You know you’ve got an amazing small business but how are you letting other people know that? The only way to truly get the word out is to start marketing.
You could try building a website, making posts on social media, distributing flyers or paying for advertising.
But, before you really begin your marketing efforts you’ll need to come up with a plan.
Why? Because you could end spending a bunch of money to shout into the void about your business and services. Your marketing content needs to be targeted towards actually reaching people who want what you’re selling.
You need a strong and well-researched marketing plan to get your business on the path towards success.
That means determining how you want to market your business, who you’re marketing to, what you plan to produce, when you want to share content and what goals you’d like to set.
As you’re crafting your plan to grow business, here is a list of questions you need to be asking yourself.
What is your business all about?
For the first step of your small business marketing plan, let’s do some soul searching. Before you can start increasing communications with your customers you need to pinpoint your business’s branding and services.
When you start diving into branding it can quickly become overwhelming but if you stick with a few key steps you can easily develop your business’s personality.
1. Determine your look and logo
Every good business has a logo and color palette. Think about the big brands like McDonald’s, Walmart and Amazon – you’d recognize their designs anywhere! When you’re creating a small business logo you want something that is unique and makes sense for your company.
A pest control company might have a bug included in their logo and a landscaping company might use a lot of green. You might decide that you just need a more abstract and eye-appealing identity. It’s really up to you! This is one of many chances to standout against other businesses.
You just want to make sure you choose a logo and colors that you can use across digital and physical marketing platforms. The symbols on your website should line up with those on your vehicles and storefront.
2. Find your voice
When people read your website, listen to your ads or check out your Facebook account, how do you want to talk to them?
Your brand could be funny with content packed full of jokes or your business could be serious and focused on health and safety. It’s important to nail your tone down early in order to create consistency across all of your marketing platforms.
When your customer jumps from page to page of your website they want to feel like they’re still talking to the same person.
3. Set your mission
When people ask what your business does, could you explain it to a 9-year-old? Here at Emerge, we help small businesses grow. That sets the motivation for every one of our services. See how simple that answer was? Now it’s your turn.
Even as your products and services grow over time, you want to make sure they are all geared towards your general mission. This will help your customer’s know what to expect and helps you build an authority in your field.
For example, no one goes into a bakery wanting to buy a lawnmower. If your favorite baker tried to sell you a lawnmower it might make you feel a little confused and concerned about their business model.
4. Lay out current and future products and services
We know, we just told you that what your business offers might change over time and that’s okay. But as you develop your initial marketing strategy you need to decide what you’re offering now and what you might like to provide later.
Having a clear list of products and services help you determine things like website functionality, how much time you’ll need for marketing and who you’re looking to sell to.
This is especially important if your business provides separate residential and commercial services because it changes the scope of your offerings.
Who is your audience?
If you try to appeal to everyone then you’ll really end up appealing to no one. You need to put yourself in your potential customer’s shoes. Think about their location, their age, their occupation and their reasoning for needing your services.
There are two very basic marketing classifications you’ll need to understand to develop your marketing plan:
B2B or business to business:
This is used to describe businesses that offer services and products for other companies and not individuals. When working with other businesses you may need to be aware of things such as bidding processes, their office hours, the scope of commercial projects and who your point of contact should be.
B2C or business to consumer:
This term describes businesses that are selling straight to people. This means there is no middle man between your buyer and seller. You’ll need to understand when people are most likely to notice your marketing, how much they have to spend and what benefits appeal to them.
Your business might be working to do one or both of these kinds of marketing. For both you want to figure out why they need your service and what factors help them seal the deal.
Figure out their pain points and how you can help them fix them. This will help you create messaging that speaks to their needs.
A user persona is a great way to document your ideal target. You can use a free persona maker by visiting this link.
Once you’ve got the messaging down it’s about when and where to broadcast it.
If your client base is all over Facebook then you should be too. If they’re checking email from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. then that’s when you should be contacting them.
If they’re constantly landing on the search results page for certain terms, you want your website to be there when they get there.
What are your goals?
As you embark on your marketing journey it’s important your plan includes goals. You want to know what you’re working towards and find ways to measure your success.
You should try setting your goals with a time frame and real metrics in find. For example, you could set a goal of gaining 100 Instagram followers in 6 months or increasing page clicks by 10% in a year.
You could also set sales goals related to your marketing efforts. For example, you could aim for 10 new clients by the end of the year or 5 more phone calls a week.
Make sure your goals match your budget, if you’re spending a small amount of money and time do not expect huge results right away.
“Learn how to separate the majors and the minors. A lot of people don’t do well simply because they major in minor things.” – Jim Rohn
Setting goals gives your plan a purpose and helps show you what isn’t working. If you’re meeting your goals you can set new ones and invest more time into your favorite strategies. If you are far off from your goals it might be time to try something new or bring in help.
What marketing tools are you going to use?
This is where things get especially tricky. There are endless digital and traditional marketing tools you can use to help your small business.
Your number one tool is going to be your website. Every online marketing tool you use should be geared towards getting people on your website.
If you’re starting your marketing plan before building a website, that needs to be your first step. If you already have a website then you need to make sure it’s search engine and user friendly.
Once you have launched a rockstar website it’s time to bring in those other marketing methods.
As you’re developing your small business marketing plan you want to pick a few tools based on your capabilities and your audience’s preferences. Give yourself time to try these methods and measure your results before giving up and jumping to something new.
Here are some common ways to market your small business:
- Search engine optimization (SEO)
- Organic social media use
- Paid social media advertisements
- Pay-Per-Click campaigns
- Flyers and brochures
- Digital and broadcast advertisements
- Press releases
- Email marketing campaigns
Who is going to do your marketing?
This piece of your marketing plan is so important, you need to make sure someone is ready to take on the marketing of your small business. If your marketing plan doesn’t assign roles, chances are tasks will never get done.
Business owners who are just starting often try to take on the marketing responsibilities themselves. As business picks up you can start to get stretched thin or you might not know how to take things to the next level.
Luckily, there are tons of ways to get help from a marketing expert. By trusting an experienced professional with your marketing you can see more consistent and exciting results.
You can try hiring someone for a full-time role but you’ll need to be ready to take on their overhead and benefits costs as well as training time. Some companies choose to hire a part-time marketing staff member or an intern which can cut costs but might not lead to the most experienced hires.
The highest value option is to find a marketing agency that has experience promoting businesses of your size. This allows you to benefit from the expertise of many marketing professionals without paying all of their salaries.
How can Emerge help?
Whether your business is big or small, it’s not an easy task creating a small business marketing plan. We know it sounds like a lot of work but the results are sooo worth it.
If done right, you can see hundreds or thousands of new website visitors each year.
The team at Emerge develops brand strategies and makes marketing goals a reality every day. If your business is in need of a well-planned small business marketing strategy and a team to carry out the tasks, we can help.
Our marketing agency specializes in web design, search engine optimization, social media, email marketing and more. We even have marketing on demand packages that are tailored to your exact business needs.