This month, 15-21 May, is Mental Health Awareness Week, and this year the focus is on anxiety. Anxiety is a normal emotion which can sometimes spiral out of control. Many things can trigger anxiety, perhaps in response to a change in circumstances at home, such as having a baby, setting up a small business or a big life stage like heading to retirement. A recent survey by the Mental Health Foundation found that a quarter of adults said they felt so anxious that it prevented them from doing things they wanted to at least some of the time. The good news is that with a little management, anxiety can be made easier.
With many re-evaluating their path forward, perhaps due to experiencing anxiety in the workplace, we may see more people deciding to set up their own small businesses. In the small business survey that we conducted earlier this year, one of the key questions which respondents asked was how to streamline your small business marketing approach, particularly relevant at the beginning of the start-up journey.
Marketing is an essential part of a business of any size; it can be costly or take some time to identify, through trial and error, what works and does not work. In our latest blog, we wanted to share six ways to help you streamline your small business marketing.
1. Set Achieveable Goals
With any marketing activity, we must start by defining where we wish to go and how we want to move forward. Before we get into the campaign details, we need to consider our business mission, vision, purpose and story, as inevitably, these will feed into how we create our tactical plan. Click here to understand what we mean by this. Once we are clear on our overall business direction, we can then start to plan our SMART (Specific, Measured, Achievable, Relevant and Timed) goals over the next 12 months. It is not enough to say, “I want to get more clients“, as this is too broad. Using the example of a Pilates teacher, we might say something like, “I want to set up a new Friday morning class and sign up at least 8 people by the end of July, generating £80-£100 per session.”. This is a really specific example, and it will be easy to assess if this has been achieved or not.
2. Focus on a particular audience
As a small business owner, it is impossible to help everyone. If you are a coach, you will not connect with everyone you meet; if you are an accountant, you may not have a particular area of expertise. With this in mind, we need to be able to define our ideal target audience and decide who we most wish to or will enjoy working with the most. A key part of streamlining our marketing efforts is to define our key target audience and find our niche. Many get a bit hung up on defining their niche, but try not to, as our audience can be segmented in many ways. Click here to read one of our past blogs, where we go into a little more depth to explain how we might achieve this.
3. Define the Marketing Plan
Once we know what we want to do and who we are talking to, creating our marketing plan becomes much easier. With our target audience in mind, we can select the right images or choose the media channels they engage with the most. Focus on those first. If for example, you wish to connect with HR Directors working in a corporate organisation, LinkedIn will probably be your primary social media network of choice. This does not mean you can’t engage in other networks, but if we are short on time and wish to streamline our marketing, then this should be where we start. Be consistent in your marketing, start small and grow from there. For efficiencies, it is also important to Integrate your marketing efforts, so you have a constant theme across all of your channels, repurpose the content where possible.
4. Define your marketing team, processes and tools
Once you have defined your plan, you then need to ensure you establish your marketing processes, decide which tools work best for you and, if possible, start to bring in more specialist marketing support. For anyone just starting out, it will seem like you have to do everything yourself, but as soon as you can, start to create your team with people who have the skills that fill the gaps in your knowledge. It will help you, in the long run, to save money and get you where you wish to be sooner. For example, when I started out, I knew I wanted to employ an accountant from day one, I could probably have submitted my accounts myself, but I knew it would take me twice as long with room for error.
5. Automate where you can
Creating a good customer experience is at the heart of any good business. Once you have defined what this may look like, by using marketing tools to help us automate some of this journey can help. An example of this might be when you set up your small business newsletter, establish an email automation sequence to connect welcome and connect with any new contacts. A tool like email may help with that conversion process too. Ever spotted when you are shopping online, put something in your basket and don’t pay right away – often you might get a reminder or further discount email prompt to do so? Another great example.
6. Understand your performance
This phase is very often missed in the marketing planning and execution process. Once we have set our SMART goals, this should become easier because we know what we are aiming for. Understanding how a marketing campaign has performed will help influence the metrics, ambitions and expectations of the next campaign – helping us to continue to grow as a business.