A new year is marked by fresh starts and renewed vitality. So there is no better time for small business owners to review and even restructure their marketing strategies. Adding some new techniques and revising existing goals and plans can make a business’ marketing campaigns and initiatives more impactful on their target demographic.
Revisit and revise
There is no need to reinvent the wheel (unless you run a tire business). Instead, use strategies that have worked in the past as building blocks; elaborate on what has previously worked; and discontinue less fruitful initiatives.
A successful marketing strategy needs to address four major questions:
1. How will your marketing plan support your business goals?
As a marketing plan is closely related to your overall business goals, all marketing activities must be in line with, promote and enhance the business’ goals.
2. What are you trying to accomplish?
A marketing strategy needs fall in line with the business’ end goals. Carefully considering the desired outcome makes it easier to gauge the success and validity of any specific marketing initiative.
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3. Who are you trying to reach with your marketing activities?
Small businesses that do well have identified and actively targeted their core demographic. So, identifying core demographics is another fundamental task in determining the types of marketing activities that will enable a business to reach, impact and draw in their customers.
4. Who are you up against and where do you rank?
A small business owner can gain a good deal of insight by researching their competition. It’s also beneficial to know how businesses stack up against one another. If a given business is outperforming their competition, they may want to invest more in their current initiative. On the other hand, a business that is performing below expectations may want to implement an entirely new marketing strategy.
Utilize a variety of tools
Social media has become one of the most powerful resources that a small business can integrate in their marketing strategies. Despite social media being the new marketing “mantra”, 43 percent of Canadian small business owners report having no social media presence at all. However, the 57 percent of business owners that do use social media use it to not only advertise and inform their customers, they are also gaining valuable information about their target audience—for free.
According to a Bank of Montreal report from May 2015, “38 percent use social media to crowdsource ideas or suggestions, approximately one-third (35%) leverage social media to track what is being said about their company, while 25 percent track sentiment about their competitors.”
In 2013, Facebook reported 24 million small businesses using Facebook annually, a number that has steadily grown year after year.
However, a business being online isn’t all about social media. Establishing a strong web presence is also important to customers and clients who spend an increasing amount of time online. These tech savvy consumers want to see a business’ website and directory information long before they order or set foot in a physical, brick and mortar location.
“Given its key role, it’s astonishing that more than half of small businesses owners (52 percent) said their business does not have a website,” wrote Wesley Young for Search Engine Land.
Beyond having a strong business website, small business owners should also ensure their business is listed on digital directories, like 411.ca. These online directories are beneficial because they offer online validation of a business, as well as directory information.
411.ca boasts more than 20 million visitors annually who are looking for people and businesses. The online directory service also offers its 411.ca reviews section, where customers and clients can post feedback on a given business, a highly valued commodity in any marketing strategy.
Monitor, troubleshoot and plan
Effective strategies are those that are closely adhered to and modified when needed. That makes closely monitoring a marketing strategy paramount after its implementation. Actively checking social media allows business owners to address and troubleshoot any customer centric issues that arise.
Crafting an impactful marketing plan doesn’t have to deplete a business’ bottom line. When careful planning is the catalyst to a marketing strategy, beneficial changes can be added for little to no money and overall profits can grow.