Do I need a marketing plan for my small business?
Yes, yes you do! Here’s why…
When you start to market your business, you need to have direction in mind, otherwise it’s kinda pointless- like shooting in the dark. Doing things ad hoc can leave you wondering why you’ve spent precious time and money on nothing but poor results and disappointment. Also you have no way to identify where things are going wrong. So, before you start spending time and effort on random marketing activities, create a marketing plan.
“Fail to plan, plan to fail”
I know, it sounds horrifying, especially if you have very little marketing experience. The good news is that you don’t have to be a marketing guru to do this. A marketing plan is basically an action list for promoting your business and requires absolutely zero marketing buzzwords or jargin. It can be as long or short, detailed or simple as you want it to be. And the cherry on top? It’s free! (well, you only need to spend your time and a bit of brain power).
How on earth do I begin?
This is where the brain power comes in because you need to have a think about a few things. Firstly, what is your goal? One business owner may want to increase their client base by 2 or 3 per week, another business owner may want to increase turnover to £175k by the end of the year. Every business is different and so are you. So, what do you want to achieve? Write it down. I love a spreadsheet, but a good old pen and paper will do if you prefer, or the notes app on your phone. Whatever, just get your thoughts out there and recorded.
Secondly, What’s your timescale? When do you want to achieve these things? Many companies create a yearly marketing plan, but you may feel more comfortable focussing on the next 3 or 6 months. Be realistic, work it out and write it down.
This next part is important. Who are your ideal clients and customers? Who do you want to work for, where are they and how can you contact them? This will involve some research, and tools like social media are great for that- Or have a google, walk down the high street, put yourself
where your customers are going to be, and you will soon get some inspiration for how to reach them. Write it all down!
Lastly, take a look at your competitors. What are they up to? A quick scroll through their social media and websites can give you an instant insight into what they’re doing. How do they promote themselves? What are your strengths and weaknesses and what are theirs?
Start to think about how you can really play to your strengths. Yep, write it down.
Already, after those 4 simple steps you’re now armed with enough information to guide you in the right direction. Start by adding the big stuff to your marketing plan. For example, “launch my website” or “open the shop”. And then break it down into weekly and daily marketing activities. Once you have the basics you can build on it, add more detail and before you know it, you’ll have a comprehensive marketing plan that’s tailored for your business. Over time you can identify what works and what doesn’t, what went well and what absolutely flopped, and then you can tweak and change until you have your own successful marketing formula.
It really doesn’t sound too bad does it? And spending a bit of time on it, ironically, will help you to waste less time (and cash). Give it a go.