When you’re just starting a business, you’re required to wear a lot of hats. From HR manager to payroll, tech support to bookkeeper, you are responsible for whether or not your business can get off the ground and thrive.
Another big responsibility that falls on your shoulders is marketing. And this is a biggie, because 90% of your businesses’ success hinges on your marketing plan. Not sure how to even begin creating a marketing plan? Keep reading to understand the basic – though critical – steps.
Step 1: Define Your Goals and Milestones
In order to develop a marketing plan that works on your behalf, you must first know what it needs to DO for you. In broad terms, define what the ultimate goal of your marketing is as far as audience, reach, and ROI.
Knowing your overall goal will help you craft every part of your plan. You’ll be able to set smaller milestones and realistic budgets to reach each one. Knowing each milestone (baby step) and how much you have to spend will help you determine the best channels to reach your campaign objective.
Step 2: Market Research
Hopefully you employed market research before even creating your product or service to know there was a need for it. Now it’s time to do some more research so you can know exactly how to get your offer in front of the right audience at the right time.
Spend some time creating your ideal customer personas. You will need to uncover basic information on them such as their age, income, gender, level of college education, etc. But you’ll also need to go beyond this so you can ensure your messaging is always on point and speaks to the BENEFITS your prosepcts will gain.
Try and answer some of the following questions to get to know your ideal customer better:
- What worries them?
- What frustrates them?
- What do they fear?
- What troubles are they having?
- What do they wish for?
- What channels do they use to consume information (traditional, digital)?
Finally, you’ll want to conduct some competitive analysis to determine who your competitors really are, how much they charge, how they conduct customer service, and what are they doing better than you – if anything.
All of this research will ensure you recognize your unique value proposition (UVP) and uncover where your target audience hangs out and how you can best market to them.
Step 3: Select Your Channels
After your research, you may have determined that your ideal customer is a baby boomer who relies on newspapers, magazines and Facebook to get their news and information. If you don’t have the budget or mental bandwidth to launch campaigns on all three channels at the same time, that is absolutely fine.
Pick one channel to start and test to see how you do with it. You can always add channels down the road as soon as your revenue increases. Just be sure to leave plenty of space for trial and error and give your campaigns time to see how (or if) they deliver. This is especially important for traditional channels like print, radio and television, because your audience may need to see or hear your add multiple times before they take action.
The big takeaway here is that you DO NOT have to be on every single marketing channel created by man. Only spend money and energy on those channels your target demographic is on, and even then, start small and scale.
Step 4: Create Your Team
You’ll need some help with your advertising, whether that help is in-house or outsourced. Who will design your ads and write your copy? Who will respond to incoming leads and follow up with them?
While you are trying to keep costs low, skimping on your ads and not getting the help you need is NOT the right way to budget. Again, consider focusing on one channel right now and mastering that before putting more resources into other channels. The important thing is to have the creative help you need to develop ads that convert.
Step 5: Always be Testing
If a campaign is underperforming, test to see if you can get it to bring better results. If a campaign is performing well, test it to see if you can get even BETTER results. Never stop measuring, testing, and refining your ads.
Test headlines, colors and fonts, test bullet points and images, test time slots and sections of the newspaper. Sometimes something as simple as changing an image or a couple of words in a headline can cause an increase in sales and leads.
In conclusion, marketing is the lifeblood of your business. The more concise your marketing plan is, the better able you will be to execute on it and reach your objectives.
If you’d like some help putting together a solid marketing plan, please get in touch with us. We help small business owners define their objectives, discover their target market and the best channels to reach them.