If you’re an entrepreneur or a small business owner, marketing is a key part of your operational strategy. If you don’t want to invest the time, money, and energy involved with finding and hiring a full-service marketing and advertising agency, there are ways that you can build an effective and impactful marketing department right in your own company. The Digital Peeps can help you get established with all the right tools your business needs to be successful.
Why You Need Marketing
The term “marketing” comprises a number of different important functions in your business. It’s not simply about advertising and promoting your products and services, but in increasing awareness of your brand, positioning you for growth and expansion, and keeping you front-and-center of consumer minds. Marketing is also about communication, whether that’s communication with vendors, customers, stakeholders, or employees. A marketing strategy is something that should be created in conjunction with your business plan, which will map out all of the key operational elements of your business.
Business Plan Essentials
A business plan is actually heavily focused on your marketing objectives. When you’re writing a plan, you’ll start with research and market analysis. It’s important to understand who your customers are, where they are, and how to reach them. You also need to be able to differentiate yourself from the competition, so learning about competitors’ price points, products and services, and marketing approach is critical to establishing your own. You’ll also want to develop your brand. This is how people come to recognize you in the marketplace, and to work, it needs to be consistent, in everything from your website banner and packaging to your messaging.
For small businesses, it’s important to even the playing field with your larger competition, and that means assessing your channels. According to Forbes, take advantage of cost-effective approaches, such as having a superior interactive website and a robust social media presence. Both of these items allow you to be seen in a global space. Grassroots efforts can also be useful. Employ relationship marketing strategies in which you take advantage of your contacts, connections, and opportunities to collaborate with other smaller businesses. Join industry associations and business groups as a way to expand your network and get involved in real, hands-on ways, like committee work and brainstorming groups.
What’s your business message? It depends on your audience. You might have several different strategies based on who you’re trying to reach and the message you want them to receive. For example, when you’re attracting new customers, you want to let them know about the benefits of doing business with you; when you’re retaining customers and striving for repeat business, you’ll want a message of value and appreciation. Your messaging strategy will also be based on the channel you’re using. For example, an email outreach might include a specific call to action, and you have the ability to use more content than you would in, say, a billboard, in which a brief message and an eye-catching image will be key.
Important Elements To Include
When you start looking at your marketing collateral or the actual pieces of marketing material that you’re utilizing, it’s important to have a mix of products that are all branded under your same company image. Taking this approach, whatever distribution channels you’re using to get your message out will all be unified and consistent. Online channels can include social media campaigns, email marketing outreach, and things like advertising on podcasts, web banners, or industry publications. You can also go low-tech, like ads on telephone poles, written messages, billboards, community bulletin boards, and coffee shops. Depending on your audience, participation at trade shows and sponsorships might also be a good investment – for example, sponsoring a conference.
Tracking Your Progress
When you’re auditioning different approaches to marketing on various platforms, you want to ensure you employ the use of analytics to help you determine what messages and formats are bringing you the most business. This can be built into your website, and it can also be as simple as asking customers, “how did you hear about us today?” Occasional customer surveys and focus groups can also provide you with insight. You’ll want to review your marketing strategy on a regular basis, compare it to your analytics, and make educated decisions about where to invest marketing dollars, and where to pull back. If you find yourself struggling with this step, you can always seek out a SCORE mentor with a marketing background to offer insights and suggestions.
Whether you’re just starting to strategize your marketing agenda or you’re already in business and you’re looking for a new product launch, you want to ensure you don’t miss any important steps along the way. A go-to marketing strategy template can help you keep everything focused and organized. For example, a ready-made template can include your business plan, marketing strategy, product details, and release information, all of which you can customize to your specific needs. This template will serve as a project management tool and help ensure you’re hitting all the right marks and not overlooking critical details.
Reviewing and Revising
According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, once written, your business plan and your marketing strategy should be reviewed on a regular basis. These are not one-and-done documents, but rather living entities that will grow, expand, change, and be revised over time to reflect the growth and needs of your business. Taking this approach will also ensure that you are staying on track from a budgeting perspective, continually monitoring your customer demographics and consumer trends, and making investments where it’s wise, whether that’s hiring more employees, adding product lines, or even expanding your operations. A well-developed business plan looks at both short and long-term strategies, which can help you look ahead.
Strategic marketing and communication should be the centerpoint of any small business or entrepreneurial venture. While it might be worthwhile to hire out some services like web design or graphics, when it comes to implementing a marketing strategy, this is something you can absolutely manage in-house or with the help of a consultant or independent contractor who has an exceptional track record in the industry.
The Digital Peeps offers a wide range of marketing services essential to getting your marketing strategy off the ground. These include web design, SEO, social media strategies, and email marketing. Visit the site today, review the blog and portfolio, and reach out for a consultation!