At this point, it’s pretty hard to ignore the need for a successful online marketing strategy. Marketing ranks as a vital part of any business success, no matter its size.
Unfortunately, the majority of small business owners have no idea how to create an online marketing strategy, which can lead to them making some fairly common mistakes. While they may possess exceptional experience in their respective fields, they simply don’t have the bandwidth to become experts in the ever evolving field of digital marketing.
So what’s a small business owner to do?
Sadly, instead of taking a more strategic approach that capitalizes on their strengths as a small business owner, or hiring an online marketing firm like Local Fresh to assist in creating a solid strategy, most small business marketing plans become the culmination of well-intentioned ideas and a hope for the best mentality. The resulting marketing plan resembles a fragmented collection of random ideas rather than a coherent strategy designed to maximize the return on a business’ marketing investment. This makes it so that on good days a small business owner will have no more understanding why their strategy is working than how to fix a plan on days it seems to be underperforming.
If you’ve encountered this kind of frustration with the success of your business’ online marketing efforts, it’s time to take a step back in order to create a strategic marketing plan. Creating a marketing plan ranks as your best shot at improving your business’ ability to reach its target audience and grow.
Here’s why every business needs a marketing plan.
The primary benefit a marketing plan provides your business is that it creates a map that allows you to better navigate. Not only will it keep you and everyone else on your teeth on the same page when it comes to determining the best direction to head your business, it also helps lay out the best strategies for getting there.
So what does a marketing guide look like? Since every business is different, the exact details will vary. However, every successful online marketing strategy has a few basic components:
- Situational Analysis. Here you develop a basic understanding of your overall business. What is your mission statement? Who is your target audience? Where do you stand in relation to your competition in terms of strengths and weaknesses? Why do you stand out in your industry? You need to answer each of these questions to fully understand what your business is and how you can best reach your target audience.
- Identify Your Target Audience. A term you’ll hear often in terms of marketing, your target audience consists of those who rank as your best customers. Before you can begin to market to these people, you first need to understand who they are and what types of messages they most readily respond. You can even breakdown your target audience into key demographics, such as sex, age, incomes level and geographic location to gain a better prospective to their needs and interests.
- Establish Goals. Any plan worth its name contains goals you want to achieve. Make sure to clearly establish what you want and when you expect to achieve that result when creating your plan’s goals.
- Develop Strategies. If your goals are what you want to see happen, your strategies are how you plan on making them happen.
- Determine Your Budget. To keep your business growing, you need to invest in marketing with a dedicated budget. Outline what you can afford to set as your budget, and allocate your resources to the areas most likely to provide the largest financial benefits.
While the opportunities to market online might seem limitless, you actually need to focus on what avenues offer the biggest potential return to keep from drifting away from your marketing goals. With your marketing strategy as a guide, you’ll have a handy reference at your side to remind you of what the best opportunities are for your business. It will also help you keep track of which strategies, platforms and technologies offer the support needed to grow your business.
Allows You to Budget
While word-of-mouth is one of the most effective, and cheapest, ways to market, you’ll eventually need to make a marketing investment if you want to see your business grow. Whether through the use of boosted posts on Facebook, Google Adwords or redesigning your website to improve functionality and user experience, you’re eventually going to need to spend money to make money. As outlined above, setting and maintaining a budget is one of the primary components to any successful online marketing strategy. Unlike the major brands who have a seemingly endless marketing budget, every dollar a small business spends has to produce results. A marketing strategy helps you stay within your budget, which is just another reason why it’s so important.
Wanting to establish a comprehensive online marketing strategy and actually getting around to doing it are two entirely different things. Even if you don’t have a habit of putting off important tasks that are vital to the long-term success of your business, it’s not uncommon for many small business owners to delay marketing in favor of focusing on other avenues related to their business. In most cases, establishing a marketing plan helps you set a timeline for when you expect to achieve specific results.
Helps to Measure Success
The goals you set as part of your marketing plan will help you measure your success. An ability to understand what’s working is vital to ensuring you receive the type of return of investment you hope to achieve. After all, if you have no means of measuring results, how will you ever determine which of your marketing strategies are actually paying off? A marketing strategy helps you identify what success looks like for your business and allows you to determine whether or not you can call a campaign a success once completed.
So whether you’re a small neighborhood business or a regional powerhouse, you absolutely need a marketing strategy if you hope to maximize your marketing investment. While creating a successful online marketing strategy may seem like a daunting task, the team at Local Fresh can help you realize your marketing goals and understand what steps you need to take to ensure a prosperous future. To find out more about what Local Fresh can do for your business, click here.