“An hour of planning can save you 10 hours of doing” Dale Carnegie.
The 1 hour it takes to go grocery shopping and knowing what your meals will look like saves you from those unplanned trips to buy one or two items when preparing your meals.
Same goes when carrying out marketing strategies for your small business.
Knowing who’s your target audience, how to position your solution and your marketing goals will ensure your marketing strategy is successful.
Failure to plan for your marketing strategies will cost you in different ways:
- Spending more than budgeted on your marketing because of having no clear goals or a defined target audience.
- Failed marketing strategies because people don’t resonate with your message or copy.
To help you in carrying out a successful marketing strategy, let’s look at the key things you should nail down before running marketing campaigns and strategies for your small business.
1. Identify your target market.
A target market refers to a group of potential customers whom you direct your marketing efforts to and want them to buy your product or service.
For example, Mandy, a fitness coach, may focus on marketing to a smaller target market. A target market she sees as potential clients. Instead of focusing on everyone that may require fitness coaches, she may focus solely on females working the 9-5 jobs.
Defining your target market allows you to direct your marketing efforts, dollars, and brand message to a specific group of people who are more likely to buy from you.
As Philip Kotler, the “Father of Modern Marketing” once said:
“There’s only one winning strategy. It is to carefully define the target market and direct a superior offering to that target market.”
By having a defined target market, you know who are the potential customers likely to buy from you, so you come up with a marketing strategy that’s more likely to bring in more customers and you get to:
- Communicate directly to your potential customers.
- Attract the right people.
- Understand customer expectations and build loyalty.
The general performance of your business would improve as you get to produce more targeted content based on your audience’s needs, improve your messaging as you use the language they use, and drive more traffic to your site by using the right keywords on paid advertising.
2. Document your marketing goals.
Going with our previous example of grocery shopping, two things are certain:
- You note down the list of items to buy
- You have the list in your head.
So either way, you have a list of items to check off. A list that will guide you when shopping.
Same applies to goals in marketing.
Having a documented list of defined goals will guide your marketing strategy and inform you what to do.
You will come up with a successful marketing strategy that’s geared towards achieving the defined and documented goals.
Many businesses turn to the SMART mnemonic when defining their crucial marketing goals. These goals are the outcomes you would like to achieve in the future. By using the SMART technique in defining your goals, you get to present a clearer picture of the intended outcome.
- Specific- The goal should be clear, specific enough, and well defined.
- Measurable- Your marketing goal should have criteria for measuring progress.
- Attainable- Your marketing goal should make you feel challenged but realistic enough given the resources you have.
- Relevant- The marketing goals should tie in with your specific needs and matter specifically to you as a business.
- Time-bound- Your goals should have a deadline to have you focus on them preventing other tasks from taking over your long-term goals.
Base these marketing goals on the needs of your business. Needs such as getting more traffic to your blog or turning site visitors into paying customers.
Therefore, using the SMART technique you can come up with concrete goals based on these needs.
Need: Convert more site visitors into leads.
SMART goal: In the next 6 months, we will see a 52% increase in the number of converted site visitors into leads after creating campaign-specific landing pages.
So from here, your marketing strategy will be more intentional because you know what you are working towards.
3. Discover your value proposition.
For an average reader, you’ve got their attention for only 15 seconds. 15 seconds to say what you offer and introduce your product.
To capitalize on the few seconds you might have with your potential customers, develop your unique identifier. The “why” someone should buy from you.
This is the value proposition. It convinces someone why your product or service will have more value to them compared to similar products from your competitors.
When marketing your business through the various strategies you have in place, the value proposition guides your marketing materials on how to directly communicate with your potential customers.
Having a sound value proposition before coming up with your marketing strategy is important because it’s the first thing people would come in contact with. From your website to the paid advertisements.
So when you have a strong value proposition you get to convince potential customers you are their best choice, but without one or having a weak value proposition they might find your product offering not resonating with them.
In a nutshell, here’s how you can develop a strong value proposition that would play an important role in developing and executing your marketing strategy:
- Identify all the benefits your product offers.
- Describe what makes these benefits valuable to them.
- Identify your customers’ major problem that your product solves.
- Connect the value of your product to your customers’ pain points and you will develop a clear value proposition.
Keep in mind, the value proposition is not a slogan or a positioning statement. It explains how your product solves customers’ problems and highlights the benefits they get from your product.
4. Outline your marketing budget.
Much like when grocery shopping you create an estimated cost of all items, creating a marketing strategy that you can attribute where your marketing dollars have gone to requires a solid marketing budget.
Most small businesses don’t allocate enough money to marketing or don’t measure their marketing spend. If one strategy fails, they just ramp it up and invest more money.
Having a marketing budget allows you to plan on the strategies you might invest in and given the dynamic of the digital space, create allocation for the new relevant channels that might come up.
Here are some tips you can use to develop your marketing budget:
- Get to know your target audience to know which channels to use to reach them.
- Base your budget on your revenue. With the U.S Small Business Administration recommending a spend of 7-8% of your gross revenue for marketing and advertising.
5. Track marketing metrics.
Marketing metrics allows you to measure the progress and success of your marketing strategy.
As H. James Harrington once said:
“Measurement is the first step that leads to control and eventually to improvement. If you can’t measure something, you can’t understand it. If you can’t understand it, you can’t control it. If you can’t control it, you can’t improve it.”
When you can measure the effectiveness of your marketing strategy, you can improve them, and by improving your strategies you get better results.
Marketing metrics gives you a clear picture of what works and what doesn’t. They give you the ability to work and improve on the strategies that work.
But it isn’t all about just tracking marketing metrics. There are metrics that link to the success of your business and some that just make you feel good without telling you much about your business.
Track actionable metrics that would show you the sense of where your business is heading to.
6. Identify how you want your business to be perceived.
This is basically nailing down how you want to appear before your audience. Also known as brand positioning.
Philip Kotler defined brand positioning as:
“the act of designing the company’s offering and image to occupy a distinctive place in the mind of the target market”.
A brand positioning strategy creates an association between your business and an idea in your audience’s mind to make them perceive you differently.
By associating your business with an idea, you get to occupy some space in your target audience’s mind.
And by identifying how you want to be perceived by your target audience through associating your business with an idea, you get to form your marketing messages and marketing strategy around that.
For example, Facebook’s brand positioning is “Helps you connect and share with the people in your life”. They marketed the platform as a medium where you get to connect with friends and family, and they stayed true to that till today.
Being a small business, you might be short in resources. This might force you to identify where you’ll reap off the best results and spend most of your marketing efforts there.
In addition, knowing exactly who to target, allocating marketing budget accordingly and tracking actionable metrics gears you to succeed in your marketing strategies and bring in more customers.