1.7.14

Marketing Your Small Business

BY KRISTI PETRIE

Marketing can get overwhelming. And that's coming from someone who's been doing it in one form or another for the past 9 years. I get overwhelmed daily, and if you're the owner of a small business, or getting ready to launch a small business, it's probably safe to assume you've felt the same way. I'm here to help break down the steps in marketing your small business for you.

First, let's take a few breaths together...1...2...3... and then I'm going to start with the single most important aspect of marketing your small business that will help keep your sanity in check, and your business on track.

The Marketing Plan

Spend the time upfront doing research and putting together a marketing plan for your business that spans at least a year. Plan to revisit your marketing plan at least quarterly, if not monthly, to track progress and change direction if necessary.

Bonus tip: There are lots of marketing plan templates on the world wide web and a simple search will net you everything from complex, detailed, multi-page marketing plans to high-level, simplified versions. To avoid overwhelming you, I'm keeping it simple here, but if you're a detail person, know there's a long, comprehensive marketing plan template out there with your name all over it. It's a simple search away. Try googling "detailed marketing plan template".

The marketing plan will help you:

  • Craft your mission statement. Your mission statement should be short and succinct while clearly laying out the essence of what your business does and the underlying philosophy. Don't skimp on this exercise as your mission statement will not only guide your business but tell customers, partners, and other audiences exactly what it is you do. Here are some tips on how to craft a mission statement.
  • Describe your products/services. Most importantly, find out what makes your product/service different from the competition. The best way to do this is to talk to your existing and returning customers to find out why they choose you. If you don't have customers yet, look at the competition. What are you planning to do differently? Figuring this out will evolve into your key messages - how you talk to your audience(s) about your products/services.
  • Know your competition. Look at their websites and any other marketing collateral they distribute. How do they talk about their products/services? Who are they targeting? How are they positioned? What are their strengths and weaknesses? What don't your customers choose them? To beat your competition, you've got to understand them. Check out these tips on how how to research your competition.
  • Define your target market(s). Avoid the common mistake of trying to be all things to all people. Know what it is you offer and who is most likely to purchase your products/services. Seek out these people.
  • Set quantifiable marketing goals and objectives. If you can't measure your goal, how can you determine if you achieved it? Set marketing goals like, "I want X number of new customers this year," or "I want to make X amount of profit." The first step to achieving your marketing goals is to set quantifiable ones. Read a few quick tips on setting marketing goals.
  • Define your budget. Figure out how much you can spend in marketing, and stick to it. Your budget will help determine your marketing strategies, channels and tactics.
  • Determine marketing and promotions strategies. It's time to start planning. Based on your marketing goals, you'll define your marketing strategies. For example, if your marketing goal is to increase sales, your strategy may be something like, "Increase the number of leads from our website.
  • Plot your marketing tactics. Choose tactics that will support your marketing strategies. For example, if your strategy is to "Increase the number of leads from our website", then one of your tactics might be to implement search engine marketing (SEO) practices on your website. There's a lot to take into consideration that falls under the marketing umbrella, such as branding, advertising, publicity, personal selling and promotions. Choose wisely based on your company's goals and budget. Here are a few things to think about for 2014 when planning your marketing tactics for 2014.

Marketing Materials

For your tactics that need collateral - perhaps it's a one-page sheet with product info, a brochure, a presentation, event signage, a video or a website - now's the time. If you've got an innate talent for writing and design, by all means, get after it. But if you're like most of us, you may not have mastered copywriting or design, and you're going to want to hire a professional. You can hire a freelancer or an agency and they'll be able to help you write compelling copy, create design that is as functional as it is beautiful, and take care of all aspects of production. Here are some good tips for your marketing materials.

Execution

Marketing plan and materials in hand, you're ready to go out and find your customers. It's time for action and execution. Be very detailed and deliberate in the execution of your marketing tactics. If you're not, it can hurt the performance of your marketing efforts. Do it well and you'll be rewarded with increased awareness and leads!

Track and Tweak

Revisit your plan quarterly. See what's working, see what's not. If it is, do more! If it isn't, don't do it and redirect that budget, time and energy toward the tactics that are working. Lastly, while it's a great idea to stick to your marketing plan, recognize that last-minute opportunities may pop up and it may be worth it to adapt and go in another direction. Be flexible.

I hope that helps or at least gave you a place to start. If you'd like to chat about marketing your small business, we'd love to set up a time to meet with you and help guide your marketing efforts. Contact us here.

Kristi Petrie
written by KRISTI PETRIE
share this
iamges