For many small business owners, developing a well-planned marketing strategy places them firmly ahead of the competition. Too many businesses fail to establish a fully realized strategy, preferring instead to generate a few well intentioned ideas they hope will magically come together. Unfortunately, hoping to “fake it until you make it” rarely turns out well, especially if your small business has only limited marketing resources.
While applying careful considering and foresight when developing your small business marketing plan can provide a strategic advantage against your less organized competition, even the best initial marketing strategies typically have one thing in common: They’re not very good.
Finishing a first draft never leaves you with a perfected version of what you’re hoping to create. Sherlock Holmes was originally named Sherrinford Hope in the first draft of Arthur Conan Doyle’s beloved detective series, who was then accompanied on his adventures by the good Dr. Ormond Sacker. (Hope and Sacker sounds like a real estate law firm, especially when compared to the iconic Holmes and Watson.) The opening scene is J.K Rowling’s first Harry Potter book (a story ostensibly written for children) was a grisly account of the murder of Harry’s parents before she revised the first draft. F. Scott Fitzgerald had a different name planned for The Great Gatsby, initially titling the book The High-Bouncing Lover before, apparently, embracing subtext.
Point is, the first draft of your marketing strategy will rarely be perfect. Creating a successful strategy requires taking a step back, identifying your most glaring mistakes and patching those areas to create a more comprehensive plan that actually meets your small business marketing needs.
Here’s what to keep in mind.
Work From Facts, Not Assumptions
In most cases, your initial small business marketing plan will be based on previously formed assumptions. While some of these assumptions may be based on experience or even some data, the vast majority of them will be based on what you believe correct rather than concreate information on what will actually benefit your business or its target audience. For example, you might assume that your target audience will respond really well to a certain type of humor (say something along the lines of the absurdist comedy used in the Old Spice Guy campaign) during your next round of advertising, but you don’t have any actual data to support that idea other than a certain “feeling” or anecdotal evidence.
You shouldn’t always avoid assumptions, especially if you have enough experience in your industry to have fully developed a sense for what your target audience will respond to the most. However, if you’re basing the majority of your marketing plan on pure speculation, rather than empirical data or intuition based on years of experience, your foundation for success becomes highly questionable.
Stay Open to Change
Staying too ridged to your initial marketing plan is a major hurdle many small businesses must overcome when attempting to create a successful strategy. It’s easy to fall into the trap of placing too much faith in the work you’ve already done in developing a strategy, and not fully consider what alternative strategies might offer a better return on investment.
Successful small business marketing strategies require constant testing, and a willingness to make changes and optimize wherever possible. Experimenting with AB testing can lead in new directions you previously never considered, and often results in a stronger overall campaign that combines the most successful elements of different ideas into an improved strategy that better resonates with your target audience. While there will be times where the first draft of your marketing campaign will prove successful, don’t be complacent. There’s always room for improvement.
Accept Your Limitations
If you have no experience in the creation or implementation of a marketing strategy, you’re going to have little idea of whether your strategy is actually working. If you did, you wouldn’t be working of the first draft of a marketing strategy. You’d have previous experience to draw upon and data to work with. Because you lack the kind of experience needed to properly execute this type of marketing strategy, your lack of know-how will typically lead initially to more losses than wins.
In instances such as this, you have two options: Learn by trial and error or hire a team like Local Fresh to handle your marketing strategy. At Local Fresh, our team of experienced small business marketers have the knowledge and know-how needed to help create, plan and execute a marketing strategy that will enable your business to better connect with your target audience and increase sales.
However, if you’re ready for the challenge and the steep learning curve that comes with creating your own small business marketing campaign, you can develop the skills and knowledge needed over time. Just make sure to start gathering as much data as possible, AB test your current campaigns and stay flexible until you develop a strategy that works.
Keep in Mind Potential Variables
If this is your first foray into marketing, there are going to be some blind spots that won’t initially see coming. For example, you may not know for how long you should run a certain ad before deciding to test a different idea; you might struggle to identify the right social media platform that offers the greatest reach for connecting with your target audience; it might take a while to realize the return your current marketing strategy provides is far lower than what you should expect; or that your current message fails to reach the vast majority of your target audience. Some of these types of obstacles can be planned for in advance if you know to look out for them, while others simply require the experience of practice before you even know they exist.
While you cannot plan for every variable in advance, you can recognize that variables do exist and account for their unpredictability. Unfortunately, this type of foresight often comes from experience, which your first small business marketing strategy will be woefully short. Fall into the wrong trap, and you could potentially derail your entire campaign.
Understanding where potential pitfalls may lie is another area where the team at Local Fresh can help your business succeed. From helping you set short- and long-term goals to outlining a strategy that stays flexible enough to meet the changing demands of your target audience to helping you make informed decisions based on insight derived from data and experience, rather than intuition and assumption, Local Fresh can offer your business the keys to developing a successful marketing strategy. Click here to find out more about how Local Fresh can help to take your small business to the next level.