Start 2013 with a Marketing Plan for Your Small Business
A new year is a perfect time to begin planning your next marketing moves and the perfect way to do that is to create a small business marketing plan. It will help you save time and money by helping you think through the best marketing steps you can take. Rather than reacting to every advertising sales rep who walks through your door, you will have a plan of action that you can be comfortable with for the whole year. Now, many clients over the years, and this includes large corporate clients, are wary of the “Marketing Plan.” Too often, they envision it as a big binder stuffed full of useless data collected to impress people. Too often they spend weeks and even months crafting the perfect plan, only to have it sitting on the shelf collecting a thick cover of dust.
Small businesses do not have the time to create such in-depth plans, nor do they have money to waste on weeks of research and analysis. I have developed a more streamlined version of the Marketing Plan just for small businesses. It is usually just 2 or 3 pages long and made up of bullet points. No charts, no spreadsheets, no executive summary. For most small businesses, this approach is a far more useful and workable document that outlines where they are going and what they are going to do to get there.
The Small Business Marketing Plan has 8 basic steps, all of which can be accomplished without major research. Each should take up a few lines or bullet points, enough to be an outline of your thinking. After all, you are not explaining your marketing program to thousands of employees and shareholders – you are creating a road map for yourself and key employees to follow. At the end, I have included a link for you to download this information for free, so you can work on your own plan.
What Time Period Should Your Small Business Marketing Plan Cover?
Many business plans stretch across a 3- to 5-year time horizon. But the best marketing plans are much more limited, usually no more than a year. Markets and technology change too rapidly to try to plan much farther out than that. However, the basic strategies you craft will probably be able to be carried over into one or two more plans, as long as they are working. An annual review is best so that you can adjust your strategies or tactics to changing market conditions, but you should not have to totally revise the plan.
The 8 Steps to a Small Business Marketing Plan
1. Background summary
This is a one or two paragraph description of why you are doing this. It includes a brief history of the situation and/or the business, and why the plan is being created.
Here is where you should include information about your major competitors and any moves they are making that you must counter. If there are geographical boundaries (bridges, rivers, etc.) that impact your ability to draw customers, note that too.
It is very important to list the things you are hoping to achieve. Be specific, create those SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time- bound) goals that will keep you accountable.
Don’t write things like “increase visibility” or “improve sales.” That is not time-bound nor measurable. Instead, write your goals like this:
“Create X new sales leads per month by April 30 through E-mail marketing.” Stretch goals are fine, but if you make the goal too hard to reach, you will demoralize staff.
3. Target Audiences
Who is it that you are trying to get to take action? Are there internal audiences, too? Think about vendors and any stakeholder that should be considered.
The best way to figure out your target audience is to think about who your current customers are. Who buys the most? Who purchases the most profitable products? Figure out who they are – gender, age range, where they live, etc. – and go find more like them.
4. Key Messages
What are the 2 or 3 things that you want your audiences to know and remember? Don’t make it complicated, it should be easy to explain in 30 seconds or less. Use those messages over and over in your marketing. Once you write them down on paper, it will be easy to refer to them each time you write an E-mail, create a flyer, etc. It will keep you “on message” and on target for your marketing goals.
In a broad way, how are you going to approach marketing to reach your goals. Are you going to create a series of events, or create a website or develop a multimedia campaign? Think 30,000-foot level here, this is not the time to go into detail. Make sure your strategies link directly to your goals and that you have at least one strategy for each goal.
Strategies should be something like this:
“Use educational seminars to inform target audiences of the benefits of using our company while also providing information they will value.”
Strategies are how you are going to move your goals into actions, but they are not the actions themselves.
What specific things are you going to do to achieve your goals. Unfortunately, this is the place where many businesses begin, but determining tactics before you know what your goals, audiences, messages and strategies are is a waste of your time.
This is where you will list the things you want to do, such as print ad campaigns, podcasts, TV ads and brochures. Make sure the tactic you choose fits your target audience. For example, if you are targeting young adults under 30, newspaper advertising is probably not a good tactic since older adults typically read the paper.
Make sure you have developed at least one tactic for each strategy, although typically you will have several. This is the task list and it really isn’t possible to create it until you’ve done the other things first.
How much are you planning to spend? How do you want to apportion that among the strategies?
It will help immeasurably if you already know, or can figure out, what it actually costs you to obtain a new customer. This is called the “cost of acquisition” and it is a good way to understand how much you can spend on marketing. But you must also understand the value of a customer to your business over a given period of time (typically a year). If it costs you $100 to get a new customer, but that new customer is only worth $50 to your business, then you need to find a new way to market that will reduce your cost of acquisition.
Your budget should never exceed the value of the customer. Don’t forget to invest in retaining customers, too, because it is always less expensive to keep an existing customer than to find a new one.
8. Measurement and Evaluation
How, specifically, will you track results? How will you keep you and your team accountable for results? Will you do a survey, count noses at a special event, track media coverage?
Evaluation is the analysis you do after you’ve measured your activities, calculated your Return on Investment (ROI) and figured out if your marketing worked.
Typically, you will find that some things worked better than others. You will want to keep those strategies and tactics going forward, and change or eliminate those that didn’t work.
But don’t forget to add new things each marketing cycle. Consumers and marketing tools are constantly changing and what worked yesterday (newspapers) are history today.
Plan the Work, Work the Plan
It shouldn’t take more than a few hours to think through all of this, especially if it is your own business. Spend an hour or two to put it down on paper. Don’t miss that step, though, because putting it in writing is a step toward committing to the actions you’ve decided to take.
Don’t worry about having a fancy binder, or a bunch of tabs and reams of data. The most important part is to have a road map for your marketing plans. And then, of course, to follow it!
About Kim Deppe
Kim Deppe is the owner and president of Deppe Communications, a marketing and advertising agency located near Jacksonville, FL. She is a Marketing and Public Relations professional with over 25 years experience in branding, integrative marketing, social media, online marketing, crisis communications and management.
In 2011, after completing certification in online marketing, Deppe started her own marketing consulting firm. Her experience in traditional marketing, social media, marketing strategy and online marketing combine to give her a unique perspective based on years of experience and up-to-the-moment digital tactics. Working with small and medium sized businesses, she brings high level strategy and tactics to every client.
© Copyright 2012, Deppe Communications!
Small Budget Marketing Ideas
Small Business Marketing Agency based in Jacksonville, FL Offers Outsourced Marketing Services
Marketing your business can take a lot of time – time that you don’t have because you are busy running your business. You know you need to have a Facebook page, a Twitter account and something called Google Plus, but you don’t really have the time to keep up with all that. Deppe Communications has experience in social media and knows how small businesses can use it for marketing. After all, small business marketing has changed dramatically in the last few years and not every business owner has the time, interest or energy to keep up.Deppe Communications provides outsourced small business marketing services in Orange Park, Fleming Island, Jacksonville and the surrounding area. Small business marketing is our specialty and our passion, and we are committed to helping small businesses grow.
From our location in Orange Park/Fleming Island, Deppe Communications is close enough to work with any small business in Northeast and Central Florida. Deppe Communications will work with your business to identify your marketing goals and create a plan to help you reach those goals. One or our favorite sayings is “if you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there! Creating a solid plan based on over 25 years of marketing experience will guide you through the marketing process and make sure you are involved every step of the way. Because every small business has different marketing needs, your marketing plan will be custom built just for you – no cookie cutter approach here!
Deppe Communications has expertise in writing for websites. We will update your web content to make sure it is search engine optimized – meaning it will help boost your Google search results. If your web page hasn’t been updated in months, or you just need to improve your Google search results, Deppe Communications is the right partner for you. We small businesses determine the best target keywords and write articles for their websites or blogs that support those target phrases.
As a small business marketing consultant, Deppe Communications will write and produce marketing materials such as brochures, flyers, advertising and more. We will enhance your website, help you set up a blog, or ghostwrite your blog and social media accounts. We will help you design a cost effective internet advertising campaign to help your small business get noticed – and get found.
Small business marketing requires different strategies than larger companies. Because you have limited resources, marketing your small business can be challenging. Deppe Communications can help you create events, generate publicity and get your name out, all without costing thousands of dollars you don’t have. We are proud to provide small businesses marketing consulting in Orange Park, Fleming Island, Jacksonville, Green Cove Springs, Yulee, St. Augustine and the entire First Coast of Florida.