Keys to Developing an Essential Small Business Marketing Plan
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Small businesses must lock in an advertising and marketing strategy.

 

In the same way your business plan explains your business idea, strategy and operations, your marketing plan lays out your marketing message and how you plan to communicate it.

Here’s a breakdown of what your marketing plan should include:

Target market:

Using the research you compiled, explain your target market, including size, spending habits, demographics and location.

Product or service:

How is your product or service different from and better than the competition’s? What need does it fill or what problem does it solve?

WHICH MARKETING COMMUNICATION METHODS YOU WILL USE:

Common marketing methods include:

  • Advertising: radio, TV, newspaper, magazine, direct mail, Yellow Pages, online
  • Public relations (print, radio, TV, blogs)
  • Collateral (print marketing materials such as business cards, brochures, stationery, flyers)
  • Internet (websites, e-mail, social networks, blogs, newsletters)
  • Product samples, special offers
  • Presentation material, signage

Marketing strategy:

This part of your marketing plan outlines a road map for how you will market your business throughout the year. Include:

  • Marketing message
  • Channel choice/sales approach (direct sales, Internet sales, etc.)
  • Methods used and related cost. Include onetime costs (such as a booth at a trade show, or the cost of designing your website), periodic expenses (website maintenance, monthly ads, annual listings), how much staff time will be spent on marketing and how much that will cost, and any other promotional activity.

Measure the effectiveness of each marketing strategy and adjust accordingly.

Match your marketing method to your target market

Different marketing methods work best for different target markets and types of businesses. When planning your marketing mix, take into account who you are selling to and how you sell.

  • Business to Business (B2B) for a product
  • Business to Business (B2B) for a service
  • Business to Consumer (B2C) for a product
  • Business to Consumer (B2C) for a service
  • Internet sales

Marketing your business

Social media (also called social networking) has become one of the most important methods of marketing for small businesses. Because social media tools are free—with no cost but your time— they’re ideally suited for small business owners and startups on a budget.

Whether it’s LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook, social networking sites work the same way: You create a

personal profile and build up a network of contacts that you can interact with online. Here’s an

overview of the three most popular social networking sites and how you can use them to market your business.

LinkedIn  

The most popular general business networking site. Use it to connect with potential customers, partners, suppliers and even new employees; to research prospects before you approach them; or to get introduced to people you want to know. Less consumer-oriented, LinkedIn works best for business-to-business marketing. Looking to establish yourself as an industry expert? Use LinkedIn Answers to answer users’ questions related to your field, and join or start an industry-related group.

Facebook

More informal than LinkedIn and works best for consumer-focused businesses whose products or services could develop a “fan” base. Restaurants, consumer products and retailers have benefited from Facebook. Start by creating a Facebook page for your company so users can “like” your company and check its page for news. The more you post on Facebook, the better, so fill your page with updates, photos and videos. Special offers like short-term discounts or promotions are popular on Facebook.

Twitter  

A microblogging service where users send out short messages (up to 140 characters, including spaces) called “tweets.” Forwarding a tweet is called “retweeting”; users “follow” each other to see what’s being said. To start on Twitter, import your e-mail contacts and follow them. As you see who they follow, your network will build naturally. Start by listening first; when you begin tweeting, make sure you’re offering something of value—not just promoting yourself. Help others out by retweeting tweets you find valuable. Many businesses “tweet” special offers or discounts to draw in more customers.

BEYOND THE BIG THREE: In addition to Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, there are many smaller social networking sites for specific industries. Search online or ask your industry contacts for recommendations about the best sites.

Next- Social media made simple  

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