13 Steps to Creating a Successful Small Business Marketing Strategy
By James Cummings
The goal of every business owner is to improve their company’s bottom line, and this usually involves marketing the company’s brand. Unfortunately, most businesses don’t really get marketing.
Over the last 10 years I have been marketing in the finance, tech, and travel niches, some of the most competitive places to ply the trade. I’d like to think I’ve learned some of the fundamentals along the way. From reading? Yes! But also from a lot of trial and error through a process of continuous improvement.
This article is the sum of that acquired wisdom. I hope it will stop you from making some of the many mistakes I have made.
What is marketing?
- Selecting, designing or manufacturing a product that will be attractive to customers;
- Determining a modest price that will be competitive;
- Choice of a delivery channel to reach the customer; and
- Development of an effective promotional strategy.
This description is a complete marketing chain, and describes the process for companies like Coca-Cola and Apple. However, for now we will focus on the last element of the marketing chain: the development of an effective promotional strategy.
And as you read on, always keep this in mind: What steps can you take to create (yes, create) the market environment where you are successful? The answer: Be proactive, be positive and follow through!
1. Create a marketing budget
A lot of companies shoot themselves in the foot by not having a marketing budget. As such, they are stuck as to how wide they can go to push their products. A budget will clearly assist with your planning, choice of marketing type, and how far you can go.
Also, too many marketing companies cut their marketing budgets to save money. Consider the following quote from one of the most successful marketers of all time: “A man who stops advertising to save money is like a man who stops a clock to save time.”—Henry Ford
2. Have a marketing team and theme
Now that the budget is in place, you need a team of creative people who will decide on a catchy theme for your product and determine how to implement the budget. Find talented marketing people to work with. The difference between average marketing and great marketing is the whole world!
3. Begin with existing clients
For every new marketing drive, the first port of call should be your existing customers. They have probably come to trust your products over the years and are more likely to accept a new product faster. Place phone calls, send out emails, letters, and flyers—never leave anyone out. In business it is the low-hanging fruit that needs to be picked regularly. Don’t take clients for granted. Offer them value in every communication and every transaction.
4. Reach out via traditional channels
After contacting your existing clients, reach out to new clients through all traditional means. Public billboards, radio TV, and newspaper ads, and so on will increase your reach. In a world dominated by digital marketing your competitors may well be neglecting print and traditional marketing. If they are, then there is an opportunity for you to capitalize on.
5. Flood social media
The importance of social media in marketing cannot be over emphasized. Every form of social media should be employed: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, WhatsApp, and YouTube are all important. Paid ads on these channels will help you reach more people than just followers. Prioritize your social activity according to the networks that your prospects spend their most time at. Answer questions. Write articles. Engage with authority figures in your niche. Do interviews.
6. Have a reliable website
You have to ensure your company website is up and running to give effective information on your products and services, and how customers can access them. Sometimes clients can be turned off by a slow or poorly-designed website. Unreliable hosting can play havoc with your reputation. Get hosting in the country you are targeting. It makes your site load faster for local visitors, and is a signal to Google that they should rank your content highly in that geolocation.