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4 Steps to Get a Small Business Marketing Plan Started

You’d be surprised to learn that many small businesses do not have a marketing plan. With so many other crucial aspects of a business, it’s understandable why marketing isn’t the top on their list.

But what happens when you’re finally ready to put some money behind your marketing and get a plan together? While refining and executing your marketing strategy has many moving parts, there are some beginning steps that are similar across the board. At the base of every marketing plan, those beginning steps lay the solid foundation for a successful strategy.

Image of a person taking notes

Here are the top 4 steps you need to take before you build a marketing plan for your small business.

  1. Identify your purpose

  2. Know your audience

  3. Discover how you’ll reach them

  4. Set business goals

Identify your purpose

This is the first and most crucial step. You can’t begin to set any goals - or create marketing plans for that matter - if you don’t determine the purpose of your business. This step takes time; to carefully develop a meaningful purpose that is relevant to your business is no small feat. It should be sweet, concise, and clearly stated. Your purpose can be identified through a mission statement - a summary which includes company values and goals. A potential customer browsing through your website should know when they’ve landed on it.

Here are three examples of mission statements:

1. Whole Foods

“Our purpose is to nourish people and the planet. We’re a purpose-driven company that aims to set the standards of excellence for food retailers. Quality is a state of mind at Whole Foods Market.”

2. Tesla

“Tesla’s mission is to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy.”

3. Warby Parker

“To offer designer eyewear at a revolutionary price, while leading the way for socially conscious businesses.”

In all of these examples, you’ll notice the statements are no longer than three sentences and they are straightforward. When writing your own, always remember to keep the final draft brief, use inspiring messaging, and don’t limit yourself. For instance, you’ll notice Tesla’s mission statement doesn’t necessarily state they are in the automobile industry, they do this to keep their options open. If you’re just starting out, it’s important to find a balance because you wouldn’t want to write a super vague mission statement either.

Know your audience

Business owners often make the mistake of assuming their product or service can appeal to everyone, but that’s not the case. You can’t be everything to everyone - you must find the right fit. To get to know your audience, look at the information you have at hand. Who are your customers now? What are they like? How would you characterize them? Identifying their age, gender, economic status, geographic location, education level, and other demographics can help you answer these questions.

It’s important, too, to know who else your audience is considering. Do research on your competitors. Familiarize yourself with their customers and their prices. After doing your own research, is there anything you found that differentiates your business from the competition? These can often be differences in price, location, quality, or customer service. Sometimes, in addition to showing you where you might have a competitive edge, these differences can reveal core values that set you apart.

Discover how you’ll reach them

Once you’ve developed an understanding of who your target customer is, it’s time to find out where you can reach them. Look at the information you have about your audience to start assessing which marketing channels you will pursue. For instance, let’s say you're a local plant shop owner that just discovered most of your customers are between the ages of 18-27 years old. With just this single piece of information, I can tell you that digital marketing is the best route to reach your target, specifically social media. I can even narrow the strategy down further. Since they are 18 - 27 years old, they’ll likely be on Instagram and TikTok. Just by knowing more about your customers, you're basing your marketing strategies on relevant and valuable information more likely to succeed.

Set business goals

Now that you’ve determined your business purpose, know your audience, and how you’ll reach them, you can begin to set business goals and objectives that you hope to achieve. Make sure your goals are as clear and specific as possible with set deadlines to hold you accountable.

Here are some examples of business goals

  1. Reach 2,000 customers by Q2

  2. Increase traffic to your blog by 5% by Q4

  3. Hire two new sales employees over the next six months

Each objective is specific, quantifiable, and has a deadline so there’s a clear way to measure success. At the end of the day, it’s important you are being honest with yourself when you set these goals. Although gaining 1,000 Twitter followers within the first months your account is live would be amazing, it’s not particularly realistic. Finding a distinction between an ambitious goal and an unrealistic goal is important.

You’ve been equipped with the four steps to getting your marketing plan started. If you need advice building a strategic and successful marketing plan, drop us a line. We’d love to share our ideas with you.

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