars of your plan, you need to decide how to reach your potential customers.
Aside from traditional media, embracing technology driven marketing channels can greatly increase your outreach while lowering your marketing costs.
Social media has emerged as a vital part of corporations’ marketing plans.
Small business owners may feel overwhelmed by the opportunities but it is well worth putting aside time and budget to understand how better to utilise these channels.
Understand where your clients are spending most of their time and concentrate on these platforms.
You don’t have to become an expert in social media marketing. You just need to understand the concept.
You should hire external consultants or agencies to run your social media campaigns. This free up time and allow you to concentrate on your core business competencies.
The money is in the list.
This saying is very true. If you have a list of leads, potential customers and buyers, you can implement email marketing techniques in a myriad of ways.
You can send newsletters to get your list to know and understand your brand better. You can run promotional campaigns to sell your products or invite your list to attend your events.
Remember to segment your email list so that you only send appropriate emails to each segment.
Segment from the onset and continue to segment based on subscriber activity. This will reduce your unsubscribe rate, increase your open rate (OR) and click through rate (CTR).
If you do not, most of your emails will just become spam. That would be detrimental to you and your business.
Optimise For Mobile
The popularity of smartphones and tablets has changed the way companies reach out to their audiences.
A little more than 50% of internet traffic comes from mobile devices and the 70 percent of online purchases come by way of them too.
Since people have these devices with them most of the time, you should optimise your content and advertising for mobile consumption.
Tracking And Monitoring
Create a well defined list of goals, actions and budgets. Assign personnel to each and track the results.
This will allow you to gather data for analysis. You can identify your ROI for each channel and each stage of your funnel. Making data based decisions will help you improve your processes without guesswork.
Thereby, moving you towards your desired outcomes as you undertake the necessary adjustments.
Goals – Metrics And KPIs
So by now, you understand that investing and developing a marketing strategy is essential for your business.
As long as you have customers to serve, then you need to think strategically so that your execution results in your message reaching your audience and invokes the actions that drives the results you want.
Make sure your goals are specific, achievable, measurable, time bound and relevant. If they are not, you will not be able to quantify and track whether you’ve met them based on your schedule.
Common marketing metrics and key performance indexes include:
- Market share
- Brand awareness
- Conversions rate
- Customer acquisition costs
- Customer lifetime value
- Return on Ad spend
- Revenue growth
- Social media traffic
- Post interactions
- Click through rates
Having a documented strategy to greatly increases the chances of achieving your goals. Fortunately, for you, 41% of marketers do not do this. This means that you have a leg up on them when you do it effectively.
It is important for a startup or small business to have a marketing strategy plan. It defines the direction of the organisation, identifies the path to reach its goals and establishes the brands market position.
Creating one from scratch is easier said than done. This explains why some companies cut corners when planning and consider marketing as an unnecessary cost centre instead of a revenue driver that is responsible for business growth.
You have the power to grow your organisation and make your business thrive. So invest time and budget and get down to working on your business marketing plan.
You can find more tips for developing a business marketing plan, measuring and interpreting your marketing results from Blazing Conversions.