So you’ve just started your small business, or are about to, and you’re looking at simple, cost-effective marketing options. You may be surprised to know that these are available and can even be undertaken yourself, provided you have the time, the passion and the commitment to make them happen.
Considerations: Some of the things you need to consider before embarking on a marketing investment (whether in time or money) include:
- What do you want to achieve from your strategy?
- What’s your monetary budget for your marketing?
- How much time do you have to drive the marketing campaign?
- Do you have the personality to make the marketing strategy work?
- Who are the customers you are targeting?
- Which customers give you the greatest return for your investment?
- What parts of your business are working well and which ones would you like to build upon?
- What marketing options are available to you?
- Will you undertake the marketing yourself or will you want to engage professionals to assist?
The strategy: Once you have answered these questions then you will be ready to prepare a marketing strategy that should include:
- The budget you have allocated to the strategy
- Diarised tasks to ensure you have also allocated the time to carry it out (if you are doing it yourself)
- How you plan to measure the success of your campaign
- A range of options/alternatives in case the strategy shows early signs of not working or is not achievable for whatever reason.
I usually make use of the Microsoft suite of software (what you use every day in your business most likely) to prepare the plans although there is a range of other CRM software (both free and paid) on the market to assist. The good thing is that if you start with the software you know (Microsoft) most of this information can usually be easily imported into new CRM programs. The “considerations” or the answers to the questions above and your plan can usually be recorded in Microsoft Word with your budget and diarised events/tasks etc in Microsoft Excel. Tasks and diarised events can also be included in Outlook along with your marketing contacts that will be used. If you haven’t been diligent in keeping detailed contact information now is the time to change your habits as a little investment of time now will save you plenty in the long run.
Why have a marketing strategy? Many people forget about marketing their business until times are tough and marketing becomes more of a “fire sale” strategy when there isn’t much money about to do it well. This strategy, particularly if relied upon regularly, will soon become known among customers so will impact your business in the long term. As well, when times are tough a business owner often has so many worries dominating his/her thoughts and marketing doesn’t receive much priority. Wouldn’t it be good to not have to think too much about it and to just refer to your pre-prepared strategy? Marketing needs to be an all year round, rain, hail or shine proposition and requires discipline of financial and time investment. Your marketing strategy (the documents referred to above) are therefore fluid and should be kept in an accessible place to be referred to and, if needed, changed.
Our next instalment will look at more aspects of developing a marketing plan and implementing it.