Planning a strategy for marketing your small business doesn’t have to be complicated. The most important thing to remember when creating a business plan or marketing strategy is clarity. Having a clear idea of what you hope to accomplish and laying those ideas out in a direct manner is a necessary part of creating a successful marketing plan.
You may often find yourself pulled in various directions about what the right way to approach a marketing plan is. Here is how I have successfully tackled marketing strategies in the past:
The first step of any marketing strategy should always be research. Knowing what your customers value is integral to creating a marketing strategy that will interest them and ultimately be successful. Research, however, is not limited to only analyzing your customer’s needs and preferences. It is also important to do research on the competitors in your industry to gauge the success of their own marketing plans. Anytime you approach a marketing strategy, you should try to look at it holistically. Take into account your customers, your competitors, and your business’s own past successes and failures.
After you’ve researched your customers, considered your competitor’s previous strategies, and evaluated what has and hasn’t worked for your business in the past, you must identify what your customers would want out of a marketing strategy and determine what strategy would suit their needs as well as remain true to your brand. Do you primarily engage with your customers online? Has direct mail been more effective in connecting with customers rather than social media? Is there a strategy you haven’t tried yet but has proven successful by other businesses in your industry? Bring in your skills as a creative thinker to devise a marketing strategy that is unique but fitting to your business, your customers, and your business’s message.
Planning is about clarity. If you have a clear objective, you can easily map out a successful marketing strategy. Since you have already researched the current trends in your industry and identified what your customers want out of your marketing, you can begin outlining your path to success. Organizing your thoughts in a strategy sheet is integral to planning, so find a format you are comfortable with. Your marketing plan, if you are continuing to think holistically, should become a narrative that details how your marketing strategy will be implemented from start to finish, and the projected effects it will have on your entire business. Preparing for all outcomes also goes hand-in-hand with planning, so end your strategy sheet with a back-up plan in case you encounter any issues or setbacks.
After you’ve mapped out your marketing strategy, it is time to put it into practice! If you have devised a marketing strategy for social media, for example, publish it, monitor your customers’ reactions to it, and begin thinking of future opportunities that could arise out of this marketing plan. You can capitalize on the success of your social media strategy by later creating new content that refers back to it.
Measuring the success of your marketing strategy is about interpretation. There are a variety of ways that you can measure whether or not your customers are responding well to your marketing strategy: visits, clicks, views, inbound links, and shares. In order to determine whether or not your marketing strategy has been successful for your business, you need to interpret the data gathered. Has your business’s website seen a surge in views? Have you noticed more visits to your business? Analyzing the data gathered helps strengthen future marketing strategies because it gives you the opportunity to evaluate what has and hasn’t worked with this strategy so that you can make your next marketing plan even better.
The hardest part of planning a marketing strategy is figuring out the proper approach; this brief guide offers you one way to start!
Olivia Pawlowski is a contributing author at OnDeck, a technology company focused on providing small businesses with the online resources they’ll need to be successful. With her experience in the marketing and communications fields, Olivia’s marketing tips and advice offer small business owners insightful industry information as they tackle new marketing strategies.