The plan should cover one year. For start ups and small companies, this is often the best way to think about marketing. Things change, people leave, markets evolve, customers come and go. Once comfortable with the one year vision, create a section of your plan that addresses the medium-term future–two to four years down the road. But most of the plan always remains focused on the coming year. Developing the plan is the nuts and bolts of marketing. While executing the plan has its challenges, deciding what to do and how to do it is marketing’s greatest challenge.
You can’t execute a marketing plan without getting many people involved. No matter what your size, get feedback from all parts of your company. This is especially important because it will take all aspects of your company to make your marketing plan work. Your key people can provide realistic input on what’s achievable and how your goals can be reached, and they can share any insights they have on any potential, as-yet-unrealized marketing opportunities, adding another dimension to your plan. If you’re essentially a one-person management operation, you’ll have to wear all your hats at one time until you grow into a bigger operation.
What are the benefits of a marketing plan?
Your marketing plan gives your troops something to rally behind. If you want your employees to feel committed to your company, it’s important to share with them your vision of where the company is headed in the years to come. People don’t always understand financial projections, but they can get excited about a well-written and well-thought-out marketing plan.
Chart to Success
We all know that plans are imperfect things. How can you possibly know what’s going to happen 12 months or five years from now? You really can’t, but If you don’t plan, you’re doomed and an inaccurate plan is far better than no plan at all. To stay with our sea captain analogy, it’s better to be 5 or even 10 degrees off your destination port than to have no destination in mind at all.
Your marketing plan is a step-by-step guide for your company’s success. It’s more important than a vision statement. To put together a genuine marketing plan, you have to assess your company from top to bottom and make sure all the pieces are working together in the best way. Consider it a to-do list on a grand scale. It assigns specific tasks for the year. Captured thinking: You don’t allow your financial people to keep their numbers in their heads. Financial reports are the lifeblood of the numbers side of any business, no matter what size. It should be no different with marketing. Your written document lays out your game plan. If people leave, if new people arrive, if memories falter, if events bring pressure to alter the givens, the information in the written marketing plan stays intact to remind you of what you’d agreed on.
In the daily events of competitive business, it’s hard to turn your attention to the big picture, especially those parts that aren’t directly related to the daily operations. You need to take time periodically to really think about your business–whether it’s providing you and your employees with what you want, whether there aren’t some innovative wrinkles you can add, whether you’re getting all you can out of your products, your sales staff and your markets. Writing your marketing plan is the best time to do this high-level thinking.
Most businesses are faced with a conundrum.
It’s a Catch-22. There’s a clear need for increased visibility to drastically improve sales. But in order to get more visibility, businesses have to spend more money. When that well runs dry, what are you supposed to do?
There is no obvious and clear answer to that question that covers all situations. But there are things that can be done today, right now, even on a shoestring budget, to reach more customers without breaking the bank. However, it all boils down to time. If you lack the money, you sure better have the time to put in the sweat equity. As long as the fundamentals of a sound business are there and you’re working tirelessly to build an authentic relationship with the consumer by sincerely trying to add value, then there are 8 strategies you can use to market any business online.
1. Use Social Media
You can’t ignore social media. That’s where all the so-called magic is happening. Some businesses have been built solely on the backs of social media. It can be intimidating at first. Sure. But as you build momentum, you’ll find posting on social media to get easier and easier over time. Of course, you could also hire a social media manager if you have money to burn. But if you don’t, just be yourself. Be authentic. Post your thoughts. Post your products. Post anything that you find relevant and useful that would help your audience either learn more about you and your business, or about the industry that you’re in.
2. Create Video Tutorials
One of the most effective ways to get the word out on your business is to create video tutorials. Teach people something useful. Walk them through it. Hold their hands. Step-by-step tutorials are all the rage. The better you are at this, and the more value you provide, the quicker you can boost your visibility, and ultimately, your sales. Today, YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world behind Google. Whenever someone wants to learn something visually, they head there. You’ve likely done it yourself countless times. So just ask yourself what you could teach in your business that would help consumers solve some pain point? What got you into business in the first place?
3. Start Blogging Now
Sure, you could start a blog. If you don’t have a blog for your business, then you need to start one immediately. But you don’t just have to blog on your own blog. Most people find blogging mundane because they lack the visibility. The truth is that your blog is going to be like a barren desert unless you know what you’re doing. However this isn’t just about posting your ideas on your own blog. You should also start authority blogging.
4. Understand Search Engine Optimization
This is an area of marketing that I’m incredibly passionate about. But it’s also an area that many people are deathly frightened by. Yes, SEO can be frightening. But it can also be powerful. And when you learn to leverage it and you learn SEO the right way, the sky truly is the limit. Some tips for doing this the right way? Don’t spam keywords. Hands down. This is one of the biggest mistakes most people make. Create your content for humans while also paying homage to search engines. But more importantly, ensure that whatever it is that you’re conveying is insightful, engaging, unique and adds a tremendous amount of value.
5. Build a Great Lead Magnet.
So much effectiveness in marketing really does boil down to creating a great lead magnet. I’ve found that the right lead magnet presented to the right audience can have explosive results. The best way to do this is if you can identify the right pain points and present a solution in your lead magnet, then you’re well on your way. What problem are consumers facing in your niche? What made you get into business in the first place? Ask yourself these questions before building out your lead magnet. The better you identify the problem or pain points at the outset, the better you’ll be at actually addressing that with a solution in your lead magnet.
6. Use Facebook Ads with Re-Targeting
One of the most powerful methods you can use to market just about anything these days are Facebook ads. With Facebook, you can reach a very specific audience and you can do it very easily. You can target by interest, age, relationships status, geographic location, and so much much more. But the trick here to getting great results isn’t just about click-traffic. You have to focus on conversions and re-targeting through pixels. If you don’t know how to install the Facebook Pixel on your site, then you absolutely must learn how to do this right now. Even if you’re not running Facebook ads, you can build your audience with a pixel.
7. Use LinkedIn the Right Way
Do you have a video on your LinkedIn profile? Did you know that you can easily add one? Why not take the time to introduce yourself and your business. Link that to your profile description. This is an easy way to passively market your business, and when it’s done right, it can lead to shocking results. If you have lots of connections on LinkedIn and you’re not really posting on there, start immediately. You can reach a large audience, especially when your posts go viral. This is a great place to convey the entrepreneurial journey. Talk about your challenges and tell stories. The more effective your stories, the larger your potential reach when you go viral.
8. Use Email Marketing Sequences
Part of any good sales funnel is going to be an email marketing sequence. These are the automated messages that go out to users once they subscribe to your list. Use your email sequence to build a relationship with the subscriber. Be authentic and transparent. And convey your journey. Use the email responses and clicks to segment your list. For example, if someone clicks on a specific link, they’ve clearly shown an interest in something. Tag that subscriber to market to them later. If someone buys, tag them as a buyer. Identifying your buyers and the interests of your subscribers is huge for segmenting.
Remember, a growing business may feel like it doesn’t have the bandwidth to accommodate marketing, but without marketing, it will stop growing. By taking a few steps to make marketing an incremental effort, you can ensure you get your company’s name out without taking time away from the business itself.