It was reported in December 2018 that 99% of all UK businesses were small businesses, with fewer than 250 employees. Most of Rimu Marketing’s clients are small business owners and who are focused, driven and successful, but in many cases do not have a clear marketing strategy to help them realise their full business ambition; or can’t see why they need one. So, as a small business owner “Why do you need a marketing strategy?” Well the question is “Why would you not?” If you don’t know where you are heading, how do you know if you have got there? Let’s start but defining what we mean.
Marketing Strategy – a definition “What is a marketing strategy?”
Some small businesses can be overwhelmed with this and there is often confusion between what is included in a marketing strategy and marketing plan. In its simplest form, a marketing strategy is a plan or approach to help your business grow. The CIM defines a marketing strategy as: “The set of objectives which an organisation allocates to its marketing function to support the overall business strategy, together with the broad methods chosen to achieve these objectives.” The marketing strategy is then supported by the more tactical marketing plan which provides you with a fuller break down or ‘to do list’ if you like of the activity which you are going to help drive your business forward. Once you have written your marketing strategy and plan it will help you to gain more clients, drive more revenue and ultimately support business growth.
What is included in a marketing strategy for a small business?
Generally, a marketing strategy takes time to build and should be a working document and not something that you work on once a year and then put back in a draw. If we were to look at pure marketing theory, we should be considering the 4 P theory (or now 5) – Price, Product, Place, Promotion and now People. Of course, the marketing strategy or plans can change, in fact inevitably this does happen at some stage but at least if you have a plan and a better opportunity comes along, then you have a benchmark to assess it against.
It is also important to note that our marketing strategy needs to cover both our digital marketing strategy and our offline marketing strategy. Long gone are the days where you would have a separate approach for each, a combined approach is much stronger, more impactful and achieves greater cut through in an already cluttered market place.
1. Marketing Objectives
The start to any plan is to think about what you wish to achieve and building your marketing strategy is no different. So start by thinking about what you wish to achieve with your business in 12-months time? If I had a magic wand what would your business look like? Ensure that you are realistic and focus on making your objectives SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timed). For example it is not enough to say, “I want to gain more clients”, a SMARTER objective would be to say, “I wish to gain five more clients by June 2019; by building partnerships with two more associates and running a Facebook campaign in April.”
2. Defining your target audience
For any business or marketer this insight is the golden nugget. Without understanding, your target audience, you can’t then provide a product or service that they want or communicate with them effectively. There are many ways in which you can build a target audience profile/ avatar or persona, CLICK HERE to help get you started. This insight underpins not only your marketing but also the foundations which your business is built on. Once you have this understanding it will help you to define your tone of voice, set your creative look, choose images and select the right media to focus on eg: if you wish to target a young female/ family audience you would probably focus on Instagram or decreasingly Facebook vs Linked In or Twitter for example.
3. Understanding your business environment (SWOT analysis)
There are many ways in which you can review your business environment two of the most popular models are the SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) or the PEST (Political, Environmental, Social and Technology) models. We tend to use the SWOT model when working with our small business clients as this feels more relevant, the PEST model tends to look at the broader business landscape. Understanding what is happening in your local area or environment which might impact your business is key, as this will help to guide some of your decisions, for example do you have a new competitor coming into the market place? How might that effect you?
4. Your Competitors
Understanding what your competitors are doing is good business sense. Often however in today’s digital market place, we can get side tracked and feel that our competitor is doing better than us or is more successful. Understanding what your competitors are doing is key to being prepared for any impact on your business but should not detract you from your path or course of action. Our marketing strategy document can be really useful here as it keeps on track.
5. Marketing Plan
Once you have defined where you wish to take your small business and how you wish to move forward then you need to start to build a plan to take you there, and this is where your marketing plan comes in. In essence it is a kind of like a “marketing to do list” where by you summarise the media you would like to target, potential costs, timing and reach. You might include different kinds of media such as email marketing, social media, PR activity, blog writing, Facebook Ads, SEO or even video. Deciding upon the right mix of media selection for your business will depend upon what you are aiming to achieve. CLICK HERE to read further around the topic. If you would like a copy of our marketing plan template, please get in touch.
6. Marketing Analysis
The final piece in any marketing jigsaw is to ensure that you have methods in place to track and assess performance. If our SMART marketing objectives have been right in the beginning then this should be clear from the offset. Simply do more of what works and less of what does not work. We are lucky that the digital world offers us instant visibility of success (or otherwise) but ways in which you could track performance is by considering: website visitor figures, social media engagement, bookings or sales, email open or click through rates, etc.
We have taken you on a whistle stop tour of what to be included in a marketing strategy for small businesses and shared our top 6 things to consider when writing one. There are other things also to include in the mix such as pricing, research and testing a product and branding to name a few.
If you would like some help in building your marketing strategy Rimu Marketing can help you in two ways:
Please either arrange for an initial 1:1 consultation.
Or if you would like to try it yourself first, why not check out our new 9-module online programme for just £149.00. With weekly videos, hints, tips and access to a closed Facebook group, it is the perfect way to de-mystify all that marketing jargon and to help get your on the right track.