Starting a small business is exciting and scary, as you plunge head first into the unknown, with only your business plan in hand. It takes an investment of both time and money to start up, but one thing you cannot afford to scrimp on is marketing.
You may think you have more important things to consider, but do not underestimate the importance marketing! Without a marketing strategy you will have no marketing plan, no brand, and no customers.
5 Step Marketing Plan for Small Businesses
As a small business you don’t need an expensive marketing budget full of bells and whistles. It is easy to start with a simple marketing plan that will work for you.
Step 1 – Work out your target audience
Your first step in setting up a marketing plan is to work out your primary and secondary audience. Know how to market yourself to you customers before you start marketing. For example a preschool target audience is parents of children at preschool age; the secondary audience is family members and friends of parents who may recommend the preschool. Understanding your audience will help you design for them, produce content they will like and create a successful marketing plan that reaches the right people.
Step 2 – Get a Website
This doesn’t need to be all singing all dancing but you do need a website that has enough information to explain what you do and a contact or purchase method. As a new business you can use the ThriveHive website builder to create an SEO friendly website that suits your business. Having a website is very important in today’s markets as customers are used to being able to find your website and contact you through a website.
Step 3 – Be Social
Social Media is accessible to everyone, going back to your primary and secondary audiences find out which social platforms they prefer.
A preschool parent may spend a lot of time on Pinterest producing boards of family things to do, or preschool activities, they probably spend a lot of time on Facebook sharing photos of their children. If your customers are on Pinterest, take steps to growing your Pinterest following and use these Pinterest marketing tips for your business.
On the other hand, a customer in the target audience for your tattoo shop will likely spend more time on Instagram than Facebook. Focus on using Facebook for your business and engaging users that way if that’s the case.
Look at all the social media platforms and decide which the top platforms your target audience use are. You need to be on these platforms sharing and engaging with your future customers.
Step 4 – Create Great Content
Content strategy can be anything from a blog to a video, create content that your target audience will like and ideally share. Content is an idea, you don’t need big budget animation to get your point across – an idea presented well is often a great way to get the attention of your potential customers.
A top tip is to go through the forums your target audience use and look at the common problems and questions that come up. Create content based on these themes and get it out in front of your audience, by capturing their interests with something they can relate to they will gain respect and trust for you brand.
Step 5 – Analyze and modify
You need to analyze where you are gaining good exposure that converts, if you find you are spending a lot of time on a particular platform that isn’t converting, but another platform is, then you can re-evaluate and change your strategy. You can determine marketing results by using tracked phone lines and links, both of which are integrated into ThriveHive’s Marketing Platform.
Big Marketing Ideas
Great marketing doesn’t have to break the bank, there are lots of low cost examples of marketing strategies that can be very effective for small and start up businesses.
Blogging offers businesses many advantages, it keeps your website up to date with new and fresh content, this is good for SEO as Google likes updated content. From the perspective of the customer, a current blog with updated content shows that you are an active company, and that you know what you are talking about.
Blogs can be shared through social media and can attract links which are also good for SEO. Choose content that your target audience will enjoy, something they will hopefully share and possibly link to. Need some blog ideas? Check out our 130 Blog Ideas to Rock Your Business Blog!
Get involved in local press
As a start up business, contact your local press and show them how you are different, you can persuade them to write a piece on you raising your profile significantly in the local area. Even if your business is national or international, local exposure is still good exposure and links to your website from press sites will help your SEO.
Guerrilla Marketing is all the rage with savvy marketers, the cost is low, the creativity is high and so is the return. Something as simple as a clever chalk drawing, it relies on word of mouth or social sharing and if done well can attract a lot of attention.
Think about a quirky way to promote your message through your marketing strategy and how it will be received by your target audience. An example for preschools would be something that parents of preschoolers could enjoy such as a preschool drawing that could be misinterpreted, or funny pronunciation errors by 3 year olds.
To celebrate the start up of your business or the launch of your new website a competition can help raise awareness and also get you social followers and email addresses for email marketing. A simple giveaway is fun and easy to enter, choose something that would appeal to your target audience to help you get a more targeted entries. For a preschool, a set of preschool books by a popular author will cost less and get a better more targeted response than an iPad.
There are lots of ways a new business can launch a great marketing campaign without spending too much, just get in front of the right target audience, get creative and analyze your results!
This post was written by Sadie Sherran for ThriveHive. Sadie is a Director at Falkon Digital, specializing in online marketing for small to medium sized businesses. You can follow her on Twitter @seobelle