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How to do a marketing plan for small businesses


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What is a marketing plan?

A marketing plan or marketing strategy is a documented guide for how your business will talk to your market, what channels you will use and what you will say. A marketing plan can be very simple, or very complex depending on your market and business needs.

Your business marketing plan needs to list the outcomes you want to achieve, it needs to be measurable and relevant to your business. 

For example, it may state that as a business you want to increase the number of leads by 10% by the end of the quarter. So if you are currently getting 100 leads per month, you would look to increase this to 110 leads per month within the next 90 days. 

Your marketing plan should outline the marketing tactics you will use to achieve these outcomes

For example, you may look to increase your paid advertising spend in the short term, whilst increasing your SEO capability to eventually rank organically for the same keyword. It maybe to increase your Facebook audience size to create a base of potential customers to offer your services to.

Business goal achieved

How Will Your Marketing Plan Support Your Business Goals?

Do you have a clear picture of where you and your business want to be in the next 12 months? Have you broken this into 90 day business goals? 

Before your kick off the marketing activities and start to post on Facebook, you need to know where you’re going, and what that looks like in terms of the numbers. 

Here’s how you work it out, lets say your goal is to take a step back from the day to day running of the business. You will need to hire somebody, potentially a general manager. 

These are the questions you need to ask:

How much is their salary? 

How much is that really? With things like ACC, vehicle, phone, recruitment & training, kiwisaver etc. 

What does that look like as an increase in revenue?

What does that mean as an increase in customers, average sale price or the frequency of purchase?

For example:

A general manager may have a salary of $100,000

An estimated real cost to the business maybe somewhere around $120,000

Which means, just to break even on this hire you would need to increase revenue by $120,000

If your average sale price is $1000

And you currently have 100 customers

And they purchase only one time 

Your current lifetime value of a customer is $1000 which would mean you would need an extra 120 customers for this to work. 

(but if you increase the average sale price or the frequency of purchase by just a little percentage, it can make a big difference)

Audience in lights

Who Are You Trying to Reach With Your Marketing Activities?

Who is your ideal buyer? What do they look like? How do you find your audience?

There are two aspects of your target market you need to be aware of, they are the ideal buyer profile, and the buyer persona. Your marketing strategy hinges on you understanding who your target customer is, where to find them and how to talk to them.

Ideal Buyer profile

Your ideal buyer profile should guide your marketing efforts, new business outreach, and current client account growth. Before you can identify potential buyers, you need to define which buyers you can help and which you can’t. The ideal buyer profile defines which companies are a good fit for your offering and which ones are not.

If you are a B2B company, the definition should be at the company level, not the contact level, that is, even if your point of contact doesn’t typically make the purchasing decision, they’re still valuable to speak with if their company matches your ideal buyer profile.

Buyer Persona

A buyer persona is a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer based on market research and real data about your existing customers.

Buyer persona’s provide tremendous structure and insight for your company. A detailed buyer persona will help you determine where to focus your time, guide product development, and allow for alignment across the organisation. As a result, you will be able to attract the most valuable visitors, leads, and customers to your business.

The more details you include as you determine who is in your target market, the more targeted your marketing plan will be.

Once you have determined your ideal buyer profile and your persona, this makes up your target audience, and will inform which channels will suit your business, this could include Facebook, Google SEO, Google Ads, Facebook Ads etc.

marketing product manager desk

How Will You Reach Your Target Market?

As a key element of the marketing plan, your promotional or tactical plan is how you will let your target audience/market know about your offer, your business, and what you do.

How do you determine what channels to use to reach your audience?

There are two must have channels for every business. A referral source e.g. word of mouth, and a website. 

These two channels are a great way to start, having people refer business to you is the best form of marketing, as they are usually a warm lead.

Having a website at the start doesn’t mean it needs to rank number one for a competitive keyword or be converting hundreds of leads a week, it’s there to give you credibility, it show’s you’re serious and that you believe in what you do. 

Now if you’ve been in business a while and your website isn’t ranking and it’s not converting leads then there’s a problem that needs to be sorted. 

The other channels I would be looking to are social media, Google SEO, paid advertising and your sales team. 

Digital marketing is the easiest way to track what’s working and whats not working, using platforms like Google Analytics allows you to see what your online marketing efforts are delivering. Facebook and Google Ads have insights for advertising, but Google Analytics can bring in all data so you have a better overview of how effective your marketing activity.  Google analytics will allow you to analyse your marketing tools, social media posts, email marketing and all other marketing tactics.

Social Media Marketing

There are a number of social channels to post content on that will help get your message to your audience, and it would depend on your Ideal Buyer Profile and your Persona as to which ones you choose. 

For example, if your ideal buyer profile is 35 year old females that live in wellington and are interested in interior design, then the channel I might choose to post on would be pinterest or Facebook, probably both.

SEO Search Engine Optimisation, ranking in Google

More often than not, a customer begins their buyer journey with a Google search. SEO is the science or art of optimising your website and online presence to ensure that your business ranks at the top end of the search results in Google (for the search terms that matter).

Google aims to answer questions, their goal is to give the searcher the best answer to the question they’ve typed into the search box. If your website is the best at answering the question it should rank number one, but how does Google know if your website answers the question. 

There are a number of factors that go into optimising your site for search, the three most important factors are:

Backlinks or Off-page

Google looks for trust factors, this means other websites that link to your website, showing that your site is a trusted resource. These could be directories, social channels such as Facebook, and a number of other websites.

SEO Content

SEO content is part of the content marketing strategy, having blog posts, articles, resources, case studies and many other content types that answer questions that searchers type into the search engine. You need post often with relevant content to increase your Google ranking. Content marketing will potentially cost you the most but also will return the most in the long term.

Technical or On-page SEO

Google will rank a website that is fast over one that is slow, your website performance is a key ranking factor. Your website needs to have right structural aspects in place, things such as H1, H2 and Alt tags. If you don’t know what these are, then get in touch, we can do a website assessment to make sure the structure on on-page factors are in the right place. 

Paid Advertising or PPC Advertising

The two big players in this space are Google and Facebook, they work on a similar auction style payment scheme where depending on the competition will depend on how much you pay per click or per view. 

Google Ads work on keywords, so if someone searches on google for a plumber in Wellington, then the ads that show up are plumbers who have decided to add plumber in Wellington as a keyword they will bid on for their Google ads. 

Facebook, works a little different you can choose your campaign objective and pay per action taken. It could be 3-second video views, which means you pay when people view your video ad. Facebook has had resent changes based on iOS 14 that may affect your Facebook advertising or retargeting activities. 

Sales Team

When your sales team go to meet a potential customer, what marketing materials do they have? Do they have presentations, or brochures?

Your brand and content need to be aligned across your business. It can make a world of difference to your sales team to have brand collateral. Having something to leave the potential customer, maybe a brochure of your products or services will increase the chances of making a sale.

Business people discussing marketing plan

How Much Money Will You Spend, and on What?

How do you figure out your marketing budget?

A marketing budget has to come back to your acquisition cost, how much does it cost you to get a customer? Lets go back to the previous example, if your average sale price is $1000 what is the cost break down?

I read and heard a number of people work out their pricing based on the third rule, one third for the direct cost or cost of goods sold, one third for overheads and one third is your profit. 

This would work out to:

Direct Cost $333

Overhead $333

Profit $333

But this doesn’t account for your acquisition cost, now some businesses may argue that their marketing budget is tied into their overhead, which is fine, but how do you define it?

I like to work it out in 25% increments, 25% for direct cost, 25% overhead, 25% profit and 25% acquisition cost. 

Direct Cost $250

Overhead $250

Profit $250

Acquisition cost $250

This means that for every client you can spend $250 to acquire that client, this maybe in paid advertising, social media marketing or your sales people. 

This might make you think that you need to raise your prices, and maybe you do. 

Sprint project management and agile development

What Tasks Do You Need to Complete to Reach Your Marketing Goals?

Once you have an idea or your target audience, the marketing channels you will use, your budget and how to get your message across, you need to create a detailed task list and a timeline to achieve your marketing goals. 

You need to take action, having a 90 day plan broken down into tasks, marketing campaigns and marketing initiatives will allow you to see your progress, and not miss any deadlines. 

Take the end goal, and break it down into a series of single-step tasks that lead you to achieve your goals in a set time-frame. Increasing your competitive advantage to beat the competition.

For example, if one of the marketing tactics outlined in your tactical plan is launching a social media advertising campaign, your first few action steps may look like this:

Determine the budget 

Define the objective for that campaign

Decide on the social media channels

Set up Facebook

Integrate the Facebook pixel into your website

Set up the Facebook ads manager

Hire a content writer

Hire a designer

Write the copy for the ad

Design the visual elements of the ad

Post the ad

Set up a landing page

Write copy for the landing page

Create a content marketing plan to accompany ad campaign

Share content in a Facebook post

Next campaign set up for Google Ads

Your action list can be setup how ever you like, in what way you work best. It just needs to support your progress. It needs to include who is responsible for each task and when it needs to be completed.

Next Steps For Your Marketing Plan

If you need some help create a plan or action the tactics you’ve chosen for your marketing activities you can book a call with us to see if we’re a fit. 

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