Starting a business is one of the biggest and most important milestones a person can have in their life, but it represents only the beginning of a path that will be full of challenges –which in turn represents economic independence.
A very different matter is to make your small business successful because even if you get enough cash flow to keep it in operations, it doesn’t mean it has reached its full potential, after all, even the biggest brands we know today started out as a small business.
Marketing Plan for a Small Business
Getting your business off the ground is really possible as long as you establish a marketing plan or strategy, this differentiates big companies from small, if not necessary, giants like Coca Cola or Apple wouldn’t use it.
That’s why we’ve prepared a To-Do list to help you make your own plan to rocket launch your small business.
Evaluate Your Business
Before you start thinking about any marketing strategy you need to analyze the current situation of your small business, questions like the following can help you:
- Is my business starting or has it not even opened its doors?
- Is it a consolidated business with years in the market that still can’t get off the ground?
- Does my business have a statement or differentiation that identifies it among the competition?
- Has my business been struggling to stay operative recently?
Although they are not the only ones you should consider, they serve as a reference for you to understand what this phase consists of, as the answers to these questions will help you establish the right marketing strategy for your situation.
For example, if it’s a well-established business that you want to move up a level, you may need to think about leveraging and expanding your customer base, and you may have the resources to invest in marketing.
On the other hand, if your business is starting you will have to think about more economic strategies while allowing a reasonable time to produce results.
Know Your Product
This step may seem ridiculous at first, if you are at the head of a business you are supposed to know very well what is being sold.
However, it seems that not everyone who runs a small business understands well what this phase of the marketing plan consists of.
To understand this it is possible to simply enter the website of the competition, or analyze the commercials of the large chains.
Knowing the strengths and weaknesses of your product –such as major competitors and logistics issues- will allow you to determine whether your product can be as competitive as you need it to be on the current market or not.
If your service doesn’t differ in something –Can be price, warranty or even just marketing status-, or your product doesn’t stand out in some way, then it’s time for you to rethink what you’re selling.
Don’t forget to analyze the weak points of your product, any strategized improvement can make a difference.
Establish Your Target Market and Customers
Firstly, you must understand that these are two different definitions.
- The target market is the set of people you have access to, they can be, for example, those who are in the same city or geographical area (unless you provide some specialized service).
- While the target customers are those people who could really buy your product or service.
Here is an example:
You own a small shop where you sell flowers and floral arrangements, in that case, your target market would be the people who see your business, read your advertising and can physically go there to buy.
On the other hand, your target client could be men, especially young men, who want to surprise their partner with a nice detail or woman who wants to keep their home fresh –You could also focus on events like weddings and funerals.
It is very important that you understand these two concepts well, as they will determine the decisions you make to reach the market you need and, especially, your target customers.
If you have (you should have) a website, there are electronic media that will help you better determine these aspects, such as Nielsen@Plan or Kantar Media, Google Ads, among others.
Determine What You Can Invest
Part of the initial step of getting to know your business involved understanding its current economic situation.
For example, if you are facing, or have recently faced, difficulties for your business to operate then you will not be able to invest too much money in marketing, likewise, for your business at this time offering discounts may not be the best option to attract customers.
Establish a budget that includes your most important assets: time and money. How much of it can you invest weekly in marketing?
It is very easy to start a strategy and focus on it, so that after a few days or weeks it is diluted while you concentrate on running your business, having a specific objective will help you track how you are performing in relation to your plan.
About money, create a budget, even if your business is solid and has excellent cash flow, don’t go over budget. It’s important to be patient at this stage, no business face success overnight.
Identify the Weaknesses Of Your Strategy
Possibly you already have a marketing strategy now, maybe you distribute flyers, have commercial accounts on Facebook or Twitter, have a website, advertising berries, among other things, but nothing manages to make your business take off.
In that case, you need to analyze well what you are doing from these aspects:
Means the number of people you can reach with a marketing message, and it can be generated from almost anything: the number of people who see your brand logo in its physical location, who visit your website or social networks or who subscribe to your monthly newsletter.
It’s associated with the quality of the marketing you’re producing.
Assuming that you’re reaching people, are they committed to the marketing you’re producing?
In other words, does it hook them? For example, on Facebook, the people who like and comment on your publications is a direct indication of commitment.
Is the number of people looks at your marketing strategies and decide to buy from you instead of your competitors.
If you don’t see results from any given strategy, then one of the above is not right.
Implement Or Reimplement Strategies And Tactics.
Given all of the steps above in creating your marketing plan, the time has come to define the ways in which you will reach your target market and, more specifically, your target customer.
In today’s society, it is essential that you are online, both with your own website and through social networks.
But you must do it well.
For example, implement SEO to your website, if you sell a product that needs the customer to give you some very specific technical data is not convenient to add a shopping cart because it would have to fill out an extensive form, something that will scare away some people.
Keep social networks active on a weekly basis.
This is a substantial part of your marketing plan.
Take time to analyze your audience and determine the best way to reach them, remember that not all customers can be contacted the same way.
That being said, the most personalized your message is, the more probably it is going to sell.
Marketing doesn’t just mean establishing a plan and following it, it also means being able to measure whether your new strategies are working.
To find out you will need to use market measurement tools to know, for example, how many of those entering your website is buying or making a call.
If you think this may be too difficult for you, or you don’t have the financial resources to hire someone to do it, a very simple way to measure the results of your strategy may be to ask your customers how they heard about you or why they decided to buy from you, i.e., what attracted them.
This is important so that you can know how successful the new strategies you are implementing are.
Based on that continuous evaluation of the metrics you can go back to the previous step and reinvent your strategies and tactics.
Writing, planning and implementing a marketing strategy is much simpler than you think.
You may have to turn to professionals in this area for advice, but even if you don’t have the financial means to do so you can still make your business successful, you just need to be creative.
Put the tips on the list into practice, try to stick faithfully to your plan and define realistic goals, if you aim to achieve a cash flow of $50,000,000 per year within six months you will be disappointed. Don’t forget that the most important things in this field are perseverance and discipline.