Running a small business has its share of challenges. Developing a marketable product or service, finding a marketing niche, and creating demand are just a few of the challenges that small business owners face. However, a good small business marketing plan is a good first step in overcoming these small business challenges.
But what exactly does it mean to “create a good marketing plan”? Obviously, it needs to be effective and fit within the constraints of your budget. But beyond that, creating a marketing plan can be like navigating a no man’s land.
Here are just a few tips to help create tactics that can make for an effective marketing plan for your small business:
1. Deploy guerrilla marketing tactics
Small businesses don’t need to have big budget advertising campaigns to be successful. Instead, guerilla marketing can be one of the most cost effective ways to get your product or service out to a large audience. However, very few companies do this well. With just a little creativity and resourcefulness, your small business can benefit from highly successful and low cost options. For example, hosting free seminars to teach your target market something important related to your product or service, referral and partnership programs, and internet marketing are all commonly used guerilla marketing tactics. The key is in the creativity and details, but it can be done.
2. Leverage internet marketing and other small business software
Internet marketing is a common – and popular – form of guerilla marketing. Again, this is a part of B2B marketing that not many businesses do well. Creating content that is valuable to your prospective customers and executing an effective social media marketing campaign to support that content can be one of the most effective ways to build trust with and gain exposure to your potential market. Begin by defining the problems and challenges of your target market, then build free content that starts to solve their problems. This can be done via webinars, blogs, podcasts, videos, or any number of other internet marketing and small business software tools. The key is to provide value that leaves your audience wanting more without them feeling like you are necessarily selling to them.
3. Develop a strong call to action
Given how hard it is to get people’s attention among the mass volume of marketing messages and channels out there, it is imperative that you have some sort of call to action in your marketing. Whether you are sending emails, direct mail, investing in cost per click, or seeking organic search results on your web-site, a strong and clear call to action is critical. As yourself what you can to do entice your target market to get to know you. Perhaps they can try your product or service for a discount or receive a free consultation. Whatever the call to action is, be sure to highlight it in all of your marketing materials.
4. Test your marketing tactics frequently
The lean startup movement has made frequent testing a key part of small business vernacular. The reality is that you don’t really know what is or isn’t going to work, so it is important to test a few of your gut instincts before rolling them out on a broader scale. For example, you may think that either direct mail or Facebook targeted ads are good ways to reach your target audience. Instead of going all in on one or both of these tactics, you can invest a small amount in each and see which ones gain the higher response rates. Once you have some data to work with, you can more confidently roll your campaigns out on a larger scale without putting too much of your marketing budget at risk.
5. Don’t forget about opportunities to partner with other companies
Partnering with other companies is one of the most overlooked aspects of marketing – especially for startups and small businesses. In the various businesses that I have started over the years, partnerships and alliances with other companies were our single biggest avenue for accelerated growth. Look for established companies that are complementary to yours, target the same customers, and could offer a win-win partnership opportunity. For example, if you are a gym or fitness center, what chiropractors or massage therapists in your area might be willing to refer their customers in exchange for doing the same for them? Better yet, offer a financial incentive for them referring business your way, such as a 10% cut of whatever business they help generate.
At the end of the day, small businesses that don’t grow don’t survive. An effective marketing plan will enable your business to not only survive, but also thrive and grow.
Learn more about how to effectively market your business with our free online small business training course for business owners and entrepreneurs.