Marketing can strike fear into any small business owner’s heart.
It’s the thing you know you have to do to promote your business, but it’s also the thing that always seems to take a lot of time – time you don’t have. Complex campaigns and being a marketing expert is usually what is needed, right? Wrong! Marketing is much simpler than you think, but it all starts with a plan.
Here are my five tips to get your marketing plan written painlessly and save you time in the long run.
1. Clear the decks
Putting in some effort in upfront will save you loads of time later down the track. So, book a day, two or however much time you can DEDICATE to create your marketing plan. A day spent planning your marketing might seem like a long time, but it will save you a lot of effort in the long run.
Remember, without a plan your marketing will be erratic at best and ineffective at worst. Your marketing needs to be consistent and having a plan will help.
2. Know what you want to achieve
This is the first thing you need to know to kick-off your plan. If you don’t know what you want to achieve, how will you plan to get there?
Whether it’s increasing sales, growing your team or adding new customers, put a number on it and also a date by which you want to achieve it. The more specific you can be about your goal the better; the more you can visualise it the more you’ll want to achieve it.
3. What’s in your toolbox?
Next, make a list of all the things you have at your disposal to help you deliver your marketing plan. This could include marketing campaigns like newsletters, events, Facebook fan promotions, surveys or any number of other things that help you get the word out about your business.
You may not think of everything in one go and opportunities may arise further down the track. That’s OK; just keep adding to your list.
4. Create your calendar
This is definitely a fun part and it’ll help you plot out what you want to do when. Create a calendar that works for you – whether it’s an actual calendar, a wall planner, or simply an Excel file – and plot out all the things you need to do to achieve your goal.
For example, if your goal is to increase your amount of new customers, you might plan regular promotions to entice them. Make sure to write down your plan for promotion, including all the tools, you’ll need to get the word out.
Lastly, don’t forget to put aside time to actually do the work.
5. Keep track of how you did
It’s really important you don’t forget this part. For each campaign you run, work out how well it did in helping you achieve your goal.
How will this save you time?
If you’re tracking your results, you’ll know what worked and what didn’t. Don’t waste time repeating something that didn’t work well. Make adjustments where you need to and you can expect better results next time around.
If you break up marketing plan into five simple steps, it won’t seem as scary as you first thought. The next time you create a plan (yes, you should create one at least every year) you’ll have a lot more experience to draw from and it will seem a lot easier.
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Minal Patel: I’m responsible for all marketing at Constant Contact UK. I have a keen interest in technology and digital communications and love helping small businesses with their marketing – just ask my sister! As well as doing all the cool marketing stuff I get to do, I regularly wrangle with spread sheets to get the reporting we need to measure our success. It’s earned me the title ‘Queen of spread sheets’ in the office. Connect with me on Twitter: @minal2804 if you’d like to see more of my small business marketing tips.