When it comes to marketing, everything you do should be done with a purpose. Whether it is posting on social media, creating content, or sending out an email, every marketing tactic should align and support your overall marketing strategy. Your marketing strategy integrates all of your marketing objectives and goals into one plan. Your marketing strategy is the foundation of your marketing plan.
A marketing plan is a written guide that describes your marketing efforts for the upcoming year and also includes analysis of the marketing situation, target markets, brand positioning, and specific strategies. Your marketing plan outlines the specific strategies and tactics your business will use to reach current and new customers.
Why Small Businesses Need a Marketing Strategy
Create a Roadmap to Your Vision
As a small business owner, you have a vision for your business and what the future looks like. To get there, you need to create a roadmap that helps you move from where you are to where you want to be. By crafting a marketing strategy, you create a plan for what you want to achieve, who you want to reach, how you want to stand out from the competition, how you will reach your customers, and how you will evaluate your efforts.
Use Your Resources Effectively
Furthermore, with a marketing strategy, you will use your resources more effectively. On social media, far too many small businesses make the mistake of posting just to post or posting because you haven’t in a while. If you just go through the motions, you will not get results. These small businesses are not fooling anyone, rather they are giving off a poor impression of their business and don’t appear to know what they are doing. Instead of a negative impression, wouldn’t it be better if you impress your customers with engaging posts and valuable content?
Be Efficeint & Focus Your Efforts
Another common mistake small business owners make is trying too many different tactics without giving the tactic enough time to gain traction. The old saying “throw it against a wall and see if it sticks” may be a good way to see if your pasta is done, but it is definitely not the way to get marketing results. Yes, it is great to try new things and experiment. However, you have to give it enough time to truly see the results of the experiment. A marketing guide can help you create a plan for evaluation to measure your results after enough time has passed. This will help you be more efficient rather than spinning your wheels.
Build Your Case & Demonstrate ROI
When you have a marketing strategy, you have a rationale for your efforts and it becomes much easier to tie your marketing efforts to your marketing objectives and show a return on the investment (ROI). According to HubSpot, marketers who calculate their ROI are 1.6 times more likely to receive higher budgets (HubSpot, 2016). With a marketing strategy, it is easier to show the return on investment and get buy-in from others in the organization.
Be Consistent & Promote Brand Recognition
A marketing guide provides a plan for execution. This plan serves as a guide for everyone to follow, which in turn promotes consistency. Developing a consistent visual and voice identity is essential for brand recognition. If you want your customers to recognize your company, be consistent! Consistency is a prerequisite for brand recognition and in turn brand awareness and eventual brand loyalty.
Ready to Get Started on Your Marketing Strategy?
To start crafting your marketing strategy, you can continue reading this blog and download the corresponding worksheet. For alternative formats and plans, you can google “marketing plan templates” and you will find tons of different outlines and guides.
The following information is what I use to help my clients develop a marketing guide. I call it a “marketing guide” because it is a practical, abbreviated marketing plan. There are plenty of marketing plan templates out there that are 20+ pages, but how many small business owners really have that much time? Instead, the marketing guide is a helpful, practical reference that you can use to hold yourself accountable and prevent you from forgetting the little details.
Here’s what I help my clients define:
- Marketing Objectives: Define the goals you are trying to achieve.
- Target Audience: Define your customer segments.
- Competitive Analysis: Analyze the competition for inspiration and positioning.
- Positioning Strategy: Define your value proposition and how your brand will stand out.
- Content Strategy: Define types of content and create a plan to develop new content.
- Promotion Strategy: Define your channels, frequency of updates, and types of content.
- Implementation: Define roles, responsibilities, and timeline.
- Evaluation: Define metrics to monitor, frequency of reports, and timeline.
This is simply my recommended marketing guide outline. Every marketer or agency will have its own process. The terms may change but overall the ultimate goal is to have a marketing plan, implement it, evaluate it, and improve it over time.