If you are planning to open your own small business, the first step is to develop a business plan. The next step is to develop a marketing plan, as all business plans should be paired with a strategy for marketing your products or services. Marketing strategies vary in format, but they all have the common goal of attracting and building relationships with customers. The style is up to you, but it should include the following elements.
1. Marketing Goals and Objectives
You will need to develop realistic and measurable marketing goals that cover a full calendar year and are aligned with your business plan. Common goals in a marketing strategy include a targeted increase in products sold and a growth in customers. Your strategy will help you achieve your goals. As you develop it, you should factor in the type of products or services you are selling, how and where you sell them, and the level of consumer awareness surrounding your business.
2. Define Your Target Audience
Fully describe the characteristics of your potential customers, as well as their media viewing habits. For example, some restaurants target gourmets with an average income of over $100,000, while others focus on providing affordable meals to individuals on a fixed income. Take the time to define your audience and customers for your products or services, along with their unique demographic characteristics, such as age range, marital status, gender, race, income level, or education. This will also help you lay out your plan for distinguishing yourself from your competition.
3. Research Marketing Tactics
There are more marketing tactics available today than ever before and trying to determine which one is best for your business can be overwhelming. Take the time to research all marketing vehicles, which range from traditional (billboard, television, radio, newspaper, and magazine) to digital (pay-per-click ads with Google, social media efforts with Facebook and Twitter, etc.). A full understanding of these tactics will make you more comfortable in selecting which ones are best for your business.
4. Plan Your Marketing Tactics
Once you have completed the research, select the tactics and channels you will use to accomplish your goals and reach your target audience. This could be determined by customer habits and should align with your sales strategy. Be sure to also monitor your competition and stay current with new tactics and channels that your target audience is using.
5. Develop Your Timeline and Budget
Establish a timeline and budget for your marketing strategy that reaches your audience throughout the year. It should include all scheduled promotions for the entire year and a complete breakdown of their cost. Examples of items in a marketing timeline include increased advertising during the holiday season and a month-long promotion to boost sales.
It is also important to remember that a marketing strategy is not set in stone. As your business grows and evolves, so will your marketing strategy. Be on the lookout for courses, webinars, and articles to help stay up-to-date with current trends.