You have closed your books for 2012. Your year end inventory count is complete. Now what? Let’s evaluate and budget for marketing your business in 2013. To track time and expenses, I use a program called FreshBooks. It has a clean interface and is simple to use. I track everything from the time I spend on each project to the money I spend with each medium. While FreshBooks works great for me, it’s not right for everyone. My point is, develop a system that allows you to track time, categorize your marketing expenses and easily create marketing budgets.
Now, let’s get started creating a basic small business marketing plan. I know, boring isn’t it? But, I promise, if you will answer these questions and stick to it, you can find success! This marketing plan should go hand-in-hand with your business plan.
Obviously every business is different. We all know that. So, feel comfortable tweaking this to suit your needs. Our ultimate goal is to decide who your customers are, where they get their information, and how you’re going to deliver your marketing message. There are all kinds of creative marketing tactics you can utilize, but don’t expect them to work until you have developed a marketing plan with a clear message. If I ask you three times what you do or what kind of service you offer, you should have the exact same answer all three times.
1. Clearly identify your services or product. Write a few sentences clearly defining what you have to offer or sell.
2. Know your market and determine what motivates your clients/customers. You need to love what you do, but it’s worthless if the customer doesn’t want it. In a few sentences, describe who you plan to target. Who will buy what you have to offer? Be specific about age, lifestyle, buying habits, gender, geographical location, etc.
3. Explore and identify your competition, and make a list of them.
4. Clearly identify your point of difference. This is one of the most important steps, so please don’t skip it! Identify the one thing you do different, and capitalize on that. Find one problem your clients/customers need help solving, and offer solutions. One of the key ingredients to running a successful business is to determine a “real” point of difference. This can’t be a surface statement. You truly need to be different; offer something nobody else can offer. And no, “I am the most passionate” or “most aggressive” or “hard working”, etc., is not good enough! Determine what makes you different, and specifically identify how that will benefit your customer.
5. What is your pricing strategy? What will you charge and why?
6. Start Planning! Create a marketing calendar that contains a month-by-month schedule of marketing activities and events for the upcoming year. Until we can cover some of these things specifically, start with what you know. Just make sure that you are spending your time, money, and effort talking where your target audience is listening.
7. Budget it. How much will all of this cost? How much are you willing to spend? Please note, I don’t believe you should have to spend a lot of money on marketing. However, I do believe that you should create good content and know where to use it. We will dive into all of this down the road.
8. Implement it! Now that you have a solid marketing plan, let’s determine how you can use it to work smarter not harder. Over time, we will discuss ways to stay clear and concise throughout all of your communications.
Work on these 8 questions, and check back next week for easy marketing strategies you can implement on a budget.