Small business owners do it all. There is a saying that they “wear many hats.” Most enjoy this experience and this is one of the reasons their businesses are so successful. But one of the hats you need to be able to put on regularly in your Marketing Hat. A small business owner should have a marketing plan for their business. If you are sitting there saying, “Marketing plan...what's a marketing plan?” well, these helpful tips are for you!
Some small business owners have natural marketing ability which means that they have risen to a certain level without needing to create a marketing plan. Or they are just really great at networking and developing customer relationships and that loyalty that keeps them coming back in the door for another order. But know this: with a written marketing plan – you can be far more effective. Did you know that people who write down goals have a much better chance of accomplishing them? So with this in mind, it is easy to understand that writing down your marketing plan would help you do even more for your business.
To write down your marketing plan, you'll need to have your business plan. If you have been working without a business plan, we highly recommend you take the time to write a business plan – and then write a marketing plan. Try visiting the Small Business Administration online to get helpful tips on how to create a business plan.
One of the first things you'll want to consider is your results from the efforts of last year. Make some notes and think about what was successful and what was not. If you have a sense of why it was successful or why it was not, jot that down too. This can help you make better marketing decisions.
The next thing you'll want to think about is your budget for marketing. This is a highly individual decision. Some business owners may have a big marketing budget. Others may not have much to spend on marketing. But it is critical that you have a good understanding of your annual budget for marketing. Even if you can approximate it, write down this amount. Remember that some marketing can be low-cost or even free at times.
You'll want to think about your long-term and short-term goals for marketing. Every marketing plan will have both long-term and short-term marketing goals. There may be ongoing projects for marketing that you do weekly or all year. There also may be seasonal or holiday marketing that you only do during certain times of the year. If you are an accountant, you'll advertise to do people's taxes during tax time for example. If you create care packages for college students, you'll do marketing while students are in school, especially when they have just gone back for the semesters in September and January.
Don’t feel overwhelmed writing your marketing plan. Try to write what you would ideally do for your marketing, and then remove things if your marketing budget wont permit you to do everything you would like to do. You may be able to find low-cost or even free replacements for them. But start by writing down everything you would do if you could do it, to give you a good sense of the marketing you think you would need to be successful.
One of the best things you can do with your marketing plan is not only to do it – but to do it and then to review it regularly. If you have just done your marketing plan, you may want to look at it once a week for awhile and then once every two weeks after things are more familiar. Remember that you may have to adjust your marketing plan. You may accomplish things quicker than expected. You may need to spend more on some things and less on others. But monitoring your plan will help you to be proactive instead of just reactive to everything. You'll be able to plan for your marketing.
Wish you'd done a marketing plan sooner? There is a saying we think you'll like. “The best time to have planted a tree is a year ago. The second best time is today.” Good luck with your new marketing plan!