How to create a marketing strategy for your small business
Updated: Dec 31, 2019
What are the benefits of creating a marketing strategy?
Business owners often rely on their intuition to make business decisions. While this is important, it may not provide all the facts you need to achieve true marketing success.
The benefits of a planned strategy are numerous. An in-depth layout of your marketing strategy will help you define business goals and develop activities to achieve them. It will highlight opportunities including new markets to target. Plus it will aid budgeting so you can prepare a solid, realistic marketing budget and procure services more cost efficiently. Often businesses are focussed on cost savings and they may not invest strategically in marketing. Did you know that marketing can contribute three times more value to any business strategy than any other organisational function (PA Consulting).
Without a marketing strategy, business owners may focus on channels or reactive tactics, rather than integrated marketing aligned to strategy. This should be backed with quantifiable metrics allowing you to track progress. Ultimately, this will enable you to deliver an identifiable return on investment.
Marketing strategy or plan?
Although “plan” and “strategy” are often used interchangeably, they mean two different things, and they’re both equally important. A marketing strategy is a broad look at who you need to market to and what you hope to achieve. Your marketing plan is where you use the goals and objectives outlined in the marketing strategy, to plan out exactly what you will do to promote your business - or the 'how' and 'when'. Often businesses fast track to their marketing plan without focusing on the more time consuming complex parts – the 'what', 'why' and 'who'.
Where do I start?
Begin by breaking it down into practical, manageable chunks. Here are four areas to focus on:
1. Describe your company's unique selling point - write a short compelling sentence that describes the essence of your business. This is often the most difficult part and should be based on customer insights - start by developing a clear insight into why a potential customer would use your business. Your offering should be designed to solve client problems or meet customer needs better than your competitors.
2. Define your target market - who is the demographic of people likely to show the most interest in your service or product? What are their needs and wants and barriers to purchase? It can often help to create ‘pen portraits’ in order to visualise your customer.
3. Write down the benefits of your products or services - separate features from benefits and think about how your products will transform your target audience in a positive way.
4. Define the long-term goals of your marketing strategy aligning to your business goals - ensure you set SMART goals (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely). Is it to drive traffic to your website, generate leads, increase market share or increase brand awareness?
Now, you can prepare your marketing plan - consider how and when you will reach your audience and the channels you will use. Think about the four Ps - product, price, place, and promotion. A well thought out plan also needs to include a marketing budget, operational requirements, evaluation techniques and timings.
Share, review and refine
Try and break the planning down into specific tasks and consolidate your insights and recommendations. Once you have a completed your marketing strategy and gained stakeholder buy in, ensure you share it with staff so everyone understands the role of marketing and what you are trying to achieve. The strategy should be reviewed regularly to ensure you are on track and incorporate key learnings.