When you are driving to a new location, do you use a GPS? When you’re cooking something new, do you refer to a recipe? Absolutely! In each instance, you have a desired outcome, and you follow the appropriate plan or route.
So why is achieving greater sales and stronger brand recognition any different? If you had a proven roadmap to achieve these goals, you’d probably refer to it daily.
That’s the kind of power an effective marketing strategy can have on your business. Think about how easy it would be to make strategic decisions about your business with a written plan in place.
Armed with a clear understanding of your target market and your unique selling proposition, you can reach business goals quickly and efficiently.
Can I skip the step of creating a marketing plan?
Let’s be honest with ourselves. Most small business owners don’t take the time to create a plan. We get too consumed with day-to-day marketing tasks to focus on big picture, strategic marketing ideas.
Many potential clients we meet will question whether the planning step is really necessary. Our response: Would you like to aimlessly promote your company? Or move forward with a clear plan and clear objectives?
Components of a powerful marketing strategy
Business plans, strategic plans and marketing plans can sound overwhelming to those without formal business training. Don’t make this more complicated than it needs to be. The result of working through the five steps below should be a 2 to 3 page document that you can refer to daily or weekly.
1. Define Measurable Outcomes
If you don’t know what you want, you’ll never achieve it. That’s why it’s important to define measurable outcomes for your business.
Do you want to increase sales by $5,000 each month? Do you want to increase business from current customers by five percent?
Notice that these questions are quantifiable. It’s not enough to say ‘I want more leads!’ Define exactly what you want and when you’ll achieve it. If this is your first marketing plan, don’t set more than three outcomes. Set your goals, test your strategy and make adjustments as needed.
2. Determine Your Differentiator
What makes you different from your competition? Here’s a hint: customer service is not a valid answer. That is everyone’s answer. You need to ask yourself some hard questions about your business and the value you provide.
The questions below aren’t meant to be easy and you may not even be able to answer them the first time you try. If you breeze through them, then you probably didn’t response to them with the level of depth that is necessary.
- What do you do? (not how)
- How are you different?
- Why are you the right choice?
- What do you do better than anyone else in your industry?
- Why is that important to potential customer?
- Why should the customer (continue) to buy from you?
3. Identify Your Target Market (Buyer Personas)
Buyer personas are the buzz in the marketing industry. Buyer personas differ slightly from target markets in that they are more detailed and specific.
These written descriptions outline exactly who you’re trying to reach – remember that aimless promoting your product or services is a recipe for disaster. It’s important to get specific.
What do your ideal buyers like to do in their free time? Are they tech-savvy? Do they read magazines or watch TV?
Outlining this information might seem pointless, but if you don’t have an accurate (written) description of your target market, how can you reach them effectively?
4. Select Marketing Activities and Tools
By our count, there are hundreds of ways to promote your business. Some will work and some won’t. The only way to know for sure is to test, track your results and adjust accordingly.
The beauty in working through this process is that you will be able to select marketing activities that best align with your goals and your target market.
Are you targeting young adults who are active on social media? Twitter might be a good option for you.
Are trying to reach males in their late 40’s or early 50’s? Since they are not as active on social media, email marketing might be the best option to reach them.
5. Determine Your Timeline
Perhaps the most important step in the strategy is setting a timeline for your objectives, and the strategy as a whole. Do you plan to increase business by $5,000 per month in the next three months? Or is six months more realistic given the activities you’ve chosen and the resources you’ve made available to achieve the objectives.
Remember, success with marketing doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time for a message to resonate with an audience. But when you have a clear marketing and PR strategy in place, it becomes much easier to reach your target market with the right message using the right tools.
Have more questions about creating a marketing and PR strategy? Leave a comment below and we’ll be sure to respond!