How to create a marketing strategy for a small business

When setting a marketing strategy, the key is to start with the end goal and work backwards. Your marketing objectives should go hand in hand with your business goals. Marketing is not limited to a marketing department or specific people, it’s all the communication associated with your business; and the principles are exactly the same as in human communication – people will form their opinion about you based on your character, actions and appearance.

  1. Do your research

Work with what you know. Look at what your potential customers are looking for and how they communicate. Web traffic analytics is a good starting point to understand your audience’s interests and behaviour. Depending on the data available, look at return on investment on your previous marketing efforts. Marketing can be expensive; so it’s important to know what are you getting for your money. Not only cost per opportunity, but also cost per lead is where your focus should be – some sale life cycles could be lengthy and you won’t be seeing immediate impact.Look at what worked in the past and what didn’t – in case you don’t have the information, talk to your peers to learn what works for them and do your online research. Different things work for different businesses so be objective and pick the ones you feel most comfortable with.

  1. Define your unique value proposition

It’s important that your audience understands what it is that you do and how does it link to their needs and wants. In the competitive market you need to differentiate yourself and make your business stand out. It’s all about buyer focus – what benefits does it bring to them, what terminology do they use and what would make them stop looking for similar services elsewhere.Keep it simple. You only have their attention for a limited period of time so make the most out of it.

  1. Link marketing communications to your products and services

Communication strategies are often purely focused around prospect’s interests and miss the link to what they are trying to sell. Your audience naturally expects you to tell them about how you can help them, as long as you are doing so within reason. Focus on their issues and offer solutions, giving them options to learn more about your products and services.

  1. Create a go-to-market strategy

First of all, be clear on who are you marketing to. Demographics are key, but that doesn’t mean you should exclude those who are not on your top list. People move up in their careers and often it is those that remember you from the old days that will turn to you for help. Create your potential buyer personas and analyse how they behave – what are their key pain points, how do they communicate and what drives them.Once you know who your audience are, focus on why should they care about your business. Buying behaviours are driven by trust, so look at success stories you can share and results you can show. Once you have their attention, it’s all about building credibility.

  1. Get your messaging right

Common language starts a conversation. By understanding the terminology and tone your potential customers use you will be able to connect and form relationships. Make it easy for your audience to understand your message and use clear calls to action. It will eliminate any confusion and make it much more likely that your audience will respond. There is no universal call to action – think about specific communications and adjust it accordingly.Sometimes you will find that businesses use all the right words, but missing the “so what” element. It’s important you not only communicate the message but also include how it impacts the recipient.

  1. Tell a story

Stories naturally create interest and are proven to sell. If you have successful project stories, use them. Even if you can’t disclose the client`s name, focus on the scenario and outcomes. It will help your audience to learn about real life situations and it will stick with them for longer. You can turn stories into case studies and use those for media pitches. If you can back up your story with real success data and feedback, you are even more likely to attract interest.

  1. Segment your audience

Segmentation will take you further. With prospects you should be focusing on getting their attention and keeping it for as long as possible, whilst with clients you want to mature the relationship. There is a great advantage in knowing your client and therefore being able to tailor your activities around their needs.In both cases it’s important to take note that there is a person on the other side of the communication so keep it real and be reasonable.

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