Have your Sales slowed down post COVID? Are you struggling to grow? Do you have enough Sales coming in each month? Are your Sales inconsistent from month to month? Or, do you simply want to increase your Sales?
If the answers to any of these questions is ‘yes’, then you need to put more focus on Marketing for your small business.
The objective of Marketing is to raise brand awareness and to build a pipeline of qualified leads that turn into sales.
Whether you are struggling with a limited budget, the time restraints caused by having a smaller team, or even a lack of direction, a Marketing Plan can provide guidance as a small business scales.
A Marketing Plan clearly outlines who your customers (or buyers) are, and how you will reach or ‘connect to’ these customers, with specific tactics and timing to achieve success.
If you have never developed a marketing plan before, it can be tricky to know where to start. Developing a marketing plan is nothing more than setting goals and making a to-do list that will get you there.
This article aims to provide an overview on to how to build a basic Marketing Plan.
STEP 1: Who is your ideal customer - your target buyer?
Your target audience will influence how you create your content for marketing, structure your messaging, and the way you need to connect with them.
This step is all about articulating who your ideal customer is and their characteristics. For the product or service you are wanting to promote, you need to identify the characteristics of your ideal customer.
NOTE: for whatever product or service you want to take to market, ensure that you do some level of market research to ensure there is in fact a need. This is particularly true post Covid where budgets have been reduced, investment priorities have changed, etc
For established businesses, it is more simple – just ask your customers. Talk to them, offer them an incentive to take a short survey or get them engaged with questions on social media.
If you are launching a new business, you really need to know who your target market is up front, including looking at your competitors.
What do you need to know?
There is some basic demographics every business needs to know, then there are hundreds of behavioural variables which can come into play, depending on the market you are targeting.
Some of the basic demographics are:
· Age group
· Income bracket
· Academic background
· What do they read? Where do they read it – online or print?
· Which social media channels do they favour?
. What 3rd parties are involved (if any) in the decision making process?
. Buying Motivation: What are the reasons for buying your product / service?
. Buying Concerns: What are the concerns when buying your product / service?
If you are an established business, it is also important to find out:
· How did they become your client? Referral, advertising, Facebook?
· What did they buy from you?
· How often do they purchase your product(s) or service?
· Why do they buy from you?
· What do they expect from your product(s) or service?
· What do they like or dislike about your product(s) or service?
· How do they use your product(s)?
· What is your point of difference in their eyes?
· What is the basis of their purchasing decision?
An example is provided below on how to summarise your Ideal Customer Profile for a ‘Security Services’:
STEP 2: How do you best reach or connect to your ideal customer?
This step identifies how your small business best reaches your target buyers, and includes identifying the appropriate tactics for connecting to these buyers, and the materials and key messages to support that connection.
A. Marketing Tactics
The tactics you will be leveraging for connecting to your target buyers. Below are some examples of marketing tactics:
Sending emails to existing customers and targeted consumers
Reaching customers or potential customers through social media websites such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.
Exhibiting at trade shows. Attending trade shows may also be a marketing tactic.
Grass-roots efforts such as speaking at industry association events or the chamber of commerce.
Placing advertisements on billboards, TV, radio, online, or in print.
Publish targeted articles. A well-written article can bring in many leads. Bear in mind, however, that articles take much longer to bear fruit than, for example, advertisements.
Club and Association Memberships can introduce several marketing tactics into your networking activities. You can have, for example, special business cards that you hand out at different functions. There might be a message on the business card inviting the reader to visit a specific page on the company’s website.
B. Marketing Materials
You will also have to identify the marketing materials (the resources) you will utilise in the promotion of your product or service to customers. These will include such things as your business website, business brochure, business cards and flyers, product or service datasheets, blog posts, white papers, videos and case studies, etc.
In many cases, these materials will need to be built before they can be deployed.
HINT: If you have existing customers, leverage them. Ask yourself how you can develop content based on the problems you have addressed.
C. Marketing Messaging
When writing your marketing content, it is important to address:
Their pain points – what keeps them awake at night?
What issues they need to overcome? Why they need your product or service?
Tell them how your product or service can help solve their problem
Provide a clear call to action – tell them what you want them to do next
HINT: Consider using an external person to write, your content to ensure the messaging is aligned to your audience
Step 3: What are the key activities? And their timing?
This step is about putting together a plan. The plan needs to outline the activities and timing for the preparation and the interactions with the target buyer.
An example is provided below:
Or, an alternate approach is summarising by marketing tactic:
I have worked with a number of small businesses over the last 6 months post Covid. I have seen both B2C and B2B businesses relying on word of mouth and ongoing customer relationships to generate their sales. Covid has highlighted the importance of ongoing marketing to provide the consistency and sustainability required in your Sales numbers.
I strongly recommend that you seek support from someone who can get you started – to assist with the development or review of your marketing plan, or to teach you what is required particularly to increase your online presence, so that you can action your own plan if required.
Rod is a business advisor providing smaller businesses with the necessary skills and processes to deliver their business improvement and turnaround initiatives in the role of advisor and delivery manager. In particular, based on 30 years advising and delivering large and small enterprises on technology projects, Rod has provided guidance and support to businesses on how to use technology to grow or to support the scaling of businesses. For more information refer to www.transcendhcs.com.au.