In one word, YES!
Every business can benefit from a marketing strategy, no matter how large or small. In a world where information is more readily available than ever and we see hundreds of advertisements a day, marketing is necessary for every business. To make sure you’re spending wisely & effectively on your marketing you need a plan.
So where do you start?There are a few things that a good marketing strategy should outline. This will not only give you a direction for your advertising but can also help you go in the right direction with your business.
Identify your target market
It’s rare that you will have a product or service that will appeal to everyone. So that you can create effective advertising it’s important to identify your target market by finding out what type of person your product or service appeals to or the type of person you want to appeal to. Don’t cast your net too wide. Being too general can mean your advertising won’t have enough impact and being too specific can mean your customer base will be too small. Consider the number of customers you will need to be successful and go for a market that can comfortably accommodate that.
Find your niche
Look at what your competitors are doing. What are their strengths and weaknesses? How is your business different? Think about ways you can demonstrate that your business is better or different to your competitors. I often hear people talk about service being the difference for their business when they have good service but not great service. In a competitive market you need to make sure what sets you apart is very different or very exceptional.
What do you want to gain from your marketing investment? If you already have customers lined up at your doors you may only want to spend a small amount of money maintaining a brand presence (eg. A website, Facebook page & Google places listing). Or, if you are a new business, you might need to draw in new customers with calls to action like an opening sale.
If you lay down your plan with timeframes & budgets you can work out how much revenue your advertising needs to generate for you to make a profit. There is always a risk with advertising that you won’t make the money you invest in it back. You may want to test different tactics on a smaller scale before making a large investment.
This requires you to track the success of your advertising, which you should do for all your campaigns. There are many ways to do this, the simplest of which is to ask customers what prompted their purchase. There is no formula with advertising so tracking your results can help you figure out what works best for your business.
Your marketing plan shouldn’t be set in stone. If a strategy isn’t working, market conditions change or you make changes to your business it’s important to re-evaluate and update your marketing strategy. Small businesses should take advantage of this part of their marketing strategy as their flexibility is an advantage over big business.
As with much of business, organisation is key. Marketing can be difficult to get right but making sure you set goals, budgets and accurately record your campaign results you will be able to hone your strategy and get the most out of your marketing budget.