When you are developing small business marketing plan all the pieces like branding, website, content, social media, networking and sales process fall into place. This guide outlines the ten key elements of a fully developed small business-marketing plan so that you can build one of your own. All of these elements need to work together in order for your marketing strategy to actually work. If you are missing one of these elements, it's likely you are missing out on clients and sales.
#1 Current SituationBefore starting any planning you need to understand your current situation so your Marketing has the right messages and you know where your Business is at now. This should include looking at your:
- Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities & Threats (SWOT)
- Customer Sales to find repeat and the most profitable customers;
- Developing an ideal customer profile or buyer persona;
- Keyword research;
- Google analytics reports; and
- Top three competitors.
#2 Creating a Sales PlanThere are several key questions you need to ask at this stage:
- What is your sales process?
- How do you keep track of all the prospects in the sales pipeline?
- What are your Key Markets?
- Who are your Key target accounts - which companies do you want to target?
- Who are the key decision makers within those key accounts?
- What referral strategies do you have in place?
- What alliances and referral sources do you have in place?
#3 Brand StrategyWhen developing your brand strategy there are some questions that need to be addressed:
- What does your brand represent?
- What's your brand story?
- What visuals are you going to use to describe the brand?
- What tone and style?
#4 Lead Generation StrategyThe first thing you need for a Lead Generation strategy is to understand is how many leads you need at the different stages of your sales funnel. For example:
- Win 10 new customers per month you may need to
- Prepare 30 Proposals per month and
- Meet with 50 new prospects per month and
- Contact 150 potential leads per month to secure these meetings
- "Inbound" lead generation strategy where you attract visits to your website via SEO, Paid online ads and/or Social media with ongoing content creation and distribution to convert the visitors to leads by offering a piece of helpful content that help them along their "buyer's journey" and then follow through on opportunities; and/or an
- Outbound lead generation strategy where you identify target industries, clients and contact and reach "out" to then via email, mail or call initially and then follow through on opportunities.
#5 Content StrategyThese days the worst thing you can do is only publish content to your website and never update or add more content. So in terms of content creation you need to think of:
- What content does my prospective buyer need at each stage (Awareness, Consideration or Decision) of their Buyer's Journey;
- What format should the content be in:
- Visual content like photos, infographics and video.
- Written content like checklists, brochures, blogs, e-books, articles and guides what written content you have, any
- Audio content like interviews or podcasts.
- How will the content be distributed – Blogs, emails, social media posts, downloads, sales presentations, webinars, podcasts
#6 Digital MarketingWhat you need to do is make sure you are thinking about Digital Marketing (any content online):
WebsiteIt's important to get your strategy right by asking these questions below:
- Does the website reflect your Brand Strategy?
- Where does the website fit into your sales process?
- How easy is it for your visitors to navigate?
- Do you just talk about your business or do you talk about what the prospect needs?
- Is it optimised for mobile?
- Do you have a blog?
- What content will you add on a regular basis?
- How are you going to gather info from visitors to your site (so you can open up a dialogue later on)?
- What automation do you have to make sure all enquiries are handled promptly
- What marketing and sales tools will you need to integrate with the website
- How will you get people to the website?
- What keywords will you be targeting and what SEO will you be doing?
- What email marketing will you be doing?
- What Online marketing will you be doing?
SEO (Search Engine Optimisation)
- SEO is not just about being seen on the first page of Google - but being on page one for the right keywords and for the right audience. It starts with the keywords i.e. what people are searching for when they are trying to find solutions to their problems.
- SEO typically is broken down into "on-page" factors and "off-page" factors that are both important in getting your website found when prospects and customers are looking for you
- On page SEO is all about optimising parts of your website that affect search engine rankings. Look at things like Title tags, Headings, URL structure, Alt text for images, fast-loading pages or page load speed, page content and internal linking
- Off page SEO focuses on increasing the authority of your domain through the act of getting links from other websites. The biggest off-page SEO factor is the number and quality of backlinks to your website. Some ways you can build links to your site is through;
- Creating awesome content that people want to link to because it is valuable
- Creating an effective Google for Business listing
- Listing on general directories like Yellow Pages, True Local and Yelp and specific industry directories Houzz, Trip Advisor etc
- Social media shares of your content that generate links
- Outreach emails to influencers in your field
- Guest blogging on sites related to yours.
- People have been repetitively saying for the last decade email is dead. Email still very much alive and well as it is still the most effective way to reach out to people and get them to come back to your website and your content.
- Effective Email is about creating compelling subject lines to get your opened then compelling content to get engagement and "clicks" back to your website
Online AdvertisingYou may also want to look at online advertising. Online advertising can consist of things like Google Adwords, Facebook advertising and Remarketing. Don't know what Remarketing is? If you have been on Facebook or Google and you see ads appear for the same product or service you have just looked at – this is remarketing. It's a very cost-effective way of increasing website visitors.
#7 Social Media StrategySocial Media is an essential part of marketing but you need to think about what platforms you want to be on. The most common question people ask is what platforms work best? The answer Is, whichever platform your customers are on now and will engage with your Business on. So it's not which platform works best rather 'Where are your customers?' Facebook is essential for all brands today but if your customers are not on Instagram don’t think you also should be on Instagram. However if your customers are not on LinkedIn, you should be on LinkedIn. So for each of the main Social Channels except Facebook (LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, SnapChat, Messenger) you need to think about whether your clients are using these channels, what engagement you are going to have with them, what content you are going to share and how often you are going to share that content. You should also to consider Advertising on Social Media. For example, you need to regularly post on Facebook but only 4% to 6% will see the post, so unless you are supplementing your these posts with Advertising you will not get the full benefits of Facebook. However always remember the main content strategy on Social Media posts (vs Ads) is to engage and connect not "push" products.
#8 Offline MarketingAll the marketing that attract people to your website and convert enquiries into leads sales will all fall unless you have some Offline Marketing sales support material (brochures, presentations) to support your sales process when you meet prospects. Also you can use offline channels like Mail, Networking, Events, Tradeshows and Referrals and even consider some outbound appointment-setting to get new leads.
#9 Marketing ToolsThere are a wide range of marketing tools or software you can use to make your marketing easier. Here are a few you must consider.
- Are you going to use a WordPress website, Joomla or some other website platform? To start with you may just use a low cost platform like Weebly or Wix.
- What CRM system are you going to use to manage your sales leads? Its very important that you use a CRM to track what you're doing and remind you who to call, when to follow-up with them, what to follow-up with and to keep notes and track your emails to each contact. It will make a massive difference in terms of your conversion rate. Check out popular CRM tools like Hubspot Sales CRM and PipeDrive CRM
- What marketing automation software should you consider? You can use software like Hubspot or Infusionsoft or Active Campaign to create and track follow-up sequences that allow you to focus energy on the best prospects and follow-through promptly.
- If you are not using marketing automation, what are you going to use to send out emails to your prospects and existing customers. There are a lot of email options that all have their respective pros and cons, but check out MailChimp and Constant Contact.
- If you are doing video content where are you going to host the video - such as YouTube, Vimeo, Wistia?
#10 ImplementationTo make sure your marketing generates leads, clients and revenue you need:
- An activity schedule list that outlines monthly and annual activities
- A budget in place to cover staff, design, production and media cost.
- A team in place, with clear descriptions on who is going to do what? And decide whether you will outsource any tasks or keep them all in-house?
- What leads have you got?
- What appointments have you got secured?
- What sales have you made?
- What is the return on investment for all your marketing and sales costs?
- What activity are you doing? (posts, articles, blogs, emails) and their response