The success of your small business is highly dependent on the effectiveness of your marketing. Marketing to the wrong audience, for example, can be just as deadly to a growing business as making no effort to market your business. And while creating a marketing plan can seem like a pretty daunting process, it doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive; you don’t need an elaborate plan to achieve your marketing goals, but you do need some sort of plan to ensure that your marketing efforts are properly targeted towards achieving your goals. These step-by-step instructions can help you define what your small business marketing goals should be and achieve your goals.
How do I set my small business marketing goals?
Determining and setting marketing goals for your small business is the first step in creating a marketing plan. But where do you start?
- Determine your end goal. The first step in any marketing plan begins with clear objectives. Do you want sales from new customers? Planning upgrades of existing customers? Website visitors filling out contact forms? Once you know what you want, you can go back and figure out where to improve your process performance to attract potential buyers and convert them into customers (this is often called a marketing funnel or conversion funnel). Make sure you understand how your current customers discovered you and decided to make a purchase. Did they stumble upon your website after searching online, browse your product or service page, and then decide to buy something? Was it a word of mouth recommendation from a colleague or friend? Have they seen any of your advertisements?
- Decide how to improve performance and at what stage. Once you know more about how your current customers were attracted to your organization, you’ll want to figure out how you can improve those methods. Are you going to start advertising on AdWords to drive more traffic to your page? Want to improve product descriptions on your webpage to convert more users? Are you going to introduce abandoned cart remarketing to encourage more customers to return to the page and make purchases?
- Establish a marketing budget. Not including your marketing strategies in your overall budget is not an option due to their importance to your business growth. If you’re a start-up or small business getting started, that might mean borrowing money or taking out loans, paying out of pocket, or outsourcing to a marketing assistant. No matter how you get there, you need to dedicate a percentage of your projected gross sales to your monthly or annual marketing budget. Many small businesses allocate 2-3%, 3-5%, or even up to 12% of their annual revenue to marketing; however, what your business spends on marketing will depend on its needs and revenue. Remember to include everything from production costs to labor and hours needed to complete your marketing strategy. You’ll want to consider pricing for SEO, paid advertising, social media, content marketing, email marketing, lead conversions, as well as other traditional advertising methods.
How do I achieve my small business marketing goals?
The proof of any marketing plan is in its performance. While sometimes you’ll see great results right off the bat, more often than not you’ll need to optimize your tactics. This might involve adding new keywords (including negative keywords) if it’s an AdWords campaign, running A/B tests to see which ads perform best, focusing on a particular channel (e.g. Facebook over Instagram or vice versa) or identifying a content area that resonates particularly well with customers. Here are some tips to guide the process of optimizing your marketing strategy.
- Check regularly and track the results. Determining what works and what doesn’t will require frequent and thorough reporting on metrics, key performance indicators (KPIs), and your return on investment (ROI). This data will help you show the value of your marketing campaigns.
- To be coherent. Use the same data points when collecting metrics. Paying attention to social media followers one week and then driving conversions the next week won’t paint a clear picture of how well your marketing is performing over time. Use the same platforms to collect and report metrics. Above all, be consistent in your approach. For example, if you’re adopting a content marketing plan, post marketing content regularly so you have a clear track record to gauge what content is working, what needs to be changed, and what content needs to be dropped.
- Use a project management system. Marketing plans often consist of many moving parts. Keeping track of every element of your marketing strategy can therefore be a challenge. To gain greater control over implementation, use a project management system. This system can be software-based, involve the incorporation of a project manager responsible for executing your marketing plan, or both. You’ll need a central location that lists deadlines, due dates, checklists, and documentation. Assign clear roles and responsibilities to your marketing team so that no task slips through the cracks and goes unfinished. Make sure everyone is checking in regularly, especially if there are issues people are having or if components of your marketing plan are consistently underperforming.
Marketing goals are specific, realistic, and measurable goals that aim to improve your business financially over a predetermined period of time. Make sure you have the right resources to create, implement and manage your marketing plan. If you don’t have the bandwidth to do this or don’t have the right internal resources, you can always seek out an outside marketing strategist to help you out.