As a small business owner, just the word “marketing” can feel overwhelming and complex, so putting a strategy around it seems complicated. However, it really doesn’t have to be!
A marketing strategy in its simplest form is taking the time to ask yourself the question, “how do I want to promote my business and all its offerings?” Read through the steps below, answer the questions to begin laying the groundwork for your marketing strategy in order to grow your small business.
The Fundamental Steps to Starting a Marketing Strategy
- Understand Your Business Goals: The first step in creating a marketing strategy is to understand your overall business goals. Answer these questions for yourself: what are you trying to achieve with your marketing efforts that will directly impact your business? Is it to increase sales, boost brand awareness, or expand your customer base? You have to roughly know where you want to go to be able to get there. Clearly define your business goals – the more details you can include the better – so you have a clear direction of what marketing success would look like for you.
- Know Your Target Audience: Your target audience is the group of people who are most likely to be interested in your products or services. You may already have a core group of people that consistently buy from you. It’s important to know who they are, what they need, and what motivates them to buy. Identify their demographics, interests, and pain points. This knowledge will help you tailor your marketing messages to resonate with these people. For example, if you’re a jewelry maker and you’re noticing that your fun quirky holiday designs are your best sellers – ask yourself, do I see any patterns in the people that are buying this product?
- Choose Your Marketing Channels: Marketing channels are the different ways you can reach your target audience, such as social media, email, website, or local events. Choose the marketing channels that are most relevant to your target audience and align with your business goals. It’s better to focus on a few channels that are most effective rather than spreading yourself too thin. You’ll also need to ask your customers how they found you. This will give you a clearer picture of which channels are working best. At checkout, simply ask or have a prompt for them to answer the question “how did you hear about us?”
- Craft Your Message: Your marketing messages should clearly communicate the value of your products or services to your target audience. When you are writing content throughout your marketing channels you want to be point towards the answers to the following questions: what problem do you solve for them? Why should they choose your business over others? what’s unique about your story as a business owner and how is their sale impacting your life? Craft a compelling message and tell authentic stories that speaks directly to your target audience and highlights the benefits of shopping with your small business.
- Develop Your Brand: Your brand is more than just your logo and colors, but don’t be scared! Your brand is really the perception that people have about your small business. Develop a consistent brand identity that reflects your values, personality, and selling proposition. This is YOUR BUSINESS, make it uniquely YOU. Your brand should resonate with your target audience and differentiate you from your competitors. A great way to nail down your brand is to ask yourself this question: how do I want my customers to feel after purchasing a product or interacting with my business in anyway? That’s your brand. Make them feel something.
- Create Quality Content: Content is a powerful tool in marketing. Create high-quality content that provides value to your target audience. It can be blog posts (like this one!), videos, infographics, or social media posts. Your content should be informative, relevant, and engaging to build trust and credibility with your audience. Don’t overthink it. A great place to start is to create content that answers most frequently asked questions by your customers.
- Set a Budget: Now, you may be thinking – budget, what budget? I am not making enough yet to allocate money to this. That’s okay! It doesn’t have to be thousands of dollars – and to be honest, most marketing channels are free (hello, social media), but it’s important to allocate a few dollars to your efforts. Consider your business goals, target audience, and marketing channels when setting your budget. What is that you really need to put a few dollars behind? Would it be helpful to have a program that helps you to efficiently send out marketing emails to customers? Do you need a pamphlet, flyer, brochure or business cards to give to people when you first meet them? Or, do you want to try your hand at a pop up event and put some dollars toward being a vendor? Give yourself some room and a few dollars to test things out for your business.
- Test and Measure: Marketing is an ongoing process. Let’s say that again… marketing is an ONGOING process and it’s important to test and measure the effectiveness of your marketing efforts. Use analytics tools to track the performance of your marketing channels, measure your return on investment (ROI), and make data-driven decisions to optimize your marketing strategy. Platforms like Facebook, MailChimp, Google Analytics and more have the capabilities for you to take a look under the hood and see what is working and what’s not!
- Learn from Your Customers: You have GOT TO talk and engage with your customers. Your customers are a valuable source of feedback and insights. Listen to their feedback, understand their needs, and incorporate their feedback into your marketing strategy. If you sit behind your laptop all day and you’re directly interacting – then send out a survey or an email asking for some insight. Building strong relationships with your customers can lead to repeat business and positive word-of-mouth.
- Stay Flexible and Adapt: The marketing landscape is constantly changing, so it’s important to stay flexible and adapt your marketing strategy accordingly. You’re going to need to modify your strategy at least every start to the new year. Your business will change and so will your strategy, that’s okay! Keep up with industry trends, monitor your competition, and be open to trying new marketing tactics. Stay nimble and make adjustments to your marketing strategy as needed to stay relevant and effective.
While all these steps are essential to keep in mind while drafting your marketing strategy, the real key in the whole process is to just BEGIN. You can’t actually get to your destination if you never put your foot on the gas. If you’re still overwhelmed, choose 2 or 3 marketing channels and begin testing what is resonating with your customers. With continuous improvement and driving your marketing efforts forward, your small business can thrive and utilize all the best practices that the marketing world has to offer.
Need More Help? Talk to a Marketing Coach Today!
Coach Melissa of Curves Ahead Co. is offering 1 hour gift certificates for just $70. Gift an hour to a small business owner of your choice or for yourself! Just click on this link to “Book by the Hour” and together, we’ll focus intently on how your business marketing strategy is functioning now- breaking down what’s working and what’s not – so we can come up with a game plan that you can use to grow your business.