If you’re planning to start a small business, there are some essential things you’ll need on day one. The first is a business plan: what are you selling and who are you selling to? This is the easy step and, for many, the most fun. But it’s not the only step. You’ll want to pair this business plan with the all-important marketing plan, the strategy you’ll use to get the word of your products out to the masses and help you boost sales in a creative and unique way.
Marketing plans are all about knowing how you’re going to reach your customers and build a relationship with them, so they always want to come back. Here are five tips for developing and executing an effective marketing plan for the first-time small business owner.
- Create your goals and stick to them throughout the year
- Know your target audience better than your own family
- Keep track of results and choose your advertising platforms wisely
Focus On Your Goals And Objectives
The first step in developing a marketing plan is creating realistic and measurable goals. For most marketing plans, these goals will cover a full calendar year and align nicely with your business plan. These goals are simple and straightforward, but not necessarily easy to achieve. For example, some great and measurable goals to build toward are increasing your products sold and focusing on a growth in customers.
The strategy you employ should clearly help you achieve these goals and expand your business. Some key questions to ask yourself, in terms of this marketing plan, are what types of items or services you are selling, how you’re currently selling them, what improvements can be made to your execution, and how aware consumers generally are of your products. Additionally, it’s imperative to narrow down your customer base as soon as possible to sell your wares or services more effectively.
Define Your Target Audience
No matter what advice you get or who gives it, one of the most important pieces of advice, if not the most important, will be defining your target audience. Knowing who you’re selling to and what they’re interests, and passions are is massively important because it leads naturally to a streamlined sales process and eliminates confusion in the buying process on the customer’s end. On top of knowing they’re age, hobbies, and lifestyles, you’ll want to know how and when they consume media.
If you’re marketing toward a younger demographic, television spots will be far less effective than if you’re marketing to a more aged population. The type of products you sell should also determine to a large extent who you’re targeting. If you sell luxury goods, you shouldn’t be marketing to a demographic which makes an average of forty thousand dollars per year.
Conversely, if your items are unique because of their affordability, your marketing dollars could be better spent than on earners of one-hundred thousand dollars yearly income. Great and successful businesses have carefully crafted and flexible customer profiles.
Research Is Undervalued Today
The internet has provided companies with endless ways to research and speak to their target demographics. In addition to the more digital trends as of late, more traditional media like television and radio are still going strong with advertisers and routinely speak to consumers.
Determining which of these mediums is right for your business will be closely linked to how you’ve already defined your target demographic, but it’s imperative to pick one or a few mediums and stick to it, using in-depth research to choose when you’ll advertise and in what manner.
Your business should have all available data when choosing a medium; don’t skimp on this step and rush to a decision. Especially don’t assume you should be advertising online just because it’s perceived as the most popular platform at the moment. Take your time and go as in-depth as possible.
Execute Efficiently And Effectively
Once you know what channel you’ll be using to advertise to your customers, you’ll want to execute your plan with efficiency and effectiveness. Put simply, you’ll want to track your sales numbers before and after you drop your chosen messages and see how your customer base is responding to your chosen tactic. If you’re choosing the more traditional route of television, you’ll want to create a commercial which feels fresh and new.
Research has shown that customers most frequently and most intensely respond to commercials which simulate the “feeling” of a product, such as those employed by 5 gum. Furthermore, if you’re advertising online, know the ins and outs of the platform chosen. Different platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube will all have different standards and perspectives by which your advertisement will be judged.
Plan Out Your Timeline And Budget
Now that you’ve created and executed your marketing strategy, it’s time to look to the future. You’ll want to establish a timeline and budget that you can rely on and keep track of year-round, reaching your audience for a sizeable portion of the year. This timeline and budget should also consider any and all promotions you want to run, as well as a breakdown and analysis of their cost.
Keeping track of your marketing department and its effectiveness is one of the keys to maintaining success and smooth operations for your small business. Keep this strategy flexible and be willing to adapt to changes in the marketplace and consumption habits to ensure you’re ready for whatever the future throws at you.