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Does your Small Business Marketing Plan suck?

….The life out of you? Do you even have one? If so, that’s great! Are you executing your plan? If not, that's forgivable. Chances are, you started, but got sidetracked on accounting, payroll, sweeping the floors, etc. If you used your life savings to open a florist shop, chances are you are passionate about flowers, not marketing. If you leveraged a second mortgage on your family’s home to open that little wine bar you always dreamed of – you’re probably more worried about wine (mmmm wine), than marketing. And if you finally quit your job to pursue photography full time – you’re focused on photos, not marketing. The same is true for established small businesses. With a limited staff to run day-to-day operations, it’s hard to focus time, money, and resources on marketing.  

But, how do you attract new customers to your small business? Marketing, of course. To market, effectively, you need a plan.  

 As a small business owner, you probably endure hundreds of solicitations a year for your marketing budget, from TV, radio, and print advertising to “outdoor media” aka billboards, and phone books. (A quick note: Never, ever, spend money on advertising in a phone book unless your target age demographic is 80-106).  SEO “optimization” is the new scam. You know, the  “Dear sir or madam, I am having a most reputable company guaranteed to get you on the first page of Google” emails, which is next to impossible with the new Penguin and Panda algorithms. But I digress. The pitches all sound good, with the exception of the phone book ads, which never sound good.  This becomes overwhelming.  Having a plan makes it less so. Below in a few easy steps to begin the process of creating a marketing plan.  

1. Goal setting is the first and most important step. How can you know where you are if you don’t know where you’re going? Simply enough, but this is where most people get hung up. Here’s how you get past this: make your goals SMART goals:

Specific – State exactly what you want to accomplish (who, what, why).

Measureable – How will you evaluate the extent to which the goal has been met?

Achievable – Is the goal a stretch, but attainable within the given timeframe?

Relevant – Does the goal satisfy a need on your overall business plan?

Time-based – There must be and end date when the performance of the goal is evaluated.

2.  Establish buyer personas. Who is your ideal client or customer? Do research into your current customer base. You are marketing to your ideal customer, because (obvisouly) you want more just like them! What is their demographic information, where do they get their information, what does there daily like look like, what do they value most? Most importantly, why do they purchase your good or service over that of your competitors?

3.  Establish negative buyer personas. This is who you are not marketing to. Seems obvious, but this group is just as important to identify as the previous. If your product is higher quality, but also priced higher than your competitor, you are not going to market to someone who values price over quality.

4.  Budget. When determining a marketing budget it is important not to fall into thinking, "how much is this going to cost me?" Think of your marketing budget as an investment in your business and and focus on the potential return on that investment. ROI is the name of the game.

5.  Implementation. Who is going to develope, manage, and evaluate your marketing plan? Do you have another 20+ hours a week to devote? Will you hire an experienced, successful marketing professional (probably around $60k annually plus benefits, plus payroll tax, plus...)? Or do you outsource to a small local agency who can help you create your marketing plan, implement strategies and best practices, create and produce materials, and provide in-depth analytics, for a fraction of the cost? Then click the link below! (Yes, that was a shameless plug).


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