• Nat Sharp

Why every small business needs a marketing strategy

Updated: Oct 16, 2021

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5 reasons to have a marketing strategy

Have you ever struggled to join up all the dots and work out how everything fits together in your business? Or has marketing planning been confined to a team away day and then not followed up? Perhaps you are you in a business where management just don’t see the value of planning marketing as it is perceived as purely the creative output?

You are not alone. According to research undertaken by Smart Insights, 45% of companies admitted they didn’t have a clearly defined marketing strategy, whilst research undertaken by Barclays identified that one in four UK SMEs don’t use a business plan.

1. Business alignment

The benefits of a planned strategy will help you define business goals and develop the right activities to achieve them. This will ensure all your organisation are aligned and marketing is supporting the business in the right way.

Furthermore, if the strategy is shared and a collaborative process, there shouldn’t be any duplication of efforts on roles, responsibilities and projects across the company. This is a common problem I have seen in so many organisations, large and small.

2. Armed with facts

A marketing strategy will help you gather key insights on your customers, markets and competitors. This is paramount for formulating your unique selling point or customer proposition.

You can collate research available. This may include customer research you have undertaken to new industry reports that have been published. Have a look what the trends are in the industry and what your competitors are up to. It will give you lots of ideas of where to take your business and new products and services you may want to introduce.

You will also need to review your current marketing activities to look at what is working and what enhancements can be made. Don't worry if you haven't already done this. It is never too late. Try and collate previous costs, response rates, look at website traffic and booking patterns as a starting point to measure any activity.

Towards the end of this process, I conduct a SWOT Analysis (a review of your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) bringing together all the insights so you can look at them with a birds eye view. This is a good framework to use.

Armed with all this data, a strategy can be formed and will highlight new opportunities including key markets and audiences to target.

3. Reliance on reactive tactics

Without a marketing strategy, business owners may focus on channels or reactive tactics, rather than integrated marketing aligned to strategy. This can be a costly exercise.

The channels and tactics you have selected, may not be where your audience 'hang out' and the message may not be fine tuned or resonate with your customer.

Furthermore, if activity is planned more holistically, it will ensure you are leveraging it across multiple touch points at the optimum time and achieving maximum impact. For example, all your marketing and communications should work together and ideally have a consistent message, from social media and website blogs, to customer newsletters and sponsorship.

4. Budgeting with confidence

Once you know what you need to achieve and how you will get there, you can prepare a solid, realistic marketing budget allowing you to manage your cashflow.

This will aid resource planning allowing you to have the right manpower over the year and identify any gaps. You can also consider whether you need to outsource any of your marketing.

Budgeting can help with procurement letting you buy in bulk and pool resources which will deliver cost savings.

5. Setting a return on investment

Once you have a firm strategy and plan in place, targets can be set. If this hasn’t been done before and no data is available, look at industry benchmarks and set a realistic target.

Metrics should be broken into monthly or quarterly targets and then reviewed to monitor progress. Marketing metrics may include brand awareness, acquisition or conversion rates, customer retention and customer satisfaction.

Ultimately, this will enable you to deliver an identifiable return on investment. This will give confidence to your stakeholders and investors in getting buy in on the strategy and securing your budget.

Now to start planning

Now the hard part, you can start planning!

Begin by breaking the process down into specific tasks and consolidate your insights and recommendations.

Before looking at the future, I find it useful to review existing marketing activity. Look at all your marketing channels from your website and social media platforms, as well as your marketing campaigns, to analyse performance and draw key learnings. Formulate a check list you can refer back to.

Never too late!

It is never too late to develop your marketing strategy – so kick start your marketing planning today. If needed, build a business case which demonstrates the value it will bring and break down each stage of the planning process so everyone can understand what is needed. There are lots of free resources and templates available. Discover more tips on how to get started with your marketing strategy

Or for a 30 minute free consultation to discuss any element of your marketing, regardless of whether you are a start up or well established business, then please contact me.

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