Many small business owners mistakenly think they can succeed with an on-the-fly approach to marketing. Others think they can get away with using just one channel such as a website. These ideas couldn’t be any further from the truth.
To see positive results from your marketing, you must plan carefully, test often, and leverage the power of multiple channels. Sound complicated? Here are some tips that will help you to plan out a solid marketing strategy.
If you’ve been around for a while and have a solid customer base, your focus should be on branding primarily. Whether you need to clarify it or make it bolder, branding should be the foundation of your strategy.
What if you’re a newer business and still trying to grow your customer base, though? In that case, your primary objective should be to increase your exposure.
Step 1—evaluating what stage your business in—will help you to narrow your focus from the start so that you can choose the methods that are most likely to work.
With your focus set, you then need to find out as much as you can about your target audience. Of course, this includes demographic information including gender, age, profession, educational background, income level, and so on.
However, you’ll also want to gain an understanding of how your audience behaves on and offline—aka psychographic data. This will enable you to take advantage of certain behaviors and overcome others, which may be obstacles. This examination of their behavior also includes finding out what channels they use (e.g. Google search, email, Facebook, etc.).
How can you gather info about your target market? Some information you can gather from your favorite search engine or from browsing various social media platforms. But what about the more in-depth, custom info that you need? It’s best to go straight to the source—your target audience. You could interview your current customers, send out surveys, or get together a focus group. These methods can yield much reliable insight into who you’re marketing to and the best way to go about it.
But it’s not just your audience that you want to research. Check out the competition too! Which of their marketing channels producing the greatest results? This can point you toward the channels where your audience is most active. On the other hand, your research may also reveal a gap in your competitor’s presence that you could swoop in and fill.
The next step, then, is to see how you can take advantage of the opportunities you’ve identified. Marketing requires a significant investment whether it be in terms of time, money, effort or a combination of the three.
But remember that how familiar you are with each of those channels will determine just how much time will be required. Choose wisely to ensure the consistency of your efforts.
Do you have money to spend? If so, more time-intensive advertising methods may be in order such as online ads, events, and swag. But, again, how comfortable you are with, for example, paid advertising can impact the amount you’ll spend.
In the end, though, your best bet is to invest in a mix of money and time-intensive strategies. But what if you’re lacking funds or short on time? You’ve got to start somewhere! Start with what you have and expand your strategy as you’re able.
A good marketing strategy is not made up of channels that work independently of one another. They work together. It’s a system. Knowing that, it’s up to you to determine what grouping of channels would work best for your business. Some possible pairings might be:
You can put together what you think will be a great strategy. Yet, the only way to know if it really is great is to look at the data. But to get an accurate idea of its effectiveness, you need to be able to interpret the data accurately.
This is where some self-analysis comes in. You must determine which data you feel comfortable analyzing. If you’re not so comfortable with analytics and the like, it’d be better to start off with a channel that’s really easy to measure. That way, you can spend more time making improvements rather than trying to get a grip on whether or not a channel is even working.
Related: Know if Your Marketing is Working (free guide)
There’s no one-size-fits-all strategy so it’s up to you to create the one that works for your business. The best way to find what works is to jump right in and try potentially effective strategies. By putting them to work as soon as possible, using them consistently, and measuring your results, you can hone in on the best methods.
For some sample marketing plans to get you started, download our free guide below: