When starting a new business there’s a lot to be done and putting all the pieces in place can be a bit overwhelming. This is especially true when learning how to market your new enterprise. With the multitude of marketing options in today’s world, it is easy to find yourself spending most of your budget simply testing campaigns and not making any serious headway. Having a clear strategy for starting, maintaining, and analyzing your marketing plan is vital for success.
Depending on whether you are running a new business or one that’s been around awhile, you’ll have different marketing goals. You might want to increase your market share, improve awareness, change your margins or change your target customer. Setting specific goals for your marketing strategies will help you create better tactics for achieving them.
Here are five simple tips to help get you on your way.
Set a Budget, Timeline, and Target Market
When trying to figure out where to start with your marketing strategy, it is essential for you to identify your budget, timeline, and target market. With so many marketing options available, having these three things clearly identified will help you focus your efforts and pinpoint what will work best for your company and current objectives. If you have a small budget, focusing your strategies around social media and bottom funnel efforts will have the most impact for your dollar. If your budget has a little more room in it, then you can look towards ad campaigns that focus on branding, which may include display and awareness campaigns.Having a clear timeline for your marketing plans will help you stay focused and will assure you complete the necessary steps before moving on to your next objective.
Being clear on who your target market is will help reduce wasted and unnecessary ad spend. For example, while a comprehensive Facebook ad campaign may look impressive, if your target audience is not using Facebook in a professional capacity, then even the best campaign will not yield positive results.
When thinking about your marketing initiatives it is essential that you don’t just focus on what you can afford, but also how you can fully maximize your ad spend via the most effective and highest converting channels.
Utilize Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Content Marketing Plans
Having a strong marketing plan that includes SEO and content marketing will help fill the gaps in your marketing efforts. With today’s increasingly competitive landscape it is often not enough to just build a few Google Ads focused on popular keywords; there is a much larger audience that can be captured via a strong search engine presence – making SEO an essential piece of the digital marketing puzzle. High quality, keyword specific content can help increase the effectiveness of your SEO efforts, while also providing value to your customers, placing your brand in high regard within your target audience.
Integrate Social Media Marketing
To say that you are going to post to Instagram once a day or make a comment or two on Facebook is not an actual social media marketing plan. Take the time to sit down and come up with a clear and consistent messaging strategy across all social media outlets, integrating a mix of various content types, such as promotional, educational, and community engagement. As with any strategy, an effective social media plan will be well thought out, organized, and include goals that are measurable and time sensitive. If you are working with a team, make sure that all necessary stakeholders have a clear idea of what your goals are. More importantly, be sure everyone knows what your desired social media message is. Make sure that your brand stays true to itself and is identifiable from one platform to the next.
Use Paid Search Marketing to Jump-start Your Efforts
When done correctly, paid search advertising is one of the most profitable marketing channels and can quickly increase the number of qualified leads coming to your website. Start by doing keyword research to determine what your customers are searching for in hopes of finding the type of product you provide.
Track and Analyze Data and Adjust Accordingly
There is nothing more important than making sure your marketing plans are on track and effectively working to accomplish the goals originally set. Regardless of the different strategies and marketing channels, all data should be tracked and analyzed regularly.
Analytics tools can provide valuable insights to where clicks are converting to sales, how customers are being acquired, and where they are being lost. As this data is collected, be sure to analyze your campaign performance and adjust your strategy accordingly.
The Benefits of a Marketing Plan
A marketing plan, on the other hand, is plump with meaning. It provides you with several major benefits. Let’s review them.
- Rallying point: Your marketing plan gives your troops something to rally behind. You want them to feel confident that the captain of the vessel has the charts in order, knows how to run the ship, and has a port of destination in mind. Companies often undervalue the impact of a “marketing plan” on their own people, who want to feel part of a team engaged in an exciting and complicated joint endeavor. If you want your employees to feel committed to your company, it’s important to share with them your vision of where the company is headed in the years to come. People don’t always understand financial projections, but they can get excited about a well-written and well-thought-out marketing plan. You should consider releasing your marketing plan–perhaps in an abridged version–company wide. Do it with some fanfare and generate some excitement for the adventures to come. Your workers will appreciate being involved.
- Chart to success: We all know that plans are imperfect things. How can you possibly know what’s going to happen 12 months or five years from now? Isn’t putting together a marketing plan an exercise in futility . . . a waste of time better spent meeting with customers or fine-tuning production? Yes, possibly but only in the narrowest sense. If you don’t plan, you’re doomed, and an inaccurate plan is far better than no plan at all. To stay with our sea captain analogy, it’s better to be 5 or even 10 degrees off your destination port than to have no destination in mind at all. The point of sailing, after all, is to get somewhere, and without a marketing plan, you’ll wander the seas aimlessly, sometimes finding dry land but more often than not floundering in a vast ocean. Sea captains without a chart are rarely remembered for discovering anything but the ocean floor.
- Company operational instructions: Your marketing plan is a step-by-step guide for your company’s success. It’s more important than a vision statement. To put together a genuine marketing plan, you have to assess your company from top to bottom and make sure all the pieces are working together in the best way. What do you want to do with this enterprise you call the company in the coming year? Consider it a to-do list on a grand scale. It assigns specific tasks for the year.
- Captured thinking: You don’t allow your financial people to keep their numbers in their heads. Financial reports are the lifeblood of the numbers side of any business, no matter what size. It should be no different with marketing. Your written document lays out your game plan. If people leave, if new people arrive, if memories falter, if events bring pressure to alter the givens, the information in the written marketing plan stays intact to remind you of what you’d agreed on.
- Top-level reflection: In the daily hurly-burly of competitive business, it’s hard to turn your attention to the big picture, especially those parts that aren’t directly related to the daily operations. You need to take time periodically to really think about your business–whether it’s providing you and your employees with what you want, whether there aren’t some innovative wrinkles you can add, whether you’re getting all you can out of your products, your sales staff and your markets. Writing your marketing plan is the best time to do this high-level thinking. Some companies send their top marketing people away to a retreat. Others go to the home of a principal. Some do marketing plan development at a local motel, away from phones and fax machines, so they can devote themselves solely to thinking hard and drawing the most accurate sketches they can of the immediate future of the business.
Ideally, after writing marketing plans for a few years, you can sit back and review a series of them, year after year, and check the progress of your company. Of course, sometimes this is hard to make time for (there is that annoying real world to deal with), but it can provide an unparalleled objective view of what you’ve been doing with your business life over a number of years. By beginning your plan with a clear idea of your budget, timeline and target market, you can then work to understand where to focus your attention. From there you can move on to the remaining four steps with confidence and success!
Source: The Small Business Encyclopedia and Knock-Out Marketing.