As a marketing consultant, one of the first items I ask prospective clients about in our initial meetings is their current marketing plan. Some businesses take me to their social media pages, where they show how many followers/subscribers they have; some may talk about their word-of-mouth strategy, while others may not have a formalized plan at all. The one detail that gets brought up no matter what stage of marketing planning they are in, is whether or not they have a long-term strategy for how marketing will help grow their business written down in an official document. This small, yet invaluable step is the first step any business owner can take when choosing to start or grow their business.
No matter the industry your small business operates in, there are 5 key areas to focus on to implement an effective marketing strategy that is both useful and designed to grow and evolve as your company does.
- Write it Down– In our fast-paced society, we sometimes forget to take this step. Writing down your marketing plan serves three purposes: the plan basically becomes your home for goals and strategies, your calendar, and your budget.
- Set Monthly or Quarterly Events- After you have written down your marketing plan, plan out how marketing will be used on a monthly or quarterly basis. Will you have different campaigns to center around certain seasonal events? Are there other events happening during certain times of the year that will increase your business volume? These events can help to dramatically improve your revenue, so it is important to plan these in your marketing calendar.
- Set Specific Targets/Goals– Do you know what your measures of success are? How do you know if your marketing is effective? SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Bound) are necessary in understanding your business, as well as knowing how your marketing is reaching your target audience.
- Know When to Adjust– Marketing strategies are meant to be reviewed on an ongoing basis. This means being able to assess whether your current strategy is achieving its goals or not. If the strategy is not achieving the targets you have outlined for yourself in your SMART goals, don’t throw the strategy away- evaluate what aspects worked, and which ones didn’t. This will help keep you from making the same mistake twice and help you optimize your marketing budget going forward.
- No less than 3%. Every successful marketing strategy has one thing in common- they make marketing a top priority for their company. This means building into your business model a fixed amount or percentage dedicated to marketing. Treating this expense as an investment will help you as a business owner see how important it is, no matter what, to see marketing as a key driver to company growth, and expansion.
Overall, marketing is not an exact science, but there are ways to use your strategy to maximize your budget. Set a budget, hold yourself and partners accountable to results, adjust and innovate often, and your business is set to grow.
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Owner of Pinpoint Local Marketing, LLC