Your small business marketing plan is a step-by-step overview of how you will achieve one particular goal. Marketing campaigns consist of two steps: strategy and execution. Strategy is the planning stage, where you decide on your target market, your marketing message, and your marketing benchmarks for measuring your results. Execution involves taking action towards implementing your small business marketing strategy.
How To Write a Small Business Marketing Plan
Think of planning your small business marketing campaign as if you’d plan your vacation. You must first decide where you want to go before you can book your flight and hotel or create your daily schedule.
Marketing is similar. You must first commit to reaching a specific target audience before you can decide what your marketing message should be; which marketing tactics you should use to reach your prospects (i.e. through publications, mailing lists, websites, etc.); and how your ads, brochures and website should look. Here are 5 essential steps to any marketing campaign:
- Set Campaign Goals – What are your goals for your marketing campaign? These should be SMART goals.
- Choose Your Target Market – A target market is a group of people who have specific want or need for your or service, have the ability to buy it, and are willing to pay your fee. By segmenting your target market, you identify common characteristics and traits such as demographics and psychographics that make these people identifiable.
- Create Your Marketing Message – How are you different from other service professionals and why should your prospects care? You can answer this with your unique selling proposition (USP). Your USP answers the burning question in your prospect’s mind: “Why should I choose you?”
- Determine Your Action Steps – Your action steps involve the specifics ways you will execute your campaign. Which media, marketing message and offer will you use? How should prospects respond? Use a two-step approach where you advertise a free report, audio or video (rather than your “free consultation,” which prospects read as “sales pitch”) to educate prospects about a particular problem. When they respond, you can give them the free report and follow up with them.
- Decide How To Measure Results – When creating a marketing campaign, build in ways to keep track of anyone who responds. You can do this through web analytics – for instance if you send people to a specific webpage that only people who have seen your ad can access. If you ask people to call a phone number, you can register and track different 800 numbers through services like RingCentral.com, which make it easy and affordable to set up unique 800 numbers. If you decide to test two different ads, you can put different domain names on each. Then track which websites get the better response. Alternatively, you can ask prospects to call your 800 number and ask for different people. If they ask for Jack, that’s ad 1. If they ask for Jim, that’s ad 2.
Executing Your Small Business Marketing Campaign Strategy
You’ve probably heard the saying “He who fails to plan, plans to fail.” While true, planning will only get you so far. You can brainstorm every possible action that might occur during your campaign, but you won’t know actual results until you run your campaign and test results.
Testing results for your marketing is actually scientific. Just as scientists make hypotheses and run experiments to see if their ideas are true, you do the same thing with your marketing campaign. You identify different variables that could affect your results – such as your target audience, your marketing message, your design, your title, your offer, etc. – then systematically test each one to see which variations work the best.
While many service professionals take a ready-fire-aim approach to marketing, they can dramatically increase their marketing effectiveness by planning and implementing a strategic small business marketing campaign.