Small business owners have a lot on their plate with running their business. Quite often the job of working out an effective marketing strategy, putting it into operation and managing its progress can be a real challenge.
Many new sole traders or solo-entrepreneurs will simply shrug their shoulders and say that creating a marketing plan cannot be that hard. After all, marketers do this every day, right? So why can’t I?
Writing a winning marketing plan
Well, to be honest, creating a marketing plan can be quite straightforward. However, writing a winning marketing plan actually takes some time and effort.
There is a big difference between going through the motions of following a generic marketing plan and actually formulating and following a perfectly tailored plan that suits your particular business needs.
Not every business is exactly the same. If all businesses were the same, then they would all see success by following a one-size-fits-all marketing plan that works for everyone. But we know this simply isn’t true and doesn’t work in the real world.
So let’s take a look at some tips to help you work out exactly who your target market customers are and how you can formulate a marketing plan to grab their attention.
Who are your target customers?
Firstly, you are going to need more in-depth details about your target customers than their age and gender. Here is where creating your own customer avatar comes in to play.
You may sell one single product or customer that is aimed at a very niche audience so you can create a customer avatar quite easily here that will be the type of person that would directly benefit from your product or service.
If you have more than one product or service to sell, you will need to create multiple avatars to fit your end-customer specifications. Or if your product or service appeals to more than one gender and age range, you will need multiple avatars to truly understand your target audience.
Creating your customer avatars
You can create your ideal customer avatar by writing a short description of your average end user. Think of them as a real person and describe them as you would a friend or a person that you have met in real life.
This can help you to better understand your customer’s needs, desires, issues and motives that drive them to make buying decisions and what would ultimately lead them to purchase from you.
Knowing where your ideal customer shops and how they spend their leisure time will also give you insight into your service or product placement. If your customer avatar spends a lot of time on Facebook rather than spending time reading magazines, then you should be looking at using targeted Facebook ads that will appear on their timeline.
This would be more cost-effective than paying out for an expensive magazine feature that completely misses the attention of your avatar.
Keep a check on your ROI
No matter what form of advertising and marketing you use, it will be important to keep a detailed report on your marketing spend and return on investment. There will always be a period of testing and tweaking to go through before you hit on a good marketing formula that sees a decent ROI.
Agree what your total budget will be and stick to it. How much you decide to spend on advertising and marketing will be up to you. It may be that you decide to divide your budget evenly between three different approaches.
Seeing what impact each type of advertising has on your sales will show you where to shift your budget around to invest more money into the most effective approach, yet still remain within budget.
Too many new business start-ups make the mistake of casting their net wide and spreading their marketing budget too thin for it to make a decent impact. However, this system becomes routine and the company becomes complacent with their approach.
This is why you need to plan for a long period of testing where you try out many different approaches over the course of weeks and months to see what ROI you get.
Have a flexible marketing plan
Becoming complacent with your sales and marketing strategies is a major pitfall in any business.
Once you have done a period of testing to find what works for you and gives you a decent ROI, you should never take this strategy for granted. What works for you now may not work as well in a years time.
What we have learned today is that our customers are quite savvy creatures. Direct marketing doesn’t work nearly as well as it did in the 1950s. People now are looking for genuine engagement and trust in the businesses they buy from. You need to win their hearts before you can win their wallet.
At the moment there is a big desire for storytelling on social media and marketing. People like to be told a story so it is your job to tell them a positive and engaging story around your product or service. This could involve how your product or service helped a customer with a problem.
But who is to say that in two, five or ten years time that storytelling will still work? Each new marketing strategy used over the course of decades has eventually reached a saturation point with their target audience where it no longer works.
Be prepared to test and tweak your marketing plan to meet with the ever-changing mood of your consumers and how the current economy or environment will affect their minds and change their ways of spending money.
What should my written marketing plan cover?
Even though your written marketing plan should end up looking completely different from someone else’s marketing plan, there are some fundamental basics that you need to cover.
Here are some marketing questions you should ask yourself. Your answers will be what you use to formulate a basic marketing plan to take ahead with you.
Remember that your plan isn’t set in stone. You should amend it as you test out new strategies that work for you.
Changing your objectives
Remember that your key objectives may change over time and this can also affect how well you can market yourself to a new customer base.
For example, if you switch from using your standard ingredients or materials towards more ethical, sustainable, organic, locally-sourced, powering your production with renewable energy etc. you can give your product or service a fresh boost by sharing your new objectives with your customers.
Updating your other marketing plan elements
You will also need to tweak your customer avatar to reflect any changes so you stay on point with understanding your end customer and how to reach them.
Keep your marketing plan fluid so you can adapt it over time and keep your business ahead of the curve instead of complacent.
Another point to remember is that your marketing and promotional activity will be much more effective when your customers see that you are a legally registered Limited Company.
Luckily, it is easy to form your own limited company by using our formations services. You can choose the right company structure for your needs and be up and running in only a few hours with our expert help.
Do not hesitate to contact our friendly team who will be able to discuss your best options and get the ball rolling towards your future business success.