As a small business owner, you’ve got the dual responsibility of growing your business while running it. You can’t create more hours in the day, and chances are, you’ve already found the most efficient ways to provide quality products and services to your customers. So what is the solution? It’s time to make your marketing more efficient. How do you do that? With a marketing plan.
You might think that you have to come up with the right marketing strategies before creating a marketing plan, but the fact of the matter is, your marketing plan serves to help you identify the right strategies for your business.
This post will help you to form a marketing plan for your small business that will guide you to the most effective ways of growing your business.
What to Put into Your Marketing Plan
Some examples of marketing activities within your marketing plan include but are not limited to:
- Social Media
- Influencer Collaborations
- Review Sites and Directories
- Paid Advertising
- Offline Marketing
- Online advertising
You do not have to perform all of these marketing activities at once. In fact, that is not the point of a marketing plan. The point of your marketing plan is to put structure around the channels you do start with, whether that’s 2-3 channels or all of them.
Related eBook: How to Know if Your Marketing is Working (free download)
How to Use Your Marketing Plan
You don’t have to know exactly how to market your business in order to create a plan. In fact, your marketing plan will help you to identify the right ways to grow your business. Your marketing plan is a guide, according to the facts and circumstances at each stage of your journey, that takes you from one stage of your journey to the next.
As you carry out your marketing plan, you will identify what works and be able to refine your growth strategy and bring in customers more and more efficiently.
Aim for Results
A marketing plan doesn’t require knowing what to do, it will help you identify what to do. You just have to start somewhere and stick to it consistently. Aim for results, not success. Then you can use your results to identify what success means and how to get there.
Your marketing plan isn’t meant to be perfect from the start. In fact, the perfect marketing plan for your business doesn’t actually exist—it should always be evolving as your business grows. That being said, your focus should be on just getting started with something. Your initial plan should consist of the activities that you can get started on as quickly as possible, maintain as consistently as possible, and measure as easily as possible.
When trying to determine what to add to your marketing plan, make sure to prioritize. Do the easiest thing first, or, take care of the essentials. For example, you shouldn’t start on social media if you don’t have a website. You shouldn’t get started with online advertising if you don’t have a landing page system for your business. The section below will help you identify which activities to include in the first iteration of your marketing plan.
Pace is Key
Of course you want your business to grow, but you don’t want it to spike and then slump, or grow and then plateau out. You want to set your business on a path of compounded growth. If you want big growth, you have to start small and be patient.
Choosing Activities for Your Marketing Plan
Identify Your Resources
There are many different marketing channels for growing your business. One of the first steps in choosing the right ones for your marketing plan is to take a look at your resources. Growing a small business, no matter how efficiently, requires time, effort, and money. What do your resources look like?
You may have the money to invest in a lot of marketing activities at once, but you need time to be able to maintain each strategy. You may have no money at all, but if you have the time to invest in low-cost marketing strategies, you can still grow your business efficiently. You may also have the time to try many strategies, but if you are unfamiliar with them, you have to factor in the added effort it requires to learn them.
Here are some examples of marketing channels according to what resources they require:
- Requires more money than time: SEM, display advertising, social media advertising, getting a professional website, email marketing
- Requires more time than money: Social media, blogging, SEO, influencer collaborations, events
Depending on how familiar you are with these platforms, the level of effort and therefore the amount of time they’ll take up will vary.
You don’t want to take on strategies that you can’t keep up with or maintain, and you don’t want to miss out on channels that make for easy leads. There is no exact formula, but taking a look at the time and money you have to invest in growing your business will help you to identify what activities will work best and grow your business most efficiently.
Get a Baseline
Another approach to developing your marketing plan is to identify your baseline. Take an inventory of your current marketing channels and strategies and gather as much quantifiable data about those channels as you can. You’ll want to look at historical data to see how those numbers change naturally month over month.
With this approach, your marketing plan can be based on increasing those numbers. You don’t have to know exactly how much to increase at first; as you track the data over time you’ll get a better feel for what to strive for. If you need to wait a month to let the data accumulate and to get more familiar with it, that’s okay too.
Examples of baseline data include:
Assess and Adjust Your Plan
After a month of carrying out your plan, check in on your data and see what you need to improve or adjust. Over time, you’ll start to see what to add in and what to eliminate, as well as to form realistic and measurable long-term marketing goals.
For more help with creating a marketing plan for your business, download our free eBook below: