As entrepreneurs, we tend to focus heavily on our business plan in the early stages, and how we are going to make ends meet. Although we see the importance in marketing, we may not see the importance in spending our time building out a marketing strategy before we get started with testing out different tactics. But marketing without a plan can be like driving with your eyes closed. A strategy can make sure you are the most effective with your marketing, and in turn, help you reach your goals.
But where do you start? Here are the five steps to take.
Start by looking at your company’s current state. Whether you’re just starting out or have been in business for a while, stepping back and taking a good look at your business is important to building your strategy.
Look at your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT analysis). Think of strengths and weaknesses as characteristics that exist within your business and opportunities and threats that exist outside. Analyze what makes your product or service unique and what makes you stand out from your competitors, and have a clear understanding of what you’re marketing.
It’s likely you understand who your target market is, but take a deeper look into them and their behaviours. Determine what their key demographics of your customers are such as age, sex, income, location, and also think about their lifestyle, like what they like to do/their interests. Entrepreneur.com suggests asking yourself the following:
Are my customers conservative or innovative?
Leaders or followers?
Timid or aggressive?
Traditional or modern?
Introverted or extroverted?
How often do they purchase what I offer? And in what quantity?
What is the point of marketing for you and your business? Is it to drive sales? Is it to direct people to your website? Is it to get more people to subscribe to your mailing list? Define what you are hoping to achieve with your marketing and make sure to make them specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound (SMART goals) because making broad goals will make them harder to achieve.
This is the meat of your marketing strategy. Now that you have your goals laid out and know your target audience you are trying to reach, it’s time to figure out what tactics you will use to reach these people and achieve your goals. Think about how you will reach potential customers in different stages of your sales cycle and identify a marketing mix that helps you do this. This may involve doing some additional research on different channels and their audience. For example, you’d look at the user demographic for specific social media networks, or the audience of a specific publication. This will help give you a better idea of where your target audience is and what makes the most sense to incorporate into your tactics.
Marketing isn’t free, but since it’s one of the most critical ways to create brand awareness and bring customers in, you’re going to want to allocate a portion of your budget to it. If you are just starting out, this can make you feel a bit uneasy as you are likely already strapped for cash, but just remind yourself that marketing is essential to the success of your business. You may realize that your tactics you laid out in step four actually cost more than you anticipated, so this may involve some adjusting where necessary to make sure you have something that works for you and your business.
Written By: Lauren Marinigh, Social Media & Content Creation Coordinator, Futurpreneur Canada