For a business to grow, marketing is usually a key point. You’re required to have a marketing strategy that has clearly defined aims and goals as well as a map as to how you will achieve these goals. But how do you create a marketing strategy that works for your business?
Create a plan
It is always a great idea to look at the big companies for inspiration – what they do does always reflect on what you do but how they plan things is a concept that applies to businesses of all sizes. And the big companies have a marketing plan – usually a twelve-month plan, as well as sometimes longer scale plans such as two or five years.
The creation of the plan is said to be the hardest part of marketing and isn’t something you should try to do overnight. You should also share the plan with everyone affected by it from staff to shareholders and even your partner if you are a sole trader – another set of eyes never hurts!
To create the plan and therefore your marketing strategy, you can start with what is called situation analysis. This is a fancy term for an assessment of where your company is. Are you making a profit? Have you got a good customer base? How is your online presence? Look at your business objectively and detail the strengths and weaknesses, the opportunities and the threats.
Next look at your target audience for your product or service, not just for your marketing. Many companies use customer personas, fictional people that describe your ideal customer, what they want in life and where your business fits in. But even just a good idea of demographics such as age, sex, earnings, geographic location and lifestyle can all help decide your strategy.
With your plan and personas in hand, you can now start looking at the marketing goals you have. Make sure they are quantifiable and solid – you want to increase earnings by 20%, or you want to improve your customer base by one-third. You want an aim that you can measure and see how you are progressing rather than just a general ‘grow the business’ ideal.
Your marketing strategy should cover all the stages of your sales cycles. This would include reaching out to cold prospects – people who have never had contact with your business but fit the personas and might be interested in your products. Then there are warm prospects, people who have had contact with the business. Finally, there are hot prospects who have purchased from the business and are receiving emails. A good strategy will look at all of these groups and have ways to target them.
One of the toughest parts of the marketing strategy is the budget – how much can the business spend? Most businesses look to put a percentage of the gross annual sales into the annual marketing budget, and this might be trickier for new businesses. But there’s no avoiding the essential nature of marketing – without it, you will struggle to grow your business. So while it might be worrying, putting money into the budget, it is a case of speculating to accumulate in the long term.
Finally, if all of this seems a little overwhelming, then it may be worth allocating a little of the funds towards working with a marketing agency. Agencies offer a variety of services so you can get as much or as little help as you need. They also have the expertise that can save you a lot of time learning about different areas and that in itself can help pay back the cost of their services.