So what's your small business marketing strategy? I'm willing to bet that close to 85% of the people reading this are scratching their heads now. Many small business owners fail to create a marketing strategy at all, instead focusing on tactics.
Let me give you one of the definitions of strategy from the fine folks at Merriam Webster:
2 a : a careful plan or method : a clever strategem b : the art of devising or employing plans or strategems toward a goal
So a strategy is a plan and the implementation of that plan. Tactics are merely the methods with which you carry out that plan.
Planning is important in small business marketing for a few reasons:
- Planning helps insure you keep a consistent marketing effort
- Planning helps you set goals and move towards reaching them
- Planning helps you set and stick to a budget.
Many small business owners are intimidated by the idea of a marketing plan. They think it needs to be a huge formal document with financials and charts. It can be that, particularly if you are going for funding. However, if you are just in business for yourself, your marketing plan can be very simple.
Here are some items I think it should include:
- Your overall vision, value proposition, and unique selling position
- A list of your target markets and what you know about them
- Your budget for marketing
- A list of strengths and weaknesses with the customer facing side of your business.
- A list of steps you are going to take (I recommend a marketing calendar)
There are three ways to increase your revenue and your plan should take each into account:
- Increase your number of customers
- Increase the amount of your average transaction
- Increase the frequency at which your customers buy from you
Most marketing efforts I encounter focus only on #1. However #1 represents the most expensive, difficult, and slow method for increasing revenues.
Remember that marketing is not just advertising and PR. Your plan should encompass your customers' entire experience with you. It might include changing the way you answer the phone, more frequent followup calls, cleaning the bathrooms at your store more often, adding plants to your reception area. Your plan also might include some kind of customer satisfaction survey, maybe during followup calls or during a visit to your business.
Your plan might also include presenting your products or services better or repackaging them in different ways. It might have you creating a new brochure, or giving sales training to your staff.
Your plan should include the tactics you want to use, and a budget for each tactic.
There's an old military aphorism that goes: Even the best possible battle plan has not survived first contact with the enemy. This basically means that the unpredictable always happens - it's what makes life interesting. Do not be afraid to revise your marketing plan to respond to changing conditions. However, you still need a consistent and intelligent marketing effort.
You should be able to capitalize on new opportunities and respond to new challenges.
Plan and stay consistent - you will outpace most of your competition.
J D Moore - Marketing Comet