If you’re working in a business with a dedicated marketing function there’s most likely a document in existance even if just for the Marketing Dept and/or Directors relating to the overall Marketing Strategy of the business which is the outline approach that’s going to be taken by the company. This is further broken down into various plans that focus on the activities involved that will get the job done.

For small business owners however this isn’t something you’ll readily find available, particularly where there’s a small team or indeed just one person working on their own keeping an eye on what’s coming up and running ad-hoc campaigns as and when the need arises.

However, in all businesses regardless of size having a dedicated Marketing Strategy can make a huge difference in driving you to what ultimately you’d love for your business whether that’s a steady revenue stream or scaling your business effectively.

This is an outline of the elements that should be covered in your Marketing Strategy;

Your target audience(s) – it’s important to review and update this particularly in the world as it is now when so many businesses have made changes in how they operate.

A SWOT analysis – SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats and on an ongoing basis it’s an idea to review these in your business, where possible don’t make it a one-person job either as you’d be surprised what somebody else might spot as an opportunity you’re not fully taking advantage of – yet!

Competitors – don’t shy away from the competition, with social media you have more opportunities than ever before to keep an eye on what they’re up to. Familiarise yourself with their offerings, ad campaigns, and approach as it’s important to know what you’re up against when you’re in business.

Social media – what’s working for you right now? Does anything need to be changed? Do you need to add other channels? Do you need help in creating content? And those competitors again, is there anything you can learn from them?

Budget – how much can you spend and where it be most effective? In theory, there are many avenues available to you that are technically free of charge but remember your time is money too. Look at what’s delivered a good return on your spend in the past, consider what you might like to do, and then set aside a sum that’s allocated to marketing that you will track over the course of a year. If funds are tight you might not feel comfortable setting aside a considerable sum for marketing so an option you might consider is a percentage of sales revenue allocated to marketing spend.

Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room – Jeff Bezos, CEO Amazon

Brand tone and voice – we’ve included the quote above as your brand really is a whole lot more than what’s visible either online or offline when it comes to your business. In small businesses, this is something people don’t often give a lot of thought to, quite often in small businesses particularly amongst sole traders the business owner is the brand. If you’ve never actually sat down and written a description of this area think about it, this will come in handy as you grow or outsource. In defining this you’re also setting a standard for your customers so they come to know what to expect of you.

Business goals – you’re probably familiar with the SMART Goal setting but if not this stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely. Most of us know that when you commit to something it has a far higher chance of actually happening whether that’s in business or your personal life. Make some real goals whether that’s doubling traffic to your website this year, increasing sales by 25%, or having another person on your team within the next six months. Once you’ve set the goal you then plan how it’s to be achieved.

Messages – what is the message you want your customer(s) to pick up from you at various stages of the journey to buy your product or service? Your audience goes through various different stages before they make a purchase, traditionally a model called AIDA was used; Awareness, Interest, Desire, Action. That hasn’t changed dramatically over the years although the term ‘Funnel’ is a term you’ll see used more often in recent years. Personally, I think a lot of small business owners get sidetracked by the idea that you can create a ‘funnel’ using various software packages without always understanding the ‘why’ behind it, this is why I suggest those who don’t enjoy the jargon think about the various stages in the more traditional way instead.

Positioning – that place you occupy in your ideal client(s) mind. How or why are you different to the competition?

Marketing channels – how are you going to connect with that audience(s) we referred to above? Social media and the online world offer many options to you but the offline world is full of opportunities too. Your channels start with your audience and will most likely evolve over time, regular reviews of your strategy will take all of this into account.

Tactics – it’s all well and good to say you’ll double your sales but you should be specific on the ‘how’. Do you need to recruit more employees? Will you need to attend trade fairs? Are Google ads your route to more website traffic?

Metrics – what will you measure? Is it sales? Traffic to your website? Leads converted? Footfall to your store? If you know what you’re targetting in key areas of your business you can track the effectiveness of the various components and learn what’s working or not. KPIs or key performance indicators is a term you’ll see frequently and this is essentially the same area, by keeping an eye on numbers you can spot potential opportunities or indeed problems quickly.

In the beginning, I mentioned that there’s a benefit for small businesses in having a Marketing Strategy? Even as you read through that list I’m hoping if you don’t already have one you’ve started thinking about the answers to some of these questions? Wouldn’t one document with answers to the questions above make marketing a lot easier?

It doesn’t matter what business you’re in marketing is part of your activities even if you don’t technically label it that way. In small businesses it’s not unusual for people to wing it, taking advantage of opportunities or running a campaign where an idea comes up. There isn’t always a definite roadmap or blueprint in place and at the end of the year, this means that you don’t have something to reflect on to see how you performed – other than the revenue generated or the end of year accounts that you or your accountant produces.

Its not overly complicated to come up with a Marketing Strategy, most often the challenges are time, deciding who is going to implement it or knowing what to include in the first place. What you invest in getting this element right however will pay dividends many times over and will be instrumental in enabling you to grow your business to that place you’d ideally like too.

At The Marketing Shop we offer Marketing Strategy Sessions where over a period of dates we work with you on creating your Strategy and making a plan as to how you will implement it. If you’d like to learn more about it you can book live here on our site or schedule a complimentary call to discuss how it might work for you.

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