Every entrepreneur should know that having an optimized marketing strategy is one of the most essential parts of running a successful business. However, some of you may be wondering what an “optimized” marketing plan looks like. Well, simply put it is different for each business.
First, let’s start by defining marketing for small business:
The process of interesting potential customers and clients in your products and/or services.
We will preface the following statements with a hard truth. There is NO catch-all or scientific formula for developing the PERFECT marketing plan. Once you recognize that fact, then you are ready to begin the process because a process is exactly what developing your business’s best marketing strategy is.
Outlined below are 8 marketing strategies you may employ to help piece together an ideal marketing plan for your small business vision:
1. Who Is Your Target Audience?
Hopefully, as a business owner, you have put thought into the question above.
If you have, you’re on the right track.
If you haven’t, now is the time to start.
You may see multi-million dollar corporations finding success by marketing to a wide audience but for a small business, “niches bring in the riches.”
By developing what businesses call a buyer persona you will be able to better define your audience besides using current customer data. A buyer persona is a “detailed description of someone who represents your target audience. This is not a real customer, but a fictional person who embodies the characteristics of your best potential customers.” - (hubspot.com) The best practice is to get as specific as possible, give this customer a name, demographic details, interests, behavioral traits, etc.
Knowing your audience will give your business a clear direction for marketing initiatives like your messaging and advertising graphics. This will also help you better resonate with your customers, generate higher quality leads, and ultimately grow your business.
2. Grow Your Online Presence (including social media)
Did you know that the average American spends 120+ minutes each day exploring their social media feeds? And an average of 155 minutes on the internet every day. Social media also welcomes more than 1 million new users every single day!
Our society is literally run online. Why not take advantage of these statistics and start building your online presence. You can do this by:
Growing your social media following (through regular posting and paid advertising)
Creating a professional website (a place to send your potential customers that showcases you and your business goals)
Interacting with your customers on social media (helps establish trust and expresses genuineness)
Remember, social media is more than a network for socializing but a powerful tool for small businesses. Your presence on these platforms puts your brand directly in front of the consumer. Most importantly, it spreads awareness and brings in potential buyers leading to the growth of your business.
3. Emphasize What Makes You Different
In today’s competitive business market, it is more important than ever to emphasize what differentiates your product, service, or brand from all the others. Think about what makes your company stand out? And why should a consumer come to you, instead of one of your competitors?
Then, you want to take that value proposition (what makes you “better”) and get it in front of your consumers through advertisements, social media, email marketing, etc. This value proposition should become a staple in your overall marketing strategy.
4. Keep an Eye on Your Reviews and Double Down on What Works
As mentioned above, marketing is a process it takes time to develop an effective strategy that works best for your business. The process is best navigated through trial and error. Marketing plans should be constantly adjusted based on data you collect through testing different methods.
Remember to TEST, ANALYZE, and ADJUST. Then, of course, REPEAT.
One key place to search for adjustments is your company reviews. Typically customers will be quite honest when writing a review and any negative feedback should not cause panic, but instead, provide an opportunity for reflection. The information provided by your direct consumer means they may have discovered an area for improvement and taking these to heart will only help you better your business!
Once you go through a few rounds of testing, the data should be sufficient enough for you to decipher what worked well to grow your customer base (generated revenue) and what methods were a bust. So, what actionable steps do you take after analyzing the data? The answer is simple, stop wasting your time and money on what may be profitable, listen to your unique business data, and double down on what works!
5. Embrace Marketing Automation and Manage Relationships with a CRM
As a small business owner, your to-do list for each day is probably endless making it more essential for you to embrace time-saving methods for customer retention, like automated marketing. For example, using email marketing technology to send out welcome series to new sign-ups, automatic follow-ups for actions taken, reminders for those who left an item in their cart, etc. All of the above methods for automated marketing will bring ease to your mind and take a few items off your plate. Think about it, more time to focus on other crucial parts of small business growth!
One other tool to consider investing in is a customer relationship management (CRM) system. A database that stores qualities, purchase habits, and other actions for leads and customers. This information is important for making your messaging personalized and highly targeted. Having personalized and segmented communication with your customers may lead to a 6x higher transaction rate and 26% higher open rate for email marketing. The best businesses get to know their audience and make them feel “special,” like they are a vital piece of the company.
6. Word of Mouth, It’s a Powerful Channel (WOM Marketing)
Do not neglect the power of WOM (word-of-mouth) marketing for your business. WOM is considered one of the most effective, not to mention free, ways to generate quality leads.
Did you know?!?
74% of customers consider word of mouth to be the key influencer in their purchasing decisions
88% of people trust online reviews just as much as recommendations from personal contacts when choosing what to buy, and who to buy from. (WOM - Sprout Social)
Spreading the word has a natural place in the purchasing cycle and is triggered by a customer’s experience with your service and products. This is why it is important to engage with your customers regularly and aim to inspire by giving them something to talk about!
WOM = low cost + high reward
And word-of-mouth will help bring your marketing strategy full circle.
In conclusion, discovering your company's ideal marketing strategy is a process and should be constantly monitored and adjusted to meet your goals. There is no one perfect plan for ALL companies. However, I hope that you employ some of the strategies and concepts listed above to keep your small business running smoothly and on a path towards steady growth.
Remember, that this is not an exhaustive list and you may uncover ways to refine your customer experience further and raise the profitability of your small business if you keep an open mind.
If you need help organizing your marketing strategy to meet your business goals, consider contacting Small Business Accounting at firstname.lastname@example.org.